By 5TJT Staff
It is rare that a successful attorney in a large Manhattan law firm is willing to sacrifice his lucrative practice to become a state court judge on Long Island. But this year Long Islanders have the opportunity to elect Leonard Steinman, who intends to do just that, to the New York State Supreme Court. Leonard, or Len as he is known, is a unique candidate: he not only is more qualified than your typical judicial candidate (he has been named a New York metro-area SuperLawyer in 2011 and 2012), he is a fiscal watchdog as well, presently serving on the NIFA (Nassau Interim Finance Authority) Board, to which he was appointed by the governor. That position is as a volunteer, as was his position as chairman of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, where he oversaw efforts to keep and attract business in Nassau. We recently spoke with Len, who is running on the Democratic, Independence, and Working Families’ lines, and asked him why he was running for judge this year:
Q: What is driving you to leave your law practice and run for judge?
A: I have been interested in public service since I was in high school, and I worked for a congressman while in college in Boston. When I went to law school I fell in love with the law and got sidetracked. My work on the NIFA Board and the Nassau County IDA rekindled my desire to serve the public good. Now, I want to combine my two passions by becoming a judge and working hard to improve the judicial system.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born and raised on Long Island; Glen Cove to be exact.
Q: What was that like?
A: As a Jew, I was definitely in the minority, but my parents were wise enough to send me to Hebrew School three days a week (plus junior congregation of course!). I had my bar mitzvah at Congregation Tifereth Israel, which was led by Rabbi David Blumenfeld at the time. It is the oldest continuously operating synagogue on Long Island.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as a judge?
A: I intend to bring progress to the courts by applying my private sector work ethic once on the bench to make the process faster, more efficient, and economical. As a litigator at a large Manhattan firm, I work very, very hard, as my wife can attest. I intend to work just as hard as a judge. Decisions can be rendered faster, and adjournments, which all lawyers love, can be less frequent. There is no reason that our court system has to be as frustrating as it currently is. If everyone is required to follow the same rules, there will be improvement.
Q: What was your family’s reaction to your decision to run?
A: They are incredibly supportive. I met my wife, Lesly, when we were in college together 32 years ago. She has always been incredible. I have twin girls who are in their junior year in college and are both currently studying abroad for the semester. They just received their absentee ballots and were very excited to cast their vote (hopefully for me!). I hope that I am setting a good example to them and that one day they also decide to go into public service. v