Hon. Janet DiFiore
Hon. Janet DiFiore
Honorary President

About Hon. Janet DiFiore

Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and of the State of New York, was born in Mount Vernon, New York.

She graduated from C.W. Post College, Long Island University (B.A. 1977) and from St. John’s University School of Law (J.D. 1981). She was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York in 1982. Chief Judge DiFiore served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office from 1981-1987, and from 1994-1998 as Chief of the Office’s Narcotics Bureau. From 1987-1993, Chief Judge DiFiore practiced law with the firm of Goodrich & Bendish. In 1998, she was elected a Judge of the Westchester County Court, presiding over criminal and civil matters and sitting by designation in the Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and Supreme Court. She served as a County Court Judge until 2002, when she was elected a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.

As a Supreme Court Justice, she served as Supervising Judge of the Criminal Courts of the 9th Judicial District. In 2005, Chief Judge DiFiore resigned from the bench and was elected Westchester County District Attorney. She served in this position from 2006-2016. On December 1, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated her to the position of Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York. On January 21, 2016, her nomination was confirmed by the New York State Senate.

Chief Judge DiFiore lives in Bronxville, NY with her husband Dennis E. Glazer. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.

Hon. Michael L. Katz

About Hon. Michael L. Katz

Judge Michael L. Katz was elected to the Civil Court in 2010 and served as an Acting Family Court Judge in Kings County until 2015, when he was designated as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court. He is currently assigned to the Matrimonial Division in New York County. Prior to his election to the bench, Judge Katz served for seventeen years as a Principal Court Attorney in various parts of the Supreme Court, including the Commercial Division.

Judge Katz is active in many bar associations, including the New York City Bar Association, where he is a member of the Council on Judicial Administration and a past chair of the Tort Litigation Committee. He is also a past president and chairperson of the Jewish Lawyers Guild and currently serves on its Board of Directors. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Vilia B. Hayes

About Vilia B. Hayes

Vilia B. Hayes is Senior Pro Bono Counsel at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. She is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Pro Bono Committee and supervises numerous pro bono matters in federal and state court. Ms. Hayes litigates pro bono cases in the areas of prisoner’s rights, voting rights, immigration, family law and housing, among others. Previously, Ms. Hayes had 35 years of experience as a litigation associate and partner at Hughes Hubbard concentrating on product liability, insurance, bankruptcy, employment and complex business disputes, as well as counseling and negotiations on employment law and insurance law.

Ms. Hayes is President Emeritus of the Federal Bar Council, having served as President from 2015-2016. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a member of the Board of Directors of Legal Momentum and the Fordham Law Alumni Association. She is on the Executive Committee of the New York American Inn of Court. She previously served as a member of the Boards of Directors of VOLS, Legal Services NYC and the New York County Lawyers Association, where she served as chair of the Audit Committee. She graduated from Marymount College with honors and from Fordham University Law School, cum laude.


Claire P. Gutekunst
Executive Director

About Claire P. Gutekunst

Before joining JALBCA as Executive Director in November 2017, Claire P. Gutekunst was the President of the 72,000-member New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) in 2016-2017, having served as President-Elect in 2015-2016.  Her signature presidential initiative was a joint Domestic Violence Initiative with the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York.  Claire was a commercial litigator for nearly 30 years at Proskauer.  She then served as Special Master for the New York City Asbestos Litigation and was an independent mediator and arbitrator.

Claire has held many other leadership positions at NYSBA (including Vice President and the first woman Treasurer) and has been a member of the ADR and Arbitration Committees of the New York City Bar Association and the ADR Committee of the Westchester County Bar Association.  She is a member of the ABA House of Delegates.  For many years, Claire was the chair of the Advisory Council of the Academy of Women Leaders of the YWCA of New York City.  Claire lives with her husband in Yonkers, New York.  They have two grown sons.

Contact Info:
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Judges’ Division

Lawyers’ Division

Advisory Board

*Indicates Past Co-Presidents