Hon. Stewart D. Aaron L’83

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Written By: Gary Loope

Judge Stewart D. Aaron currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York, after being appointed to an 8-year term in December 2017. In this role, he presides over both criminal and civil cases, handling a wide array of legal matters with expertise and integrity.

During his criminal duty weeks, Judge Aaron focuses on the opening phases of federal felony criminal proceedings, and in that capacity oversees presentments and decides whether defendants should be detained prior to trial. In addition, Judge Aaron presides over guilty pleas and handles search warrant applications. On the civil side, Judge Aaron manages pre-trial proceedings in many cases and routinely conducts settlement conferences. He also has the authority to preside over all aspects of civil cases in circumstances where the parties consent to his jurisdiction.

Judge Aaron remarked that his favorite part of the job is working with his law clerks and interns and providing them with the skills and training needed to make contributions after they move beyond his tutelage. Even before his judicial tenure, Judge Aaron made it a goal to mentor and support up-and-coming legal professionals in furthering their careers.

Before his appointment in 2017, Judge Aaron’s career was already marked with excellence. After graduating from the College of Law he set his mind on a career in litigation, even going so far as to note that, in his opinion, the only true practice of law is litigation. After working for Dorsey & Whitney in New York, Judge Aaron made his way to Arnold & Porter. There he was named the Administrative Partner in 2005, and ultimately the Managing Partner of the New York office from 2012 to 2015.

Having amassed a laundry list of achievements, awards, and coveted positions, Judge Aaron’s career has taken him to places he couldn’t have foreseen as a child growing up in Haverstraw, New York. Judge Aaron spent part of his childhood living above The Village Shoppe, a shoe and clothing store his parents opened in 1950. After graduating from high school and attending two years at Rockland Community College while working a part-time job at the Nanuet Mall, Judge Aaron moved upstate to attend Cornell University.

Despite his initial inclinations toward mathematics, it was his exposure to law through his mother’s work as a legal secretary, as well as conversations with classmates at Cornell, that led him to pursue a legal career. After graduating from Cornell and wanting to remain close to his fiancée at the time, Judge Aaron attended Syracuse University College of Law where he participated in Moot Court and served as a Notes and Comments Editor for the Syracuse Law Review.

In his time at Syracuse, Judge Aaron continued his trajectory of achievement between his top marks and Law Review tenure. Judge Aaron’s tenure on Law Review honed his attention to detail, accuracy, and citation skills, which have been instrumental throughout his legal career. When asked about his favorite memories though, Judge Aaron says those came from outside of the classroom. In particular, he noted that he enjoyed the little things, like waiting at the bus stop with Superbowl Champion and former Syracuse running back Joe Morris and taking trips on the weekends to spend time with his fiancée.

Regarding advice to current students wanting to start their careers off on the right foot, Judge Aaron says that students need to be proactive in shaping their legal career. In this vein, he urges students to seize opportunities for professional growth, network extensively, and actively engage in bar associations and pro bono work. Putting his own advice into practice, Judge Aaron has taken part in nearly everything the legal field has to offer. He has engaged in various pro bono activities, including representing Guantanamo detainees, showcasing his dedication to justice beyond the courtroom.

Going further, over the course of his career, Judge Aaron has previously been President of both the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), and the New York American Inn of Court. Though his work with the NYCLA, he was also awarded the Boris Kostelanetz President’s Medal, signifying his significant contributions to the legal profession and the community. Currently, Judge Aaron serves on the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Information Technology, the Second Circuit Information Technology Committee, and a host of other committees in the Southern District of New York, including the Technology Committee and the Grievance Committee.

Judge Aaron’s career epitomizes a steadfast commitment to justice, legal excellence, and mentorship, making him an exemplar both within the legal community and beyond.