A Conversation with Judge Dennis Jacobs ’64:
Federal Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit


Dennis Jacobs '64 was born and educated in New York City and spent his entire career here as a lawyer and judge. He is a product of New York City public schools from kindergarten through college, and is a 1964 graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York.

He attended New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1964 through 1970, was awarded a Masters degree in English literature at age 21 in 1965, and completed all requirements but dissertation for a Ph.D. in English before he left the Graduate School and crossed Washington Square to enroll at the School of Law. He has taught at Queens College and at the Nassau County Police Science Academy.

He enrolled in New York University School of Law in 1970 and obtained his JD degree in 1973. He served on the Law Review and was a Pomeroy Scholar. His entire career as a lawyer was at the Manhattan law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he became a partner in 1980. He appeared in courts in New York and around the country as a litigating lawyer in commercial matters on behalf of the clients of that firm.

In 1992 he was nominated by President Bush to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that had previously been occupied by Wilfred Feinberg and before him by Thurgood Marshall.

As a judge, he has been awarded the Learned Hand Medal for excellence in jurisprudence by the Federal Bar Council, the James Madison Award by the Federalist Society and the Eugene J. Keogh Award for distinguished public service by New York University. He participates on panels, and speaks on legal subjects, and regularly participates in the Mentor Program for students in the New York City high schools. And he has served on many Court of Appeals committees on: Budget, Security, Historical and Commemorative Events, and the selection of bankruptcy judges. Among other things, he participated in the symposium on Cass Gilbert, architect of the United States Courthouse in New York and the Supreme Court building in Washington, and has been active in efforts to preserve the federal Courthouse in New York.

In 1997, he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to the Judicial Resources Committee of the United States Judicial Conference; Judge Jacobs chaired that Committee in the years 1999-2004. The Committee has jurisdiction over personnel policy, compensation and benefits for the employees of the Third Branch, as well as jurisdiction over the need to create new federal judgeships in the various district and appellate courts of the United States. As chair of that Committee, he directed implementation of the Employee Dispute Resolution program by which discrimination claims are resolved within the Third Branch; and he has testified in Congress on the need to revamp benefits for the employees of the Judiciary and the need for new judgeships to deal with rising case loads.

He succeeded John M. Walker, Jr., as Chief Judge of the Second Circuit on October 1, 2006.

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