Carol E. Heckman


Buffalo — 716.853.5100 x1268
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With more than 40 years of experience as a trial and appellate attorney, Judge Heckman (Ret.) focuses on arbitrations and mediations, commercial litigation, and American Indian law.  She serves as the firm’s American Indian Law Practice Team Co-Leader.  Recently, she has been representing Fortune 500 companies and a sovereign Native American tribe in a variety of commercial and business disputes, including gaming and taxation, as well as serving as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.  She has tried numerous cases as a lawyer, a judge, and an arbitrator in a broad range of disputes, including commercial cases, constitutional claims, contracts, executive compensation, franchise agreements, acquisitions, construction, and state and federal statutory claims.

Judge Heckman served as a Magistrate Judge in the Western District of New York for eight years where she was selected to sit on the Federal Judicial Conference’s Education Committee for Magistrate Judges and as an Officer in the Federal Magistrate Judges Association.  She has also served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Buffalo, New York, and as a law clerk for Hon. John T. Curtin, former Chief Judge of the Western District of New York.

She has significant training and experience as a mediator and has trained federal judges in mediation techniques. She is admitted to both the Panel of Mediators and the Panel of Arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association, as well as the Western District of New York Panel of Mediators. Successful mediations include the entire range of federal court cases, including high stakes business disputes, employment disputes of all kinds, environmental claims, products liability and other tort claims, securities claims, patent claims, and §1983 claims. 

Arbitration experience includes all aspects of executive compensation, complex contractual matters, employment litigation, FLSA, and a variety of other commercial matters, including construction cases.

Judge Heckman is a frequent speaker and panelist at Bar Association meetings and at CLE programs across the state. She also presents at AAA trainings and programs.


Cornell Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, 1977
Lawrence University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1974

Admitted to Practice

  • New York  
  • United States Court of Appeals, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits
  • United States Supreme Court

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. John T. Curtin, former Chief Judge of the Western District of New York

Professional Associations

  • Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, Fellow
  • Bar Association of Erie County
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Dispute Resolution Section
    • Federal and Commercial Litigation Section
    • Judiciary Committee, Co-Chair
  • Federal Magistrate Judges Association, Member
    • Former Officer
  • Advisory Group of Magistrate Judges, Former Member
  • Federal Courts Law Review (electronic law review associated with the Federal Magistrate Judges Association), First Editor in Chief
  • Cornell Law Review, Editor
  • National Congress of American Indians, Member

Community Involvement

  • Catholic Health Systems, Board of Directors
  • Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Board of Directors and Past Board Chair

Past Activities

  • Judicial Center’s Education Committee for Magistrate Judges, Former Member (Appointed by former Chief Justice Rehnquist. In that capacity she assisted in the planning and presenting of ongoing judicial education programs for magistrate judges (2001-2006))
  • Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, former Board of Directors
  • Cradle Beach, former Board of Directors
  • American Lung Association, Western New York Chapter, former Board of Directors
  • Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Inc., former Board of Directors

Honors & Awards

  • Buffalo Business First’s Legal Elite of Western New York, Lifetime Achievement Award (2016)
  •   The Best Lawyers in America© (2013-2020)
    • 2015 Mediation “Lawyer of the Year” in Buffalo
  •  Upstate New York Super Lawyers® (2011-2019)
  • Business First of Buffalo and Buffalo Law JournalLegal Elite of WNY (2013)
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, Fellow
  • Business First of Buffalo/Buffalo Law Journal, Who's Who in Law (2011- 2012)
  • Business First of Buffalo, “Women Who Mean Business” Award, 2005
  • Order of the Coif
  • Fraser Prize (undergraduate award)
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Women’s Bar Association of Western New York, Achievement Award, 1992

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