With more than 40 years of experience as a trial lawyer and judge, Judge Heckman (Ret.) has an active practice as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, and conducts arbitrations in most major metropolitan areas with a particular concentration in New York City,  In addition to arbitrations and mediations, Judge Heckman also engages in litigation counseling and trial work for an American Indian tribe, and a group of business clients providing representation in government investigations, complex commercial matters, taxation, and gaming.  She has tried numerous cases as a lawyer, a judge, and an arbitrator in a broad range of disputes.

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 served 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 commercial disputes, employment litigation, FLSA, non-compete agreements, construction cases and several international cases. Judge Heckman was recently selected as a Fellow to the College of Commercial Arbitrators, an exclusive group of commercial arbitrators representing the best in the United States.

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. 

  • New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court

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

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

Professional Associations
  • College of Commercial Arbitrators
  • Litigation Counsel of America, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, Fellow
  • Bar Association of Erie County
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Federal Magistrate Judges Association, 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
  • Federal Judicial Center’s Education Committee for Magistrate Judges
  • Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Board of Directors
  • Cradle Beach, former Board of Directors
  • American Lung Association, Western New York Chapter, Board of Directors
  • Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, Inc., Board of Directors

Honors & Awards
  • Buffalo Business First, “Power 125 Women,” 2020
  • Buffalo Business First’s Legal Elite of Western New York, Lifetime Achievement Award (2016)
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (2019-2021)
    • 2015 Mediation “Lawyer of the Year” in Buffalo
  • Upstate New York Super Lawyers® (2011-2020)
  • Business First of Buffalo and Buffalo Law Journal, Legal Elite of WNY (2013)
  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • 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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