Francis Nicolai, a former Appellate Term presiding justice and administrative judge, has joined Gaines, Novick, Ponzini, Cossu & Venditti in White Plains as senior counsel.

Nicolai, who retired May 30 after 32 years on the bench, said the position at the small, general practice firm would give him “a little more free time” with his family. “I’m 74 going on 75,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I have four young grandchildren … and I want to spent time with them.”

Managing partner Steven H. Gaines announced the addition of Nicolai to the firm on Monday, saying, “It is rare to find a person with Judge Nicolai’s depth and breadth of legal experience from his time in private practice, through his generous public service in many different judicial roles. We are delighted to have him as our new senior counsel.”

Nicolai, a lifelong Westchester County resident who spent years presiding over matrimonial parts in Westchester and Putnam counties, said he plans to help Gaines Novick start a mediation and arbitration service for such cases. Nicolai was a Supreme Court justice in the Ninth Judicial District, which covers Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess counties, for eight years before becoming its administrative judge in 1998.

Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau appointed Nicolai to be lead the Appellate Term for the Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts in 2009.

A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and New York Law School, Nicolai was admitted to the bar in 1971 and was in private practice from 1973 to 1982. He was appointed an interim county court judge in 1982 and 1983 before being elected to a full term in 1984.