Stewart Aaron, Robert Lehrburger, and Ona Wang
Stewart Aaron, Robert Lehrburger, and Ona Wang (Rick Kopstein (2), Courtesy photo)

Three partners at large Manhattan law firms have been named as magistrate judges in the Southern District of New York.

The Board of Judges selected Stewart Aaron, a partner at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer who has 30 years of litigation experience, to fill the seat held by Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis, who is stepping down after 24 years on the court (NYLJ, Jan. 19).

Aaron was a president of the New York County Lawyers Association in 2012-13 and is currently president-elect of the New York American Inn of Court. A graduate of Syracuse University College of Law, he has been a Southern District mediator since 1994.

The board also selected Robert Lehrburger, a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, to replace Magistrate Judge James Francis, who is leaving the bench after 32 years.

Lehrburger has spent more than 25 years at the firm, handling complex litigation matters. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, he has been a mediator in the Commercial Division and an arbitrator with the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

He has served on the New York City Bar Association’s professional ethics committee and was recognized by MFY Legal Services as “partner in justice” for his pro bono work.

Ona Wang, a litigation partner at Baker & Hostetler and chair of the firm’s pro bono committee, was chosen to replace departing Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck.

Wang is a master in the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court and a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She previously served on the Second Circuit Judicial Conference Program and Planning Committee.

Wang, whom the Law Journal recognized in 2014 for her pro bono work, has a J.D. from NYU Law School, and a Ph.D. from Duke University.

“We are thrilled and excited about our three newest colleagues,” Chief Judge Colleen McMahon said in a statement Monday announcing the new magistrate judges. “Each of them brings to the bench a breadth of litigation and case management experience, as well as demonstrated leadership in the organized bar.”

McMahon said the three attorneys were chosen from “an extraordinarily strong field of candidates.”

“Even as we regret the loss of our long-time colleagues Jay Francis, Ron Ellis and Andy Peck, we look forward to welcoming these three new members to our Southern District family,” she said.

Peck is stepping down in March 2018, while Francis and Ellis are leaving in late 2017.

The district will have seen five retirements of magistrate judges over the past few years, including Peck, Francis and Ellis. The Southern District has 14 full-time magistrate judges and another part-time magistrate judge.

“It’s a significant loss of experience since we each had at least 20 years experience on the bench by the time of retirement,” Peck said in an interview Monday.

Magistrate judges are paid $186,852 a year.