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J’can-born lawyer seeks seat on Buffalo city bench

Monday, April 28, 2014    

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BUFFALO, NY — Jamaican-born attorney Barbara Johnson-Lee, who has practised law in Buffalo for more than 20 years, could become the next Buffalo City Court Judge.

Johnson-Lee, who immigrated to the United States as a child, announced her candidacy last week.

She currently serves as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo/Public Defenders Unit (Criminal Defence), a role she has filled since 2007. She also worked as a hearing officer in the Small/Commercial Claims division of Buffalo's City Court, a position she held until 2010.

"Beyond my experience, and firm grasp of today's legal issues, I have the dedication required for the important position of city court judge," Johnson-Lee said. "It has been my life's goal to serve in a judicial capacity and my career has well prepared me for all that is required in serving on the bench. I have always endeavoured to be fair, impartial and honest in my legal career and I will continue to employ all of those qualities as a judge."

Prior to joining Legal Aid, Johnson-Lee spent 16 years in private practice, working diligently to ensure that all people would have access to quality legal service. During this time she was also actively involved with the Volunteer Lawyers Project where she provided free legal representation for many throughout the community. In 2002, Johnson-Lee was recognised for her volunteer efforts by the Erie County Bar Association which presented her with the Volunteer Lawyers Project Bro Bono Award.

The Jamaican native attended Canisius College and received a BA in Philosophy from SUNY at Buffalo in 1981 and her Juris Doctorate from State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1986. While in law school, she served on the law school admissions committee and was elected vice-president of the Black Law Students Association. She was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1991.

Johnson-Lee's professional associations include the New York State Bar Association, New York State Defenders Association, Inc, the Erie County Bar Association, the Minority Bar Association of Western New York and the Women Lawyers of Western New York.

She is also involved in volunteer work and according to a statement issued by her campaign office, is fully committed to her family, following the example set by her mother in raising her and eight siblings.

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