2017 Syracuse Law Honors Award Recipients

Hon. Jonathan W. Feldman, L’81

U.S. Magistrate Judge

Appointed in 1995, Honorable Jonathan W. Feldman is a United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of New York, presiding over criminal matters and civil cases in federal court, including civil jury trials.

Earlier in his public service career, Feldman was appointed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals as the first Federal Public Defender for the Western District of New York in 1992 and served in that position until he was appointed to the federal bench. Before his appointment as the Federal Defender, Feldman was a Partner in the Rochester law firm of Geraci & Feldman, from 1987 to 1992; he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, from 1983-1987; from 1982-1983, he clerked for the Honorable Michael A. Telesca, United States District Court, Western District of New York,

Feldman graduated summa cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1981 and received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1978. While in Syracuse, he was Managing Editor of the Syracuse Law Review, a member of the Syracuse Moot Court Board, and a member of the National Moot Court Trial Team. While at the College of Law, Feldman received the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy.

An adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School since 2013,  Feldman is a frequent instructor at judicial education and federal practice seminars. For almost 20 years, he has been the primary instructor on federal criminal practice and procedure for new United States Magistrate Judges. In April 2000, he was appointed by US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist to the Federal Judicial Center Magistrate Judge Education Committee. In 2005, Rehnquist then appointed Feldman Chair of the Magistrate Judge Education Committee.

In 2009 US Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts appointed Feldman to the United States Judicial Conference Committee on Defender Services, which controls funding and manages the administration of the Federal Public Defender Program. In 2012 Roberts appointed Feldman to the Board of the Federal Judicial Center, the education and research agency of the judicial branch of the United States Government. The Board meets at the Supreme Court and is chaired by the Chief Justice.

Judge Feldman is worthy of recognition by the College of Law because of his deep commitment to justice and to legal instruction.  For more than 20 years, Judge Feldman has served with great distinction as a United States Magistrate Judge in Rochester, NY.  For more than a decade, he has been the primary instructor of federal criminal practice and procedure for new magistrate judge training in the federal judicial system.  He is known by magistrate judges nationwide to be an engaging and caring instructor.  I have personally spoken with magistrate judges situated far from Rochester who recounted fondly their ‘baby judge’ training with Judge Feldman.

– College of Law Alumnus


Laura H. Harshbarger, L’97

Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC

Laura H. Harshbarger L’97 is an attorney in the labor and employment practice of Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC in Syracuse, NY, where she counsels employers from a wide variety of industries on human resources, Title VII, Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and other employment issues. Additionally, Harshbarger advises colleges and universities on Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and related higher education issues. She regularly defends organizations in New York State and federal courts and before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights. She also represents clients in arbitrations and mediations, negotiates collective bargaining agreements, and advises on labor relations.

In 2013, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Harshbarger to serve as Chair of the Fourth Department Judicial Screening Committee and to sit as a Member of the Governor’s State Judicial Screening Committee, both bodies that evaluate the qualifications of judicial candidates and make recommendations to the governor.

Educated at Bucknell University (B.A., summa cum laude, 1994) and Syracuse University College of Law (J.D., summa cum laude, 1997), Harshbarger is a frequent lecturer, author or co-author on a range of legal topics, and a Member of a national team of educational instructors for the National Center for Campus Public Safety’s Trauma Informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Adjudication Educational Program. At the College of Law, Harshbarger was honored by the Order of the Coif and was Notes Editor for the Syracuse Law Review.

Named Lawyer of the Year 2017 by Best Lawyers in America® for management-side employment law in the Syracuse, NY, area, Harshbarger continues to be listed in Best Lawyers in America® and New York Super Lawyers®. She is the Director of the Onondaga County Bar Foundation Board of Directors and a Member of the New York State Bar Association Labor and Employment Section of the Continuing Legal Education Committee.

“Laura has distinguished herself as a preeminent labor and employment attorney and has earned an outstanding reputation in her field. Her practice includes all aspects of labor and employment law; she advises colleges and universities with respect to Title IX and accommodating students with disabilities; and she has spoken at numerous conferences and seminars on Title IX compliance, sexual harassment/misconduct investigations, and dealing with emotionally distressed and suicidal students. Laura has achieved extraordinary recognition as a respected authority and leader in her field, and in 2016, the National Center for Campus Public Safety selected Laura, following a competitive application process, to serve on its Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Adjudication Educational Program team.

– College of Law Alumnus


Hon. Theodore A. McKee, L’75

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Theodore A. McKee was sworn in as a Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1994 and served as Chief Judge of the Third Circuit from May 2010 to October 2016.

After starting his legal career at a Philadelphia law firm, in 1977 McKee began his public service career, first as an Assistant United States Attorney, then as Deputy Solicitor to the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia and General Counsel to the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

McKee was then elected to a 10-year term as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, during which he chaired the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission. In 1994, President William J. Clinton nominated McKee to serve on the US Court of Appeals, shortly after McKee was retained for a second 10-year term on the Court of Common Pleas.

Graduating magna cum laude from Syracuse University College of Law in 1975, McKee earned several honors for outstanding academic performance and was inducted into the Order of the Coif.

McKee serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations, including the Vera Institute of Justice and Syracuse University. He is also a Member of the Board of Visitors of Temple Law School and an Honorary Member of the Board of Visitors of Syracuse University Law School. He has served as an Advisor to the American Law Institute’s project to revise the sentencing provisions of the Model Penal Code. He previously served on the Criminal Law Committee of the US Judicial Conference. As part of his official travels, in Russia McKee addressed the Council of Russian Judges on the “Independence of the American Judiciary”.

Judge McKee serves on the boards of directors of several nonprofit organizations and institutions, including the Vera Institute of Justice and Syracuse University. He also has served the Crime Prevention Association (“Caring People Alliance”) and Concerned Black Men, both of which help direct urban youth away from crime; the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation; and New Directions for Women, which provides female offenders with drug rehabilitation, education, and job counseling.”
– College of Law Alumnus

“Judge McKee exhibits a rare type of commitment. During my last several months with him, he has asked several specific questions about Dineen Hall, College of Law organizations, classes, the grading structure, the alumni network, faculty members, and students. He remembers everyone distinctively. At first I thought, he just has a really good memory, but after spending several months with him, I am convinced he remembers something only if he truly cares about it. Judge McKee has a clear allegiance to the College. Everyone here—and in the Syracuse legal community—is excited when he visits or even when his name is mentioned. He truly has a fan base in Syracuse, not just because of his accomplishments but also because of his positive attitude toward the University and a genuine concern for everything that is happening on campus.”

– College of Law Alumnus


Lee Michaels, L’67

Michaels & Smolak PC

Lee Michaels L’67 is the founder and president of Michaels & Smolak, P.C., a regional law firm based in Auburn, NY that primarily focuses on the representation of plaintiffs and potential plaintiffs in all forms of personal injury, wrongful death lawsuits and claims, and professional liability claims.

In addition to his legal practice, Michaels is a long-time adjunct professor at the College of Law, teaching trial practice. He also routinely volunteers as a coach and judge of the College’s Moot Court competitions and teams and has served on College alumni boards and other initiatives.

Michaels received a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, magna cum laude, in 1967. His law school honors include the Order of the Coif, the Justinian Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi National Honorary Society. Michaels was active in the Moot Court Honor Society and as an associate editor of Syracuse Law Review.

Prior to the College of Law, Michaels served as a destroyer gunnery department officer in the United States Naval Reserve where he attained the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade after participating in naval operations off Viet Nam, serving two years of active duty. He was later promoted to Lieutenant.

Throughout his career, Michaels has participated in a number of community organizations, such as Congregation B’nai Israel, Hospice of the Finger Lakes, and the United Way of Cayuga County, among others. Over the years he’s also served in many leadership positions in New York state and local bar associations and related groups.

Lee Michaels is one of the College of Law’s most loyal supporters.  He has been an adjunct professor for many years and has made lasting impressions on literally a generation of alumni.  Lee Michaels was one of the biggest reasons I decided to become a personal injury lawyer.  My very first personal injury case was referred to me by Lee.  I have known Lee for over 25 years.  I have worked on cases with him, helped him teach his class, sat on boards with him, and socialized with him on countless occasions.  Lee Michaels has a tireless work ethic, takes his responsibility as an advocate for the injured very seriously, has a sense of compassion and caring for others, is an extremely loyal friend, and has a deep sense of pride in his law degree from SU.”

– College of Law Alumnus


Frank W. Ryan, IV, L’94

DLA Piper

Frank Ryan ’90, L’94 is US Chair of DLA Piper’s Intellectual Property and Technology practice and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Global Board. He provides legal and strategic advice to domestic and multinational clients who draw on his experience in litigation, intellectual property, media and sports, and complex commercial matters.

Ryan has successfully taken a wide variety of cases to trial, and his clients turn to him as a go-to strategist and litigator for their most important matters. He has handled numerous cases and jury trials in the media, sport, and medical device arenas, and he has particular experience in patent, trademark, trade secret, false advertising, and business litigation.

Ryan routinely counsels clients on media and sports deals, as well as on patent, trademark, and copyright litigation and intellectual property portfolio development and protection. His numerous engagements include with major entertainment networks, media- and sports-related entities, and medical device companies.

Ryan graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in 1990 and from the College of Law with a J.D. in 1994. He is a Member of the International Trademark Association, American Bar Association Litigation and Media and Communications sections, New York State Bar Association, and Bar Association of the City of New York.

Frank’s experience includes numerous engagements for ESPN, Disney, ABC, NCAA-related matters, Nike, Al Jazeera, Medtronic, ConMed, and beIN Sports, as well as for a number of other prominent networks, medical device companies, and media- and sports-related entities, among them professional sports clubs.