Hon. Julio M. Fuentes ’75, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge who has mentored dozens of UB School of Law students, and welcomed over 50 of them as summer interns, received the University at Buffalo School of Law’s 2024 Edwin F. Jaeckle Award. The award was conferred at the law school’s New York City Alumni Luncheon on Friday, January 19 at the Union League Club in Manhattan.
Judge Fuentes serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, hearing cases from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Elevated to that role in 2000, he assumed senior status in 2016.
A native of Puerto Rico, he served in the U.S. Army for several years before attending Southern Illinois University. He graduated from UB School of Law in 1975 and went on to earn master’s degrees from Rutgers University and New York University, as well as an honorary doctor of laws degree from Montclair State University.
Judge Fuentes began his legal career in private practice in Jersey City, N.J., before he was appointed a municipal court judge in Newark. Eleven years later, he went on to the New Jersey Superior Court bench, where he served in the Family, Criminal and Civil divisions and as presiding judge in Civil and General Equity. His nomination by President Bill Clinton to the Court of Appeals was approved by the U.S. Senate in a unanimous vote, making him the first Hispanic judge to sit on the Third Circuit.
Judge Fuentes is an emeritus member of the law school’s Dean’s Advisory Council, which consults with the dean on curricular, administrative and professional matters. For many years, he has facilitated opportunities for UB Law students to serve in summer clerkships at the highest level. Eleven of those students have gone on to become federal or state law clerks, and 18 of them have pursued careers in Big Law. Nine UB Law graduates have served Judge Fuentes as one of his elbow clerks.
Previously honored by the UB Law Alumni Association with a Distinguished Alumni Award for the judiciary, Judge Fuentes has also been recognized for his exceptional career by the law school’s Students of Color and by the Buffalo Law Review. In 2019, he received a SUNY Honorary Doctorate in Laws presented at the Class of 2019’s Commencement Ceremony, where he advised the new graduates, “If you contribute to just one more person feeling that their rights were protected and that our profession cared about them, you have done a great service.”
The Edwin F. Jaeckle Award is the highest honor the University at Buffalo School of Law and its Law Alumni Association can bestow. The award is given annually to a person who exemplifies the highest ideals of the law school and its alumni association and who has made significant contributions to the school and the legal profession.
The Jaeckle Award is named for Edwin F. Jaeckle ’15, a founding partner of the Buffalo law firm Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, and a major benefactor of the school. Judge Friedman joins several other esteemed members of the legal community who have previously received this award including Hon. Charles S. Desmond, Hon. Matthew J. Jasen, Manly Fleischmann, Jacob D. Hyman, Hon. M. Dolores Denman, William R. Greiner, and Hon. Hugh B. Scott, among others.