Judith E. Turkel

Judith is one of the preeminent private practice attorneys in the area of non-traditional family law.  She is well known for representing clients in adoptions, donor and parenting agreements, and non-marital partnership contracts. Judith also represents clients in drafting and negotiating prenuptial and post nuptial agreements, especially for same sex couples where the issues are particularly challenging. Often same sex couples have been together for many years prior to their marriage. How they address their separate and shared or marital assets is often complicated and challenging for the couple. Judith can work with a couple through mediation or represent one person in a more traditional manner of negotiating these agreements.

Her wills and estate practice includes drafting wills, trusts and advance directive documents including health care proxies and powers of attorney and focuses on the needs of lesbians, gay men, transgender people and others in unrecognized or non-traditional families.   

For more than 30 years, Judith has maintained an extensive real estate practice representing both buyers and sellers in cooperative, condominium and single and multi-family properties.  She drafts joint property ownership agreements for her clients who own real estate with a partner or another person.

She also handles probate and estate administration.   Judith also represents a number of small business clients who come to her for counsel on a range of general business matters.  Judith has experience in employment contract review, specifically for Not-for-Profit organizations. 

Community Service and Pro Bono Work

Judith combines her professional knowledge and personal dedication to social justice and change to assist organizations that are important to the New York LGBT community.   Her long history of community involvement began in the early 1980s when she was one of the founding Board members of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York (LeGaL).  She also served on the Board of Directors of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc from 1984 to 1990, including three years as Co-Chair.  Judith was Vice-President of the Board of the Paul Rapoport Foundation for three years from 1993 to1996.

Judith helped lead a $13 million capital campaign for The Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center while she served as President of the Board of Directors from 1995 to 2000.  A dedicated advocate for the right to better resources and services for LGBT seniors in the 21st century, Judith joined Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) in 2005 as a member of the Board of Directors and  served as the Board's Co-Chair through 2011. 

At present,  Judith is involved in volunteer work in the area of educating less economically advantaged members of  the LGBT community about legal protections for same sex couples with children. In addition, she does volunteer work with Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS). CAS does  emergency rescue of farm animals and horses,  and also offers innovative programs that educate the public about the sentience of farm animals, and the devastating impacts of agribusiness and institutionalized cruelty on animals, people, and the planet

Judith is an experienced lecturer and presenter in the area of non-traditional family law.  She frequently lectures and participates in panels presented to both the legal and non legal community including:

  • New York City Bar Association: Marriage Equality in New York:
    The New Legal Landscape for Same-Sex Couples
  • New York County Lawyers Association:  Making it Legal
  • New York State  Bar Association Civil Rights Committee Program on Practical Approaches to the Legal  Issues Facing Lesbians and Gay Men
  • Practicing Law Institute Program on Legal Issues Facing the Non-Traditional Family
  • Progressive Family Agenda Conference
    New York Community Trust
  • NYS Judicial Training Panel on Non-Traditional Family Law
  • Lesbians at Law
  • Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York    
  • Center Kids
  • Lesbian Cancer Initiative
  • Out Professionals
  • Women on a Mission; LGBT Chamber of Commerce
    National Lesbian and Gay Bar Association:  Family Law Institute

Practice Areas

Real Estate, Family Law, Wills, Trusts and Estates, General Business Law, Employment Law

Bar Admissions

  • New York State
  • Southern District of New York
  • Eastern District of New York

Professional Affiliations

  • New York City Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York (LeGaL)   
  • National Family Law Advisory Council of National Center for Lesbian Rights

Honors and Awards

  • 2014 - 19th Annual Law Leadership Award, Pace Law School
  • 2014 - Leading Practitioners Award, National LGBT Bar Association
  • 2012 - LGBT Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association
  • 2012 - SAGE (Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders): Paula Ettelbrick Community Service Award
  • 2012 - Pace University School of Law – Lambda Courage Award
  • 2007 - Laurie Linton Community Activist Award, Stonewall Community Foundation
  • 2001 - Leadership Honors, Lesbian & Gay Community Services Center
  • 1995 - Legacy Uncommon Woman
  • 1987 - Bar Association for Human Rights of Greater New York (now LeGal) Community Service Award

Prior Experience

Judith worked for a small firm in the area of intellectual property before starting her own solo practice in 1983. She and Howard became partners in 1991. Turkel Forman & de la Vega was formed in 2005 and after partner Frederick de la Vega retired from the practice of law in 2012, the firm became Turkel Forman LLP.


  • Union College, Schenectady, New York- B.A. cum laude 1976
  • Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York- J.D. 1981

Martindale Hubbell Profile- Judith E. Turkel

About Judith

Judith and her partner live with their Cairn terriers in Manhattan and enjoy spending weekends in their upstate New York home and taking hiking trips to remote locations around the world.

NEW YORK, NY 10016

212-353-2200 fax 212-353-8828
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