Judith E. Turkel

From the beginning when she first opened the doors to her own law firm in 1983, Judith was an early champion and pioneer working in what was then considered non-traditional family law.  She helped to develop a body of law that would recognize and serve the needs of previously unrecognized families, working extensively with the LGBT community representing clients in adoptions, donor and parenting agreements, and non-marital partnership agreements. Although legal recognition has dramatically expanded, Judith continues to do this work as well as to draft and negotiate prenuptial and post nuptial agreements.  Often, same sex couples have been together for many years prior to their marriage. How they address their separate and shared or marital assets can be complicated and challenging. 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.

In addition to her experience with members of the LGBT community, Judith often works with clients to provide for their animal companions in their estate plans.  Frequently, clients wish to create trusts for their beloved cats, dogs or birds, especially important for birds who can outlive their human family members by many years.

For over 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 another person.

She also handles probate and estate administration.


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 and to the vegan movement.   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.

After more than 15 years as a donor and supporter of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, in 2015 Judith joined the board of directors and now serves as Chair.  Catskill Animal Sanctuary does emergency rescue of farmed animals and horses, and also offers innovative programs that promote veganism and educate the public about the sentience of farm animals, the devastating impacts of agribusiness and institutionalized cruelty on animals, people, and the planet.

In 2018, Judith became a Strategic Advisor to the clients of The Animal Defense Partnership. ADP provides pro bono legal services to nonprofits that advocate for animals, and run sanctuaries and rescues.  Organizations are doing extraordinary work to change the way society treats and views animals. But many of them—particularly small and mid-sized nonprofits—are limited in the resources they can devote to their mission due to the operational demands and organizational issues that all charities face. ADP exists to unburden its clients as much as possible from these diversions, with the goal of freeing up resources that can be put to better use in direct advocacy on behalf of animals.

In 2019 Judith joined the board of directors of ADP and will continue to volunteer her time to work to end animal suffering and cruelty in all forms wherever it occurs.

Judith is an experienced lecturer and presenter.  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


Real Estate, Family Law, Wills, Trusts and Estates


  • New York State


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


  • 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


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


Judith has been awarded the Distinguished rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, the nationally recognized legal directory, signifying an excellent rating for legal ability and professional standards of conduct and ethics.


Judith and her partner Jennifer Costley live with their terriers Maisie and Annabelle in Manhattan and the Hudson Valley.  She and Jennifer are passionate travelers and hikers and have taken hiking trips to remote locations around the world including Antarctica, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa, Norway, Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands and the Dolomites.  Judith is an avid reader and a committed vegan and loves to cook for friends and introduce them to vegan food.