Dean’s Message
Michael Cahill speaking at Ruth Bader Ginsburg's memorial in Brooklyn


N THESE DAYS so full of challenges, anxiety, and doubt, and at the risk of tempting fate, it is my pleasure to report that the fall semester is proceeding smoothly, albeit very differently, so far. It is also my distinct pleasure to be able to share some good news amid the gloom.

As this issue’s feature story documents, after 50 years, our clinical program is showing its maturity but not its age—building on a proud tradition, our clinics are stronger than ever. The same is true of our faculty, and I’m thrilled whenever I can give our professors the recognition they deserve, as I have been able to do multiple times recently. One special joy of serving as dean is the opportunity to confer a named chair on a tenured faculty member. Chairs are awarded to distinguished professors in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the scholarly community, the school, and the profession. In the last month, I have had the triple pleasure of recognizing three faculty colleagues in this way (read more here).

In mid-September, I announced that Professor William Araiza would be the new occupant of the Stanley A. August chair. Araiza has served the Law School as its vice dean, and he has been a prolific and thoughtful scholar, the author of multiple casebooks as well as numerous articles and monographs. His most recent book, Animus, which traces a theory of unconstitutional bias over two centuries of case law, has been widely cited by scholars and in the media. Araiza is also a strong supporter of legal education, both as an admired classroom teacher and by holding leadership positions in national law school organizations.

As we all know, the American legal community lost one of its brightest stars in September, Brooklyn native Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To honor her legacy, Board of Trustees Chair Frank Aquila ’85 proposed, and with unprecedented speed the board approved, the creation of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg chair. I was proud to announce its first occupant: Professor Susan Herman.

Herman is an heir, and protector, of RBG’s legacy in many ways. Both are prominently linked with the ACLU, under whose auspices Ginsburg fought so many battles for gender equality, and for which Herman has served as general counsel and, since 2008, as president. She has been a major voice for civil rights and civil liberties in the courtroom, in the media, and in dozens of scholarly articles, as well as in her book Taking Liberties, in which she considered the effects of the war on terror on American democracy. She was the obvious choice to become Brooklyn Law School’s first Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law.

In taking on this new chair, Herman vacated her existing one as Centennial Professor of Law, a title she shared with Roberta Karmel. I was delighted to fill that vacancy by naming Dana Brakman Reiser to be the new Centennial Professor of Law. Since joining the Law School in 2001, Brakman Reiser, an expert in the law of nonprofit corporations, has excelled in every aspect of an academic’s role. She is an outstanding, and exceedingly popular, teacher; she has served and helped govern the school in various ways, including as vice dean; and she has risen to the top in her intellectual community as one of the most well-regarded and influential scholars in her field and on our faculty.

These three distinguished professors join nine other Brooklyn Law School faculty chairs, whose expertise spans a wide array of areas. These chairs—like the school as a whole—are supported and sustained by the generosity of donors to the Law School. I am grateful for the privilege of having Araiza, Brakman Reiser, and Herman as colleagues, and I greatly look forward to future opportunities to recognize the achievements of our outstanding faculty.

Michael Cahill
Michael T. Cahill
President, Joseph Crea Dean, and Professor of Law