Brooklyn Law Notes Fall 2022

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Dean’s Message

A photograph of Michael T. Cahill (President, Joseph Crea Dean, and Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School) smiling and posing alongside students
By various measures, we have increased both the size and the quality of our incoming classes.

S MANY READERS likely know already, I announced over the summer that I will step down as dean at the end of this academic year. I have served during an especially challenging (albeit rewarding) time, and having held various administrative posts, here and elsewhere, for over a decade, it seems like a good moment to return to the faculty.

Looking back, I am very proud of all the progress the Law School has made on numerous fronts during my tenure as dean:

FACULTY. Certainly the most important and impactful legacy of my time as dean, in the short and long term, will be the outstanding additions to our faculty. The 18 full-time appointments, including 11 tenure-stream professors, have brought meaningful diversity to the faculty’s ranks and ensured the school’s ongoing vitality in the classroom, the scholarly community, and our wider society—building on historical areas of strength, such as evidence and securities, while adding expertise in areas of contemporary relevance, such as law and technology and election law.

Sustainable building is a buzzy topic now, but it is not new to Brooklyn Law School, which has offered relevant course material for 14 years. Alumni in the field explain its growing potential.
Terreform ONE designed this seven-story-tall habitat for monarch butterfl ies as part of the doubleskin, climate-controlled façade, solarpaneled green roof, and atrium of a commercial building in New York City (building model shown here). Mitchell Joachim is the project’s principal investigator. Courtesy of Terreform ONE.
Terreform ONE designed this seven-story-tall habitat for monarch butterflies as part of the doubleskin, climate-controlled façade, solar-paneled green roof, and atrium of a commercial building in New York City (building model shown here). Mitchell Joachim is the project’s principal investigator. Courtesy of Terreform ONE.
Sonya Smith-Valentine headshot
Sonya Smith-Valentine ’97, who started out as a CPA, used her financial expertise to specialize in corporate finance law. Her third (and favorite) act is Financially Fierce.
illustration of Benji Smith
Immigrant detainees, wilderness-area clients, and juvenile criminal cases were on the docket for these five public service interns.
A warm welcome to the incoming class, a salute to the Class of ’22, and Vice Dean Miriam Baer on her new role.
The Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic counts wins for its Survivors Justice Project in terms of years not spent in prison.
A look at potential legal paths after the Dobbs ruling, and a writer’s look inside a notorious women’s prison.
Allen Grubman ’67 shares the story of how a luncheon at a famous Chinese restaurant set off a journey that led to his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
New professors; and 2022 Faculty of the Year winner Professor Alexis Hoag-Fordjour shares a playlist.
In-person is back on. Alumni luncheon and awards recap, plus throwback photos to celebrate upcoming Reunions.
The Taft Foundation increases its grant; the family of Becky McBride ’13 launches a scholarship honoring her tireless work, especially on behalf of young immigrants.
A boutique entertainment law firm with a proud cohort of Brooklyn Law School alumni saw an uptick in work during the pandemic as the demand for content soared.
Professor Heidi K. Brown has well-being advice just for attorneys in her new book, The Flourishing Lawyer.
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Vol. 27
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Large crowd of people around a snack table

The incoming class enjoyed refreshments and light bites in the dining hall before the convocation program got underway.

Incoming Law School Class Receives Warm Welcome at Campus Convocation

THE BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL campus brimmed with new faces Aug. 22, 2022, as a class of 411 students celebrated the start of their first year at the annual convocation.

The incoming class includes a mix of recent college graduates and those who migrated to law from a wide range of professions, including media, accounting, entrepreneurship, investment banking, not-for-profit organizations, and the military. Convocation speakers welcomed students to a thriving, tight-knit community.

“I hope you realize the students sitting next to you and whom you have met today are quickly becoming your friends, and they will become your colleagues, your support group, and eventually your legal network,” Vice Dean and Centennial Professor of Law Miriam Baer said. “We professors and administrators also like to think we are part of that network, because we are your mentors and often will be your strongest cheerleaders. But without question, your classmates are your greatest assets here at Brooklyn Law School.”

Commencement Day 2022 Celebrated With Family and Friends

Sage advice, words of encouragement and hope, and more than a few laughs and whoops of congratulations from the audience made commencement day 2022 memorable for the nearly 450 members of Brooklyn Law School’s classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 who gathered with families and friends at the Coney Island Amphitheater. It was a particularly joyous day, as this was the first in-person commencement since 2019.

The program featured remarks by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Frank Aquila ’83, and a speech by valedictorian Brian J. Fischer ’22, who was joined at the event by his grandfather Louis J. Castellano, Jr. ’49. The keynote speaker was Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was conferred the honorary degree of Juris Doctor Honoris Causa.

Take pride. You have gained degrees in the most challenging times imaginable. When you live in times like this, you have to bathe in every joy, revel in every good day.
— Preet Bharara,
commencement speaker
(pictured in photo bottom left, middle)
Graduate giving a speech
Excited graduate doing the walk
A mother graduate
My grandpa is here, a 1949 alumnus, now 96: He was a civil litigator and did pro bono work. It took him 3 tries to pass the bar…but he went on to help change people’s lives. So even if you just scraped by, if you don’t get a perfect start, if you stick with this lawyer thing, you can change the world.
— Brian J. Fischer ’22
(pictured in photo above, left)
Three men in regalia
Take pride. You have gained degrees in the most challenging times imaginable. When you live in times like this, you have to bathe in every joy, revel in every good day.
— Preet Bharara,
commencement speaker
(pictured in photo above, middle)
Commencement crowd of 2022

Vice Dean Miriam Baer Keeps the Communication Lines Open

Miriam Beer
Vice Dean
Miriam Baer
Vice Dean and Centennial Professor of Law Miriam Baer returned from sabbatical, and her September calendar was already packed—as in eating a 3:30 p.m. “lunchtime” salad at her desk kind of packed—reminiscent of her days practicing criminal and corporate law.

Yet the brimming schedule signifies that Brooklyn Law School is transitioning back toward a pre-pandemic era, in which Baer sees her mission as twofold: keeping the lines of communication open among students, faculty, and administrators, and being cognizant that although the pandemic is not over, the Law School needs an in-person experience that works for all.

“The most important mission now is to comfortably and safely bring us back into the building and back to in-person teaching, meetings, and events,” said Baer. “We all seem to learn more through our in-person interactions, and we enjoy our jobs more when we see and talk to each other.”

Baer has been gathering student feedback, positive and negative, to share with faculty. Likewise, she ensures students are aware of the latest wonderful faculty happenings. This year, she also hopes to see alumni and students take advantage of the rich programming at the Law School’s centers.

During her sabbatical, Baer was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, where she worked on her book, Myths and Misunderstandings of White-Collar Crime (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming in early 2023. She connected with scholars from different fields whose work touches on ethics, using their expertise to inform her scholarship on white-collar crime and its inherent ethical failures.

“What my book ultimately says is that we need to change our federal criminal statutes, which actually hide more than they convey,” Baer said. “They’re so broad in their creation—it’s not just that they cover a lot of conduct, but that they fail to distinguish variations of the same type of conduct, so we end up learning less about our enforcement and about the laws that are actually being violated than we could if we had clearer statutes and subdivided statutes.”

Some of the most blatant examples include fraud and obstruction of justice, Baer said. Changing the federal criminal code requires Congressional action, but, Baer said, criminal law reform is that rare agenda item with aisle-crossing appeal. “The only way to make reform possible in this area is to imagine it, discuss it, and promote it.”

Baer inherited the Centennial Professor of Law title and advice from her mentor and friend, 1901 Distinguished Research Professor of Law Roberta Karmel, now retired. “How do I make my students better off; how do I make the institution better off? When we tackle those questions as a group, recognizing the importance of collegiality and camaraderie, it all comes together,” she said.

Associate Dean Jocelyn Simonson to Promote Research and Scholarship

Jocelyn Simonson
Associate Dean
Jocelyn Simonson
Professor Jocelyn Simonson, who writes and teaches about criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and social change, has been named Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship.

In her new role, Simonson is charged with developing and promoting the Law School’s scholarly community, including the work of its outstanding faculty, which was ranked 33rd nationwide in a recent study of scholarly impact. She will help develop student scholarship, including work on Brooklyn Law School’s four law journals, and will coordinate with the Law School’s nationally known centers and institutes.

Simonson’s own scholarship, which has been cited twice by the U.S. Supreme Court, explores ways in which the public participates in the criminal process and in the institutions of local governance that control policing and punishment. She is currently working on a book, Radical Acts of Justice: Shifting Power to the People, from Community Bail Funds to Courtwatching (The New Press), forthcoming in 2023.

Shining a Spotlight on Prosecutorial Misconduct

A portrait photograph of Professor Cynthia Godsoe smiling as she poses for a picture
Professor Cynthia Godsoe
WHEN INDIVIDUALS ARE WRONGLY CONVICTED of a crime and subsequently found innocent and released from prison—sometimes decades later—theirs are heartbreaking tales of irretrievable years.

But when prosecutorial misconduct is behind the convictions, these cases are also disturbing from a professional ethics perspective. Bringing such misconduct to light is the mission of Accountability NY, a project led by a group of six law professors, including Brooklyn Law School Professor Cynthia Godsoe.

The group has filed ethics complaints concerning almost 40 prosecutors whom appellate courts had found committed misconduct. Although the first complaints were filed with the bar’s Grievance Committee in charge of attorney discipline 18 months ago, no action against the prosecutors has been publicly acknowledged. The cases include a Brooklyn prosecutor who withheld key evidence at trial that could have exonerated the accused, a man who spent 24 years in prison, and a Queens case in which three men spent over two decades in prison after what a judge called false statements to the court at trial and withholding evidence.

Prosecutorial misconduct should be investigated and addressed by each judicial district’s Grievance Committee, and could result in public admonition, suspension, or disbarment for the prosecutors. Yet the fate of the complaints filed with those committees is unclear, Godsoe said. The city’s lawyers fought against Accountability NY’s efforts to publish the complaints, but in July, the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York ruled in favor of Accountability NY, based on First Amendment rights.

“Our project illustrates how reluctant the bar seems to police its own,” Godsoe said.

The issue is widespread. A recent National Registry of Exonerations study found that prosecutorial misconduct was at play in one-third of 2,400 exonerations. The Death Penalty Information Center found more than 550 U.S. cases that led to capital convictions being overturned.

“Prosecutors don’t have clients, and they’re supposed to act in the interest of justice,” Godsoe said. Instead, “the primary way [District Attorneys’ offices] measure success is conviction rates, so the incentive is there to win at any cost. But you’re cheating people out of their lives.”

She sees signs of hope, including progressive prosecutors willing to address misconduct, such as Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn and Alvin Bragg in Manhattan, not to mention her students.

“They have no patience for this,” Godsoe said. “They only want to work at the [D.A.] offices where this doesn’t go on.”

Watch video of Godsoe and two panelists discussing wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct.

No Sleep for Clinic Aiding Domestic Violence Survivors

PROFESSOR KATE MOGULESCU, who founded the Law School’s Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic in 2017 and has energetically expanded its influence in the years since, did not take the summer off.

Instead, she and her colleagues and students worked to expand the clinic’s Survivors Justice Project (SJP), an interdisciplinary collective launched in 2020 with a mission to help incarcerated people seek reduced sentences under the state’s 2019 Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), which allows courts to consider whether sexual, psychological, or physical abuse contributed to convictions. SJP is led by a team of formerly incarcerated women, all survivors of long-term incarceration and most domestic violence survivors. The clinic has worked with eight survivors released from prison, including three who received indeterminate sentences as teenagers. The goal is to have New York serve as a model for other jurisdictions.

“We’re trying to build best practices in the implementation of DVSJA, and the clinic is at the center of that,” said Mogulescu. To help corral statewide data that looks at the role of geography, race, and other factors, she has secured a generous $200,000 commitment over two years from four law firms: Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Davis Polk; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Those funds allowed SJP to bring aboard new legal fellow Clarissa Gonzalez, who will lead SJP efforts to be a DVSJA clearinghouse for data collection and fielding inquiries from survivors in jail and prison.

Intellectual Life
Each semester, the Law School offers a robust calendar of intellectually rich and dynamic programs sponsored by its centers and institutes, fellowship programs, and journals. Led by our nationally recognized faculty, the programs feature leading scholars, jurists, and practitioners exploring critical topics in diverse areas of the law and policy.

What’s Next After Dobbs?

Panel Discussion: What's Next After Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization banner
FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATES, there is no single answer to what may follow the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which upended Roe v. Wade and sent decisions on women’s abortion rights back to the states.

But, at a Brooklyn Law School virtual event on Sept. 19, professors and thought-leader guests discussed potential legal paths to address a decision that all agreed was devastating to women’s rights. Associate Dean Karen Porter moderated the event, which was co-sponsored by the Center for Health, Science, and Public Policy and the Women’s Leadership Network.

Professor Susan Herman, president emeritus of the American Civil Liberties Union, said post-Dobbs battles will be fought on various fronts across a nation now divided into states where abortion remains legal and those where abortion restrictions snapped into place.

Hugh Ryan Book Explores Intersection of NYC’s Queer and Carceral Histories

Hugh Ryan being interviewed by Professor Kate Mogulescu

Professor Kate Mogulescu, right, interviews author Hugh Ryan about his latest book as part of our Book Talk series.

Hugh Ryan being interviewed by Professor Kate Mogulescu
Professor Kate Mogulescu, right, interviews author Hugh Ryan about his latest book as part of our Book Talk series.

Author Hugh Ryan shared insights from his latest book, The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison, which delves into LGBTQ history and the dramatic story of a now-shuttered women’s prison in New York City, as part of Brooklyn Law School’s Book Talk series.

“When I started researching queer history, the trail led me back to prisons, as places of confinement, community, and as vast unexplored archives of LGBTQ history,” said historian and curator Ryan, during a Sept. 19 book talk at the Subotnick Center. It was moderated by Professor Kate Mogulescu, with participation by Professors Alexis Hoag-Fordjour and Jocelyn Simonson, the three co-directors of the Center for Criminal Justice, which sponsored the event.

Following that trail, in the wake of his award-winning first book When Brooklyn Was Queer, led Ryan to one infamous prison in New York’s Greenwich Village. From 1929 to 1974, the so-called “House of D” was filled with stories of the thousands of incarcerated women and gender-nonconforming people subjected to neglect and brutal treatment.

Faculty Notes

PROFESSOR STEVEN DEAN joined a panel of tax experts for a “Strengthening the IRS to Create a More Equitable Tax Code” webinar hosted by Prosperity Now on June 15. Experts at the webinar outlined how proper funding and a better-funded tax code can benefit the lowest-income families, especially families of color.

PROFESSOR HEIDI K. BROWN, author of the new book The Flourishing Lawyer, moderated a panel titled “Coaching Law Students for Healthy Performance” on July 5 at the Congress for the International Academy for Law and Mental Health in Lyon, France.

PROFESSOR FRANK PASQUALE discussed the challenges and advantages of artificial intelligence and how it is changing medical practice during a virtual Sydney Ideas, held July 25 by the University of Sydney.

New York Bar Associations—with pro bono support from PROFESSOR CYNTHIA GODSOE—counted a victory July 25 when a New York state judge ordered the state and New York City to pay assigned counsel for children and indigent adults at the same pay rate received by assigned counsel in federal court. It marks the first rate increase in 20 years.

ADJUNCT PROFESSOR CYRUS D. MEHTA, a renowned immigration law scholar, was named the new editor-in-chief for the American Immigration Lawyers Association Law Journal in July.

Part of the success I’ve had with Financially Fierce is that I was able to layer on skills from my previous two careers, including what I learned from being an accountant and what I learned from practicing law.

It All Added Up

Sonya Smith-Valentine ’97

While serving large corporate clients as a financial attorney, Sonya Smith-Valentine ’97 had a lightbulb moment. She realized that her legal services would be utterly unnecessary if midlevel managers possessed a higher degree of business acumen.

“Especially in litigation work, I would ask myself, ‘How did we get here?’” Smith-Valentine said. “There was a failure in decision somewhere, because this should never have happened; the client should not be in court. And then after you conduct the discovery and dig in, you realize this was a leadership failure.”

Such behind-the-scenes dysfunction inspired Smith-Valentine to start Financially Fierce, a training and consulting business that she runs from her home just outside Washington, D.C. With the direct style of a native New Yorker—and decades of financial and legal experience behind her—Smith-Valentine helps corporations improve their bottom line by training managers to make financially astute decisions, and she helps set things straight when they do not.

I’m very, very proud: I’m the first lawyer that’s ever been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and it’s really very important to me.

Legend Maker

Allen Grubman ’67


The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 2022 inductees features iconic performers, including Dolly Parton and Eminem, as well as someone known instead for his work behind the scenes of the entertainment industry: Allen J. Grubman ’67.

For decades, Grubman has been one of the most revered names in entertainment law, with a blue-chip client list that includes Lady Gaga, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Martha Stewart, Robert DeNiro, and LeBron James.

But the story of how Grubman co-founded the Hall of Fame, where he remains the secretary and treasurer, is less well known. It all started in 1983, when Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun invited him to lunch at Pearls Chinese Restaurant, revealing only that “it’s important for you to be there because of the fact that you’re a lawyer,” recalled Grubman, senior partner at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.


From the $370 billion U.S. climate spending deal to cities that have crafted sustainability goals, fighting climate change is a top national priority.

For legal professionals in finance, land use, and real estate, the move toward a greener future brings endless opportunities.

By Nanette Maxim
Illustration by Celyn Brazier
Colorful illustration of green city by Celyn Brazier
Colorful illustration of green city by Celyn Brazier
Imagine a high-rise building that is reinforced with rebar made of hemp that won’t rust, unlike steel and concrete, and in which artificial intelligence systems flick lights on and off for optimum performance. Envision a public sculpture that does double duty as a home for mealworms that eat foam packaging e-waste and turn it into compost. Picture a cold-climate home that requires heat just a few days a year thanks to passive home systems that—as if by magic—marshal energy from the sun, internal heat sources, and heat recovery.

These scenarios have progressed from the realm of the imagination to reality, especially as cities worldwide race to prioritize sustainable structures that mitigate the impacts of global warming and create healthier work and home environments. Meanwhile, myriad players, including attorneys, are finding solutions that put a sustainable and healthier future increasingly within reach.

Brooklyn Law School has been prescient about sustainability; classes on the topic are now in their 14th year. Over the summer, the Introduction to Sustainability & Future Cities Boot Camp united professionals, alumni, and students to share ideas, knowledge, and experiences. Discussions at the event, as well as interviews with faculty and alumni afterward, revealed that the rise of green cities—and towns—is happening now.

Summer of Service

Summer of Service title
Internships, along with clinics and externships, form the real-world experience triumvirate for Brooklyn Law School students, a chance to exit the classroom and stride directly into the field of actual clients, casework, and courtrooms. The transition is especially dramatic for the 150 students who worked over the summer of 2022 through Brooklyn Law School’s public service grants or fellowships.

These five third-year law students were drawn to public service work for different reasons, but they are part of the same compassionate guild. They want to help empower and alter the fates of people in need through a deeper understanding of their stories, focusing on immigrants, juveniles, and low-income detainees.

They share an affinity for helping those who are disenfranchised, a knack for storytelling, and an awareness that with every court filing, brief, or appearance, they are getting closer to becoming the kind of attorneys and—perhaps more importantly—the kind of people they want to be.

Within Brooklyn Law School’s past three graduating classes (2019-2021), between 10 and 12 percent went into public service law.
illustration of Wilson Baer


The Educator typography
illustration of Juliana Lopez


The Advocate typography
illustration of Paige Massaker


The Holistic Practitioner typography
illustration of Anjani Shah


The Storyteller typography
illustration of Benji Smith


The Pioneer typography
illustration of Wilson Baer


The Educator typography
illustration of Juliana Lopez


The Advocate typography
illustration of Paige Massaker


The Holistic Practitioner typography
illustration of Anjani Shah


The Storyteller typography
illustration of Benji Smith


The Pioneer typography
Portrait of Anna Roberts
Professor Anna Roberts joined Brooklyn Law School this year after serving as a visiting professor during the last academic year.

New Professors to Challenge Students With Intriguing Legal Issues, New Ideas

Brooklyn Law School extended a warm welcome to a slate of new professors whose scholarship and legal experience promise to bring fresh ideas and viewpoints on such varied topics as the language used in criminal cases, critical race theory, and the gig economy. In addition to their scholarship and experience, they shared their favorite Brooklyn experiences (so far).

Anna Roberts, formerly a visiting professor at Brooklyn Law School, has joined the tenured faculty as Professor of Law, and is teaching Evidence, Criminal Law and Procedure (including contemporary issues), and Torts.

“Among the many reasons why I was thrilled to accept the offer were the students and the faculty,” Roberts said. “Visiting allowed me to meet a large group of students in my Evidence class, and the discussions that we had in that course were among the best that I have had in my teaching career. The faculty is mighty across the board and, in the areas on which I focus, includes scholars that have influenced me as much as anyone in the field.”

Alissa Bauer
Alissa Bauer officially joins the Law School as Assistant Professor of Legal Writing after serving as visiting assistant professor at Brooklyn Law School during the 2021–22 academic year. Previously, she spent 10 years at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, where she taught the first-year legal writing course, an LL.M. legal writing course, an appellate advocacy course, and a contract drafting course. Bauer was also a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Brooklyn favorites: “I love just walking around the different streets and neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Before I moved out to the suburbs, I clerked in the Eastern District of New York—you can see the courthouse from the windows in one of my classrooms—and lived in Cobble Hill.”

Louis Jim
Louis Jim joins the Brooklyn Law School faculty as Assistant Professor of Legal Writing after four years at Albany Law School, where he taught legal communication and research as well as criminal justice courses. His interests focus on whether traditional methods of teaching legal communication concepts still apply and the use of technology in teaching law. Jim has also practiced law in the public and private sectors. He served as an assistant attorney general in the New York State Office of the Attorney General and as an associate attorney at Bond, Schoeneck & King, where he practiced commercial, tort, and estate litigation.

Brooklyn favorites: “I enjoy taking a Citi Bike through Prospect Park. Living in Brooklyn also provides access to a wide variety of cuisines. Finally, I enjoy being closer to my parents: My dad lives in Queens and my mom lives on Long Island.”

Shirley Lin
Shirley Lin joins Brooklyn Law School as Assistant Professor of Law after teaching at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University and at New York University School of Law. She researches and teaches critical race theory, employment law, and contracts. Her scholarship explores constructions of race, disability, and gender, and their legal regulation within the political economy. Lin was previously a senior associate at Outten & Golden LLP, a national labor and employment law firm, where she advised and litigated on behalf of plaintiffs in civil rights and commercial matters.

Brooklyn favorites: “I love that Brooklyn brims with creativity, possibility, and courage, even during the toughest of times. Because we love beaches, my family is looking forward to taking the Brooklyn ferry to the Rockaways on the weekends. We’ve already begun to find Brooklyn analogues to our favorites, such as enjoying arepas in Bar Caracas’ outdoor patio, and the Thai curries at Lemongrass.”

Brittany Persson
Brittany Persson ’07 joins Brooklyn Law, effective July 1, as Assistant Professor of Law and as the Director of the Brooklyn Law School Library after serving as a librarian and associate professor who taught advanced legal research at Seton Hall University School of Law. Her teaching focuses on legal research; emerging technology in legal research; legal research in appellate advocacy; regulatory, statutory, and legislative history research; and free online legal research tools. She began her legal career as a transactional attorney with White & Case in New York City.

Brooklyn favorites: “I love shopping at Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue. The chocolate malt balls are my favorite.”

Alberto Rodriguez
Alberto Rodriguez joins the Law School as Assistant Professor of Legal Writing after teaching legal writing as a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School since 2011. His classes have included brief-writing, oral advocacy, and fundamental lawyering skills. Rodriguez served as a litigation associate in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, as an assistant corporation counsel representing the City of New York and its agencies, and as counsel in the labor and employment group of Seyfarth Shaw. Most recently, he was a supervising attorney prosecuting employment discrimination cases at the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Brooklyn favorites: “I love how Brooklyn is so diverse and filled with interesting people from all walks of life.”

Lisa Washington
Lisa Washington joins Brooklyn Law School as Assistant Professor of Law, after serving as the William H. Hastie Research and Teaching Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is particularly interested in overlapping issues of poverty, race, and gender in the carceral state. Her research focuses on the intersections of family regulation law and the criminal legal system. Washington has also worked at the Bronx Defenders in New York City, where she was a fellow in the criminal defense practice and later a staff attorney in the family defense practice. She co-directed the Gertrude Mainzer Family Defense Clinic at Cardozo School of Law. Washington has a background in comparative legal studies and is completing a comparative legal thesis as part of her Ph.D. studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin.

Brooklyn favorites: “I’m very excited about going to Barclays Center this upcoming basketball season. The Lakers will be here in January—can’t wait.”

Sarah Winsberg
Sarah Winsberg joins Brooklyn Law School as Assistant Professor of Law after serving as Climenko Fellow and lecturer in law at Harvard Law School. Currently an advanced Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Pennsylvania, Winsberg studies the way that sorting and organizing legal knowledge has produced profound changes in the common law of contracts, work, and business. Her research reveals these lost transformations, using history to offer insight into the theory of private law. It also explores the roots of modern economic conundrums, from the gig economy to the rise of subcontracting as corporate structure, and beyond. Winsberg’s article Attorney ‘Mal-Practices’: An Invisible Ethical Problem in the Early American Republic, 19 Legal Ethics 187 (2016), received the Deborah Rhode Early Career Scholar Paper Prize.

Brooklyn favorites: “This is my first time living in Brooklyn, so I’m still discovering new places. My favorite spot, so far, is Prospect Park on a sunny day.”

Students Are All Ears in Professor Alexis Hoag-Fordjour’s Classes

Alexis Hoah-Fordjour
WALK PAST PROFESSOR ALEXIS HOAG-FORDJOUR’S classroom and the sounds of Jay-Z’s “Dope Man,” Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” or Taylor Swift and The Chicks singing “Goodbye Earl” might drift out—as may the crackle of gunfire from Lil Baby’s “Pure Cocaine” music video. Class is in session.

Hoag-Fordjour uses contemporary music as a learning tool. On the first day of Evidence, she assigned students to either the defense or the prosecution to argue whether a judge should admit rap lyrics as evidence in a criminal trial. In practice, prosecutors have used such evidence against defendants facing criminal charges, especially young Black men. “The exercise allows for a fruitful discussion about prejudice versus probative value, and about how race can factor into evidentiary determinations,” Hoag-Fordjour explained.

When courses went temporarily remote in January 2022, Hoag-Fordjour continued the tradition as a pre-class icebreaker for her Criminal Procedure students logging onto Zoom. Once in-person classes resumed, students began submitting recommendations of songs with lyrics referencing the criminal adjudication system. She happily obliged. “I’m responding to the students,” said Hoag-Fordjour, also a co-director of the Center for Criminal Justice. “They’re dialed in; they’re committed to learning good practice skills and I want to be responsive to that. My teaching style is also informed by what I would have wanted as a student.”

Faculty Scholarship: Brooklyn Law School’s faculty continue to excel, with books and articles placed in top law reviews around the country.
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Recent and forthcoming highlights include:

William Araiza

Rebuilding Expertise: Creating Effective and Trustworthy Regulation in an Age of Doubt (NYU Press, 2022)

Americans’ trust in public institutions is at near historic lows and “bureaucracy” and “big government” are pejorative terms. Araiza investigates the sources of this phenomenon and explains how we might rebuild trust in our public institutions. Using an interdisciplinary approach, with insights from history, political science, law, and public administration, Araiza explores our current bureaucratic malaise and presents a road map to finding our way out of it, toward a regime marked by effective, expert regulation that remains democratically accountable and politically legitimate (see Professor Araiza discussing his book at the Brooklyn Book festival).

Heidi K. Brown

The Flourishing Lawyer (ABA Book Publishing, 2022)

The Flourishing Lawyer offers an empathetic guide for members of the legal profession to cultivate their personal and professional well-being, identify and develop their individual strengths, and define success on their own terms. Drawing from lessons and research from the fields of psychology, health care, sports, and medicine, this book is an affirming guide to becoming a better contributor to the profession while living a flourishing life (see “Flourishing” in the Field of Law”).

Alumni Events

Alumni Toast Award Winners and Mingle at Alumni Luncheon

After two years of gathering virtually for the Brooklyn Law School Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Luncheon, on May 6 more than 300 alumni, faculty, students, and friends left their screens behind to reunite and celebrate in person at a luncheon held at the beautiful Cipriani 25 Broadway.

Attendees saluted the great accomplishments of Alumni Rising Stars Dong Joo Lee ’13, Mary Willis White ’13, and Alumni of the Year Frank V. Carone ’94 and Wanda K. Denson-Low ’81.

The mood was buoyant, as Valerie Fitch ’88, who ended her latest term as Alumni Association president, remarked on how everyone looked better in person than on a Zoom screen. “These events show what an amazing place Brooklyn Law School is and how incredible our graduates and faculty are. I’ve been proud to be president and enjoyed every minute,” said Fitch.

She also introduced incoming president Deborah Riegel ’93. “I want to thank Valerie,” said Riegel, “for stewarding the Alumni Association with grace, with an iron fist when necessary, with compassion, and a welcoming and collaborative nature. I have extraordinarily big shoes to fill!”

The event took place thanks to 33 generous sponsors who made the 2022 Alumni Luncheon possible. All proceeds from the event support the Annual Fund for students at Brooklyn Law School.

Mary Willis White speaking at a podium
“If I were asked at my K&F interview a decade ago where I would see myself today I hope I would have been bold enough to imagine the things I could do in real estate in the greatest city in the world. That I would be hiring fellow alumni.”
—Mary Willis White ’13, Rising Star, Partner, Kriss & Feuerstein
Dong Joo Lee speaking at a podium
“[When I was just 4, my parents] left South Korea and everything they had known to give us a better life and become people who care about the world.”
—Dong Joo Lee ’13, Rising Star, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey
Wanda K. Denson-Low speaking at a podium
“Brooklyn Law School gave me a sense of community and taught me how to be an advocate. As lawyers upholding equity and the rule of law, you can always do something from whatever place you’re in to make the world better.”
—Wanda K. Denson-Low ’81, Alumna of the Year, Retired Senior Vice President of the Office of Internal Governance at the Boeing Co. and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Frank V. Carone speaking at a podium
“I entered Brooklyn Law School with insecurities and fixed opinions, but my Law School education transformed the way I thought.”
—Frank V. Carone ’94, Alumnus of the Year, Chief of Staff, New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Reunions 2023 Will Be Held on Campus in the Spring

Mark your calendar today for Thursday, May 18, 2023—the next Reunions will be here sooner than you expect. We are excited to welcome alumni whose class years end in 3 or 8 back to campus and are currently planning the details of your celebration. Please check back periodically for updates and see the tips box at right for things you can do now to best prepare.

To get everyone in the spirit, we are sharing some throwback photos (below) from the 2018 reunion at New York City landmark Cipriani 25 Broadway, which was the last time these same groups reconnected with friends, classmates, and faculty. We look forward to celebrating with you.

Update your contact information so you don’t miss any updates. To make updates or for more information on Reunions 2023, email Director of Alumni Engagement Sarah Gowrie,
Emily Goodman and Robert Markfield
Hon. Emily Goodman ’68, who retired from the New York State Supreme Court, marks her 50th Reunions with classmate Robert Markfield ’68.
Ronald Pohl joins classmates posing for a group shot
Ronald Pohl ’83 , front and center, joins classmates posing for a group shot. This year will mark their 40th Reunions.
Martin Siegel with Alan Stopek and Robert Zuckerman
Martin Siegel ’68, center, celebrates his 50-year Reunions with Alan Stopek ’68, right, and Robert Zuckerman ’68.
Trisha Singh, Jane Ordower, Daniel Ordower and Bilal Haider
This year will mark the 10th Reunions for this group, then celebrating five years. The group includes (starting second from left) Trisha Singh ’13, Jane Ordower ’13, Daniel Ordower ’13 and Bilal Haider ’13.
Linda Wroblewski, Gail Williams, Ann Hsiung,  Hon. Jean Bell, and Judy Zuhusky
This year will mark the 40th Reunions for these alumni, including, from left, Linda Wroblewski ’83, Gail Williams ’83, Ann Hsiung ’83, Hon. Jean Bell ’83, and Judy Zuhusky ’83.
Alumni Impact

Taft Foundation Elevates Grant to $1.7M as Disability and Civil Rights Clinic Expands Reach

Professor Sarah Lorr headshot
Professor Sarah Lorr
Professor Prianka Nair
Professor Prianka Nair
The Taft Foundation, whose mission is to improve the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), renewed its grant for Brooklyn Law School’s Disability and Civil Rights Clinic, increasing it to $1.7 million, as the clinic expands beyond New York State.

Led by co-directors Professors of Clinical Law Sarah Lorr and Prianka Nair, the clinic focuses its advocacy on clients who are placed under or are at risk of being placed under guardianship, parents who are enmeshed in the child welfare system, and incarcerated people.

The clinic’s efforts came to fruition over the summer. Lorr, along with Jane Dowling ’22 and Lydia Saltzbart ’22, helped research and draft the New York City Bar Association Mental Health Law Committee’s brief supporting a New York State bill to give adults with I/DD the right to legally enforceable “supported decision making” with the assistance of a chosen circle of support. Introduced by the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, the bill passed the state Senate in April, and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law July 26.

Becky McBride against blue wall
Becky McBride against blue wall

New Scholarship Established in Honor of Becky McBride ’13

THE FAMILY OF REBECCA “BECKY” MCBRIDE ’13, who is fondly remembered for her adventurous spirit, love of laughter, and tireless commitment to advocating for immigrants in New York City, founded a Brooklyn Law School scholarship in her honor.

Becky passed away April 9, 2020, after a two-year battle with breast cancer, surrounded by her family and grieved by friends. She was 35.

Her parents, Robert and Randye McBride; her brother, Ben, and his wife, Glenny; and numerous friends and colleagues still marvel at her legacy. Born on New Year’s Day 1985 in New York City, Becky grew up in East Windsor, N.J., and attended American University, majoring in philosophy, and minoring in Spanish. After graduating in 2007, she moved to Argentina, where she volunteered at a nonprofit organization, became fluent in Spanish, and decided to focus on practicing law in defense of the underserved, which prompted her entering Brooklyn Law School.

As director of legal services at Atlas:DIY and as a staff attorney at Central American Legal Assistance (CALA), both in New York, native Spanish speakers knew her as Abogada (lawyer) Becky, and staff recall her as often clad in a favorite leather jacket. Her work reunited families, stopped deportations, and was directly responsible for hundreds of newly recognized and soon-to-be citizens in the U.S. That included undocumented minors, who she always referred to by name and treated as unique individuals, not cases.

Her colleagues remember Becky warmly. “She was an example of how to care, how to be responsible, how to laugh,” recalled CALA Director Ann Pilsbury.

The scholarship will be open to second- or third-year students and is based on financial need. Primary consideration will be given to students with a demonstrated interest in not-for-profit immigration law, with particular preference given to those wishing to serve marginalized communities, including refugees.

Brooklyn Law’s Associate Dean of Experiential Education Stacy Caplow stayed in touch and worked with Becky after she graduated. “I take pride in being one of her mentors who supported her dedication to immigration law,” Caplow said. “We who admired and cared about her will miss her tremendously.”

Give to the Becky McBride Scholarship by making a gift at, or reach out to Chief Advancement Officer Annie Nienaber,

Alphonzo Grant, Jr. ’98 and Isis Sapp-Grant Establish Diversity Recruitment Fund

Alphonzo Grant, Jr. ’98 headshot
Alphonzo Grant, Jr. ’98 headshot
Board of trustees member Alphonzo Grant, Jr. ’98, and his wife, Isis Sapp-Grant, have established the Sapp-Grant Diversity Recruitment Fund to expand diversity and inclusion at Brooklyn Law School and help students succeed. “We hope the Fund will enable Brooklyn Law School to better compete for these talented diverse individuals with law schools that have a university behind them,” Grant said.

The gift includes a total of $30,000 over three years, offering financial support for students facing not only tuition, but also housing, books, and other living expenses.

Grant, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, is a longtime supporter of the Law School and advocate for civil rights, diversity, and inclusion. Sapp-Grant, a social justice advocate and consultant, is the founder and former executive director of the Youth Empowerment Mission and its award-winning Blossom Program for Girls.

Grant’s own supportive experiences at the Law School inspired his gift.

“I had the ability to attend law school in the evening during my first semester, when I was working full time,” he said. “I was then awarded a scholarship.” A summer Legal Process class with Associate Professor of Legal Writing Emeritus Linda Feldman and then-Associate Dean for Student Affairs Carol Ziegler set him on the path to success, as did a “life-changing mentorship” with then-Adjunct Professor William Kuntz, now a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Grant pays it forward by mentoring members of the Black Law Students Association and Latin American Law Students Association.

“I am simply passing on the wisdom and guidance I received during my career journey,” he said.

How Five Alumni Landed at One Boutique Entertainment Law Firm

Brooklyn Law School alumni: Dan Zupnick ’12, Peter Fields ’90, Cody Brown ’13, William H. Williams ’20, and Jason Barth ’13
L to R: The entertainment law firm Ritholz Levy Fields has a proud cohort of Brooklyn Law School alumni, including partner Dan Zupnick ’12, founding partner Peter Fields ’90, Cody Brown ’13, and the latest addition, William H. Williams ’20; a fifth alumnus, Jason Barth ’13, right, was of counsel but has joined the firm full time, working remotely.
L to R: The entertainment law firm Ritholz Levy Fields has a proud cohort of Brooklyn Law School alumni, including partner Dan Zupnick ’12, founding partner Peter Fields ’90, Cody Brown ’13, and the latest addition, William H. Williams ’20; a fifth alumnus, Jason Barth ’13, right, was of counsel but has joined the firm full time, working remotely.
Call the offices of boutique entertainment and media law firm Ritholz Levy Fields (RLF), ask for a Brooklyn Law School alumnus and you’re likely to hear, “Which one?” Five alumni are among its 23 attorneys, including founding partner Peter Fields ’90, who embraces the unintended contingent.

“Generally, there’s no litmus test that if you’re from Brooklyn Law you have better odds of working here,” said Fields, whose two founding partners must also agree on new hires. “But personally, when someone from Brooklyn Law ends up working with us, I like it because I love the Law School; I had a great experience there.”

Other alumni are new partners Cody Brown ’13 and Dan Zupnick ’12; a 2019 Brooklyn Law Entertainment and Sports Law Society alumni honoree, Jason Barth ’13, who went from of counsel to full time; and William H. Williams ’20.

Mentor Program Lets Alumni Share Career Wisdom

Students, alumni, and recent graduates at a recent Brooklyn Law School Mentor Program gathering

Students, alumni, and recent graduates at a recent Brooklyn Law School Mentor Program gathering.

Brooklyn Law School alumni well into their careers undoubtedly remember the bar exam jitters, the early career job interviews, and the challenges of being a new attorney.

The Brooklyn Law School Mentor Program, which returned this fall with 144 mentor-mentee matches, gives alumni a chance to answer that clichéd—but ever-interesting—interview question: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Alex Lesman ’05, a Legal Aid Society of New York City staff attorney and a Mentor Program veteran, provides supportive advice to Law School students and recent graduates, but is honest about challenges and disappointments as well.

“I feel strongly that mentoring benefits everyone: the individuals just starting out in a legal career, those doing the mentoring, and everyone in the field,” Lesman said. “Because mentoring helps prepare people to do better work sooner.”



Carl Steinhouse has authored his 14th book, The War Under the Waves, about the World War II battle against German U-boats fought initially by Britain and then the United States, to ultimately defeat Hitler.


Gene Laks, who specializes in health care law for Barclay Damon, will be listed in the 2023 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.


Joseph C. Wasch , of counsel at Greenspoon Marder in Boca Raton, Fla., was recognized as a 2022 Legal Eagle by the publication Franchise Times.

In Memoriam
Gerald Shargel in the middle of a discussion

Gerald Shargel ’69

Gerald “Jerry” Shargel, a renowned criminal defense attorney and graduate of Brooklyn Law School who took on some of New York’s most high-profile cases, died on July 16, 2022. He was 77.

From 2000-04, Shargel was Practitioner-in-Residence at the Law School, teaching Evidence, Criminal Procedure, and Trial Advocacy; mentoring many students; and establishing the Gerald R. Shargel ’69 Scholarship for criminal law students.

During his 40-plus years leading his own firm, and as a partner at Winston & Strawn from 2013 until his retirement in 2018, Shargel distinguished himself as an exceptionally skilled, rigorous, and charismatic attorney who deftly handled a raft of high-profile criminal cases.

“I’m involved in the defense of collars of every color: white-collar, gray-collar, blue-collar,” Shargel once told a reporter. “I represent doctors, lawyers, politicians, state senators, congressmen.”

A Conversation With Director of Legal Writing and Professor of Law Heidi K. Brown

“Flourishing” in the Field of Law

Whether it is by way of tense negotiations, difficult client conversations, or complex legal dilemmas, stress can sneak both quietly and loudly into the lives of legal professionals. To address it, Director of Legal Writing and Professor of Law Heidi K. Brown has written The Flourishing Lawyer, her third attorney well-being book, incorporating what she’s learned through scientific research, a master’s degree in applied positive psychology, writing, and boxing lessons. She also has created a companion website——as a place for legal professionals to access well-being and performance resources.

What does it mean to be a “flourishing lawyer”?
In studying applied positive psychology with the field’s founder, Martin E.P. Seligman, I read his book, titled Flourish. In my studies, I dove more deeply into the concept of flourishing, aspiring to apply it to the legal profession. Flourishing is not just feeling good, which psychologists call “hedonic well-being,” but includes “eudaimonia,” a Greek term that means “functioning well.” Flourishing isn’t just smiling all the time and having a good day. We all know that’s unrealistic. To function well, we set up cognitive, emotional, and physical systems to remind us that, when we do encounter stress or anxiety or fear, we remember that we’ve been through situations like that before and we are equipped with resources to tackle each problem. We learn to trust our systems and ride out the rise and fall of stress symptoms to get through inevitable rough times. Just as athletes and performers train in multiple dimensions before they step into the performance arena, we can do the same.

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Back Cover

Juliana Lopez headshot illustration
“Seeing how [my parents] were able to establish themselves and build a strong family in this country has definitely grounded me in the work I do.”
— Juliana Lopez ’23

Also inside:

Legend Maker
rock & Roll hall of fame inducts first lawyer

How to prioritize your own well-being