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Our 10th dean, David D. Meyer,
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Dean’s Message

Convocation 2023
David Meyer around students
Brooklyn Law School has no greater asset than its proud and distinctive mission of access.

HERE ARE MANY ASSETS that set Brooklyn Law School apart and that make me excited for its future. There is our dynamic faculty, as ambitious and impactful as any in the country. There is our leadership in clinics and practical legal training, for which we recently ranked 12TH in the country. And, of course, there is the Law School’s location, in the heart of the world’s most important, vibrant, and creative city.

But Brooklyn Law School has no greater asset than its proud and distinctive mission of access. Nearly 125 years ago, when the broader society was rife with racism, xenophobia, sexism, and religious persecution, this institution was founded as a haven where talented students from all backgrounds, origins, and faiths could excel and prepare themselves for leadership that would transform their families and their communities. At a time when most law schools were highly exclusionary, the Law School’s first classes were composed mostly of recent immigrants, including Muslims from Syria; Jews from Eastern Europe; Catholics from Cuba, Ireland, and Southern Europe; and African Americans and women.

Aaron Twerski in reading glasses and white button up with black vest over
Professor Aaron Twerski is a master of torts, and even decades after taking his classes, his students still remember his axioms and colorful lessons in law. Perhaps less well known is the extent to which faith and family have inspired the beloved professor to help others.
David D. Meyer headshot
Newly installed President and Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer sits down for a Q&A, giving a clear-eyed take on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
digital illustration of women behind bars speaking to woman outside holding book
A new Center for Criminal Justice program is giving criminal law classes a jolt of reality by fusing the voices of formerly incarcerated people with the curriculum.
Get to know members of the incoming J.D. class, and hear from three new associate deans and our library director.
Plus: Clinic updates and other campus happenings.
Find out why alumni Joseph Bondy ’94, Anna Ashurov ’12, and Jessica Lipson ’05, are in the vanguard of new fields of law—cannabis, fintech, and artificial intelligence, respectively.
At a symposium in his honor, scholars and experts praised Professor Neil Cohen for his expertise in the harmonization of commercial law, and his ability to find common ground.
Meet our newest professors and dive into the details of the faculty’s latest scholarship and media mentions.
Our new alumni dinner format was a hit, allowing junior attorneys to join the party, where three esteemed alumni were honored. Plus: Business Boot Camp celebrates its 10th year of bringing alumni speakers into the classroom.
A scholarship in memory of Hon. Ralph Sansone ’79 gets a major boost, the alumni community unites to fund a new bar prep program, and more.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law Susan Herman shares insights from her new book, Advanced Introduction to US Civil Liberties, including why civil libertarians have reason to be hopeful.
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Welcome to a Promising Incoming Class

Willis Huynh headshot
“I want to be someone people can rely on, a leader, and a decision-maker. There is a clear correlation between those things I learned in the Army and what I’ll learn in law school.”
—Willis Huynh ’26
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL welcomed nearly 400 students at Convocation, and each one of those gathering for the Aug. 21 event in the ceremonial courtroom inside the U.S. District Courthouse for the Eastern District of New York had a unique story of how and why they had arrived there.

Some had previously worked in the legal field, like Shivani Parshad ’26, who spent three years as a paralegal for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York. A native of Baltimore, she earned degrees in political science and international relations from Boston University before arriving in New York City. Parshad expressed excitement about starting her law school journey, especially after hearing positive remarks from numerous alumni.

“Several attorneys I worked with attended Brooklyn Law School, and they all spoke highly of their experience,” Parshad said. “Learning from these alums solidified my decision. They emphasized the opportunities for public interest work here, which made it seem like the perfect fit for me.”

Another entering student was Willis Huynh ’26, a native New Yorker who discovered a strong connection between his military service and the legal field while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. During his time at West Point, Huynh played Division I golf, honed his leadership skills, and developed a desire to represent those in need.

Class of 2023 Celebrates Commencement Day at BAM

Members of the Class of 2023 may have started their Brooklyn Law School journey on Zoom, but they finished it in real life—and gloriously—with a Commencement Day 2023 celebration that reflected pride in their hard-won accomplishments and a determination to bring about change in the world.

After gathering on May 16 at the elegant Peter Jay Sharp Building at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 379 Brooklyn Law School students received their J.D. degrees and 11 were presented their LL.M. degrees on a stage bedecked with vibrant flowers, as friends, family, peers, and the entire school community cheered them on. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Frank Aquila ’83 presented an honorary Juris Doctor Honoris Causa degree to New York Attorney General Hon. Letitia “Tish” James, who gave a fiery commencement address, urging graduates to use their legal skills to fight for freedom, progress, and unity. Other featured speakers included Valedictorian Hayley A. Bork ’23 and Matthew Lign Fulton ’23, who was elected student speaker.

Valedictorian Hayley Bork speaking at podium
When I think about our class, I think about a group of people who ask the important questions, who wonder why things are the way they are… We are a group of people who faced all the obstacles imaginable to get to this moment.
— Hayley A. Bork ’23
Commencement Crowd
graduates taking a photo
Students taking a fun photo at photo booth
We find our nation at war with itself. We are more divided now than we’ve been since the Civil War, and so we need all of you to turn this country around. We will need your energy, your passion, and your sense of purpose. We need bold leaders with iron constitutions and impeccable training and the drive to get us back on the right track and to bring us together.
— Hon. Letitia “Tish” James

New Associate Dean Roles Keep Students in Focus

Associate Dean for Academic and Student Success Karen Porter
Associate Dean for Academic and Student Success Karen Porter
Three new associate dean positions announced this summer bring new faces to roles that are designed to support students and their educational experience in numerous ways.

One new appointment marks an exciting transition for Associate Dean Karen Porter, who has been the inaugural Arthur Pinto & Stephen Bohlen Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity since January 2020. Porter is now the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Success, a new role that focuses on supporting students and leading schoolwide efforts to guide students through their law school experience. Although academic success is not a new focus for Brooklyn Law School, this is the first time an associate dean has been dedicated to the effort.

“We want to have the success of our students at the center of everything we do,” Porter said. “It’s not just academic success in the sense of what and how students are doing in the classroom, but really a more holistic approach to student success that includes broader aspects of what it means to succeed in law school and in the profession. Over the course of their studies, students often change their goals and adjust their expectations about what it means to carve out a space for themselves in the legal profession. And that can be really challenging, particularly for first-generation students who might not have a clear idea of what a career path looks like.”

Brittany Persson ’07 on AI’s Impact on Research, Her First Year as Library Director

Brittany Persson headshot

Library Director
Brittany Persson ’07

For Brittany Persson ’07, walking into the Brooklyn Law School Library as its new director, 15 years after she had graduated, was a heady experience.

“As a student, I was one of the first people in the library in the morning, and one of the last out in the evening,” Persson said. She recalls her favorite study haunts—a nook in the lower level of the library, and the second table on the left in the Professor Joseph Crea Reading Room—and remembers leaving the quiet spaces to converse with other students near the elevators, something students continue to do today.

Since she assumed her official role as library director and assistant professor of law on July 1, 2022, some things have changed. These include legal research instruction taught by law librarians, which not only focuses on legal research but also integrates emerging technologies and their impact on how legal research is conducted. Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of those newer technologies.

“We’ve always incorporated information literacy into our research instruction. AI and algorithms have been a part of all the databases that we have been teaching on, which means that as AI has evolved, we have adapted our information literacy instruction to reflect those changes,” Persson said.

Dean’s Research Scholars and New Directors Appointed

PROFESSOR WILFRED CODRINGTON III and Professor Alexis Hoag-Fordjour were appointed as Dean’s Research Scholars, a special form of faculty recognition that carries a three-year term.

Codrington, a constitutional law scholar with a focus on constitutional reform, election law, and voting rights, co-authored The People’s Constitution: 200 Years, 27 Amendments, and the Promise of a More Perfect Union.

Hoag-Fordjour teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law and procedure, evidence, and abolition, and co-directs the Center for Criminal Justice. Her scholarship interrogates the policies, doctrines, and practices within the criminal legal system that erode constitutional rights and perpetuate racial subordination.

Brooklyn Law School alumna Diane Penneys Edelman ’83 has been named permanent director of the international program after serving as a visiting director in spring 2023. In addition to coordinating all aspects of international programs for LL.M. and J.D. students, Edelman is an adjunct professor of law.

Professor Prianka Nair, an assistant professor of clinical law who was co-director of the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic, is now full director of the clinic.

Professors of Legal Writing Heidi Gilchrist and Maria Termini are now co-directors of legal research and writing. Gilchrist’s scholarship focuses on national security law issues, and Termini’s focus is on legal education pedagogy.

Criminal Defense and Advocacy Clinic Advocates for Incarcerated Survivors

Elizabeth Isaacs, Kate Skolnick, CDAC’s client right after his release, and Katie Anderson pose for a group photo
L–R: Professor Elizabeth Isaacs, co-counsel Kate Skolnick from the Center for Appellate Litigation, CDAC’s client right after his release, and Katie Anderson ’23.
Survivors of domestic violence and abuse who are currently incarcerated in New York State prisons continued to find their way to freedom, thanks to the work of the Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic (CDAC) and its interdisciplinary collective, the Survivors Justice Project.

Led this past academic year by Professor Kate Mogulescu and Visiting Assistant Professor Elizabeth Isaacs, the clinic had 16 student participants, including eight new students and eight who returned for the advanced clinic. The clinic’s focus has been investigating, drafting, and litigating resentencing motions under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), a groundbreaking New York law passed in 2019 that allows for post-conviction sentencing reductions. Other clinic projects include clemency petitions, parole advocacy, and reinvestigation of claims of actual innocence. Over the 2022–23 academic year, CDAC students visited numerous people in prison, also building relationships with survivors serving extreme sentences.

Rahmel Lee Robinson headshot
Rahmel Lee Robinson ’24 outside Albany County Court after winning resentencing for an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act.
Students have also interviewed witnesses, prepared clients for meetings with prosecutors, negotiated with district attorneys’ offices, worked with expert witnesses, drafted and filed motions and advocacy letters, and appeared in court. CDAC has achieved 11 resentencing victories in a span of three years across 10 New York counties.

Most recently, on Aug. 4, Rahmel Lee Robinson ’24 won resentencing in Albany County Court for an incarcerated survivor with help from Mogulescu and recent graduates Gregory Chang ’23 and Taylor Ramirez ’23. Resentencing subtracted nearly a decade from her earliest possible release and eliminated a potential life sentence.

Earlier in the year, CDAC welcomed home another survivor who had been incarcerated for 11 years after successfully gaining a significant sentence reduction on a manslaughter conviction in the Bronx. The client was the first person in New York State resentenced under the DVSJA whose case involved intimate partner violence between gay male partners. The resentencing reclaimed over nine additional years of incarceration. Multiple student teams worked on this case under the supervision of Mogulescu and Isaacs, and those instrumental in its outcome included Katie Anderson ’23, Paige Massaker ’23, Elizabeth Feinberg ’22, and Rebekah Otis ’22.

BLIP Goes to SCOTUS in Artificial Intelligence Case

Can an artificial intelligence system receive a U.S. patent and be considered the legal creator of an invention? That question was at the heart of Thaler v. Vidal, a case that the Supreme Court was asked to review involving copyright protection for AI-created works.

This spring, Professor Jonathan Askin and his students in the Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy (BLIP) clinic and a group of Chicago-based patent lawyers filed an amicus brief supporting computer scientist Stephen Thaler, the founder of Imagination Engines, an advanced artificial neural network technology firm. Thaler argued that his Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience (DABUS) system created unique prototypes for a beverage holder and emergency light beacon entirely on its own and should be granted a patent.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a federal judge in Virginia rejected his patent applications on the grounds that DABUS is not a person. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld those decisions last year, asserting that U.S. patent law unambiguously requires inventors to be human beings.

In the brief, Askin and the clinic students argued that the U.S. Supreme Court should take up a review of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to issue patents to inventions developed by AI programs. “We argue that the U.S. needs a clear policy on how to use AI as a vehicle for invention and innovation,” Askin said. “Without such clarity, the U.S. will take a back seat to countries with clear rules on AI’s use in inventorship.”

The brief claimed that the federal circuit court’s decision “may have a chilling effect on innovation and scientific discovery.” Unfortunately, the Court denied certiorari in the case in April.

New School Year Begins with Flurry of Activities

As summer transitioned to fall, the Brooklyn Law School community came together for a new school year that quickly afforded rich opportunities to meet, reunite, and celebrate. The new chapter kicked off with a mix of formal events, such as Commencement 2023, and less formal soirees, including a series of Meet the Dean events for new Brooklyn Law School Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer, on-campus fairs for student groups, orientation mixers, and ice cream socials.
Brooklyn Law annual Service Day
Brooklyn Law School’s annual Service Day, a signature event hosted by the Public Service Law Center, saw a historic turnout this year, with 120 incoming 1Ls and returning student leaders volunteering across nine distinct community organizations, getting to know one another along the way. Here, students at One Love Community Fridge, in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, prepare eggs for distribution to community refrigerators.
David D. Meyer with students
An on-campus event led off a series of Meet the Dean events held throughout the region, including in Manhattan, Connecticut, and Long Island, to welcome David D. Meyer as new dean.
Muslim Law Student Association booth
The Muslim Law Students Association was among the dozens of groups participating in the Student Organization and Pro Bono Fair.
Hon. Ramon Reyes, Jr. and David D. Meyer
L–R: Hon. Ramon Reyes, Jr. ’92, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York and a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees, administered an oath of professionalism to the incoming class at Convocation 2023, joining newly appointed Dean David D. Meyer for the formal ceremony.
Brooklyn Law School students during an Affinity Group Introductory Mixer
Brooklyn Law School student organizations hosted a hugely successful Affinity Group Introductory Mixer for a group of 150 arriving first-year students, exchange students, and LL.M. students, capping off orientation.


Just a few years ago, legal recreational cannabis, fintech (financial technology), and artificial intelligence (AI), were fringe topics.

Now, nearly half of U.S. states, including New York, have legalized recreational cannabis, and it is a signature scent on the streets of New York City. Most people have at least heard of blockchain; other fintech platforms, such as mobile payment or investment apps, are common. Seemingly everyone is using platforms like ChatGPT for fun, or to streamline their work.

What unites these three disparate industries is that they are each just hitting what some call “the Overton window,” a model for how societal ideas evolve over time.

“The Overton window is a concept that says until there is critical mass, nothing happens on an issue, but all of a sudden the popular zeitgeist has a dramatic shift, and practices and policies that seemed untenable become completely viable,” said Professor Jonathan Askin, the founder and director of the Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy (BLIP) Clinic and the innovation catalyst for the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE). According to Askin, “like gay marriage circa 2012, cannabis legalization is now hitting the Overton window and its inevitability.”

Each industry has legal issues that need to be addressed. With cannabis, legalization in numerous states has prompted a reexamination of federal laws that currently classify cannabis as a tightly regulated Schedule 1 controlled substance, on par with heroin. In fintech, there’s a growing need for lawyers to intercede between technologists who “run roughshod” over the rules, and conservative policymakers who want to crack down on financial technology, Askin said. Finally, for AI, the questions relate to privacy, copyright and invention, cybersecurity, authenticity, global competitiveness, and a slew of ethics issues.

Meet the Brooklyn Law School alumni who leapt into these cutting-edge areas well ahead of the pack.

“When you try to enact protectionist barriers to the entry into the cannabis licensing scheme…ultimately, you’ll lose.”

Cultivating a Cannabis Law Practice

Joseph Bondy ’94

Joseph Bondy ’94 has gained international recognition not only for his criminal litigation work on behalf of high-profile clients—most recently, former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas—but also for what Politico called his “chess-playing” legal tactics and the New York Times described as his “oratorical intensity.”

What drives him, though, is a desire to help others. Bondy often tells students in Cardozo School of Law’s annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, for which he is a faculty member, that it is crucial to find commonality with clients, as he did with Parnas, who was initially scoffed at but became a media hero for his role in the Donald Trump impeachment case.

“You’re dealing with people who are in pain or hurt and who are frequently on the fringe and have been put down and pushed and kept down,” Bondy said. “Being able to understand them and develop a trust relationship with your clients is the most important key to your success.”

“There are lots of different ways that you can apply your law degree. Staying on the business side is not necessarily one that comes to mind, but I think that it’s helpful to bring that type of perspective.”

Fintech Flightpath

Anna Ashurov ’12

In some ways, Anna Ashurov ’12 was a nontraditional law student. When she enrolled in Brooklyn Law School’s evening program, she already had a successful career in finance with no plans to leave it behind after obtaining her J.D. She was also a new mother, with a 1-year-old daughter who was only her first: A second child was born during winter break of her third year.

But in many ways, Ashurov was the quintessential Brooklyn Law School student. Ambitious, intellectually curious, and hardworking, she jumped right into the Law School community. She was the 1L evening delegate to the Student Bar Association, an associate editor on the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, and a self-described “sponge,” taking in all the experiences and knowledge she could.

Today, she continues to defy labels, shape her own path, and enthusiastically take on new challenges.

“As individuals and as companies, we’re going to be able to do lots of things that we couldn’t do before. These systems are truly powerful and also improving at a rapid pace.”

Not-So-Artificial Intelligence

Jessica Lipson ’05

Long before she became an expert on artificial intelligence (AI), Jessica Lipson ’05 was an expert on emotional intelligence.

As a partner and co-chair of the Technology, Data & IP Department at Morrison Cohen in New York, Lipson advises an ever-increasing number of clients on the legal implications of AI. She has also written prolifically on the topic, including as a quarterly contributor for Reuters. Despite her cutting-edge practice focused on technology transactions, her career has been shaped by the old-fashioned relationship building that will always have a place in the practice of law.

Armed with an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and a minor in environmental engineering, Lipson worked for several years as an engineer at Merck, and went to law school with an eye toward practicing environmental law. Brooklyn Law School offered her not only the flexibility to continue working during her legal studies, but also a pragmatic approach to training lawyers and a variety of clinics. She started as an evening student before transferring to the day program.


Taking the Lead

New President and Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer discusses his plans and priorities, the challenges and opportunities ahead, and the crucial role that the entire community—faculty, students, and alumni—plays in maintaining Brooklyn Law School as a beacon of excellence.
By Teresa Novellino
portrait by Todd France
New President and Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer discusses his plans and priorities, the challenges and opportunities ahead, and the crucial role that the entire community—faculty, students, and alumni—plays in maintaining Brooklyn Law School as a beacon of excellence.
By Teresa Novellino
portrait by Todd France
P dropcap
resident and Joseph Crea Dean David D. Meyer welcomed the new Brooklyn Law School class at Convocation this summer and described feeling, as a brand-new dean, like an honorary member of their class.
Yet Meyer, the 10th Brooklyn Law School dean since the institution’s founding in 1901, is far from a novice, having led Tulane Law School for 13 years, a tenure that made him the seventh-longest-serving law school dean in the United States. Since his July 1 appointment, Meyer has plunged into a whirlwind of meetings and gatherings with faculty, students, and alumni. He donned gardening gloves and grabbed a shovel to work side by side with students at Service Day in Prospect Park, joined a group of alumni at the famed Brooklyn steakhouse Peter Luger, and attended a political gala with Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn ’24, a student who is also majority whip of the New York State Assembly and the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
digital illustration of a woman in a prison cell and a woman standing on the outside of the cell holding a Criminal Law book
The typical Criminal Law class requires students to scale a mountain of case studies. They learn about mens rea (criminal intent) versus actus reus (criminal action) and parse the different degrees of homicide. Rarely does the curriculum include the voices of people charged with crimes or who have been incarcerated. The Center for Criminal Justice’s Rethinking Justice program is upending that by turning to justice-impacted people as experts in Criminal Law and Procedure.

Rethinking Justice:
Not a Textbook Case

By Teresa Novellino
Illustration by Dan Bejar


Writing has long brought peace to activist Roslyn Smith, who this fall is leading prison writing workshops with incarcerated women, in the hopes that her “sisters inside” will find the same solace she did in putting their stories into words.

As a partner in Brooklyn Law School’s Rethinking Justice program, Smith works with student fellows to integrate stories like hers into the criminal law curriculum. In the spring of 2023, Professor Alexis Hoag-Fordjour’s Abolition class heard Smith describe how she spent 39 years in prison—longer than many of the students in the class had been alive. Her story was sorrowful, yet especially salient for a class focused on abolition, the movement to shrink carceral systems. A Brooklyn native, Smith grew up with a drug-addicted mother and ran away from home at 13. She spent part of her adolescence unhoused or in state-mandated placements for young people. At 17, Smith and a co-defendant robbed and killed an elderly couple.

Convicted of a double homicide, Smith was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, meaning that her first opportunity for parole would occur when she was 67. However, in 2018, after her attorney, Ron Kuby, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez facilitated an exchange of letters with the victim’s daughter, Smith obtained early release.


Professor Aaron Twerski is a master of torts, and even decades later, his students still remember his axioms and colorful lessons in law. Perhaps lesser known is how much faith and family has inspired the beloved Brooklyn Law School professor to help students, clients, and the community—whenever, wherever he is needed.
By Nanette Maxim
Portrait by Todd France
GROWING UP IN THE CLOSE-KNIT ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY OF MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, where his father was the chief rabbi, Aaron Twerski learned that his family’s home was never closed to anyone who needed help.

“My father came to Milwaukee from Russia in 1927,” said Twerski, the Irwin and Jill Cohen Professor of Law. “He had infinite love and compassion for people, and they were drawn to him. And so he built a community. My parents’ door was open to everyone from five o’clock in the morning till five o’clock the next morning… and the next. They had ancestors who were outstanding Jewish leaders in Russia and Poland, and they were raised to live for others. It motivated their lives. It was the air that we breathed.”

This spirit of community was the foundation not only for Twerski’s own deep faith and compassion but also for his strong commitment to the field of tort law, for which he has been a powerful voice as a respected lawyer, professor, and scholar for more than 50 years. His attraction to the field as a student was almost instantaneous, when he realized that the often quotidian matters that tort law addresses meant much more than they seemed to mean at first.


Consensus Builder

Professor Neil Cohen smiling in grey suit jacket with light blue button up underneath and reading glasses
The work of 1901 Distinguished Research Professor of Law Neil Cohen was celebrated in a symposium in the spring of 2022, just before he retired.
Professor Neil Cohen’s accomplishments were celebrated in a symposium where scholars and experts praised not only his expertise in the harmonization of commercial law, but his compassion and ability to find common ground.
FOR 40-PLUS YEARS, Cohen has been an intellectual force in the field of contract and commercial law—as teacher, scholar, and participant in domestic and global harmonization projects. Whether serving as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) or undertaking scholarly work as the reporter for both the American Law Institute’s (ALI’s) Restatement of the Law of Suretyship and Guaranty (1996) and the Revised Article 1 of the Uniform Commercial Code (2001), Cohen has left an indelible mark on commercial law’s progress.

In May 2022, as Cohen retired from teaching after 37 years at Brooklyn Law School, he was named the Law School’s 1901 Distinguished Research Professor of Law. His peers gathered for a symposium held in his honor, titled Commercial Law Harmonization: Past as Prologue.* Cohen himself summed up the event’s focus: “After a half century of commercial law harmonization, both domestically and internationally, what have we learned and what should we do next?”


New Faculty Members Bring Unique Thought Leadership to Our Community

The expertise of six faculty members joining Brooklyn Law School—including in racial equality, the right to privacy, and international investment—encompasses some of the most pressing legal issues of the moment.

The Law School extends a warm welcome to these new professors, whose talent as teachers and scholars will enhance the student experience and further enrich a highly esteemed intellectual community. Meet the professors, who officially joined the faculty on July 1.

Amy Gajda portrait
Media law scholar Amy Gajda has joined Brooklyn Law School as Jeffrey D. Forchelli Professor of Law.
Amy Gajda, a journalist turned lawyer and internationally recognized privacy and media law scholar, has joined the Law School as the incoming Jeffrey D. Forchelli Professor of Law. Previously, Gajda was Class of 1937 Professor of Law at Tulane University School of Law, where she was the recipient of both the Felix Frankfurter Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Tulane President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Much of her scholarship explores the tensions between social regulation of access to information and First Amendment values, particularly the shifting boundaries of press freedoms and rising public anxieties about the erosion of privacy.

“The thing that I find most intriguing about the privacy aspect of media law is its rapid change over the past few years,” Gajda said. “When I started teaching, the internet was relatively new, so it’s been interesting to watch media evolve, to see privacy sensibilities grow, and to study the law’s at-times dynamic response.”

Aissatou Barry headshot
Aissatou Barry, who has deep experience in civil rights, housing, and immigration law, joins the faculty as Assistant Professor and will direct the new Housing Justice Clinic, which launches in January 2024. A longtime social justice advocate for traditionally marginalized communities, Barry most recently served as a housing attorney at the Bronx Neighborhood Office of the Legal Aid Society. Barry was chosen as one of the Top 25 Pro Bono Advocates of 2015 by Legal Services of New York for her immigration law work. She was an adjunct professor at the CUNY School of Law and co-facilitated a Housing Clinic externship at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Brooklyn favorites: “One of my favorite activities is riding the New York City ferry. Being on the water is calming, and the rides provide easy access to different parts of Brooklyn.”

Elizabeth Chen headshot
Elizabeth Chen has joined the permanent faculty as an Assistant Professor after serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor of legal writing during the 2022–23 academic year. Chen’s research is focused on anti-discrimination law, reproductive justice, and relationships and the law. Chen previously served as acting assistant professor of lawyering at NYU School of Law and was a litigator on behalf of caregivers and pregnant workers at the nonprofit organization A Better Balance. She also worked for Wigdor, a plaintiff-side employment law firm, on behalf of civil rights plaintiffs. Her legal career began as an If/When/How Reproductive Justice fellow at the Center for American Progress and as a law clerk for the Hon. William Joseph Haynes of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee.

Brooklyn favorites: “I enjoy a Saturday morning run through Industry City and over to Bush Terminal Park, a hidden gem just down the hill from Sunset Park, where there are incredible views of the Statue of Liberty.”

Yuvraj Joshi headshot
Yuvraj Joshi a respected scholar in the areas of constitutional and comparative law, racial equality law, gender and sexuality law, and human rights, joins the faculty as Assistant Professor. Previously on the faculty at the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law, Joshi has written articles for numerous scholarly journals, such as the Columbia Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and California Law Review. His career encompasses extensive work in human rights research and advocacy, including for Human Rights Watch and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. He is also a faculty affiliate at the UCLA Promise Institute for Human Rights and a research scholar at the University of California Berkeley Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law.

Brooklyn favorites: “I look forward to joining the incredible Brooklyn Law School community and returning to a neighborhood I lived in and loved while working with Human Rights Watch and Lambda Legal, from 2015 to 2021. Life is made better by proximity to family, friends, and Yemen Café!”

Stratos Pahis headshot
Stratos Pahis who specializes in international economic law, joins the Law School as Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Dennis J. Block Center on International Business Law. Previously, he was a member of the Wake Forest University School of Law faculty. Pahis’ current research combines law and economics to explore the relationships among international investment law, climate change, and national security. His scholarship has been widely published in scholarly journals, including the American Journal of International Law, the Journal of International Economic Law, the World Trade Review, and the Yale Journal of International Law. He received the 2022 Francis Deák Prize, awarded by the American Journal of International Law, for his research on international investment law and sovereign debt.

Brooklyn favorites: “Brooklyn was my home before the pandemic, and I’m so happy it will be my home again. I’m especially excited about getting back to Prospect Park, eating pizza at Sottocasa (best pizza in Brooklyn and only a short walk from the Law School!), and being close to my extended family in Connecticut.”

Naveen Thomas headshot
Naveen Thomas, whose focus is on business law and innovative experiential education, is joining the faculty as Assistant Professor of Law. Thomas’ scholarship has a twofold path: He illuminates and develops innovations in corporate governance and social enterprise, and identifies and bridges gaps between theory and practice in contract design. His research has been published in the Harvard Business Law Review and the Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law. Previously, he taught law, directed transactional clinics, and designed new simulation courses in contract drafting and negotiation at both the University of Chicago and New York University. As founder of the New York law firm Thomas Law, he has represented nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, impact investors, startup companies, and small businesses across a range of legal matters.

Brooklyn favorites: “Before moving to Brooklyn from Manhattan three years ago, I enjoyed crossing the river to explore the unique cultural institutions, public spaces, and restaurants integrated into this intricate network of communities. But since living here, I have come to appreciate Brooklyn even more for its engaging people.”

In the News

THE LAW SCHOOL IS frequently in the news, with members of the faculty quoted and featured in major media outlets, providing expert commentary on critical issues in the law, business, and policy.
CNN Logo
April 22
“What you’ll notice when these mayors are making announcements about bail and crime is that they are not able to use statistics that link bail reform to an increase in so-called violent crime.”
—Professor Jocelyn Simonson, in a video discussing the effect of bail reform on crime.
law360 logo
July 7
“It could be that the court is a little suspicious that the law makes it really easy for people to have their guns confiscated, even if they’ve not been judged to be dangerous.”
—Professor William Araiza, on the Supreme Court case centering on the intersection of gun rights and domestic violence.

Faculty Scholarship


Miriam Baer

Myths and Misunderstandings in White-Collar Crime (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

USING REAL-WORLD EXAMPLES to explore the pathologies that hamper our ability to understand and redress white-collar crime, Baer’s book provides a step-by-step framework for reorienting the ways in which we prohibit, enforce, and discuss white-collar crime.

Dana Brakman Reiser

For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power and the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, and Strategic Corporate Giving (Oxford University Press, 2023)

EXPOSING A MIGRATION of business practices, players, and norms into philanthropy, co-author Brakman Reiser explains how this shift strains the regulatory regime sustaining public trust in elite generosity through accountability and transparency, and how to restore that trust.

Alumni Events

Celebratory Alumni Dinner Reunites Classmates, Honors Esteemed Graduates

From cheerful cocktail hour conversations to heartfelt honoree speeches, Brooklyn Law School’s Alumni Association dinner was a remarkable event, with 355 alumni, faculty, trustees, and guests gathered to reconnect and celebrate at the elegant Cipriani 25 Broadway in Manhattan.

The March 15 gathering, held as a dinner rather than in the lunch format typical in previous years, inspired an overwhelming outpouring of support from alumni in more junior positions, especially those who found it easier to attend an evening event.

Alumni Association Board President Deborah Riegel ’93 led the program, welcoming the evening’s three honorees, including Alumnus of the Year Bernard Nash ’66, Distinguished Service honoree Debbie Epstein Henry ’94, and Rising Star honoree Aubria Ralph ’19.

Nash, who is co-chair of the nationally acclaimed State AG Group at Cozen O’Connor, credited colleagues, friends, and family for his success and the ability to give back to Brooklyn Law School.

Alumni Join in as Business Boot Camp Celebrates 10th Year of Mixing Instruction and Life Lessons

Law schools are well known for training students to “think like lawyers,” but in the week commonly known as semester break, more than 120 Brooklyn Law School students, faculty, and alumni—working in tandem with a team of Deloitte Financial Advisory professionals—gathered for Business Boot Camp, a four-day crash course designed to help students understand how clients think.

Business Boot Camp, which premiered 10 years ago and was held Jan. 9–12 this year, follows the life cycle of a fictional company as it grows from a family-owned pub into a publicly owned restaurant chain with an appetite for acquisitions.

Students learn how businesspeople work with lawyers as they deal with the growing pains, opportunities, and pitfalls encountered along the way. They learn about developing business plans, budgeting, financing, accounting, valuation, and cryptocurrency. They also work on softer skills, including networking, client development, and leadership. The course is based in part on training that Deloitte provides to new associates at law firms.

Alumni Impact

Family Increases Gift for Scholarship Named for Hon. Ralph Sansone ’79

A FOUNDATION CREATED IN MEMORY OF HON. RALPH SANSONE ’79, who grew up in a Brooklyn family devoted to public service and died tragically young, is increasing its support of Brooklyn Law School students.

Ralph Sansone was 32 when he died in a small-engine plane crash while returning home from a Memorial Day golf weekend in 1986. He left behind his son, Zach, who was just 3 months old, and his wife, Eva. His parents, Mary and Zach Sansone, formed the Ralph J. Sansone Foundation and created the endowed Ralph J. Sansone Scholarship Fund at the school in 2006. Now, thanks to a generous foundation gift of more than $300,000, the amount of each of the scholarship awards will increase dramatically and the scholarship will be awarded to two students every year rather than just one.

“From my perspective, investing in the youth of our society is a way to give back to the community while keeping my father’s memory alive,” said Zach Sansone, who joined the foundation board alongside his father’s former classmate Sal Aspromonte ’79.

Irwin Cohen
Eileen Nugent
Deborah Riegel
L– R: Alumni, including Irwin Cohen ’58, Eileen Nugent ’78, Alumni Association President Deborah Riegel ’93 and other members stepped up to create a bar prep fund for students.

Alumni Come Together to Provide Bar Prep Funding for Students

Every Brooklyn Law School graduate remembers preparing for the bar exam, from the endless hours of hitting the books to the stress of taking the test itself on exam day.

What many in the school community did not initially realize is that some students have been unable to afford bar prep courses and have missed out on the structured and comprehensive approach to test preparation that such courses provide. When alumni and faculty did learn of the student need, they sprang into action.

Alumni Association President Deborah Riegel ’93, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees, said the issue first surfaced at a trustees meeting in the spring.

Vance Foundation Family Pays It Forward with Scholarship, Fellowship Gifts

The family of Matthew Vance ’24 was proud when he was named as a recipient of the Roland Thau fellowship, which was created in Thau’s memory to support aspiring public defenders attending Brooklyn Law School.

The endowed fellowship provides a permanent source of funding for a grant every year to a student who is dedicated to a career in criminal defense. Vance’s parents, who are longtime philanthropists, felt that because they benefited from the Thau family’s generosity, they should pay it forward. They did so by stepping up to help other students pay for their education through a major gift from the Lee and Cynthia Vance Foundation to the Law School.

Matthew and Cynthia Vance
I feel like we need to replenish the tank so that students who need the financial support can get it.
— Cynthia Vance, Vance Foundation
“The school has been generous in terms of giving Matt a merit scholarship, which has helped him thrive. He is very committed to being a public defender, and he’s had great opportunities and guidance through the faculty and various internships,” said Cynthia Vance, Matthew’s mother. “But I feel like we need to replenish the tank so that students who need the financial support can get it.”

The family set up the Lee and Cynthia Vance Foundation 28 years ago to support educational, social service, public health, public media, and various other causes in New York City that have meaning for them. Cynthia is a vice president of strategic initiatives at Hunter College, and both she and Lee serve on the boards of various nonprofit institutions.

“We tend to support organizations where we also have a really good feeling for the people and the work they’re trying to do, and see ways we can help make that happen,” Vance said.

Through the foundation, they not only made a gift to the Thau fellowship, but also created a new scholarship to help provide funding for Brooklyn Law School students of diverse backgrounds in need of financial assistance.

Giving a hand to those in need is a fitting tribute to Thau, who died on Nov. 10, 2020, at the age of 86, after an extraordinary life and career as a legendary public defender, representing the indigent at the Legal Aid Society and the Federal Defenders of New York.

Clare R. Petti Scholarships Invest in Future Generations of Attorneys

Claire Petti black and white graduate portrait
SINCE 2008, the endowed scholarship established by the estate of the late Clare R. Petti ’54, a trailblazing attorney and advocate for the public interest, has helped almost three dozen students students at Brooklyn Law School achieve their dreams of a legal education.

Petti, who passed away in 2007, experienced firsthand the unique challenges that women law students and attorneys faced. A New York City native, she was one of only four women in the Class of 1954. After passing the bar in New York, Petti wanted to practice in her new home state of New Jersey, but the state’s prerequisite of a clerkship, which was then denied to women, initially prevented her from doing so. Yet she persevered in the New Jersey Supreme Court, helping create an alternative to the clerkship, a skills and methods course that opened the door for countless women to practice in the state.

In addition to Petti’s solo practice in Paramus, N.J., which included a great deal of pro bono work, she served on that city’s Board of Education. An advocate for sustainable development, Petti was a strong voice at city council and county government meetings, as well as planning board sessions. She also ran for the Paramus mayoral office in 1986.

The impact of Petti’s legacy—an original endowment of $1.5 million that through investment has increased to more than $2.3 million—is ongoing and evident in the lives and careers of many of the scholarship recipients. Sasha Linney ’11, who received a Petti scholarship in 2009–10, is now managing director and senior counsel for GoldenTree Asset Management and a member of the Brooklyn Law School Board of Trustees. “I was, and still am, extremely grateful for the generosity of Clare Petti,” Linney said. “The scholarship established by her estate was critical for me, as I was funding my own law school education through scholarships and loans. It is Clare Petti’s generosity—and the generosity of so many fellow alums—that inspires me to give back to Brooklyn Law School with my time and money.”

Class of 1975 Couple Pays Tribute to Favorite Professor’s Sayings in Moot Court

Landscape photograph of Hilary Fischman Soiefer and Alan Soiefer smiling, both 1975 graduates, decided to have Moot Court seats inscribed inside the Brooklyn Law School building with their names and their favorite catchphrases from Joseph Crea ’47, who was their Torts professor

Hilary Fischman Soiefer and Alan Soiefer, both 1975 graduates, decided to have Moot Court seats inscribed with their names and their favorite catchphrases from Joseph Crea ’47, who was their Torts professor.

Inspired by Joseph Crea ’47, who was then her Torts professor, Hilary Fischman Soiefer ’75 had “The barrel rolls” inscribed alongside her name on her Moot Court seat. “Always think about that when you’re working with another lawyer. If you’re on top at one point, you may not always be there,” she said.
Landscape photograph of Hilary Fischman Soiefer and Alan Soiefer smiling, both 1975 graduates, decided to have Moot Court seats inscribed inside the Brooklyn Law School building with their names and their favorite catchphrases from Joseph Crea ’47, who was their Torts professor
Hilary Fischman Soiefer and Alan Soiefer, both 1975 graduates, decided to have Moot Court seats inscribed with their names and their favorite catchphrases from Joseph Crea ’47, who was their Torts professor.

HILARY FISCHMAN SOIEFER AND ALAN SOIEFER, both 1975 graduates, have a special connection to Brooklyn Law School, because it is where they first met and started dating more than 50 years ago. Now those memories are part of the school itself.

Over the summer, the Soiefers visited the Law School for the first time in years, with a particularly meaningful stop in the Moot Court Room. Although they give to the school annually, they decided to do more this year, and wanted to see firsthand the two chairs they had inscribed with their names to memorialize their favorite catchphrases from Joseph Crea ’47. The legendary professor and scholar, who died in 2019 at the age of 104, taught at Brooklyn Law School for 60 years and was the Soiefers’ first-year Torts professor.


Alan E. Weiner ’68, the founding tax partner of Holtz Rubenstein & Co., was presented with the Gary H. Friedenberg Service Award by the Estate Planning Council of Nassau County. The award honors a fellow alumnus, the late Gary H. Friedenberg ’67 (LL.B. ’65) a past president and longtime member and friend of the organization. In presenting the award to Weiner, the council quoted Friedenberg’s recommendation to make Weiner a council member. “Gary was a warm, sincere, and smart friend. I am honored to be receiving this award,” Weiner said.


Jeffrey D. Forchelli, chairman and co-managing partner at Forchelli Deegan Terrana, was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 30th edition of The Best Lawyers in America for land use and zoning law. He has been recognized annually since 2018.


Joseph S. Karp has again been named a Florida Super Lawyer in the field of elder law, an honor he has received every year since 2009. Karp is the founder and principal of the Karp Law Firm, with offices in Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

In Memoriam

Landscape headshot photograph of Hon. Sterling Johnson Jr. '66 in a dark brown suit, white button-up dress shirt with dark grey lines pattern style, and multi-colored pattern style tie (dark navy blue, tan, red) as he sitting down at a desk with a notebook, glass of water, and plastic water bottle nearby him as Sterling is glancing at something in the foreground

Hon. Sterling Johnson Jr. ’66

Hon. Sterling Johnson Jr. ’66, a senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, passed away on Oct. 10, 2022 in Queens, N.Y. He was 88.

Johnson entered Brooklyn Law School in 1963, while he was an officer with the New York City Police Department, switching to night police work so that he could attend classes at Brooklyn Law School during the day, according to The New York Times.

He later gave his time to the Law School, serving as one of 22 federal judges from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York who took part in the school’s EDNY Day in 2019. He taught refugee law.

During Johnson’s time as a federal judge, the Times noted, he was best known for ordering the closing of a Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which he referred to as an “HIV prison camp” for Haitian refugees, and for ruling that New York City had failed to adequately help poor residents who had AIDS.

A Conversation with Susan Herman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law

The Future of Civil Liberties

Ahead of a scholarly panel discussion on her new book, Advanced Introduction to US Civil Liberties, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law Susan Herman shared some insights on the topic, including why she is hopeful.

Why did you write your latest book and what do you hope readers will take away from it?
I wrote this book because I wanted to share what I learned from spending over three decades on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Board of Directors, including 12 years as president, and four decades teaching about the U.S. Constitution.

I hope that readers will take away an appreciation for how civil liberties came to be recognized in the U.S. during the 20th century and how it has come to pass that we are now losing so much of what our predecessors struggled to win. The opening line of the book is a quote from the ACLU’s first executive director, Roger Baldwin, who frequently remarked that no civil liberties battle ever remains won. I would like readers to see the history of civil liberties as involving pendulum swings, and to engage with the question of how we can get the pendulum to swing back in the direction of liberty and equality.

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Portrait headshot photograph of Kaitlyn Pavia ’23 smiling in a orange blouse top and open black business jacket suit wearing a dark bronze colored necklace plus dark bronze colored earrings
“A big thing that is missing from the legal curriculum is the expertise of people who are impacted, and who know the realities of the justice system.”
— kaitlyn pavia ’23