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.

“There was discussion about students who perhaps didn’t have what they needed in terms of access to bar review programs, and were potentially struggling, and of evening students who were going to have to take time off work and could not afford to do so,” said Riegel, a member of the litigation department at Rosenberg & Estis. Having availed herself of bar prep courses when she was in school, Riegel could not imagine students not doing so. She suggested to the Alumni Association that profits from the March 15, 2023, alumni dinner at Cipriani 25 Broadway be redirected from the Annual Fund to a new fund devoted to bar exam prep. The directors wholeheartedly agreed.

This year, once again, proceeds from the dinner will go directly to the Bar Exam Prep Fund. Register for the dinner, or if you are unable to attend and would like to contribute, you can also go to, select “other” for your gift, and type in Bar Exam Prep Fund.

After the alumni board decided to devote dinner proceeds to the fund, Alumni Association Director Dexin Deng ’16 pointed out that in addition to bar prep costs, some students had trouble being able to afford food while not working and preparing for the exam.

“We started brainstorming how, in addition to helping with the bar prep, we could feed the students, and that morphed into providing meals not only at the Law School while they were studying for the bar exam, but also setting up tables of food outside on the day of the bar exam,” Riegel said. “In addition to the money that we raised at the alumni dinner, there were immediately hands that went up around the table from those who pledged additional gifts, to cover everything we wanted to do for the students.”

On the academic side, the Law School began offering its own bar prep classes over the summer. Associate Dean for Academic and Student Success Karen Porter, in her new role, helped enlist Linda Feldman ’83, associate professor of legal writing emerita, a pioneering force in Brooklyn Law School’s academic success programming. Over the summer, Feldman served as the director of bar preparation and adjunct professor of law. Summer classes included faculty-led workshops on topics such as constitutional law with Professor Alice Ristroph and contracts with Professor Michael Gerber. Other pivotal members of the team are Assistant Professors of Academic Success Cherie N. Brown and Flora Midwood, who also serves as the assistant director of the academic success program, and Assistant Professor of Legal Writing Meg Holzer.

Between the Alumni Dinner profits and the donations of members who provided additional gifts, the Alumni Association raised $50,000 for the bar prep efforts.

Meanwhile, two other generous alumni who are both longtime financial supporters of the school and heard about the need also came forth with major gifts. One was Board of Trustees member Eileen T. Nugent ’78, who was an M&A partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for more than three decades. The other was Irwin Cohen ’58, the developer of Chelsea Market in Manhattan.

Nugent still remembers and is appreciative of the scholarship she received, and the administration’s financial support for related costs, and wants to help students pass the bar, because she said it is critical to their career success and to the school’s standing in the legal community.

“Once I learned about all of the issues that students had been dealing with while studying for the bar and the great ideas the faculty had about supporting students both financially and in developing varied methods of instructional support, I knew this was a good place for me to add my financial support,” Nugent said.

Cohen said his Law School professors taught him to read every document from beginning to end, and helped him gain confidence as a speaker, crucial to someone who traveled the country for business.

“I don’t think I could have accomplished what I have in my business life without going to Brooklyn Law School,” Cohen said. He vividly remembers awaiting the bar exam results outside the New York Times offices in Times Square, at 2 a.m., eager to see the results, which were then published in the paper. Unfortunately, he had to go through the middle-of-the-night ritual again, because it took him two times to pass the bar. He is happy to help fellow alumni of the future do so as well.

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