DISCOVERY | on campus

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.”

Even before Porter officially started her new role, she helped enlist Linda Feldman ’83, Associate Professor of Legal Writing Emerita, who is serving as the Director of Bar Preparation and Adjunct Professor of Law. Feldman, a pioneering force in academic success programming at Brooklyn Law School, launched a new bar prep offering this summer that included popular 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.

Joy Kanwar portrait
Arthur Pinto & Stephen Bohlen Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity Joy Kanwar
Stepping in to fill Porter’s role of Associate Dean of Inclusion & Diversity is Professor Joy Kanwar, who teaches legal writing courses at Brooklyn Law School. Her recent scholarship explores questions about inclusion and exclusion in immigration and citizenship law through historical and narrative lenses.

Kanwar said she is excited to follow in the footsteps of Porter, who did a “phenomenal” job and enlisted the community to take ownership in the school’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

“I’m just generally motivated by community building and by making the student experience as positive as it can be for everybody,” Kanwar said. “The norm of the law school experience, or what we assume law school is going to be, is not very inclusive of all communities. So, my overall goal is to make the school more welcoming—even incrementally—and build a sense of belonging among our community.”

One of her initial goals is to lead efforts to restore the sense of community and “the grace we gave each other” before the pandemic, Kanwar said.

“My experience has always been that the students care a lot about our community, and I want us to be able to do well by our students and by our staff and by our faculty,” she added. As part of those efforts, Kanwar is working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg Professor of Law Susan Herman to bring greater awareness to Native American and indigenous law within the school’s curriculum this year.

Susan Hazeldean portrait
Associate Dean of Experiential Education Susan Hazeldean
Also taking on a new role is Professor Susan Hazeldean, who was named the Associate Dean of Experiential Education, a leadership position long held by Professor Stacy Caplow, who launched the school’s first in-house clinic in 1976 and expanded it over nearly five decades.

Hazeldean, founding director of the LGBTQ Advocacy Clinic, credits Caplow for building Brooklyn Law School’s clinical education program into one that is nationally renowned and said she is “honored” and “humbled” to step into the role.

“Our students are passionate and dedicated; they want a chance to build their practical skills while they’re still in law school, which is what experiential education is all about,” Hazeldean said. “Our in-house clinical program is second to none, and I feel so lucky to work with such a diverse and amazing range of talented scholars and teachers every day. We also have wonderful adjunct professors who contribute to our program in numerous ways, both in our skills courses, and also in teaching externships and hybrid clinics.”

One immediate plan she has is to expand the clinics program with a new offering. Professor Aissatou Barry, who was newly hired as Assistant Professor, will be starting a Housing Justice Clinic, focused on eviction prevention, in the spring 2024 semester.

“It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for our students,” Hazeldean said. “Professor Barry is doing cutting-edge work protecting the basic rights of New Yorkers to safe, secure housing.”