Dean’s Message
Michael T. Cahill standing in front of building

Since the articles in this issue of Law Notes were prepared for publication, our entire world has changed. You already know the big story, as you are living it too: a near-total shutdown of activity and direct human contact, with the work that can or must continue—in the law school’s case, the work of teaching and learning—taking place remotely, our remaining interactions mediated by technology of various kinds.

Yet alongside, and within, this big story are other, more positive and hopeful ones, making clear that our community persists; it is resilient; and it shall endure. For one thing, those modes of communication and connection that remain are substantial and, less than a generation ago, would have seemed like a fantasy. Each day, without leaving my apartment, I see the faces and hear the voices of family, friends, colleagues, and members of the Brooklyn Law School community, near and far. Just over a week after suspending live in-person classes, our faculty and students were engaged in online sessions. The school building is not in use, but school is very much in session. If one pauses to think and to appreciate, one realizes that the overused phrase “miracles of modern technology” is apt. With all we have lost (temporarily, one hopes), what remains is miraculous.

No less miraculous is that, with all we have lost—or have had taken from us—so many are able, and eager, to give back as much or even more than before. Some give help and advice: for example, our Women’s Leadership Network Mentoring Circle has scarcely missed a beat in maintaining the umbrella of mutual support it creates among our graduates, and our new Remote Mentor program had over a hundred volunteers almost immediately. Others give resources: our new Student Support Fund, designed to help students who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships as a result of COVID-19, has attracted more than $65,000 and counting, from our alumni and friends as well as outside grants.

We are, in short, living out the sentiment that Bill Withers, one of the many cultural icons who recently passed away, expressed in his classic song “Lean On Me.” As the song says, we all need somebody to lean on, and thankfully, many members of our community have been there to offer a helping hand in this time of unusual need for so many.

I close on the hopeful note with which “Lean On Me” begins:

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

May that tomorrow hasten on its way. Until then, let us continue to lean on each other.

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