New York Law School

New York Law School is a private law school in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City.


During the winter of 1890, a dispute arose at Columbia College over an attempt to introduce the Case Method of study to Columbia Law School. The Case Method had been pioneered at Harvard Law School by Christopher Columbus Langdell. The dean and founder of Columbia Law School, Theodore Dwight, opposed this method, preferring the Socratic Method. Because of this disagreement with Columbia, Dwight and the other faculty and students of Columbia Law School left and founded their own law school in Lower Manhattan the following year.

On June 11, 1891, New York Law School was chartered by the State of New York, and the school began operation shortly thereafter. By this time, Theodore Dwight was in poor health, and was not able to be actively involved with the Law School, so the position of Dean went to one of the other professors from Columbia Law School, George Chase. New York Law School held its first classes on October 1, 1891, in the Equitable Building at 120 Broadway, in Lower Manhattan's Financial District.

In 1892, after only a year in operation, it was the second-largest law school in the United States. Steady increases in enrollment caused the Law School to acquire new facilities in 1899, at 35 Nassau Street, only blocks away from the Law School's previous location. However, because the Law School was still growing, in 1907 it acquired a building of its own at 172 Fulton Street, where it remained until 1917, when it closed because of World War I.

When New York Law School reopened in 1918, it was located in another building at 215 West 23rd Street, in Midtown. In the following decade, the Law School would see the peak of its early years, and saw some of its most famous alumni graduate. However, in 1925, George Chase died after a long illness that resulted in him running New York Law School for the last three years of his life from his bed. New York Law School continued without Chase, seeing its enrollment peak in the mid 1920s, but it saw a steady decline after that. With fewer students, the Law School moved to smaller facilities at 253 Broadway in the Civic Center, just opposite City Hall. In 1936, the Law School moved to another location at 63 Park Row, on the opposite side of City Hall Park; it also became coeducational that same year. However, because of declining enrollment, as well as World War II, it was forced to close in 1941. The remaining students that were still enrolled finished their studies at St. John's University School of Law, in Brooklyn.

After reopening in 1947, the Law School started a new program that was influenced by a committee of alumni headed by New York State Supreme Court Justice Albert Cohn. The Law School resumed operations in a building at 244 William Street, in the Civic Center. In 1954, New York Law School was accredited by the American Bar Association, and in 1962, moved to its current facilities at 57 Worth Street, in TriBeCa. In 1974, it received additional accreditation by the Association of American Law Schools.

The buildings of the Law School underwent renovation during the leadership of Dean James F. Simon, from 1983 to 1992. Under his successor, Dean Harry H. Wellington, who served in that position until 2000, the curriculum was revised to put greater emphasis on the practical skills of a professional attorney. Since the current Dean, Richard A. Matasar, took over, the Law School has continued to grow, with a newly articulated mission statement that centers on three goals: to embrace innovation, to foster integrity and professionalism, and to advance justice for a diverse society. The School has also adopted the motto “Learn Law. Take Action,” which expresses its commitment to teaching students to use the skills and knowledge they gain as lawyers to do something valuable for others.

In late June of 2006, New York Law School sold its Mendik building at 240 Church Street. This sale enabled the school to move forward with the sale of $135 million in insured bonds, which were issued through the New York City Industrial Development Agency. The school’s securities were given an A3 credit rating by Moody’s and an A-minus rating by S&P, both reflective of the school’s stable market position and solid financial condition. The proceeds from the building sale have been allocated to the school’s endowment, which is now among the top 10 of all American law schools.

The Law School opened its first dormitory in the East Village in 2005, and in August 2006, it broke ground on the $190 million expansion and renovation program that will transform its TriBeCa campus into a cohesive architectural complex that nearly doubles the school's current size.

The centerpiece of the expansion will be a new glass-enclosed, 200,000-square-foot, nine-level building—five stories above ground and four below, which will integrate the Law School’s existing buildings. The new facility is scheduled for completion in 2008, followed by the complete renovation of the Law School’s existing buildings by spring of 2010.

New York Law School has a 90% New York bar exam pass rate for first-time takers, which places the school in the top five schools in the state in bar passage rate along with Cornell, Columbia University, Cardozo, and NYU, . However, the school is still only considered "Third Tier" by the US News and World Report Law School Rankings.


New York Law School has three divisions:

  • Full Time Day
  • Part Time Day
  • Part Time Evening

It offers the following degrees:

Besides these degrees, New York Law School also has "Three + Three Programs," which allow Undergraduate students to start at the Law School after only three years of Undergraduate education, and then receive their Undergraduate degree after successfully completing the first year at the Law School. The programs also allow students to continue receiving comparable financial aid to that which they received during their Undergraduate education provided they maintain their academic performance. They also are not required to take the Law School Admission Test before entering the Law School. These programs are with the following schools:

The School’s curriculum focuses on integrating the study of theory and practice and on including the perspectives of legal practitioners. The Law School’s Lawyering Skills Center offers clinics, simulation courses, and externships to carry out that goal. Through a number of other new initiatives and programs, the School has expanded its offerings in order to provide “the Right Program for Each Student.”

New York Law School operates on the standard semester basis. 86 credits are required for graduation, 38 of which are for required courses. The first and second years have mandatory studies, and the third year is all elective courses. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA for all courses. Required first-year courses are Civil Procedure, Contracts I and II, Criminal Law, Evidence, Lawyering, Legal Reasoning, Writing and Research, Property, Torts, and Written and Oral Advocacy. Required second-year courses are Constitutional Law I and II, and the Legal Profession. An upper-division writing requirement is also necessary study.

The areas of concentration offered for study by New York Law School are Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Corporate and Securities Law, Criminal Law, International Law, Information and Media Law, Labor and Employment Law, Professional Values and Practice, Real Estate Law and Taxation. New York Law School has five clinics: Criminal Law, Elder Law, Mediation, Securities Arbitration and Urban Law. The stimulation courses offered are Advocacy of Criminal Cases, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Negotiating, Counseling and Interviewing (NCI), Trial Advocacy, and The Role of the Government Attorney.

Academic centers

The faculty has established seven academic centers which provide specialized study and offer prime opportunities for exchange between the students, faculty, and expert practitioners. These seven academic centers engage many students in advanced research through the John Marshall Harlan Scholars Program, an academic honors program designed for students with the strongest academic credentials. Harlan Scholars have the opportunity, through affiliation with a center to focus on a particular field of study, gaining depth and substantive expertise beyond the broad understanding of the law that is gained in the J.D. program.

Center for Business Law and Policy

The Center on Business Law & Policy is designed to provide its Harlan Scholars honors students an enriched educational experience in the business, securities, and commercial law areas. The Center's goal is to prepare a motivated, hard-working corps of students to excel as planners and counselors in general advising, litigation and especially deal-making situations where businesses and other commercial entities are clients. Center graduates will have a firm grounding in the fundamentals needed to enter business-oriented law firms, law departments in corporations, investment banks, financial services and brokerage firms, institutional investors, as well as regulators and other commercially oriented governmental offices, and will be exposed to the areas of law that are relevant to these types of practices.

Center for International Law

New York Law School, aided by a grant from the C.V. Starr Foundation, created the Center for International Law. The Center supports teaching and research in all areas of international law but concentrates on the law of international trade and finance, deriving much of its strength from interaction with New York’s business, commercial, financial, and legal communities. The Center organizes symposia events to engage students and faculty in discussions of important and timely issues with experts and practitioners in the field. For professional development, the Center offers extensive resources for studying and researching careers in international law.

The Center publishes The International Review, an award-winning academic newsletter. The International Review is the only academic newletter published by an ABA-accredited law school that reports on a broad range of contemporary international and comparative law issues. The Newsletter on Newsletters awarded The International Review with its 2007 Gold Award for "Best Edited Organization Newsletter." It is published twice a year by the Center, and is free through email subscription or on the website.

Center for New York City Law

The Center for New York City Law is the only program of its kind in the country. Its objectives are to gather and disseminate information about New York City’s laws, rules, and procedures; to sponsor publications, symposia, and conferences on topics related to governing the city; and to suggest reforms to make city government more effective and efficient. The Center’s bimonthly publication, City Law, tracks New York City’s rules and regulations, how they are enforced, and court challenges to them. Its Web site,, contains a searchable library of more than 40,000 administrative decisions of New York City agencies. The Center publishes three newsletters: CityLaw, CityLand and CityReg.

Center for Professional Values and Practice

The School’s Center for Professional Values and Practice provides a vehicle through which to examine the role of the legal profession and approaches to law practice. The Center’s work supports the development of lawyering skills and reflective professionalism, including consideration of how these have evolved over the decades, even as business and ethical pressures have intensified and become more complex, and the roles of lawyers in society have multiplied.

Center for Real Estate Studies

The recently established Center for Real Estate Studies at New York Law School aims to become one of the leading academic research centers devoted to the study of both the private practice and public regulation of real estate. The Center will sponsor conferences, symposia, and continuing legal education programs on these issues and will host distinguished lawyers and other real estate professionals to speak on developments in the practice of real estate law. The Center for Real Estate Studies will also be a leader in developing innovative legal education programs, creating partnerships with leading real estate lawyers in NYC, and better training our students pursuing real estate careers. The new Center will help bridge the existing gap between the private practice and academic study of real estate, and will become one of the premier places in the country for the study of real estate.

Institute for Information Law and Policy

The Institute for Information Law and Policy is New York Law School’s home for the study of information, communication and law in the global digital age. The goal of the Institute is to apply the theory and technology of communications and information to strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law as technology evolves. Through its curriculum, ongoing conference and speaker series and a variety of original projects, the Institute investigates the emerging field of information law, which encompasses intellectual property, privacy, free speech, information access, communications, and all areas of law pertaining to information and communication practices.

Justice Action Center

The Justice Action Center brings together New York Law School faculty and students in an ongoing critical evaluation of public interest lawyering. Through scholarship and fieldwork, the Center seeks to evaluate the efficacy of law as an agent of change and social betterment. Through a focused curriculum, symposia, clinical experience, and research opportunities, the Center seeks to instill in students a deeper intellectual understanding of the law regardless of their final career goals, and to present opportunities to maintain their ties to the social justice community beyond law school.

In 2006, the School's Labor & Employment Law Program became part of the Justice Action Center. Ever since New York Law School alumnus Senator Robert F. Wagner—the “legislative pilot of the New Deal”—wrote and led the fight to enact the National Labor Relations Act, New York Law School has remained on the cutting edge of labor and employment law and public policy. In the tradition of Senator Wagner, New York Law School’s Labor & Employment Law Program seeks to advance and influence law and public policy with an action-oriented, public-interested agenda.

Notable faculty


  • Albert Blaustein, assistant professor (1948-1955), constitutional expert that helped draft the Fijian and Liberian constitutions, as well as consulting on the constitutions of for Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Peru. To a lesser extent, he was involved in the constitutions of Poland, South Africa, Hungary, Romania, Niger, Uganda and Trinidad and Tobago. He was the editor of the 20-volume encyclopaedia Constitutions of the Countries of the World.
  • Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • William Kunstler, associate professor; director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Theodore R. Kupferman, assistant professor (1954-1964), later elected U.S. Congress (1966-1969).
  • President Woodrow Wilson taught Constitutional Law at NYLS before becoming President of Princeton University, and then Governor of New Jersey.
  • Cyril Means, prominent scholar on the history of abortion laws whose work was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade.


  • Deborah Archer, Director of the Racial Justice Project; former attorney at NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Richard Beck, Co-director, Gradaute Tax Program
  • Andrew Berman, Director of the Center for Real Estate Studies; former partner at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood's Real Estate Group.
  • Robert Blecker, nationally known retributivist advocate of the death penalty.
  • Tai-Heng Cheng, Associate Director of the Center for International Law, and Honorary Fellow, Foreign Policy Association.
  • Sydney M. Cone III, C.V. Starr Professor of Law, Founder and Director of the Center for International Law, former partner and now senior counsel with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
  • Aleta G. Estreicher, authority in corporate and securities law.
  • Brandt Goldstein, author of Storming the Court.
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, renowned presidential scholar, expert in American legal history.
  • Seth Harris, director of the Labor and Employment Law Program; former Counselor to Alexis Herman, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration.
  • Jeffrey Hass, expert in corporate finance, securties and mutual fund law.
  • Arthur S. Leonard, pioneering scholar and activist on sexual orientation law.
  • Faith Kahn, Director of the Center on Business Law & Policy, authority on corporate governance and securities law.
  • Beth Simone Noveck, founder of Peer to patent public review of pending US patents and named “Top 50 in IP” in 2008 by Managing IP Today.
  • Michael L. Perlin, award-winning author on mental disability law.
  • Rudolph J.R. Peritz, expert in antitrust law, as well as economic regulation, jurisprudence, and information technology and the law. Author of "Competition Policy in America: 1888–1992", and co-author of casebook "U.S. Antitrust Law in Global Perspective".
  • Edward A. Purcell Jr., leading authority on U.S. legal history. Award winning author, his book, "The Crisis of Democratic Theory: Scientific Naturalism & the Problem of Value", was awarded the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize by the Organization of American Historians. His most recent book, "Brandeis and the Progressive Constitution: Erie, the Judicial Power, and the Politics of the Federal Courts in Twentieth-Century America" won the Triennial Griswold Prize from the Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Coif Triennial Book Award from the Association of American Law Schools.
  • Ross Sandler, Director of the Center for New York City Law; Editor CityLaw, CityLand and CityRegs; former partner Jones Day.
  • David S. Schoenbrod, pioneer in the field of environmental law.
  • Richard K. Sherwin, expert on use of visual persuasion in litigation.
  • James F. Simon, author of seven books on American history, law, and politics.
  • Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union, member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Ruti Teitel, authority on international law, human rights, and constitutional law, member of Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Henry H. Wellington, Sterling Professor of Law, former Dean of Yale Law School.
  • William P. LaPiana, Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Present - Adjunct

  • Judith Bresler, expert in Art Law; co-author of Art Law: The Guide for Collectors, Artists, Investors, Dealers, and Artists.
  • Richard B. Bernstein, distinguished adjunct professor of constitutional law and legal history.
  • Lawrence Lederman, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law; Chairman of Global Corporate Practice at Milbank, Tweed.
  • Zuhayr A. Moghrabi, expert in Islamic & Middle Eastern Law.
  • Hon. Evan Wallach, judge on U.S. Court of International Trade, law of war.

Notable alumni

In addition to more than 100 sitting judges and many partners of prominent law firms, New York Law School graduates have achieved success working in business, education, and the arts.



  • Ken Biberaj - Vice President of The Russian Tea Room
  • Chester Carlson, a physicist and former engineer at Bell Labs, while a student at New York Law School in 1938 invented the xerography photocopy process.
  • Blanche Lark Christerson, currently Managing Director at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.
  • Susan E. Cohig, presently Group Vice President for Club Services for the National Hockey League.
  • Gregory D. Frost, Chairman, CEO and General Counsel of Able Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq).
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, former chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG); current chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr and Company.
  • Richard LaMotta, inventor of Chipwich ice cream sandwich, co-founder of Chipwich Inc., later sold to CoolBrands, and then Dreyer's (Nestle).
  • Lawrence S. Huntington, former Chairman of Fiduciary Trust Company.
  • Christopher Johnson Jr., currently VP and General Counsel of General Motors North America.
  • J. Bruce Llewellyn, Chairman of Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Philadelphia, among the five largest minority-owned businesses in the nation.
  • Marc Lasry, Founder and Managing Partner, Avenue Capital Group. Founder and Senior Managing Director, Amroc.
  • John McMahon, currently President and CEO, Orange & Rockland Utilities.
  • Bernard H. Mendik, former chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, CEO of Mendik Properties which he sold to Steve Roth for $654 million and became co-chairman of Vornado. Later left Vornado to start another real estate company.
  • Charles Phillips (businessman), currently President of Oracle Corporation; former Managing Director of Morgan Stanley.
  • Alfred Swayne, Chairman of General Motors Acceptance Corporation.
  • Kenneth D. Werner, currently President of Warner Brothers Domestic Television Distribution.
  • Zygmunt Wilf, head of Garden Commercial Properties, and principal owner of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.


  • Leo Cherne, executive director of the Research Institute of America; chairman of the executive committee of Freedom House; chairman of the International Rescue Committee. Served on U.S. Select Committee for Western Hemisphere Immigraions and the U.S. Advisory Commission on International Education and Cultural Affairs, as well as, the U.S. President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), and the Intelligence Oversight Board. Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
  • Cynthia Price Cohen, executive director Child Rights International Research Institute.
  • Raymond B. Fosdick, former President of the Rockefeller Foundation.
  • Meir Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League.
  • Christina M. Storm, founder and president of Lawyers Without Borders.



  • Bainbridge Colby, U.S. Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson (1920-1921).
  • James W. Gerard, U.S. Ambassador to Germany during World War I, and New York Supreme Court justice.
  • Kathleen Grimm, Deputy Chancellor, Finance and Administration for the New York City Department of Education.
  • Seymour Glanzer, First Chief of the Anti-Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington D.C., and one of three original prosecutors in the Watergate Scandal.
  • Charles Maikish, former director of the World Trade Center, more recently head of the Lower Manhattan Command Center - the government entity that has been overseeing all public and private construction post - 9/11.
  • Randolph E. Paul, General Counsel U.S. Treasury Department, founder Paul, Weiss Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
  • Ferdinand Pecora, appointed Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency following the 1932 election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He led Senate hearings, known as the Pecora Commission into the causes of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 which launched a major reform of the American financial system, that resulted in the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Became one of the first members of the Securities Exchange Commission.
  • Laura Simone Unger, member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (1997-2001), acting Chairman (2001).
  • Barbara M. Watson, daughter of James S. Watson (judicial), U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, and first female Assistant Secretary of State of the United States.


  • Hon. Clarence E. Case, Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
  • Hon. Albert C. Cohn, New York State Supreme Court justice, and father of lawyer Roy Cohn.
  • Hon. Charles William Froessel, New York Court of Appeals (1949-1962).
  • Hon. John Marshall Harlan II, United States Supreme Court Justice from 1955 to 1971.
  • Hon. Robert Alexander Inch, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Hon. Roger J. Miner, Chief Judge United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Hon. Francis T. Murphy, Presiding Justice New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1977-97.
  • Hon. Emilio Nuñez, became the first Latino judge in New York City.
  • Hon. Samuel Seabury, associate justice of the Court of Appeals.
  • Hon. Jonah Triebwasser, Justice of the Village and Town of Red Hook, New York
  • Hon. Nicholas Tsoucalas, former chief judge, now senior judge U.S. Court of International Trade.
  • Hon. James S. Watson, became a judge and was the first African American admitted to membership in the American Bar Association.



  • Walter Dukes, all-American basketball player at Seton Hall University, while averaging 26.1 points and 22.2 rebounds per game (still an NCAA record for rebounds in a season). The 2-time NBA All-Star played 8 seasons for the Knicks, Lakers and Pistons, as well as 2 seasons for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Name partners in prominent firms


External links

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