Stephen A. Newman

Professor of Law

Stephen A. Newman

For Stephen A. Newman, being a professor could not be better suited to his personality and work style. A voracious reader, a prolific writer, and a skilled lecturer who “enjoys commenting on the issues of the day,” he loves teaching and interacting with students.

“I had thought about teaching and decided to try it for a year. That was 31 years ago,” Professor Newman says with a smile. He joined New York Law School in 1974, when it was expanding and hiring a lot of young and innovative faculty. Over the years, he has developed most of the courses he teaches—Family Law; Persuasion; Divorce: Lawyers, Clients, and Families; Children & the Law—to fill gaps in legal education created by social change.

When Professor Newman first proposed a class teaching the skills of persuasion, it was a novel concept and a course that had not been part of the traditional law school curriculum, but it fit in with what he terms New York Law School’s theme of thinking about the practical skills of lawyers.

“It’s fun to do and is at the heart of the matter for lawyers. The focus is not on research, but on taking a point of view and arguing for it as convincingly as you can,” he explains. A favorite wicked assignment is to pit the students against legendary courtroom persuader Clarence Darrow by having them argue against his speech—90 pages of fine print—calling for life imprisonment instead of the death penalty for his clients, Leopold and Loeb.

Professor Newman started out in consumer protection law after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967 and Columbia Law School (where he was on the Law Review) three years later. He worked in the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs pursuing consumer fraud under the city’s new consumer protection law. His work in consumer rights led him to establish a Consumer Law Training Center at New York Law School and later, in 1978, to coauthor the book Caveat Venditor: A Manual for Consumer Representation in New York (Julius Blumberg, Inc., 2nd ed. 1994).

“We were going after clearly bad guys; there was a moral clarity to the job,” he recalls. But he became interested in the nascent area of family law precisely because the cases making headlines in the years of the Reagan presidency, like the Baby M surrogate motherhood case in New Jersey, lacked a moral clarity.

“There was nothing happening in consumer protection, but family law was exploding at that time and it seemed to be where attention should be paid. The issues kept coming up and it was sort of a legal backwater,” Professor Newman says. He decided to look into that area of law for a short while, and again ended up studying it for more than 20 years.

Professor Newman has a special interest in child custody cases and has a particular concern about the use of mental health evaluators in courts, because the effect of their testimony on people’s lives is lasting.

Born in the Bronx, he and his family live in Manhattan. His wife, Catherine Sullivan, was a faculty member at New York Law School, where they met.

BOOKS

Caveat Venditor: A Manual for Consumer Representation in New York. 2nd ed. (Julius Blumberg, Inc., 1994) (with E.M. Imholz). 1st ed. (Consumer Law Training Center, 1978).

Getting What You Deserve: A Handbook for the Assertive Consumer. Doubleday, 1979 (with N. Kramer).

LAW REVIEW AND OTHER SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS

Foreword: The Past, Present, and Future of Juvenile Justice Reform in New York State, 56 New York Law School Law Review 1263-1296 (2012).

From John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Campaign Speech to Christian Supremacy: Religion in Modern Presidential Politics, 53 New York Law School Law Review 691-734 (May 2009).

Using Shakespeare to Teach Persuasive Advocacy, 57 Journal of Legal Education 36 (2007).

Evolution and the Holy Ghost of Scopes: Can Science Lose the Next Round? 8 Rutgers Journal of Law & Religion 11-52 (2007).

Political Advocacy on the Supreme Court: The Damaging Rhetoric of Antonin Scalia (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day III), 51 New York Law School Law Review 907-926 (2006-2007).

The Use and Abuse of Social Science in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day II), 49 New York Law School Law Review 537-560 (2004-2005).

Five Critical Issues in New York’s Grandparent Visitation Law After Troxel v. Granville, 48 New York Law School Law Review 489–535 (2003–2004).

“Grandparent Visitation Claims: Assessing the Multiple Harms of Litigation to Families and Children.” 13 Boston University Public Interest Law Journal (2004).

“Human Cloning and the Substantive Due Process Riddle (Symposium on Cloning).” 8 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 153–166 (1998).

“Human Cloning and the Family: Reflections on Cloning Existing Children.” 13 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 523–530 (1997).

“At Work in the Marketplace of Ideas: Academic Freedom, the First Amendment, and Jeffries v. Harleston.” 22 Journal of College and University Law 281–329 (1995).

“Assessing the Quality of Expert Testimony in Cases Involving Children.” 22 Journal of Psychiatry & Law 181–234 (1994).

“Euthanasia: Orchestrating ‘The Last Syllable of… Time.’” 53 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 153–191 (1991).

“Baby Doe, Congress and the States: Challenging the Federal Treatment Standard for Impaired Infants.” 15 American Journal of Law & Medicine 1–60 (1989).

“A Tale of Two Cases: Reflections on Psychological and Institutional Influences on Child Custody Decisions.” 34 New York Law School Law Review 661–678 (1989).

“Treatment Refusals for the Critically and Terminally Ill: Proposed Rules for the Family, the Physician and the State.” 3 New York Law School Human Rights Annual 35–89 (1985).

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, PRACTICE MATERIALS, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Overburdened Child’s ‘Best-Interest’ Test, 229 New York Law Journal 2 (May 28, 2003).

The Teacher Who Advocated Pedophilia, 230 New York Law Journal 2 (August 7, 2003).

Counter-Revolution in Grandparent Visitation Rules, 228 New York Law Journal 2 (November 21, 2002).

“War and Our Civil Liberties: Lessons from Lincoln.” 227 New York Law Journal 2 (February 11, 2002).

“The Dark Side of Grandparent Visitation Rights.” 223 New York Law Journal 2 (June 14, 2000).

“Leopold and Loeb.” 223 New York Law Journal 2 (February 16, 2000).

“Uses of Metaphor in Legal Argument.” 222 New York Law Journal 2 (November 10,1999).

Moderator, “Symposium Panel: Critical Perspectives on Megan’s Law: Protection vs. Privacy.” 13 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 1–177 (1997).

Contributions to “New York Headaches and How to Get Relief.” New York, January 31, 1994, at 25.

Columnist, “Legal Aid.” New York Magazine, 1980–1988.