Professor of Law
Aleta G. Estreicher calls herself a teacher “through and through.”
Although her primary teaching/research areas are corporate and securities law, Professor Estreicher also enjoys teaching Property, which she describes as “wonderfully pedagogically diverse, involving all the essential lawyering skills.”
In teaching Corporations, she tries “to demystify some of the business concepts that I found strange coming from a liberal arts background. Corporations is an extraordinarily important subject, firmly grounded in the real world—which frequently comes as a surprise to students.”
Professor Estreicher also tries to bring reality into the classroom in her Securities Arbitration seminar, where students prepare simulated cases, usually with New York Law School alumni playing the client roles. Although the simulations provided useful skills and securities law training, Professor Estreicher always hoped eventually to give students the “real thing”—a live client securities arbitration clinic.
Now, thanks in large part to a grant from New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (from a settlement reached with former Qwest CEO Joseph P. Nacchio), the New York Law School Securities Arbitration Clinic began in spring 2005.
Professor Estreicher is enthusiastic about the new Clinic. “This [is] a wonderful opportunity to jump-start a program that I’ve been interested in for a long time,” she said. The Clinic will offer students the opportunity to help qualified small investors who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal representation in pursuing their complaints.
Given the market’s recent volatility, and the high-profile securities fraud investigations following in the wake of industry scandals, the number of investors who feel cheated by their brokers and seek redress through arbitration has dramatically increased.
“Arbitration has steadily grown in importance as a dispute resolution mechanism, particularly in the securities industry,” she says. “Our students can only benefit from this hands-on experience.”
Professor Estreicher majored in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College, but she found she needed more human contact than would be afforded by a career in archaeology and became instead an elementary school teacher in upstate New York. When she returned to New York City, a city-wide hiring freeze prevented her from teaching, and Professor Estreicher started working at Columbia University. She soon became involved as a volunteer union organizer among the clerical staff and it was while working as a liaison between the staff and the union’s attorney that she became interested in studying law.
“I am living proof that life is not necessarily a straight line. My practice experience quickly zigzagged from litigation to business law, and so I always tell my students not to be too single-minded in law school,” she says.
During the last few years, she has been writing interactive lessons on corporate law for the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). Her lessons allow students to study specific areas of corporate law at their own pace through a structured series of interactive questions that provide them with detailed feedback for both their right and wrong answers.
“These lessons offer a useful supplement to traditional classroom pedagogy,” she explains. “By writing them, I can reach students outside the classroom and engage in another form of teaching.”
Bryn Mawr, A.B. 1970 cum laude praeter morem
Columbia, J.D. 1981 Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar (i>Law Review, Articles Editor)
Law Clerk, Hon. Eugene H. Nickerson, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.
Recognized authority on securities regulation and corporate law.