Professor of Law
Director of the Office of Clinical and Experiential Learning; Chair, Clinical Theory Workshops; Cochair, South Africa Reading Group; Coeditor, Clinical Research Institute
An award-winning author on legal ethics and an expert in clinical legal education, constitutional law, and South African law, Stephen J. Ellmann also pursues his deep interest in legal education through his work as Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Collaborative Learning. He chairs the Collaborative Learning Advisory Team, a faculty committee working on developing new curricular programs focused on preparing NYLS students for the challenges of the world of legal practice today.
Dean Ellmann holds both a B.A. and J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard and served as Law Clerk to Hon. Elbert Tuttle, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth (now Eleventh) Circuit in 1976-77. As a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama from 1977-83, his practice included institutional reform litigation for mentally disabled people and prison inmates, voting rights cases, anti-Ku Klux Klan suits, and defense work in capital murder trials. While in Montgomery, Dean Ellmann began a long career in legal education by teaching courses on constitutional law and federal courts.
In 1985, he started the Clinical Theory Workshop, which met first at Columbia, where he was Associate Professor of Law from 1983-92, and thereafter at New York Law School. The discussion series brings law professors from around the nation to present papers on various aspects of clinical education. The Clinical Theory Workshop met on April 1, 2005 at CUNY School of Law as part of a conference at which Dean Ellmann was honored for his 20 years chairing this group. As a clinical scholar himself, he has written extensively on the skills and ethics of lawyers’ interviewing and counseling of clients. Also writing about broader questions of legal ethics, he earned the Sanford D. Levy Memorial Award from the New York State Bar Committee on Professional Ethics for his article, “Lawyering for Justice in a Flawed Democracy,” 90 Columbia Law Review (1990).
Long interested in South Africa, he cochairs the Law School’s South Africa Reading Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars who study South Africa from a variety of perspectives. He has written extensively on human rights in South Africa, both under apartheid and in the newly democratic nation that has followed the end of apartheid.
Since the September 11 attacks he has focused much of his work on issues of war and emergency power. He has written on racial profiling as a response to terrorism, discussed New York City’s random subway searches on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and published a critical analysis of war powers in the post-apartheid South African constitution. His most recent essay on terrorism and the United States, “The ‘Rule of Law’ and the Military Commission,” 51 New York Law School Law Review (2006-07), explicates and defends the U.S. Supreme Court’s dramatic 2006 decision striking down the system of military commission trials at Guantánamo.
Harvard, B.A. 1972 magna cum laude, J.D. 1976 magna cum
laude (Law Review, Note Editor).
Law Clerk, Hon. Elbert Tuttle, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth (now Eleventh) Circuit.
Award-winning author on legal ethics and expert on human rights and South African law. Dean Ellmann blogs at Now Without Hesitation.