Professorship Honoring NYLS Alum and Renowned Poet Bestowed Upon Pioneer in Legal Storytelling and Visual Communication
New York NY (November 3, 2014) — Richard K. Sherwin, a pioneer in legal storytelling and visual communication, has been appointed the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law at New York Law School (NYLS), announced Dean and President Anthony W. Crowell. The professorship honors the memory of Stevens, one of NYLS’s most accomplished graduates (class of 1903), who was both a successful, full-time attorney and a Pulitzer Prize winning poet.
“The ability to communicate the human condition – brilliantly – binds together the work of Wallace Stevens and Richard Sherwin. For Stevens, it was poetry. For Sherwin, it is the art of creative lawyering. Whether it is a matter of wedding rules and principles with fact-based narrative or screening captivating visuals that accurately turn complex issues into easy to assimilate images, Sherwin has worked unstintingly to remind students never to lose sight of the human drama of law.” said Dean Crowell.
Sherwin’s commitment to a pedagogy that integrates legal theory and practice has been both a touchstone of his career at NYLS, which began in 1988, and an example of the innovative methods and curriculum that flourish at the Law School.
Sherwin gained nationwide attention with his well-received book, When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press 2000, 2002) in which he pioneered an interdisciplinary movement that has come to be known as cultural legal studies. His most recent book, Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements (Routledge 2011) explores the interpenetration of law and the visual throughout the history of modern culture up through the current era, which he calls the age of the digital baroque.
In 2001, Sherwin debuted Visual Persuasion in the Law, the first course of its kind in the nation to teach students about the role, efficacy, and pitfalls of using visual evidence and visual advocacy in contemporary legal practice. Working in the Law School’s digital media lab, students in this course create short documentary films pertaining to a legal topic or controversy.
In 2005, he launched the Visual Persuasion Project website, the first and to date only website dedicated to showcasing “best practices” in the visual litigation field.
In 2013, Sherwin was awarded the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair in Law and Literature at McGill University under the auspices of McGill Law School and the Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas. He was in residence as a Fulbright scholar during the spring 2014 semester. He recently received a Humanities Research Centre Fellowship and served most of July 2014 as Visiting Research Fellow at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, College of Arts and Social Sciences at Australia National University in Canberra, Australia.
“Law is and always has been awash in stories fueled by conflict, suffering, and the quest for justice. That is why the humanities – with their characteristic call to refine the lawyer’s craft with language, visual images, and every other cultural resource that successful communication requires – remain the crown jewels of law. That is the legacy and the aspiration that the Wallace Stevens Chair seeks to celebrate and preserve. I am honored to teach law in his name,” said Professor Sherwin.
NYSL alumnus Wallace Stevens (Class of 1903) practiced insurance law for more than 50 years and published seven volumes of poetry. He was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, received the National Book Award (twice), and won the Pulitzer Prize for his Collected Poems in 1955.
Annette Gordon-Reed, who is currently the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, Professor of History in the History Department, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute, was the previous holder of the Wallace Stevens Chair.
About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School (NYLS) is an independent law school located in the heart of New York City’s legal, government, financial, and emerging tech centers. Known as “New York’s law school,” NYLS embraces the City as its classroom by complementing a rigorous legal education with an innovative and diverse set of “uniquely New York” experiential learning opportunities. Since opening our doors nearly 125 years ago, we have produced graduates who have gone on to hold high elected and appointed office in the City, lead large and small firms, and gain broad recognition as captains of business and industry. Our renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, business and finance law, media and information law, tax law, real estate, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. NYLS has more than 17,000 graduates and currently enrolls approximately 1,000 full-time and part-time students in its J.D. program. The Law School also offers advanced-degree programs in American Business Law and Tax Law. Learn more about New York’s law school at www.nyls.edu.