York, NY (October 19, 2011)—The fall 2011 semester marks the launch
of New York Law School’s new first-year skills program, Legal
Practice, which features a redesigned curriculum that provides students
with a comprehensive introduction to lawyering skills at the beginning of
their law school careers.
“The goal of this program is to integrate the teaching of skills in the first year, so that students really see how analysis, research, and writing are interconnected with lawyering skills like client interviewing, counseling, and negotiation,” Professor Anne Goldstein, Director of the Legal Practice Program, said.
The program comprises a new two-semester required course, Legal Practice I and II. The School’s existing first-year Legal Writing and Lawyering courses were reworked after extensive faculty planning and discussion to integrate experiential learning with legal analysis. Legal Practice is designed to prepare students for their first legal work experience and presents them with challenging scenarios that call on them to problem-solve and apply the law in context. Students will learn analytical reasoning and develop the research and writing skills necessary to draft a range of legal documents and argue cases they have briefed.
A major component of the new course is the opportunity for students to work with “standardized clients,” trained actors with whom students practice their interviewing, fact-gathering, and counseling skills. This approach is modeled after the “standardized patient” exercises in medical schools. As actors play their parts as clients, they assess students on various criteria, such as how students talk to them, what questions the students ask, and whether they, as clients, feel satisfied at the conclusion of their interaction. Simulations are recorded and subsequently viewed and discussed by students and faculty.
Legal Practice is taught in small sections of approximately 20 students by 15 full-time faculty members, most hired over the past two years to build the program. The faculty is a diverse group with a variety of perspectives gained from their prior experience across a range of settings, from academia to public interest to large law firms. The Legal Practice faculty members are:
Jodi S. Balsam, Associate Professor of Law: Prior to joining NYLS in 2011, she taught at New York University School of Law. Before joining academia, Professor Balsam was the National Football League’s Counsel for Operations and Litigation and a litigation attorney with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.
Melynda H. Barnhart, Associate Professor of Law: Her areas of scholarship and teaching include human trafficking, immigration and nationality law, criminal law, and administrative law. Prior to joining NYLS, she was an Abraham Freedman Fellow at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University.
Heidi K. Brown, Associate Professor of Law: She was previously an associate professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California, where she taught Legal Research and Writing, Civil Discovery and Depositions, and an upper-level Legal Writing Skills course.
Kirk D. Burkhalter ’04, Associate Professor of Law: Previously, he was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Academic Support at Hofstra School of Law, where he taught Legal Methods and helped students adjust to the academic demands of law school.
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Associate Professor of Law: Prior to joining NYLS in 2011, she was a staff attorney in the Special Litigation and Parole divisions at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she litigated issues of constitutional and systemic magnitude.
David M. Epstein, Associate Professor of Law: He has been a faculty member at NYLS since 1991, during which time he has taught Legal Reasoning, Writing, and Research; Principles of Legal Analysis; and upper-level electives. He has also served as the School’s research specialist, aiding students with basic legal research skills.
Mercer (“Monte”) Givhan, Associate Professor of Law: Prior to NYLS, he was a clinical teaching fellow with Fordham Law School and a clinical instructor at CUNY Law School. He has also worked as a trial lawyer with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
Anne Goldstein, Professor of Law; Director, Legal Practice Program: She came to NYLS from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she taught in both the clinical and first-year Lawyering Process programs and was Director of Lawyering Process for two years.
Kim Hawkins, Associate Professor of Law: Prior to joining NYLS, she was the Director of the Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center, one of the first legal centers in the country to provide direct legal services to homeless and at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth.
Cynara Hermes ’03, Associate Professor of Law: Prior to joining NYLS, she worked at St. John’s University School of Law as an adjunct professor of law and as a fellow in the Ronald H. Brown Center, where she advised undergraduate and law students regarding law school applications, exams, and curriculum.
Chaumtoli Huq, Associate Professor of Law: Previously, she was Director of Litigation at Manhattan Legal Services, which provides free legal services to low-income New Yorkers and deals with a wide range of legal issues. She was also an adjunct professor at City College of New York and Rutgers University.
Marcia Levy, Professor of Law: Most recently, she was Special Counsel for Pro Bono and Director of Professional Development at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. Previously, she spent 14 years in legal education, serving as a professor and dean of skills programs at Hofstra, as the director of clinics at the University of Denver, and as a clinical law professor and director of public interest programs at Rutgers Law School.
Lynnise E. Pantin, Associate Professor of Law: Previously, she was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, where she represented private investment funds and their sponsors in all matters related to the formation and operation of domestic and international hedge funds. She was also an adjunct instructor of Legal Writing for first-year students at Brooklyn Law School.
Lynn Boepple Su, Associate Professor of Law: She is an expert in legal writing. Before joining the Legal Practice faculty, she served as Co-director of the School’s Writing Program, overseeing the first-year writing curriculum and upper-level writing electives.
Daniel A. Warshawsky, Associate Professor of Law: He joined NYLS after 15 years at the Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD), New York City’s second oldest provider of appellate representation to indigent people convicted of felonies.
Erika L. Wood, Associate Professor of Law: Previously, she was a deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she designed and launched major reform campaigns and provided legal counsel and strategic guidance to advocates, legislators, and policymakers nationwide.
About New York Law
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its nine academic centers: Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and currently enrolls some 1,500 full-time students and 430 part-time students in its J.D. program and its four advanced degree programs in financial services law, real estate, tax, and mental disability law studies. www.nyls.edu
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