Associate Dean Deborah Archer organized the Racial Justice Project in the fall of 2006. The goal was to create a legal advocacy initiative to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people who have been denied those rights on the basis of race and to increase public awareness of racism and racial injustice in the areas of education, employment, political participation, and criminal justice. Since then, the Project has worked to achieve these goals through the efforts of a growing number of faculty and student participants.
To learn more about her and the other faculty members working on the Project, click their names below.
Deborah N. Archer
An expert in the areas of civil rights, racial discrimination, Deborah N. Archer directs New York Law School’s Racial Justice Project and the Civil Rights Clinic. Associate Dean Archer was previously an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated at the trial and appellate levels in cases involving affirmative action in higher education, employment discrimination, school desegregation, and voting rights. She was also a Marvin H. Karpatkin Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was involved in federal and state litigation on issues of race and poverty. Prior to joining New York Law School, Associate Dean Archer was an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP.As the Director of the Racial Justice Project and the Civil Rights Clinic, Associate Dean Archer continues to work to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people of color and increase public awareness of racism, racial injustice, and structural racial inequality. Associate Dean Archer has also participated as amicus counsel in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeal, including Ricci v. DeStefano, Fisher v. University of Texas, and Hithon v. Tyson Foods. Associate Dean Archer graduated with honors from Smith College in 1993 and was awarded her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1996. Thereafter, she clerked for Judge Alvin Thompson in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Associate Dean Archer is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She was selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and has also served on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Civil Rights Committee, and on the Committee on Civil Rights of the New York State Bar Association.
Professor of Law
Susan J. Abraham joined the full-time faculty at New York Law School as an associate professor in 2003, after practicing law for twenty years as both a trial and appellate lawyer in New York and New Jersey. She began her legal career as a public defender in Trenton, New Jersey, where she represented indigent criminal defendants in jury trials and guilty pleas, had an active motion practice and designed and piloted a model program to divert and resolve charges for certain non-violent offenses prior to indictment by a grand jury. From there, she moved to the N.J. Public Defender’s Appellate Office where she argued in the Appellate Division and appeared numerous times before the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Tamara C. Belinfanti
Tamara C. Belinfanti joined the Law School in the fall 2009 semester and will teach Contracts, Corporations, and a transactional skills course entitled “Closing the Deal.” Her teaching and scholarly interests are primarily in the fields of corporate law and law and culture. Previously, Professor Belinfanti was a corporate attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. While at the law firm, she counseled domestic and international clients on U.S. securities and general corporate law matters; was co-editor of a securities law treatise, U.S. Regulation of the International Securities and Derivatives Market (Aspen, 2003); and participated in a law teaching pilot program in New York City public high schools. Professor Belinfanti’s recent article on the proxy advisory industry is forthcoming in the Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance. She is a legal aid volunteer and a member of the New York bar.
Kirk D. Burkhalter
Kirk D. Burkhalter ’04 joined the faculty in the fall 2010 semester and teaches Legal Practice. Previously, he was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Academic Support at Hofstra School of Law, where he taught Legal Methods. In addition, Professor Burkhalter helped Hofstra students adjust to the academic demands of law school and develop the skills to enable them to realize their full academic potential through workshops, seminars, and individual counseling. He also conducted workshops and seminars that focused on the analytical and organizational skills specific to preparation for the New York State Bar Examination. Professor Burkhalter was formerly the Associate Director of Academic Affairs and an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he provided academic counseling and taught The Principles of Legal Analysis. He has also taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Before working in academia, he was an associate in the Corporate Securities and Finance practice group at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Professor Burkhalter also served 20 years in the New York City Police Department (NYPD), retiring as a detective first grade. He spent the majority of his career with the NYPD conducting long-term investigations into organized criminal enterprises and domestic, ecological, and industrial terrorism.
At first glance, David Chang’s reserved exterior belies the deep feelings he has for righting society’s wrongs, especially with regard to racial discrimination. But his passion and commitment to addressing these issues quickly become clear not only through his conversation and writings, but also through his actions. Former cochair of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Professor Chang worked hard to combat some of the City’s most heinous incidents of brutality and to push for legislative remedies through the passage of anti–hate crimes statutes. He has written extensively on hate crimes legislation and the constitutionality of affirmative action policies. He has also worked with the Los Angeles–based Center for Law in the Public Interest. He is the former chairman of the Board of Directors of Pratt Area Community Council, an organization that serves a wide range of housing-related needs for low- and moderate-income residents of Brooklyn.
Mercer Givhan, or “Monte” as he is commonly known, is an associate professor with the Legal Practice Program. Professor Givhan has spent virtually his entire adult life working with and on behalf of low income communities of color and has extensive experience in the fields of indigent defense, criminal justice, and community development. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1994, Professor Givhan clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, then joined the staff of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia where he worked for nearly five years in the trial division. Professor Givhan has also served as a program officer with the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute’s Criminal Justice Initiative, managing a grant-making portfolio that included supporting efforts to abolish the death penalty, hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct, combat racial profiling by law enforcement, and raise the quality of legal services available to indigent criminal defendants nationwide.Currently, he is a member of the faculty of the Southern Public Defender Training Center. In addition to his work in the arena of criminal justice, Professor Givhan spent several years working in various capacities with Groundwork, Inc., a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that partners with community members to improve outcomes for children and families living in or near to public housing in East New York and Bedford Stuyvesant. Prior to joining the faculty at New York Law School, Professor Givhan spent two years as a clinical teaching fellow with Fordham Law School’s Community Economic Development (CED) clinic and one year as a clinical instructor with the CED clinic at CUNY Law School. He is a native of Philadelphia, PA, a graduate of Morehouse College, and the father of a teenage son.
Lynnise E. Pantin
Lynnise E. Pantin joined the NYLS faculty in fall 2011. Professor Pantin teaches Legal Practice and the Transactional Law Clinic. She also is on the Board of Advisors for the NYLS Dispute Resolution Team.
Daniel A. Warshawsky joined New York Law School in Fall 2010 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
Erika L. Wood teaches Legal Practice at New York Law School. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Wood was the Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, taught the Public Policy Advocacy Clinic at New York University School of Law, and was an attorney with the Legal Action Center. She has designed and launched major reform campaigns around the country, litigated complex civil rights cases, and authored several groundbreaking reports and numerous articles. Professor Wood provides legal counsel and strategic guidance to advocates, legislators and policymakers nationwide, and is a frequent speaker and commentator on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and racial justice issues. In 2009, Rutgers School of Law awarded her the Eric. R. Neisser Public Interest Award in recognition of her efforts to carry forward the Law School’s mission of providing liberty and justice for all. Professor Wood earned her BA cum laude from New York University, and graduated with honors from Rutgers School of Law where she earned the Kinoy-Stavis Fellowship and the Myron Harkavey prize.