Stephen J. Ellmann Appointed Martin Professor of Law at New York Law School

Expert on South African Law, Constitutional Law and Clinical Education Honored

New York, NY (August 5, 2015) – Stephen J. Ellmann, award-winning author on legal ethics and an expert in clinical legal education, constitutional law and South African law, has been appointed the Martin Professor of Law at New York Law School (NYLS), announced Dean and President Anthony Crowell.  Established with the support of the Martin Foundation Inc., the professorship was created in memory of industrialist, financier and philanthropist Lester Martin (1907-1959).

“Through his diverse pursuits, Professor Ellmann has greatly contributed not only to scholarship across several fields, but to international discourse, and in doing so added to the prestige of our institution. He is, indeed, in the first rank of scholars of the practice of law, and we are fortunate to have him as a member of our scholarly community and as a colleague,” said Dean Crowell.

A member of the faculty since 1992, Professor Ellmann has been a dedicated mainstay of NYLS, both in his crucial role as Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning and in his service as ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Associate Dean for Faculty Development (later adding “Collaborative Learning” to his portfolio) from 2000 to 2011.  He was instrumental in driving the recent expansion of clinical and experiential course offerings, including the doubling of the number of clinics offered in 2013. He also developed the Clinical Year program, which builds on the medical school model and consists of three full-time clinical rotations. The National Jurist recently named the Clinical Year one of the 15 most innovative clinics in the nation.

Professor Ellmann is one of the foremost legal experts on South Africa in the United States and received a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award in 2013 to work on comparative constitutional law and clinical legal education planning at the University Of Cape Town Faculty Of Law.  He co-founded and co-chairs NYLS’s South Africa Reading Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars who study South Africa from a variety of perspectives. He also serves as the Faculty Director of the South Africa and the Rule of Law Project at NYLS, an initiative of the Impact Center for Public Interest Law.

This past fall, he organized a groundbreaking three-day symposium at the school titled “Twenty Years of South African Constitutionalism: Constitutional Rights, Judicial Independence, and the Transition to Democracy” which drew a global audience and hundreds of participants including  the Honorable Patrick Gaspard, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.

“I’m very grateful for this honor,” said Professor Ellmann, “and also for the supportive and collegial home I’ve had at New York Law School since I arrived here in 1992. NYLS is committed at the same time to guiding students as they learn the skills they will need for practice, and to encouraging cutting-edge scholarly inquiry. I believe in the deep connections between theory and practice, and I look forward to continuing to work on these with my colleagues in the years to come.”

Professor Ellmann holds both a B.A. and J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard. He served in 1976-77 as Law Clerk to the Honorable Elbert Tuttle, a federal appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth (now Eleventh) Circuit. As a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, from 1977 to 1983, he had a wide-ranging practice that 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, he began a long career in legal education by teaching courses on constitutional law and federal courts.

Professor Ellmann has written extensively on the skills and ethics of lawyers’ interviewing and counseling of clients.   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 116 (1990). His has published extensively about South Africa, including a study of law at the end of apartheid, In A Time of Trouble: Law and Liberty in South Africa’s State of Emergency (Clarendon Press  (Oxford) 1992), and The Post-Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law (Witwatersrand University Press and Ohio University Press 2001), which he co-edited with Penelope Andrews.

Professor Ellmann succeeds Jethro K. Lieberman, now Professor Emeritus, as the Martin Professor of Law. A video of his investiture is available here.

At the time of his death, Lester Martin was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Grand Street Boys’ Foundation, which began by giving scholarships to students from welfare families and grew to assist individuals, colleges, and organizations and had a related organization called the Grand Street Boys Association, a political club that counted judges, lawyers, senators, congressmen, and businessmen among its members. A number of NYLS graduates, including Senator Robert Wagner and Mayor Jimmy Walker, were active members of the Grand Street Boys Foundation. In 1979, the Foundation established an endowed scholarship fund to provide annual scholarships to NYLS students; these scholarships are still being offered today.

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 its doors, NYLS has 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. Its renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in key areas of the law, including business and finance; government and public interest; and intellectual property, media, technology, and applied sciences. NYLS has more than 17,000 graduates and currently enrolls approximately 1,000 students in its full-time, part-time, and Two-Year Honors J.D. programs. The Law School also offers an advanced-degree program in Tax Law. The National Jurist rated NYLS No. 1 for clinical and experiential learning in New York State and No. 13 nationally. It also rated NYLS No. 15 nationally for its graduate Tax Law program. Readers of the New York Law Journal have ranked NYLS No. 1 for its graduate Tax Law program five years in a row.

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