CUNY School of Law

City University of New York School of Law
Motto Law in the Service of Human Needs
Type Public
Established 1983
Location Long Island City, New York, United States
Campus Urban
Dean Mary Lu Bilek

The City University of New York School of Law (or CUNY School of Law) is an American law school with its campus located in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York City. Founded in 1983, CUNY School of Law, was established as a public interest law school with a curriculum focused toward integrating clinical teaching methods within traditional legal studies.[1][2]

According to CUNY School of Law's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 48.6% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[3]


In 1981 CUNY hired Charles Halpern to be the founding dean of a planned law school. Halpern is regarded within the legal community as the "father of public interest law" with a professional career as a Georgetown law professor and co-founder of the Center for Law and Social Policy, an organization based in Washington D.C. that advocates for policies that aim to improve the lives of low-income people.

In Spring of 1982, Dean Halpern hired Howard Lesnick as a Distinguished Professor of Law. Professor Lesnick believed that CUNY law students needed to understand that the law only has significance in relation to the underlying human problems that it addresses.[4]


CUNY Law moved to 2 Court Square in Long Island City at the end of May 2012. CUNY purchased a six-floor condominium interest in the 14-story environmentally green building. Citigroup will retain ownership of the remainder of the building. The move gave the school nearly 70,000 additional square feet of space. The building is within walking distance of seven subway lines (two within one stop of Manhattan), the Long Island Railroad, and eight bus lines. It is only a few blocks away from the Long Island City Courthouse. The move will enable CUNY School of Law to develop a new part-time program, though it has yet to be announced when this program will start. The building at 2 Court Square is LEED Gold certified, which means that its construction had a reduced environmental impact and its design increases occupants' health and well-being.

Organization and administration

Current Dean Michelle Anderson, Dean of the Law School and Professor (appointed in 2006), is a Yale Law School graduate. Her previous position was as a member of the faculty of Villanova University School of Law from 1998 to 2006, where she taught criminal law, criminal procedure, children and the law, and feminist legal theory. Dean Anderson is an honors graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she earned a B.A. degree in Community Studies in 1989 and the Chancellor's Award for outstanding academic achievement. Her article "Understanding Rape Shield Laws" was the basis for a proposal to reform the Wyoming rape shield law. The bill passed the House but did not pass the Wyoming Senate. Dean Anderson is a member of the Board of Directors and Policy Chair for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights Haywood Burns, the Law School's second Dean, was an activist, attorney, and civil rights advocate who urged people to work to help underserved communities. Burns' civil rights career began at age 15, when he helped integrate the swimming pool in Peekskill, New York. As a law student at Yale, he participated in the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. He became Assistant Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and later served as General Counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign. A founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, he was the first African-American dean of a New York law school, leading the CUNY School of Law to full American Bar Association accreditation. After Burns died in an automobile accident in South Africa in 1996, the Law School established a Chair in Civil Rights in his memory. Funded by an endowment and a contribution from the New York State Legislature, the Chair is a visiting position that has enabled a succession of lawyers, scholars, and activists to bring their experiences, wisdom, and perspectives to the classrooms of CUNY Law.

Academic profile

Curriculum and clinical programs

The Law School curriculum combines traditional substantive law courses (like contracts, torts, civil procedure and criminal law) with lawyering skills throughout the three years of legal education. The first year curriculum consists of seven required substantive courses, Legal Research, and a four-credit Lawyering Seminar in each semester where students work on legal writing and other lawyering skills through simulations and other role-playing devices. Each CUNY third-year student is required to participate in a clinic or concentration for one or two semesters (12 to 16 credits).

Under the umbrella of Main Street Legal Services, Inc., several clinics provide direct service, in-house, supervised live-client representation. The two concentrations are highly supervised external placements. In 2016 the Law School renamed its concentrations to "practice clinics".

  • Community & Economic Development
  • Criminal Defense
  • Economic Justice Project
  • Elder Law
  • Equality & Justice Practice Clinic (née Concentration)
  • Family Law Practice Clinic (née Concentration)
  • Health Law Practice Clinic (née Concentration)
  • Immigrant and Non-Citizen Rights
  • Human Rights & Gender Justice
  • Mediation


Justice initiatives and special programs

In addition to numerous pro bono opportunities available through student organizations and the Career Planning Office, the Law School supports a number of justice initiatives that engage students, graduates and faculty in serving immigrants, citizen and non-citizen workers and assisting and empowering historically underserved communities, through the Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN), the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE), the Center for Urban Environmental Reform (CUER), the Center for Diversity in the Legal Profession (CDLP), the CUNY Law Immigrant Initiatives (CLII), and the Economic Justice Project (EJP). The Contemplative Lawyering Program offers yoga and meditation. The Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights brings prominent visiting civil rights figures to the Law School in memory of its second dean, a national civil rights scholar and activist.

Rankings and reputation

Twenty-five years later, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching praised CUNY for being one of the best law schools in the country in preparing students for practice through instruction in legal doctrine, critical theory, lawyering skills, and professional ethics.[5]

In 2011, preLaw magazine ranked CUNY Law the #1 Public Interest Law School in the Nation.[6] Yale Law School came in second place.[6]

U.S. News & World Report, the provider of the "tiered" list of law schools in the country, in 2016 ranked CUNY #131 of 204 American Bar Association approved law schools, but recognized CUNY's exceptional clinical training program by ranking it #3 in the country.[7][8]

The school has also been recognized by National Jurist/PreLaw Magazine as one of the top 10 public interest law schools.[9] and by the Princeton Review[10] for having the best professors, one of the most diverse law faculties in the nation, the most welcoming campus in the nation for older students, and the most liberal student body.

Student life


Among CUNY Law's 2012 entering class, approximately 49 percent are students of color. Tenured or tenure-track faculty are 37 percent of color.[11]

CUNY School of Law in 2008 established the Center for Diversity in the Legal Profession. The main purpose of the Center is to be a clearinghouse for data on the participation of people of color in the law, as well as to conduct original research.

CUNY Law established the Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality (CLORE), which focuses on issues impacting the Latino community in the United States, with the goal of developing progressive strategies for legal reform. The Center seeks to educate lawyers, law students, scholars and the general public on the status of Latinos and Latinas, as well as to advocate for expanded civil rights in the areas that affect the growing Latino population.

Notable people

CUNY Law's Pipeline to Justice program, directed by Associate Dean for Special Projects, Mary Lu Bilek offers a second chance at admission to CUNY Law to excellent, public interest-focused students whose LSAT scores seem incompatible with their achievements. In its first year, the Pipeline to Justice program accounted for a 20 percent increase in students of color among the incoming class.

Past Deans

Notable alumni


According to CUNY School of Law's official 2015 ABA-required disclosures, 59.4% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[3] CUNY School of Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 22.5%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2015 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[17]

ABA Employment Summary for 2015 Graduates[18]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Employed - Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 111 Graduates


The cost of tuition per semester at CUNY School of Law for the 2016-2017 academic year is $7,331.45 for New York state residents and $11,991.45 for non-residents.[19] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $169,950.[20]

See also


  1. Maeroff, Gene I. “Dean Appointed, Moving City U’s Law School Closer to Reality,” The New York Times (24 December 1981).
  2. Halpern, Charles R. "A New Direction in Legal Education: The CUNY Law School at Queens College", 10 Nova L.J. 549, 549 (1986).
  3. 1 2 "ABA Standard 509(b)(7) Employment Outcomes 2015" (PDF). Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  4. Howard Lesnick, Infinity in a Grain of Sand: The World of Law and Lawyering as Portrayed in the Clinical Teaching Implicit in the Law School Curriculum, 37 UCLA L. Rev. 1157, 1184 (1990).
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  6. 1 2 Weyenberg, Michelle (2011). "Best Law Schools for Public Interest" (PDF). preLaw (Winter): 24–31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  7. "Graduate School Search - Law Programs". U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved 7 July 2016. External link in |website= (help)
  8. "Best Clinical Training Programs - Top Law Schools - US News Best Graduate Schools". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  9. "Best public interest law schools". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  10. "Law School Admissions - The Princeton Review". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  11. CUNY School of Law. "About". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  12. Law, CUNY School of. "History - About - CUNY School of Law". Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  13. "Mary Lu Bilek Appointed Interim Dean of the CUNY School of Law – CUNY Newswire – CUNY". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  16. "New York State Assembly - Daniel J. O'Donnell". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  17. "CUNY Profile".
  18. "Employment Summary for 2015 Graduates" (PDF).
  19. Law, CUNY School of. "Tuition & Fees - Admissions - CUNY School of Law". Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  20. "CUNY Profile".

External links

Coordinates: 40°44′52″N 73°56′37″W / 40.74770°N 73.94369°W / 40.74770; -73.94369

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.