Sunday, April 6, 2014



On March 26th, The Stein Scholars program presented a panel conversation about gun control, the Second Amendment and the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2008 decision, DC v. Heller. This event was inspired in part by artist Pedro Reyes exhibition "Palas Por Pistolas" (shovels for guns) on temporary display in the Ildiko Butler Gallery in the Lowenstein building lobby. 

Father Gregory Waldrop, executive director of Fordham's art collections, began the discussion by showing a poignant video presentation showcasing Pedro Reyes's transformative exhibit. Palas Por Pistolas began with broadcast media invitations for the inhabitants of Culiacan, Mexico to offer up their guns in defiance of a pervasive culture of fear brought upon the city by the local drug cartel. For each of the 1,527 guns received by the authorities, Palas Por Pistolas issued a shovel to plant a tree, 1,527 in total, thus turning each "agent of death into an agent of life."  

The event continued with a panel discussion regarding the status of gun regulation efforts in America today as well as the legal aftermath of the Heller decision among the lower courts. Panelists included:

  • Leah Gunn Barrett - Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun violence. Leah has played an important role in the passage of New York's SAFE Act as well as educating the public officials alike in her endeavor to promote responsible gun ownership. 
  • Saul Cornell, Ph.D - Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University. Saul brought a historical perspective to the "originalist" legal construction arguments that lie at the heart of the debate over the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. Saul clarified the practical purpose of the Second Amendment at the time of its ratification and criticized conservative originalist arguments as overly steeped in modern ideology.
  • Adam Skaggs - Senior counsel for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national bipartisan coalition of mayors and grassroots supporters working to pass gun legislation. Adam provided a critique of the Supreme Court's "intermediate scrutiny" standard used in its construction of Second Amendment rights in Heller. He also spoke about later court decisions that have distinguished Heller, such as the 9th Circuit's upholding of gun lock requirements and the Castleman case, in which a perpetrator of domestic violence was prohibited from gun ownership.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ending the War on Marijuana? The Legalization Movement in New York and the Nation





Today, the Stein Scholars hosted a panel discussion on the merits of legalizing marijuana. Three panelists joined Stein Scholars and other members of the law school community:

Gabriel Sayegh, New York State Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Gabriel Sayegh directs the New York State office of the Drug Policy Alliance, partnering with community organizing groups, human service agencies, and researchers to advance effective drug policies guided by science, equity and compassion. Recent campaigns include ending New York’s marijuana arrest crusade, developing municipal-based drug strategies, passing and implementing historic 911 Good Samaritan legislation to prevent accidental overdose fatalities, creating a tightly-regulated medical marijuana program, and reforming New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He is the author of numerous articles and several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (the subject of a New York Times editorial) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform.

Emma Andersson, Staff attorney with American Civil Liberties Union Criminal Law Reform

Emma A. Andersson is a staff attorney with the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project. Her practice includes litigation relating to police practices, indigent defense reform, marijuana law reform, and federal and state sentencing. Emma was previously a fellow with the ACLU's Drug Law Reform Project, a fellow at Bernabei & Wachtel PLLC, and a law clerk for Judge Richard Paez in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Barnard College.

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds is the Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD). With offices in Mineola, Ronkonkoma and Riverhead, LICADD provides screening, brief intervention and referrals to treatment, as well as professionally-facilitated family interventions, relapse prevention programs and anger management services to adults and adolescents. Under Dr. Reynolds’ leadership, LICADD has pioneered the launch of “Too Good for Drugs”, an evidence-based K-12 substance abuse prevention program in several Long Island schools, initiated a new mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents and re-branded its Employee Assistance Program, now called “Open Arms EAP.” Dr. Reynolds currently serves as Chair of the Suffolk County Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, is on the Executive Committee of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force and serves on Suffolk County’s Welfare to Work Commission.

The discussion focused on the failures of the drug war, the disproportionate impact of the criminalization of marijuana, the opiate and prescription drugs crisis, the need for treatment, education about drugs, and a host of other related issues. The conversation lasted for over an hour and at became heated at times. Everyone walked away having learned more about drug policy and the debate around it. This event was definitely a success.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Steins Learn About Public Interest Firm and Pro Bono Opportunities

Last Wednesday, Stein Scholars had a chance to learn about what kinds of opportunities exist for law students and new lawyers in public interest firms, and how people who chose to go into corporate law can pursue public interest work through pro bono opportunities. 

Steins were joined by Alice Morey of the NYC Bar Justice Center; Amanda Niederauer ’14, who talked about her experience at the public interest law firm Mayerson & Associates, which focuses on the rights and entitlements of individuals with autism; and Richard Hendrix’14, who shared his experiences at the civil rights firm Beldeck Levine Hoffman.

Also contributing by phone were Melissa Lardo ’09 of Outten & Golding, Artemio Guerra ’10 of Getman Sweeney, and Peggy Farber ’04 of Kramer Levin.

It was a very educational evening, and more than one Stein noted that the participants provided a lot of very useful and new information about the variety of public interest firms and public interest firm internship opportunities and hiring practices.  Some tip highlights included:

  • ·         Public interest firms tend to hire a lot based on word of mouth, rather than through formal recruitment processes, so building a network and finding mentors in this field can be key to finding a job with a public interest firm.  Developing your interests early can also be very helpful, so that you have plenty of time to demonstrate that interest through internships and other involvement in law school.
  • ·         Public interest firms may not look to hire new lawyers until after they have passed the bar.
  • ·         Public interest firms, while very busy, tend to have more of a focus on cultivating a reasonable work environment and work/life balance than big law.
  • ·         Different big law firms place different importance on pro bono work, but some place no limits on the number of pro bono hours attorneys can do (and some strongly encourage young associates to do a lot of pro bono works right when they start).
  • ·         Benefits of doing pro bono work in big law include being able to have direct control over your own cases right away.
  • ·         Big law firms place a premium on law school grades when hiring; a demonstrated interest in public interest usually won’t get you over the grades hurdle, so those interested in big law must take studying very seriously.
  • ·         A commitment to public interest work can, however, help graduating students secure a clerkship with certain judges—and a clerkship can in turn help lawyers get jobs in big law firms despite lackluster grades.


Those interested in public interest firms should check out the 2013 edition of Private Public Interest and Plaintiffs' Firm Guide.  This source, put together by Harvard Law’s office of public interest advising, includes information about what it’s like to work in a public interest firm and how they operate along with a state-by-state directory of public interest and plaintiffs’ firms.


Many thanks to all panel participants!  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The End of Fear City?



The End of Fear City? A Discussion on the the future of crime and criminal justice in New York

Wed, Nov 6th, 2013 4:30-6pm, Room 203. Open to all law school community.

Panelists:

Bob Gangi: Director, Police Reform Organizing Project at the Urban Justice Center.

Martha Rayner: Criminal Defense Attorney, Clinical Professor, Fordham Law, founding member of the Neighborhood Defender Services.

Walter Mack: Partner at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack, Former Deputy Director of Internal Affair, NYPD, Former Assistant District Attorney, Southern District of New York.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bios from Hot Topics

Afua Atta-Mensah ‘04

Afua Atta-Mensah is a supervising attorney with the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project. She graduated from Fordham University School of Law as a Stein Scholar in 2004 and received her B.A. from Trinity College in 2001, where she was a President’s Fellow in Sociology. Prior to joining the Urban Justice Center, Afua was a staff attorney in The Legal Aid Society’s Civil Practice Law Reform Unit, the Policy Director at the Center for Working Families, and a Fulbright Fellowship recipient for work on women and the law in Ghana. She currently serves on the board of The New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition and Community Voices Heard.

Kamal Essaheb ’06

Kamal Essaheb is a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, where he engages in administrative and legislative advocacy, and technical assistance. Kamal’s advocacy focuses on passage of immigration reform, implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and fighting back against state and local enforcement of immigration law. Prior to his advocacy work at the National Immigration Law Center, Kamal was a practicing immigration attorney in New York City. He graduated as a Stein Scholar from Fordham Law School in 2006.

Carmen Heurtas-Noble ‘02

Associate Professor Huertas-Noble is the founding director of the Community & Economic Development Clinic at CUNY School of Law. She earned her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a Stein Scholar and served on the staff of the Environmental Law Journal. Prior to joining CUNY, Professor Huertas-Noble was an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School where she supervised students in its CED Clinic. She also served as a senior staff attorney in the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center.  In all these capacities, she has worked with neighborhood residents to form needed nonprofits as well as more established organizing groups to create alternative institutions, such as worker-owned cooperatives. An innovative project that she is currently working on is the creation of a unionized worker-owned cooperative. 

Erin Miles Cloud ’11

Erin Miles Cloud graduated from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a Stein Scholar and Ann Moynihan Fellow for law and integrative social work.  Erin interned at The Door Legal Services, The Bronx Defenders, and for the Honorable Dora L. Irizarry of the Eastern District of New York.  She currently works at the Bronx Defenders in the Family Defense practice, where she represents parents who are fighting to have their children returned to their care.  Prior to attending law school, Erin taught English and fifth grade at the Iringa International School in Tanzania.  She also taught Spanish in Baltimore, Maryland.  Erin graduated from Emory University in Atlanta where she obtained her undergraduate degree in Spanish.

Richard Saenz ‘10


Richard Saenz is the staff attorney for the HIV/LGBT Advocacy Project at Queens Legal Services. His practice areas include discrimination, family law, benefits, Social Security and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. Richard is a member of the Family Law Institute (FLI) of the National LGBT Bar Association. Richard is a graduate of Georgetown University and Fordham Law School (2010), where he was a Stein Scholar and a recipient of the Archibald Public Service Award.  In 2012, Richard was awarded the Michael B. Davis - Elyse Hilton Alumni Award by the Fordham Law School OutLaws.  In 2013, the National LGBT Bar Association named Richard one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.