Stein Center News - December 2013
Read Director Bruce Green's welcome letter.
Join the Stein Scholars Alumni Group on LinkedIn!The Stein Scholars Alumni Group is the Stein Scholars Program’s official LinkedIn group. This online community is a private group open only to students, graduates, and administrators of the Stein Scholars Program. By joining the group you will be able to:
The group is growing fast and can serve as your go-to source for getting in touch with other members of the Stein Scholars community.
How to join: Go to the Stein Scholars Alumni Group on LinkedIn and request to join the group. If you do not have an existing LinkedIn account, you will be prompted to sign up before joining the group. To those new to LinkedIn, we suggest that you do not allow LinkedIn to access your email contacts to make connections on your behalf.
Hot Topics: Using Law to Empower Underserved Communities
The second annual Hot Topics event, Using Law to Empower Underserved Communities, was a terrific success, primarily because the five Stein Scholars alumni who spoke were both inspiring and informative.
Stein Scholars students and graduates were energized by the remarks shared by Afua Atta-Mensah ’04, Urban Justice Center, Safety Net Project Supervising Attorney; Kamal Essaheb ’06, National Immigration Law Center, Immigration Policy Attorney; Carmen Huertas-Noble ’02, CUNY Law Community & Economic Development Clinic, Founder and Director; Erin Miles Cloud ’11, Bronx Defenders, Family Defense Practice Attorney; and Richard Saenz ’10, Queens Legal Services, HIV/LGBT Advocacy Project Staff Attorney.
The panel, which was introduced by Stein Scholar Alex Guiterman ’14 and moderated by Stein Scholar Angelica Kang ’16E, concluded with a robust question and answer period, followed by a reception.
The Legal Profession’s Monopoly on the Practice of LawOn October 18 the Stein Center for Law and Ethics and the Fordham Law Review hosted a daylong colloquium entitled The Legal Profession’s Monopoly on the Practice of Law. Nineteen scholars from around the country spoke on diverse and timely topics and grappled with questions such as whether restrictions on the practice of law serve a societal purpose or merely protect the profession; where is professional regulation heading; what are lawyers’ obligations to increase access to justice and how can it be done; what can we learn from the global context and international models; and are there any dangers to deregulation?
A New Bellet Scholar: Razeen Zaman ‘17Razeen Zaman was selected as this year’s Bellet Scholar, an award given to one incoming Stein Scholar in recognition of that student’s commitment to becoming a leader in the service of others. Razeen, an evening student, works full time as the Campaign Organizer for the New York State Youth Leadership Council. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2010 and currently commutes to Fordham Law from Queens.
She is particularly passionate about immigration reform and has been instrumental in advocating for the passage of the New York DREAM Act, a bill that would extend access to state financial aid to undocumented youth in New York. In fact, she spoke at a law school brown-bag lunch discussion in September called “The Fight for Citizenship: Challenges Faced by Undocumented Youth.” Razeen joins April Harris ‘15, who was selected last year as the Stein Scholars Program’s first Bellet Scholar.
New Stein Center Dean’s FellowChrissie Cahill '13, the Stein Center Dean’s Fellow, began work with the Stein Center on October 10. While a student at Fordham Law, Chrissie served as an Associate Editor of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, and Entertainment Law Journal and as a New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation Fellow at the Feerick Center for Social Justice. At the Feerick Center, Chrissie focused on the New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Project, conducting a survey to identify legal and administrative challenges faced by unaccompanied immigrant children, their families, and their legal counsel in the New York Family Courts. She received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award magna cum laude for completing more than 800 hours of pro bono and public service work.
Chrissie passed the New York bar exam and hopes to find a permanent position working in intellectual property law. As the Stein Center Dean’s Fellow, she will focus on designing and implementing Stein Center programs, developing workshop proposals, and enriching the curriculum. She can be reached directly at email@example.com.
A Busy Fall for the Stein Scholars ProgramOn two occasions, Stein alumni returned to Fordham Law to speak with small groups of Stein Scholars about their careers and to help them perfect their interview skills. The first Table Talk was held on October 2 with approximately 35 Stein Scholars participating in small group conversations with representatives from five different employers. The returning Stein alumni included Wilson Kimball ’00 of the City of Yonkers Waterfront and Downtown Development Corporation, Patrick Beath ’11 of the NYC Law Department, Corporation Counsel, and Elisheva Mochkin ’12 of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. There were also representatives from Bronx Legal Services, recommended by Kathryn Neilson ’06, and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice.
The second Table Talk was held on October 17 and was equally as successful. Again, about 35 Stein Scholars participated in small group conversations with representatives from five different government and nonprofit employers. The three Stein alumni who returned to speak with the students at this event included Molly Murphy ’01 of the New York City Council, Gail Eckstein ’03 of the NYC Department of Education, and Adam Brody ’12 of the Queens District Attorney’s Office. There were also representatives, recommended by Michelle Movahed ’06 and Elizabeth Bender ’11, from the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice, respectively.
The Stein Scholars then organized a panel on October 30 called Shelby County and the Forgotten Promise of the Voting Rights Act. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down a coverage formula in the Voting Rights Act that required nine states to pre-clear any proposed changes to their election practice. While the coverage formula was intended to prevent racial discrimination, the Court deemed it violative of the principle that states enjoy equal sovereignty.
Speakers at the roundtable included Leah C. Aden, Fried Frank Fellow at the NAACP–Legal Defense and Education Fund; Vishal Agraharkar, Counsel at The Brennan Center; and Julie Ebenstein, ACLU Staff Attorney. The panel was moderated by Jerry H. Goldfeder, Special Counsel, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, and was introduced by Stein Scholar Michelle Gonzalez ‘14.
Legal Ethics Scholars’ Roundtable Meets Twice
The second meeting of the Legal Ethics Scholars’ Roundtable took place on November 8 and featured a presentation by Russell Pearce, Fordham Law’s Edward &
The roundtable was launched in 2012 by Susan Fortney, Director of the Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, and Bruce Green, Stein Center Director, to provide opportunities for area legal ethics professors to discuss their work in progress.
Stein Alumni in the NewsKevin Carroll ’01, an associate at Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, is representing Major Jason Brezler, a highly decorated officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, who is facing a possible discharge for mishandling classified information. Major Brezler shared the information with fellow Marines to warn that an Afghan police official was a security risk. Days later, an assistant of the Afghan official opened fire, killing three Marines. Many have come to defend Major Brezler’s actions and the case has received substantial media attention. Kevin is representing Major Brezler pro bono in front of the Board of Inquiry, which could discharge Major Brezler from service. “To a Naval Academy graduate, decorated veteran of four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq who loves the United States Marine Corps, that would be a very serious penalty indeed," Kevin told CBS News. Previously, Kevin has worked as senior counsel to the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security and as a CIA officer and Army officer in the Middle East and Europe.
Peggy Farber ’04, an associate at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel LLP, was honored on November 13 by the Brooklyn Family Defense Practice (BFDP), which provides interdisciplinary, high quality, legal representation to low-income parents in child welfare cases in Brooklyn Family Court. Peggy was honored for her support of BFDP’s work and her participation on the advisory board. Peggy first became involved with the organization and its director, Lauren Shapiro, while working as a journalist prior to attending Fordham Law. At Kramer Levin, Peggy works in the litigation department, serves on the firm's Environmental Committee, and maintains a pro bono practice that includes First Amendment litigation.
Dora Galacatos ’96 was honored for outstanding work to encourage pro bono participation by MFY Legal Services, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides free legal representation to low income New Yorkers in the areas of housing, employment, government benefits, family, and disability law, at its Pro Bono Recognition Awards Breakfast. Dora serves as Executive Director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice, which was honored as well. At the Feerick Center, Dora oversees a number of academic, volunteer, and social justice initiatives, including the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO) and the NY Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Project, aimed at connecting low-income New Yorkers with the legal resources they need and cannot afford.
Peggy Healy ’96, Senior Vice President for Latin America for Covenant House International, was the recipient of the Spirit of Hope Award on October 7 from the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law. Peggy has been a human rights advocate for nearly 40 years. As Senior Vice President at Covenant House International, she oversees four programs for homeless and trafficked youth in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.
Wilson Kimball ’00 was appointed Commissioner of the City of Yonkers’ Department of Planning and Development. The Department of Planning and Development is responsible for all planning, land use, environmental, and historic preservation efforts within Yonkers and supports the promotion and coordination of development activities, including community and economic development, within the city. Previously, Wilson worked at the Battery Park City Authority and as Executive Director of the Wheelchair Foundation.
Stein Center Hosts Two Regional Gatherings of Stein AlumniNot only did our June 20 anniversary celebration allow New York-area Stein graduates to renew connections with fellow Steins, but it also inspired us to bring together Stein alumni located in other parts of the country. With 420 Stein graduates (and growing!), there are now many cities that are home to groups of Steins.
San Francisco Steins
On August 8, Bruce Green and Andrew Chapin had dinner at the ThirstyBear Brewing Company in San Francisco with five graduates of the Program: Kristin Connelly ‘05, Kristin Hiensch ‘06, Manuel Jimenez ’98, Amy Sanghvi ’05, and Lesley Williams ‘00. They shared updates about work and family, and they hope to continue to get together informally in the future, maybe even with some of their Northern California colleagues who were unavailable that night.
On Thursday, October 24, Rhonda Cunningham Holmes ’97 hosted a gathering of DC-area Stein Scholars alumni at her office, the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. She, along with Tina Matsuoka ‘01 and Mamta Kaushal ’02, generously provided the evening’s refreshments.
In Defense of Criminal DefenseWe spoke with four Stein Scholars graduates in the field of criminal defense to find out about the frustrations and satisfactions that go along with their work, as well as about their career paths and suggestions for current students.
Benjamin Goldstein '10
Why defense work?
I love my work as a public defender for lots of different reasons. On a grand scale, I believe that criminal defense work is at the forefront of the fight against pervasive racial and class injustice that people in this city face every day. My favorite part of my job is working one-on-one with clients on a daily basis and the relationships that result from that work. My job involves working with people who often face a multitude of difficult challenges that drove them into the criminal justice system, as well as issues that stem from their involvement in the system. The Bronx Defenders’ holistic model of representation helps me, and the team of lawyers and advocates with whom I work, approach each person’s case broadly and comprehensively. In other words, we strive to work beyond the individual criminal case that a client is fighting. Often the criminal case is not the only issue, or the most important issue, a client faces. Thus, we work with clients to identify what else is going on in their lives that we might also address. The majority of my cases involve misdemeanors, which are significant, but sometimes not as important as the other challenges that often go hand-in-hand with poverty, such as difficulties revolving around employment, housing and homelessness, benefits, immigration, and mental health, to name a few. My hope is that thinking holistically about each client helps treat each client with the dignity he or she deserves, while at the same time counteracting what can seem like a factory justice system.
The most challenging aspect of my job is to work in a system that treats poor people of color so harshly and unfairly on so many levels. It can be disheartening at times and there are certainly days I walk out and feel low as a result of what I have seen. It is also a challenge to have a high caseload and to remain organized and able to prioritize.
But don’t get me wrong: I love my job. I wake up every day feeling ready to go and being part of what I believe is a good fight. The work I do at the Bronx Defenders is challenging but incredibly necessary and rewarding.
Advice for current students
When I started law school, I thought I wanted to pursue a career that focused on international human rights work or impact litigation, but then several law school experiences helped me figure out that I wanted to work with clients. For example, the Criminal Defense Clinic was an amazing experience and helped me determine that I enjoy—and am better suited for—direct client representation than for policy or impact litigation-focused work.
Interning during law school was also key, and I encourage all students to intern at a place that you think might be the type of place you would want to work upon graduation. During my first summer, I interned at the Office of Georgia Capital Defenders in Atlanta. That experience also proved to me how much I enjoy working with clients.
Not only do internships help clarify what you like to do and what you are good at doing, but it can be a way of getting a foot in the door of a potential employer. It is a way to not only demonstrate interest but also prove that you can get the work done effectively. Employers often like to hire those who worked in their offices previously. Also, if possible, try to intern during the school year too. Those internships tend to be less competitive to secure and public interest organizations are happy to have good interns during the school year.
I also want to let students know that it is possible to move from a private firm to a career in public interest, but I think it helps to keep some things in mind that might facilitate the shift. Make sure to maintain your public interest contacts while you are in private practice, so they are solid when you decide to make the switch. I do think that the longer you stay in private practice, the harder it becomes to move into public interest. Also, while at a firm, identify people at the firm who are interesting to you, maybe because they came from the world of public interest or have prioritized pro bono cases. Make those connections: don’t be afraid to reach out to those people and ask to work with them.
Eric Montroy '03
What do you do?
I am an Assistant Federal Defender in the Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) of the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia. I represent death-sentenced prisoners in post-conviction and clemency proceedings. Most of my clients are from Pennsylvania, which has the fourth largest death row in the country, but I also represent individuals from other jurisdictions, who were prosecuted by the federal government and sentenced to death.
My day-to-day work combines a mix of research and writing, courtroom advocacy, investigation, and records review. As a post-conviction lawyer, my focus is not limited to errors in the trial record, but also includes interviewing potential witnesses and finding records that deal with the lives of my clients. The investigation and the research often reveal that the performance of a client’s trial lawyer was deficient. But I have also had a number of cases where serious instances of prosecutorial misconduct have been uncovered. After the record has been reviewed and the investigation completed, I write petitions arguing that my client’s constitutional rights were violated at trial and ask that the conviction and death sentence be vacated. These petitions often lead to evidentiary hearings, which I have conducted in both state and federal courts. Post-conviction capital cases are generally litigated through the state courts, then in federal habeas corpus proceedings in district court, and then on appeal in circuit court. My office has also argued in the United States Supreme Court.
There are many challenges in capital post-conviction work. For starters, it can be extremely complicated procedurally, especially trying to navigate the interplay between the state and federal courts under the Anti-Terrorism Effective Death Penalty Act. On an emotional level, it is challenging because the work is constantly dealing with devastation. Not only are capital cases almost always emotionally charged but also many people on death row have serious mental health problems and come from horribly abusive and impoverished backgrounds. And ultimately, it is disconcerting to know that your client is set to be killed.
Previous defense work
I’ve been doing this work for six years. Before that I was a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. As a public defender, I tried many cases. I represented clients who were charged with everything from drug dealing to rape to attempted murder. My experience working as a trial layer in Philadelphia has been very helpful in my current job at the CHU.
The greatest reward has been getting some of my clients off of death row. In one case, I represented a client originally from the Bronx, whose conviction and death sentence were vacated after we discovered that the trial prosecutor withheld crucial exculpatory evidence.
Advice for students
My advice to Stein Scholars is to get a sense of the kind of work that really motivates you and pursue it. Being a public interest lawyer can seem like an impossible dream at times when you are in law school, but it is absolutely attainable. Keep your eye on the prize and you will get there.
Joseph Reisz '03
What do you do?
I am an attorney in the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender’s Office. Before applying to law school, I was fortunate enough to intern at the New York Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense division and knew I wanted to be a public defender. My caseload is strictly felony cases ranging anywhere from drug possession to first-degree murder. California still imposes capital punishment and Los Angeles County has sent 228 inmates to death row (almost equal to the entire state of Texas) since 1976. I have two clients who are currently facing the death penalty. The practice in Los Angeles is trial heavy, and I have tried 51 cases to verdict in nine years.
Why defense work?
I love my job because I believe our Constitution, especially the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, separates humans from animals, and I am working to make sure it remains successful. Meeting people accused of committing the most unspeakable acts and, nevertheless, witnessing their humanity provides an insight into the human race rarely perceived in other professions. It’s a daily occurrence in mine.
Advice for current students
The job is not without stress and self-sacrifice. I strongly encourage anyone interested in doing criminal defense work to intern with any public defender office and get to know public defenders. Listen to their funny and gruesome stories and their complaints. Try to get any first-hand experience in handling someone’s criminal case either through an internship or in the Criminal Defense Clinic. If you know you want to be a public defender, look around at all the various offices. Some stress trial work more than others. Some do capital work, others don’t. Some do vertical representation, others believe horizontal is better. Find an office that suits your expectations and will allow you to be the defender you want to be.
Sam Roberts '06
What motivates you?
Before attending law school, I managed and co-owned a few restaurants. After we sold the business, I started to think about law school. I spoke to a friend of a friend who encouraged me to volunteer at the Innocence Project. I was planning on interning there one day a week, but after the first day I was hooked and that was it.
We also provide a check on government power, which is very important. I am defending the Constitution every day. Not a day goes by that I am not relying on and protecting the Fourth, Fifth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments.
I clerked for Judge John Keenan ’54 (SDNY) for two years upon graduation from Fordham Law. I was on the fence about clerking, but Bruce Green persuaded me that a clerkship would be valuable and he was 100% right. In fact, it was an invaluable experience. Not only do you get to stand in the shoes of a judge but you also get to work on your writing, which is a great asset to have once you go on to practice.
The biggest challenge for me is managing the triage aspect of the work. I currently have a caseload of 103 open cases, including 25 indicted felonies, with at least one defendant facing life in prison. Just figuring out how to get to all of the courtrooms in a particular day is a challenge. Every day I have to determine which cases can stand to be left alone, so I can focus on the ones that need immediate attention. I am not sure one ever learns to perfect that.
I have been here five years. I already feel like a senior attorney, though many of my colleagues have been here for much longer. I never dread coming to work and often I am very excited about it. That is also the case with my colleagues. I think it is the best job in the world; it is great work from every perspective. And, I am always the person people want to talk to at cocktail parties!
Advice for current students
If I was a 1L or 2L seriously considering public defense work, I would make sure to take criminal procedure and evidence, enroll in the Criminal Defense Clinic, and seek out an internship with a public defender. When we review applications at the Legal Aid Society, we always look for students who can demonstrate a commitment to public defense.
Being part of the Stein Scholars Program is an asset because it provides a supportive community within a community. It was great to have a group of students who shared my values, particularly when many of the students in the broader community were focused on securing a firm job.
Second Year of Stein Alumni Mentorship Program in Full SwingFor the second year in a row, roughly forty Stein alumni have been matched with current Stein Scholars or recent graduates of the Stein Scholars Program to share expertise on areas of law, describe career paths, and provide tips on the legal profession.
Jenny Edelman ’14 is one of this year’s student mentees. She wants to pursue a career in health care law and policy and has already gained a lot of experience in the field as a Health Law Unit Intern at the Legal Aid Society, a Legal Extern at Community Health Advocates, and an Education Associate at the Medicare Rights Center. Not surprisingly, she was thrilled when Louis Piels ’00 accepted our request to participate in the Stein Alumni Mentorship Program, because he is Associate General Counsel at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Jenny and Lou had their first meeting in September. When asked to describe her experience with the Mentorship Program thus far, Jenny had this to say: “Mr. Piels is a fantastic mentor and at our first meeting I learned about the many different types of cases he and other members of the General Counsel team at the hospital face on a daily basis. There are so many different aspects of health care law and each member of his team works on something unique.”
Lou set up several meetings for Jenny with other members of his team, including Cheryl A. Parham, Esq., Associate General Counsel and Director of Regulatory & Compliance Law, and Chad I. Harris, Esq., Associate General Counsel. Jenny found it very informative to learn about how each of them began their careers in health care law. “I hope to be able to attend some of the hospital’s ethics seminars,” explained Jenny. “I look forward to our continued mentorship.”
Lou agrees: "It's a pleasure to assist with the Stein Alumni Mentorship Program. It's a way of giving back to the Stein Program that was very helpful and supportive to me when I was a law student. I'm hopeful that current and future Steins can be successful in pursuing careers that advance public interest law, and perhaps mentoring can play a role in that."
What’s New with the Stein Faculty?Sheila Foster: Vice Dean Foster was named to the 50 Under 50 list, a comprehensive catalog of minority law professors making an impact in legal education, in Lawyers of Color's first annual Law School Diversity Special Issue in April. She published two articles: “Stasis and Change in Environmental Law: The Past, Present and Future of the Fordham Environmental Law Review” in the Fordham Environmental Law Review, Vol. 24, co-authored with Gerald S. Dickinson, and "The Mobility Case for Regionalism,” 47 UC Davis Law Review 63 (2013), co-authored with Nestor Davidson. In the coming year, her article "Breaking up Payday: Anti-Agglomeration Zoning and Consumer Welfare" will be published in 75 Ohio State Law Journal ____ (2014).
Jennifer Gordon: In September, Professor Gordon published an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Subcontractor Servitude.” The article describes the maltreatment of immigrant “guest workers” in the subcontractor system in the United States and proposes three types of legal reforms.
On October 10, Professor Gordon participated as a moderator and speaker in the US House of Representatives Briefing on Worker Protections in Immigration Reform, Washington, DC.
In addition, she spoke on the “Current Immigration and Freedom of Movement Policy in NAFTA and the EU” panel in the Fordham International Law Journal symposium, Is the EU a Model for NAFTA?; on “Labor Recruitment and its Regulation in the US-Mexico-Central America Corridor” at a convention on international labor recruitment held by the Open Society Foundations and the MacArthur Foundation in April; on “Low-Wage Workers' Rights as Part of the Economic Safety Net for Women" at Harvard Law School's Celebration of 60 Years of Women at HLS in September; on "Accounting for the Differences in Migrants' Ability to Access Workplace Rights: A US-UK Comparison," at Tilburg University in The Netherlands in November; and on “Transatlantic Labor Citizenship: What Structural Elements Are Needed to Support Mobility with Rights?” at the Conference on Labor Relations and the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, sponsored by The School of European Industrial Relations and the Italian Cultural Institute in November.
Professor Gordon was recently awarded an Open Society Foundations Fellowship for 2013–2014. The fellowship supports individuals pursuing innovative and unconventional approaches to fundamental open society challenges.
Russell Pearce: Professor Pearce co-authored with Brendan M. Wilson, "Business Ethics," a chapter in Revue Internationale De L’éthique Des Affaires Et De La Compliance – Supplément À La Semaine Juridique Entreprise Et Affaires, No. 39, p. 15, September 2013, reprinting Chapter 4: Business Ethics, Handbook on the Economics of Reciprocity and Social Enterprise (Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni eds. Edward Elgar Publishing 2013).
In addition, Professor Pearce gave two presentations in October at Touro Law School: "From Emancipation to Assimilation: Is Secular Liberalism Still good for Jewish Lawyers?" at the Jewish Law Institute and "The Relational Infrastructure of Law Firm Culture and Regulation: The Exaggerated Death of Big Law" (paper co-authored with Eli Wald) at the Faculty Workshop. He also spoke on "The Coming Disruption of Law: Machine Intelligence and Lawyers' Diminishing Monopoly Power" (with John McGinnis) at Fordham Law School's The Legal Profession’s Monopoly on the Practice of Law colloquium on October 18. Papers presented at this colloquium will be published in a special edition of the Fordham Law Review in May 2014.