Amid the major changes caused by COVID-19, members of the NYLS community are finding innovative ways to do meaningful work. A sample of their stories is below.
Street Law Students Teach by Video
“Street Law is an experiential course in which NYLS students teach basic legal concepts to high school students. These days, our students are finding creative ways to deliver their lessons by video. Recent video lessons have focused on introducing a new moot court exercise to the younger students, discussing the Fourth Amendment, and exploring the concept of precedent. It means a lot for the high school students to see the friendly faces of their NYLS ‘teachers’ even though we are physically separated.
“My class has been amazingly creative and flexible, and this new format is allowing them to continue building the presentation and analytical skills that make Street Law such a valuable experience.”
–Amy Wallace, Adjunct Professor
- Watch a sample Street Law video lesson given by Michael Moore 2L.
Professor Lenni Benson Taps into NYLS’s Alumni Network
“Several of NYLS’s wonderful and accomplished alumni have been virtual guest speakers for my Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law classes. So far, they include—or will soon include—the following, with more to come:
- Arminda Bepko ’04 at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
- Winston Brownlow ’08 at the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department
- Jisha Dymond ’03 at Twitter
- Sarah Kroll Rosenbaum ’05 at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP
- John F. Ryan ’83, Counselor at Law
- Shruti Shah ’09 at the U.S. Department of Labor
- Victor Suthammanont ’05 at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
“I’m grateful for their willingness to share their professional expertise with current students, and the virtual learning environment lends itself well to these connections.”
–Lenni Benson, Distinguished Chair in Immigration and Human Rights Law
CityLaw Fellows Find New Angles on Land Use Reporting
“Our CityLaw Fellows—recent NYLS graduates with an interest in New York City government—have continued their diligent reporting on land use issues for NYLS’s CityLand news site and CityLaw journal. Their focus has shifted to investigating how the pandemic is affecting a host of land use-related issues, from housing development to zoning. No one else is focusing on this angle right now, and our 11,000-plus monthly online readers and 6,000 journal subscribers appreciate the analysis.”
–Ross Sandler, Professor of Law and Director, Center for New York City Law
- Read the Fellows’ coronavirus-related coverage.
Asylum Clinic Offers Key Guidance
“Critical immigration issues don’t slow down during a pandemic. If anything, they become even more urgent. Our Asylum Clinic is using WhatsApp to continue our direct client work. One of our clinic students did an Instagram Live Q&A on immigration and COVID-19 (with my supervision) for John Jay College’s Immigrant Student Success Center, where our clinic provides monthly immigration screenings. And we’re supporting advocacy for immigrants in detention, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
“In addition, I’ve been working with the news site Documented NY, which is run by Columbia School of Journalism, to answer immigration-related questions in Spanish. New Yorkers submit their questions on WhatsApp, and the editors and I work together to translate my answers.”
–Claire R. Thomas ’11, Adjunct Professor and Director of the Asylum Clinic
- View Professor Thomas’s latest Q&A for Documented NY.
Faculty Members Lead Discussions on Digital Learning
“On March 20, Associate Dean Paulina Davis and I organized a national phone conference for law school academic support educators to focus on the achievement of law students engaged in distance learning. We partnered with AccessLex. Six presenters shared thoughts for more than 60 minutes, and over 90 participants joined in to listen. This has become a national model, and a series of such conferences is now in the works.”
–Kris Franklin, Professor of Law and Co-Director, Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching
“Our Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching (IELT) recently hosted a lunch session with Professor Cynthia Ho (of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law) and Professor Angela Upchurch (of Southern Illinois University School of Law), who are experts in hybrid classes, online quizzing and polling, and online assessments. It was an informative and engaging discussion of online learning across different generations. IELT will continue to facilitate discussions and share tools related to how legal educators can best facilitate learning in the current environment.”
–Kim Hawkins, Professor of Law and Co-Director, Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching
Public Interest Programs Focus on the Housing Impacts of COVID
“It’s hard to teach housing rights issues without focusing on the crisis at hand. Our Housing Rights Clinic just worked on an exercise that examined the Fifth Amendment takings clause and its relevance to the emergency measures being taken or proposed regarding housing. In addition, one of NYLS’s Pro Bono Scholars is putting together a resource list of links to crisis-related information around housing/homelessness. We’ll make it available to legal services programs and others when it’s ready. I also taught a recent session on leadership in a time of crisis for the housing rights attorneys who attend NYLS’s Housing Justice Leadership Institute.”
–Andrew Scherer, Professor of Law; Policy Director, Impact Center for Public Interest Law; and Co-Director, Housing Justice Leadership Institute
- Read recent NBC News coverage quoting Professor Scherer on COVID and the looming housing crisis.