2011 - CUNY Law is ranked “#1 Public Interest Law School in the Nation” in the latest issue of PreLaw. Following CUNY Law are Yale, Rutgers, Stanford and University of California at Berkley School of Law.

CUNY Law was named one of the “Best Value” law schools by PreLaw magazine. Among other criteria, schools are rated by their in-state tuition, debt and the percent of graduates employed nine months after graduation.

CUNY Law announces the first endowment for a summer fellowship and the first endowment for a scholarship at CUNY School of Law, both of which are made possible by the generosity of the Honorable Bryanne Hamill (’90) and Thomas Hamill. A retired Judge of the New York Family Court, Judge Hamill is widely recognized for her exemplary work in the New York City courts on behalf of children and families. She was recently called out of retirement to preside over a model court serving youth transitioning out of foster care. A member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors, Judge Hamill has also developed a seminar on family law, which she has taught at CUNY. To move their vision forward in support of our social justice work and access mission, the Hamills have contributed $100,000 to CUNY Law to establish the Hamill Family Fellowship Fund. In conjunction with CUNY Law’s Scholarship Committee, the Fund will award summer fellowships to outstanding CUNY Law students working in the area of children’s rights. Specifically, the endowment will provide an annual $5,000 summer stipend to a first- or second-year student who will work with or for New York City children who are at risk or in state custody. The Hamills will also dedicate a space in CUNY Law’s new building at 2 Court Square as the Hamill Family Clinic Conference Room on the fifth floor.


2010 - The 2010 Princeton Review edition of The Best 172 Law Schools places CUNY in first place as chosen by older students, fourth place for most liberal students and tenth place for the best professors.

The Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) was awarded the American Bar Association’s Louis M. Brown Award for Delivery of Legal Services and its director, Fred Rooney, received the 2010 Father Robert Drinan Award from the Association of American Law Schools Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities.


2009 - A new, centrally located for CUNY Law School at 2 Court Square in Long Island City has been approved by The City University of New York's Board of Trustees, a move that will give the School nearly 70,000 additional square feet of space, enable it to offer a new, part-time program, and situate it within walking distance of numerous city subway and bus lines, the Long Island Rail Road, and the New York State Supreme Court building in Long Island City. Under action approved by the Board, CUNY will own a condominium interest in a 14-story environmentally green building at historic Court Square. The 26-year-old Law School, currently in Flushing near Queens College, will be relocated to the first six floors. The Board's action follows a competitive request for proposal process, which led to the identification of the site.

In a first of its kind collaboration in the nation, the New York State Courts and CUNY School of Law piloted “LaunchPad for Justice,” an initiative that will jumpstart the careers of new CUNY Law graduates and provide much needed legal representation to low-income New Yorkers. Stepping into new territory, practice orders signed by the Appellate Division Second Department on October 28, 2009 and Appellate Division First Department in November, 2009 enabled LaunchPad participants to appear in Civil Court as “Lawyers for a Day” prior to receiving admission to the Bar. Twelve recent CUNY Law graduates, who were waiting for admission to the New York State Bar, set up shop in an office at one of New York’s County Courthouses at 80 Centre Street. The graduates were trained and supervised by practicing CUNY Law Alumni and Court employed attorneys to represent clients in civil matters.


2008 - CUNY School of Law will celebrates its 25th anniversary of creating attorneys who practice “law in the service of human needs.”

CUNY Law is accepted for membership by the Association of American Law Schools, the society of legal scholars. To attain AALS membership standing, a school is subjected to rigorous review of all aspects of its program, including admissions, academics, finances and other matters.


2007 – The Law School is cited by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for innovation in integrating traditional legal coursework with clinical practice. The designation leads to an invitation from the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Law School to join Harvard Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, New York University School of Law and others to focus on the future of law school education nationwide.

Professor Ruthann Robson is named a CUNY distinguished professor.

A new program, Pipeline to Justice, is created to offer a second chance at CUNY Law School admission to less privileged applicants whose LSAT scores are too low on the first try. The program, under the direction of Associate Dean Mary Lu Bilek, is the first of its kind in the nation at a law school. Pipeline enrolls 38 students in its first year.

CLRN opens the Incubator For Justice in Midtown Manhattan to train new solo and small-group practitioners how to manage the business side of their law practices. With funding from CUNY and outside foundations, the Incubator is the first program of its type for solo practitioners in the law.

CUNY School of Law posts the highest New York State Bar Exam passage rate in its history, with 83 percent of students passing.


2006 – Michelle J. Anderson is named the school’s fourth Dean following a year in which Mary Lu Bilek serves as Interim Dean. A graduate of Yale Law School where she was Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal and Editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Dean Anderson was a member of the faculty of Villanova University School of Law from 1998 to 2006. Dean Anderson has also been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

CUNY School of Law posts a New York State Bar Exam passage rate of 77 percent, the highest rate in the school’s history at the time.


2004 – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visits the Law School and praises it as “an institution of incomparable value.” She also commends the school’s leadership for “innovations and tireless advancement of public interest law.”

Dean Glen resigns to become a Surrogate Court judge in Manhattan.


2002 U.S. News & World Report adds a new category, “Student Diversity,” to its specialized rankings of law schools, with the Law School ranked the most diverse school in the country.

2001 – The Law School enrolls its most diverse class in history, with an age range of 20 to 48, 21 languages spoken among its students, and high percentages of African-American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander and other minorities enrolled.

2000 – A labyrinth and garden are created behind the Law School. Also included are bistro tables and a wisteria arbor with benches beneath.

For the first time, U.S. News & World Report ranks the Law School’s clinical programs fourth in the nation, behind only Georgetown, NYU and Yale. The School continues consistently to rank in the top 10 in this category.

1999 – The Carnegie Foundation announces that it will begin a five-year study of professional education, starting with examination of the legal field. CUNY Law, along with Yale, New York University, and UC/Berkeley, is featured in the Foundation’s book of “best practices” in legal education.

1998 – The Law School celebrates its 15th anniversary.

Through another Open Society grant, an additional signature program at CUNY Law, the Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN), begins operation. CLRN is designed to increase access to justice in underserved parts of New York City by supporting CUNY Law graduates who return to underserved communities to provide legal services from small and solo practices.

1997 – A faculty chair in honor of Haywood Burns’ memory is created.

In response to a growing crisis in the number of students receiving public assistance, the Law School creates a project in which law students counsel and represent CUNY undergraduates many of them single mothers, striving to move themselves and their children out of poverty to help retain their public assistance benefits. The program is now called the Economic Justice Project.

The Law School receives a grant from the Open Society Institute to develop two signature programs. The first, CUNY School of Law Immigrant Initiatives is designed to build on the strength of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic and to advise other law schools developing advocacy programs for immigrants. The initiative also works to secure citizenship for immigrant students at all CUNY campuses. The model projects developed in this program continue today to engage law students in community counseling and citizenship work throughout the city. A second project results in the development of “modules” on immigration and immigrants’ issues for non-immigration-related Law School courses, including those in Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Family Law, Labor Law and clinical courses.

1996 – Haywood Burns dies in South Africa.

1995 – Kristin Booth Glen is named the school’s third Dean following a year in which Professor Merrick (“Rick”) Rossein serves as Interim Dean. Dean Glen had served for 30 years as a civil rights/public interest lawyer, activist, law teacher (both as an adjunct and as a clinical teacher) and trial and appellate judge in the New York State courts.

1994 – The Law School is designated a separate unit within the CUNY structure, and the Dean sits with the CUNY Council of Presidents.

The student-run and organized Mississippi Project of CUNY Law gets off the ground to provide legal services in the Mississippi Delta in voting rights cases. The team of students, under faculty supervision, later adds representation of workers in the poultry and catfish farm industries, as well as labor, disability and employment claims. Student work continues today.

1992 – The Law School earns accreditation from the ABA.

1987 – Dean Burns takes office and serves until September 1994. Under his stewardship, more than half the faculty earns tenure and the curriculum is substantially refined. An intensive effort to increase diversity among law school students and faculty takes root.

1986 – Dean Halpern announces he will step down. A search committee, chaired by Sy Boyers, longtime Chair of the Law School’s Board of Visitors, unanimously recommends as the next dean W. Haywood Burns, a noted civil rights and public interest lawyer, legal educator, founder of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and at the time of his appointment, Vice Provost and Dean for Legal Studies and Director of the Urban Legal Studies program at City College.

The Law School opens in what was formerly Campbell Junior High School. The clinics develop, devoted to Immigration and Citizenship and Health in the Workplace and later evolve into Main Street Legal Services, Inc., one of the largest law firms in Queens.

1985 – The Law School earns provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA).

1984 – CUNY Law opens an on-site day care center for faculty, staff, and students.

1983 – 130 students and a dozen faculty members gather in a run-down elementary school, P.S. 130 in Bayside, Queens, for the first day of CUNY School of Law. This facility is fondly remembered for, among other architectural details, water fountains and toilets scaled for 5-to-8-year-olds. The law library is housed in the cafeteria, and the “auditorium” is a transformed gymnasium.

1982 – Dean Halpern begins work with a small staff and no faculty in a former junior high school building. Dean Halpern lures Professor Howard Lesnick from the University of Pennsylvania Law School to assist in curriculum development. With the assistance of CUNY Law Professor John Farago, they develop a program of legal education that integrates theory with practice.

1981 – A search committee hires CUNY School of Law’s first dean, Charlie Halpern, founder of the Center for Law and Social Policy, Georgetown law professor, and acknowledged “father of public interest law.”

1973 – The State Board of Regents approves a charter for a law school affiliated with the City University of New York. During the next five years, a core planning council, many of whose members will join as faculty, works to realize the Law School.

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