Alumnus/Alumna of the Month
Barry Cozier ’75
Barry A. Cozier is a member of the Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. firm in the National Litigation practice. For two decades, Mr. Cozier was a member of the New York judiciary, most recently serving as an associate justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, in the Second Judicial Department by designation of Governor George E. Pataki.
Prior to his judicial service, Mr. Cozier was in private practice for nine years. His diverse practice included general corporate matters, real estate transactions, administrative and estate proceedings, family law and immigration issues. Mr. Cozier also has held various public sector positions, including associate general counsel for Family Law Litigation in New York City’s Human Resources Administration, Office of Legal Affairs, and Hearing Examiner in Family Court, New York County.
Since 1998, Mr. Cozier has served as adjunct professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, where he teaches a course on juvenile justice. He also wrote the chapter on Summary Judgment in the 1995 and 2005 West’s New York Practice Series entitled, “Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts,” including the annual supplements.
Throughout his career, Mr. Cozier has served on diverse professional and organizational committees, councils and boards. He currently serves as chair of the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board, and as commissioner of the New York State Unified Court System Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections. In addition, he is an active member of the Board of Directors of the Law Alumni Association at NYU School of Law and is a founding member of the Law School’s Black, Latino, Asian Pacific American Law Alumni Association. Mr. Cozier has also served on the Statewide Advisory Committee on Bar Admissions and the New York State and Federal Judicial Council.
Mr. Cozier is the recipient of numerous awards for his service and dedication to the legal profession and the community, including: The Harlan Fiske Stone Memorial Award, New York City Trial Lawyers Association, 2004; Distinguished Service Award as a Justice of the Commercial Division in New York County, New York County Lawyers’ Association, 2001; Frank Torres Award for Commitment to Diversity, Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, 1999; Recognition Award, Macon B. Allen Black Bar Association, 1998; New York Urban League Manhattan Advisory Board, Chairman’s Award, 1997; Golda Meir Award, Jewish Lawyers Guild, 1995; Alphonso B. Deal Award, Tribune Society, Inc., 1995; Special Merit Award, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, 1995; Distinguished Alumni Award, New York University School of Law, 1994; and Wayne E. Scarborough Award, New York City Association of Criminal Court Judges, 1994.
Interview with Alumnus/Alumna of the Month
Barry Cozier ’75
What was your first job out of law school and what was the most important thing you learned there?
My first job was in private practice in a small general practice firm, where I was exposed to an extensive range of civil and criminal litigation. It was there that I learned the importance of case management skills and client communications.
What do you think has been the most significant change in firm life in the years since you were first in private practice?
The advents of specialization by attorneys at early stages of their careers and computer technology have radically altered the delivery of client services.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a litigator? What was the most rewarding aspect of being a judge?
In my current role, the most rewarding aspect is fashioning a litigation strategy tailored to achieve realistic client objectives. In contrast, as a judge it was rewarding to directly impact the public perception of justice and to educate young lawyers.
During your years as a judge, did you ever come across any law that you felt bound to enforce but which you thought was unjust?
Inevitably, there were numerous occasions over the course of my judicial career where my personal view was that application of the law was unjust or would lead to an unjust result in a particular case, but I was constrained by my oath of office to uphold the law.
In what way did NYU School of Law prepare you for the career that you have had?
My legal education at NYU School of Law provided the academic foundation and disciplined approach to legal problem solving to successfully transition into a rigorous and competitive profession.
What do you consider your greatest professional or personal achievement?
While I take great pride in having had the opportunity to serve the public as a jurist, among my most important achievements was the ongoing opportunity to interact with and mentor students and young lawyers who interned or clerked in my chambers and to play a small role in their professional growth and development.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I hope to continue to be actively engaged in the practice of law, but more involved in the advice and counsel function, as well as legal education and community service.
Who are your role models in the legal profession and why?
As a product of the civil rights movement, I was inspired by the life and work of civil rights lawyer, activist and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who courageously dedicated himself to the rule of law in the pursuit of equal justice for all Americans.
What advice would you give to current students?
Students should explore the broad range of substantive course and clinical offerings available to them as second and third year students prior to selecting an area of specialization. They should also be mindful of their responsibility as future members of the Bar to serve the greater public interest, whether by participating in civic and charitable activities or engaging in pro bono legal services.