The Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program

Faculty Directors

Faculty Director

Helen Hershkoff

Helen Hershkoff
Helen Hershkoff joined the faculty in 1995 following an acclaimed career as a public interest lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union and The Legal Aid Society, where she litigated cutting-edge cases involving institutional reform and individual rights. She also worked as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. At NYU, her scholarship and teaching focus on civil procedure and issues of economic justice, and she is a co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program. She is a co-author of the leading casebook on civil procedure, a co-editor of an admired book on comparative civil procedure, and a member of the author team of the “Wright & Miller” treatise focusing on the United States as a party. Hershkoff also writes about state constitutions and the relation between private law and public law, and has been published in Harvard, Stanford, NYU, and other leading law reviews. Hershkoff is a highly respected teacher; she was honored with the NYU 2014–2015 Distinguished Teaching Award, was recognized by the Association of American Law Schools as a 2013 Teacher of the Year, and was a recipient of the Law School’s 2013 Podell Distinguished Teaching Award. Hershkoff earned her BA from Harvard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year, holds an MA in modern history from Oxford University, which she attended as a Marshall Scholar, and a JD from Harvard Law School. 

Faculty Director Emerita

Sylvia A. Law '68
Sylvia Law became a director in 1977. For more than four decades, she has been one of the nation’s leading scholars in the fields of health law, gender justice, poverty, and constitutional law. She has played a major role in dozens of civil rights cases before the US Supreme Court and in lower state and federal courts, and she has testified before Congress and state legislatures on a range of issues. In 1983, Law became the first lawyer in the United States selected as a MacArthur Fellow. She is the co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Program and chair of the Rose Sheinberg Lecture program at NYU School of Law. She has been active in the Society of American Law Teachers, served as its president from 1988 to 1990, and was honored by the organization with the 2001 Great Teacher Award. In 2004, Law was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Norman Dorsen

Remembering Norman Dorsen 

Professor Norman Dorsen became Director in March 1961 when he joined the NYU School of Law faculty and served as Co-Director of the Hays Program until his retirement in 2017.

Dorsen was a graduate of Columbia University and the Harvard Law School. After military service in the office of the Secretary of the Army, where he assisted in fighting McCarthyism during the 1954 Army-McCarthy Hearings, Dorsen studied at the London School of Economics. He subsequently served as law clerk to Calvert Magruder, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and to Justice John Marshall Harlan of the United States Supreme Court.

While general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, Norman Dorsen argued several cases before the US Supreme Court, including those that won the right to due process for juveniles in delinquency hearings, upheld constitutional rights of nonmarital children and advanced abortion rights. He also participated in the Gideon case, the Pentagon Papers case, Roe v. Wade and the Nixon Tapes case. He was the author or editor of 16 books, including Frontiers of Civil Liberties and The Rights of Americans. Professor Dorsen was the first president of the Society of American Law Teachers and was president of the ACLU from 1976 to 1991. He also served as chairman of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and was the founding president of the US Association of Constitutional Law. Professor Dorsen taught constitutional law and statutory interpretation, and was founding director in 1994 of the school’s Hauser Global Law School Program.

Read a profile of Norman Dorsen, who passed away on July 1, 2017.

Former Director

Deborah Archer portrait

Deborah N. Archer
Deborah N. Archer became a director in 2021 and stepped down in 2023 to become associate dean for experiential education and clinical programs and director of clinical and advocacy programs. She is the Margaret B. Hoppin Professor of Clinical Law. Deborah is also the President of the American Civil Liberties Union and a leading expert in civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice. She is an award-winning teacher and legal scholar whose articles have appeared in leading law reviews. Deborah has also offered commentary for numerous media outlets, including MSNBC, National Public Radio, CBS, Monocle, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. Deborah is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Charles G. Albom Prize, and Smith College. She previously worked as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, and school desegregation. 

Founding and Former Acting Directors

  • Donald H. Wollett and Paul Oberst served as the first directors of the Hays Program, each for about a year.
  • Michael Wishnie was an acting director in 2002 and a director in 2003, serving until 2006, when he left NYU Law to teach at Yale.
  • Adam B. Cox served as an acting director from 2011 to 2016.
  • Martin Guggenheim (Hays Fellow 1970–71), Stephen Gillers (Hays Fellow 1967-68), David Cole, and Holly Maguigan were acting directors during periods when one of the directors were on sabbatical. Guggenheim and Sriram Panchu, a Fellow in NYU's Global Law School Program from India, participated in the Hays seminars while Sylvia Law was on sabbatical leave. Robert Pitofsky supervised the Project on Social Welfare Law in 1968 when Norman Dorsen was on sabbatical.