Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

Lawyers play a critical role in designing, implementing, and advancing models by which economic and social activity are conducted globally. The Grunin Center administers the award of an annual Grunin Prize for Law and Social Entrepreneurship to recognize lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development.

The Grunin Prize aims to reward the innovation, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability of projects and solutions developed by lawyers to advance the fields of social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship is made possible through a generous endowment from NYU School of Law graduates Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, and the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay and Linda have dedicated their philanthropic endeavors to investing in innovative projects that have measurable impacts creating meaningful, transformative change.


2020 Grunin Prize

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 2020 Grunin Prize will be awarded at a special ceremony at New York University School of Law in the third quarter of 2020. More details about this event will be posted here once we finalize the date.

In 2020, the Grunin Prize attracted nominations from across the globe, which are representative of the extraordinary legal community of practice that is emerging in this field. Meet the six Grunin Prize finalists here!

Why apply for the Grunin Prize? Grunin Prize finalists receive recognition from a global community of lawyers, academics, policymakers, and other impact professionals. Finalists are invited to participate in the annual IILWG/Grunin Center conference to showcase their projects in front of over 400 conference attendees. Past finalists and winners have also received media exposure. Check out the testimonials of prior Grunin Prize winners and finalists to learn more about what the Grunin Prize recognition has meant for them.


Eligibility Criteria

The Grunin Prize is open to individual lawyers or legal teams from across the globe. Practitioners, legal educators, policymakers, in-house counsel, and other legal teams that develop an innovative social enterprise or impact investment solution using existing law, legal education, or new legal structures are eligible to apply.

• The Grunin Prize will recognize inputs, such as new uses of old laws or reframing of the conceptual framework surrounding the law, and outputs, such as the development of a new legal structure or organizational design.
• The nominated project must be completed or implemented on or before December 31, 2019. Only projects that have been completed or implemented within the past two years will be considered.
• Examples of the types of legal projects that may be submitted for consideration include: innovative financing, contracting or entity structure, enacted legislation or adopted model laws, or design of new legal courses or tools.

Qualifying projects will be evaluated against the following criteria: innovation, potential impact, and replicability and/or scalability.


• Applicants and nominators can submit more than one project for consideration. A separate submission form must be completed for each project.
• Applicants and nominators are welcome to resubmit a previously nominated project that did not receive the Grunin Prize.
• If nominating another party’s project, nominators must coordinate with nominees to ensure all required information is provided in the submission form.
• Supplemental materials will not be accepted. However, as needed, applicants may be asked to provide additional information for consideration by the judging panel.
• Once notified, finalists will be expected to (i) participate in an interview with the judging panel and (ii) liaise with the Grunin Center to coordinate a communications plan and develop a Grunin Prize video.


January 31, 2020: Deadline to complete submission forms.
May 7, 2020: Finalists announced.
TBD: Finalists will meet with the judging panel.
TBD: The prize will be awarded.

Judging Panel

The screening panel will be composed of an internal prize committee that will select the finalists. 

The final judging panel will be composed of NYU Law representatives and industry experts who will select the Grunin Prize winner based on the submission materials, references, and a final interview.

The 2020 judging panel shall include:

Portrait of Navjeet Bal

Navjeet K. Bal

As Managing Director and General Counsel at Social Finance, Navjeet works with deal teams to develop and execute innovative financings intended to scale evidence-based social interventions. She is also leading the firm’s efforts to bring an outcomes focus to financings for environmental and infrastructure projects that result in measurable public improvements. Navjeet has over 25 years of experience as an infrastructure finance attorney and a public official. As bond counsel to governments and public authorities in New England, Navjeet structured innovative bond financings to address critical infrastructure needs, including the first issue of municipal, tax-exempt Green Bonds in the country. She also represented Massachusetts in negotiating and documenting its ground-breaking Social Impact Bonds addressing juvenile justice and chronic homelessness.

Navjeet served as the Commissioner of Revenue in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration from 2008 through 2011, where she was responsible for a 2000-person agency with three lines of business: Tax Administration, Child Support Enforcement and the Division of Local Services.

Navjeet has held many leadership positions in legal, community and professional organizations, including the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Access to Justice Commission, the Boston Public Market and the Williams College Gaudino Fund. Navjeet graduated from Williams College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Deborah Burand

Deborah K. Burand

Deborah Burand is an Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, where she directs the International Transactions Clinic and is Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. She writes and lectures on issues related to international finance, microfinance and microfranchise, impact investing, and social finance innovations such as social impact bonds, social entrepreneurship, and developing sustainable businesses at the base of the economic pyramid.

During 2010-2011, Burand served as general counsel to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the development finance institution of the United States. Earlier in her career, she worked in the environmental sector (Conservation International), microfinance sector (FINCA International and Grameen Foundation), and US government (Federal Reserve Board and Department of the Treasury). She also has worked in private practice at a global law firm, where, among other things, she supported, on a pro bono basis, the development of the world’s first debt-for-nature swap.

Burand is a member of the board and Investment Committee of the MicroBuild Fund, an impact investment fund sponsored by Habitat for Humanity International. She is an advisor to the Linked Foundation and Social Sector Franchise Initiative. She co-founded the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG) and Women Advancing Microfinance (WAM) International.

Burand received her BA from DePauw University cum laude, and a joint degree, JD/MSFS with honors, from Georgetown University.

Portrait of Ed Diener

Ed Diener

Edward Diener is the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at King Philanthropies. He provides expertise and leadership regarding financial, operational, legal, governance, investment stewardship, risk management and tax matters. He is also nationally recognized as a leading practitioner in Program-Related Investing.

Prior to working at King Philanthropies, Edward worked for almost 13 years as the General Counsel of the Skoll Foundation after consulting for that foundation for about a year. Edward was the Vice President of Finance & Administration at the Omidyar Foundation (predecessor to the Omidyar Network) in 2003-2004.

From 1996-2002, he worked at the Packard Foundation in senior legal and finance positions. A California attorney and Certified Public Accountant, Edward practiced commercial and corporate law for seventeen years prior to entering the philanthropic sector.

Edward holds a J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, and a B.S. in Accounting from Bowling Green State University.

Portrait of Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin

Jay Grunin is Co-Founder and Chairman, Jay & Linda Grunin Foundation. Jay graduated from Brooklyn College (with honors) in 1964, and from NYU School of Law in 1967, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and where he met his future wife and business partner. After a brief exposure to academia –as Research Assistant to an NYU Law professor teaching a seminar on legislative history–, as well as a brief stint in Big Law in New York, followed by a one year Appellate Division clerkship in New Jersey, Jay, who would never have to rue about the road not taken, opted to then take the advice of his lawyer-wife who implored him to “go south young man, go south”.  And so Jay and Linda “hitched on to the second wagon train” and landed in a then small town on the Central Jersey Shore called Toms River.

After a few years, Jay and Linda decided to open up their own small “mom and pop” law firm. In the 1970s, as Ocean County became one of the fastest growing counties in the entire United States, Jay and Linda’s law practice flourished. At the same time, Jay and Linda expanded their business interests to include real estate and other investments.

In the 1990s, the Grunins dissolved their law practice so as to concentrate full time on their greatest passions, business investments and philanthropy. In 2013 their philanthropic endeavors were formalized with the creation of the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation.

Ginger Lew headshot

Ginger Lew

Ms. Lew is the Managing Director of Cube Hydro Partners, a renewable clean energy company with operations in five states. She is also senior advisor to ISQ Capital, a $13 billion global private equity infrastructure fund.

Under the Obama Administration, Ms. Lew was Senior Counselor to the White House National Economic Council. She was the policy author of two major initiatives: regional innovation clusters and the expanding the role of women in the economy, domestically and internationally.  Under the Clinton Administration, Ms. Lew was the Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Small Business.

Ms. Lew also was the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she specialized in international trade issues. Ms. Lew was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate for both positions. Ms. Lew served on the boards of the Meyer Foundation, the East-West Center, and the Yosemite National Institute. She is the co-founder of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers.

Trevor Morrison

Trevor Morrison

Trevor Morrison is currently the Dean and Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. He was previously the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where he was also faculty co-director of the Center for Constitutional Governance and faculty co-chair of the Hertog Program on Law and National Security. Before that, he was on the faculty of Cornell Law School.

Dean Morrison spent 2009 in the White House, where he served as associate counsel to President Barack Obama. Drawing on both his scholarship and work experience, he has developed particular renown for his expertise in constitutional law as practiced in the executive branch.

Before entering academia, he was a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1998-99) and to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court (2002-03). Between those clerkships, he was a Bristow Fellow in the US Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General (1999-2000), an attorney-advisor in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (2000-01), and an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) (2001-02).

Dean Morrison received a BA (hons.) in history from the University of British Columbia in 1994, and a JD from Columbia Law School in 1998. He was also a Richard Hofstadter Fellow in History at Columbia University. Dean Morrison is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2016, President Obama appointed him as chairperson of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Helen Scott

Helen Scott

Helen Scott is Professor of Law and the founder and co-director of the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business at New York University School of Law, as well as Faculty Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. In that capacity, she has participated in the development of innovative Law and Business courses, including Investing in Microfinance, Law & Business of Corporate Governance, and Professional Responsibility in Law and Business. Scott oversees the competitive Leadership Scholars program, and runs the capstone seminar for the program, Law and Business Projects. She has been a member of the NYU School of Law faculty since 1982 and teaches a wide variety of business law courses, including the basic Contracts and Corporations courses.

Scott currently serves on the Board of Directors of IEX LLC, the newly launched stock exchange. From 1999 to 2004, Scott co-chaired the Listing and Hearing Review Council of the NASDAQ Stock Market, an independent advisory committee to the board of directors, with primary responsibility for formulating and recommending corporate governance and quantitative listing standards for that market.

In 1997, Scott received the Legal Advocate of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration in recognition of her participation in the development of the Angel Capital Electronic Network (ACE-Net) project to increase financing available to early-stage entrepreneurial enterprises. Before joining the Law School faculty, Scott practiced law in Washington, DC, and New York.