NYU Law launches Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship

On May 24, NYU Law launched the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship, a new research center that will work to improve the legal systems that affect social entrepreneurs—those leaders who possess powerful, system-changing ideas to address social needs and implement solutions to serve the common good.

Trevor Morrison, Deborah Burand, Diana Wells, Helen Scott, and Jay Grunin '67

The first center of its kind at a law school, the Grunin Center is a partnership with Ashoka, a global network of social entrepreneurs. Through research and teaching, the center will help prepare a new generation of talented, committed, and globally oriented lawyers to apply their skills to create positive impact in the world. The center will focus on three key initiatives: knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, and community building.

“We look to the Grunin Center to be a thought leader in this area, to be helping develop curricula that can be taught at this law school and other law schools, and bringing together the worlds of theory and practice,” said NYU Law Dean Trevor Morrison at the launch, which took place during “Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing,” the center’s two-day conference at the Law School.

Diana Wells

Diana Wells, president of Ashoka, observed that though the movement of social entrepreneurship has grown immensely, it started with just a few people. “The simplest definition of social entrepreneur is someone with a vision, with the persistence to build and iterate and continue to iterate until that future is here,” she said. “We see the world needs social entrepreneurs more than ever. The future is here. We know that to succeed, we need to work across geography, across class, across disciplinary silos, and in more flat, non-hierarchical ways.”

VIDEO: Introducing the Grunin Center

The center is supported by Jay Grunin ’67 and Linda Kalmanowitz Grunin ’67, who have dedicated their philanthropic endeavors to investing in innovative projects that have measurable impacts creating meaningful, transformative change through the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. Deborah Burand, assistant professor of clinical law, and Professor of Law Helen Scott will serve as the center’s faculty directors.

Jay Grunin '67

Jay Grunin noted that it was an honor to support the Law School. “It is the audacious hope of Linda and myself that social entrepreneurship can become a major sector of the law, with elements combining both public and private law, which would increase the scalability of sustainable solutions to some  of the world’s largest and seemingly intractable challenges,” he said.

Looking ahead to the center’s first year, Wells announced the Grunin Prize, an annual award that will recognize the variety and impact of lawyers’ participation as for-profit and not-for-profit businesses increasingly advance the goals of sustainability and human development. The inaugural prize will be presented in June 2018.

Posted June 6, 2017