Dicta 2019

Talk of the Law School

Winning Tickets story artwork

Winning Tickets

The 2018 midterm elections saw high turnout from voters as the Democrats gained control of the US House of Representatives and Republicans strengthened their majority in the US Senate. And in the midst of all of this change, NYU Law alumni throughout the country won elections to seats in the US Congress as well as state and local positions:

  • Hakeem Jeffries ’97 was reelected as the US representative for New York’s Eighth Congressional District in Brooklyn and Queens.

  • Scott Peters ’84 was reelected as the US representative for the 52nd District of California, which includes San Diego.

  • Diana DeGette ’82 was reelected as the US representative for the First District of Colorado, which includes Denver and nearby suburbs.

  • In a Colorado statewide election, Phil Weiser ’94 won a close race to become the state’s attorney general.

  • In Connecticut, Shawn Wooden ’97 was elected as treasurer, the chief financial officer of the state’s government.

Alumni also won races for state legislative seats:

  • Thomas Abinanti ’72 was reelected to the New York State Assembly for District 92.

  • Brent Howard LLM ’09 was elected as state senator in Oklahoma District 38.

  • Todd Kaminsky ’03 was reelected to represent the Ninth District in the New York State Senate.

  • Brandon Lofton ’05 was elected as a state representative for North Carolina’s District 104.

  • Robin Schimminger ’72 was reelected to the New York State Assembly in District 140.

  • Vaughn Stewart ’14 was elected to represent District 19 in the Maryland House of Delegates.

And alumni won in elections for various other roles:

  • Armond Budish ’77 was elected as Cuyahoga County executive in Ohio.

  • Joe McNamara ’03 was elected as a judge on the Lucas County Common Pleas Court in Toledo, Ohio.

Clerkships illustration

Clerk Count

During the past year, three NYU School of Law graduates secured clerkships with US Supreme Court justices. During the 2018 term, 32 graduates are clerking on federal appellate courts, including nine on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Formidable Fellows story image

Formidable Fellows

The Skadden Fellowship Foundation named Hugh Baran ’17, Jason Pedraza ’19, Molly Rugg ’19, Gabriela Siegel ’19, and Victoria Wenger ’19 among this year’s 28 fellows. The foundation, established by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, grants two-year fellowships to recent law school graduates working full-time in public interest law.

Hugh Baran ’17, a Root- Tilden-Kern (RTK) Scholar, will use his fellowship to work at the National Employment Law Project in New York, representing low-wage workers in mandatory arbitrations involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft claims.

Jason Pedraza ’19, a D’Agostino Scholar for Women and Children’s Rights within the RTK program, will work with the Education Law Center in Newark, New Jersey. His responsibilities will include direct legal representation and know-your-rights trainings to safeguard the educational rights of preschoolers from disadvantaged families.

Molly Rugg ’19, a Filomen D’Agostino Scholar in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/ or Criminal Justice with the RTK program, will use her fellowship at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in New York. Rugg will work to reduce the permanent exclusion of residents from Manhattan public housing.

Gabriela Siegel ’19 will be joining the Workplace Justice team at Make the Road New York in Brooklyn. Siegel will be providing direct representation, community education, and policy advocacy on behalf of immigrant domestic workers and cleaners who face exploitation and hazardous workplace conditions.

Victoria Wenger ’19, a Furman Public Policy Scholar, will work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York, focusing on litigation and community education to protect voting rights in the South, including challenging obstacles to voting and expanding voter registration access.

Anthony Welters painting

Honoring a Leader

On May 9, Anthony Welters ’77, chair emeritus of NYU Law’s Board of Trustees, was the guest of honor in a ceremony celebrating the unveiling of his portrait and the naming of the Welters Lobby, located at the front entrance of Vanderbilt Hall. Artist Jamie Lee McMahan painted Welters’s portrait.

Vicki Been portrait

A New Deputy in Town

Vicki Been ’83, Boxer Family Professor of Law and director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, became New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development in May in the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

From 2014 to 2017, Been was the city’s commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development. “That appointment, as well as the current one, offers testament to her deep expertise and experience in the areas of land use, urban policy, and affordable housing,” said Dean Trevor Morrison.

“New Yorkers are lucky to have Vicki on their side,” de Blasio said in a tweet announcing her appointment.

“State legislatures have continued to test the Constitution’s limits by enacting increasingly restrictive abortion laws.... These laws are part of a larger effort to legislate abortion out of existence through piecemeal attacks.”  Professor Melissa Murray in testimony on the threat to reproductive rights before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
 With a total of $355,396,290 as of June 30, NYU Law has raised 79% of its $450 million goal for the Lead the Way campaign.
Barton Beebe and Jeanne Fromer portraits

Cited by SCOTUS

On June 24, when the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law preventing businesses from registering scandalous or immoral trademarks, the opinion cited an amicus brief filed by John M. Desmarais Professor of Intellectual Property Law Barton Beebe and Professor Jeanne Fromer.

Iancu v. Brunetti stemmed from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) refusal to register artist Erik Brunetti’s clothing line FUCT under a 1946 Lanham Act provision that prohibits registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks.

Beebe and Fromer’s brief contended that the PTO’s enforcement of the provision was inconsistent, arbitrary, and discriminatory of viewpoints deemed immoral or scandalous. In its opinion, the court relied on data cited by Beebe and Fromer showing that the PTO has registered antidrug marks such as D.A.R.E. to Resist Drugs and Violence but has refused to register pro-drug marks such as You Can’t Spell Healthcare Without THC.

David Richards portrait

In Plain Cite

In September 2018, India’s Supreme Court overturned the criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, citing articles by Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law David A.J. Richards.

“Sexual Autonomy and the Constitutional Right to Privacy: A Case Study in Human Rights and the Unwritten Constitution” was referenced to refute the idea of “unnatural acts” between consenting adults, and to assert an individual’s rights to privacy and autonomy. The court cited “Unnatural Acts and the Constitutional Right to Privacy: A Moral Theory” to argue for the importance of allowing individuals to express love toward a partner without hindrance.

On-a-Kind-Note Story Art

On a Kind Note

In October 2018, Garrett Heller ’21 created what he called the “affirmations project” to help mitigate stress and discouragement during first-year exams.

Heller sent out a call (and a Google Form) to his fellow section 1 students asking them to submit affirming notes—anonymous or not, as they preferred—about their fellow classmates, which Heller then distributed. All told, 914 notes were submitted, which resulted in several affirmations for each of the 86 students in the section. “I wasn’t trying to create a false sense of camaraderie that didn’t exist,” Heller said, “but highlight a community that’s already there.”

Jeanne Fromer Quote
Kenji Yoshino portrait

A Statement for Equality

On April 2, Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, testified before the US House Committee on the Judiciary in support of the Equality Act, proposed legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

In his testimony, Yoshino said that the Equality Act would codify existing legal precedents while providing needed protections against the discrimination that LGBTQ people still face. The House passed the Equality Act in May, but at press time the bill faced an uncertain future in the Senate.

Arthur Miller illustration

50 Years of Federal Practice and Procedure

To mark the 50th anniversary of Federal Practice and Procedure, the seminal treatise on the federal judiciary, founding author and University Professor Arthur R. Miller is featured in a series of podcasts with legal scholars and thought leaders. Publisher Thomson Reuters also surprised Miller with a customized cookie to celebrate his half-century milestone.

IRC-in-Action map

IRC in Action

This year, the Immigrant Rights Clinic (IRC) celebrated 20 years of immigration advocacy. The above points represent some locations where IRC alumni are currently working on immigration issues in the United States.

Forbes 30 Under 30 Ensign and Jones images

NYU Law in Forbes 30 Under 30

Olivia Ensign ’16, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, and Riley Jones ’20, co-founder of Bloc, were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 lists for Law & Policy and Social Entrepreneurs, respectively.

During her time at NYU Law, Ensign was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar and Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar. She currently represents clients facing capital punishment in appeals and post-conviction cases in the southern United States as part of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project. Jones is an entrepreneur who co-founded Bloc, a career readiness platform that provides career assistance to underrepresented populations. He recently received an NYU Law Venture Fund summer grant to advance Bloc.


Hadestown logo image

And the Winner Is...

On June 9, three alumni took home Tony awards for producing this year’s best musical, Hadestown, a reimagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The winners were Craig Balsam ’86, Tom Kirdahy ’88, and Manny Klausner ’62, LLM ’63.

Jeopardy!: THIS ALUMNUS WON JEOPARDY! ON DECEMBER 24. Who is Charbel Barakat ’05? Winnings: $30,700


Bryan Stevenson portrait

On the Small and Silver Screens

Aronson Family Professor of Criminal Justice Bryan Stevenson’s advocacy for incarcerated persons in Alabama is being shown in two films. In June 2019, HBO aired the documentary True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, and in 2020, Stevenson’s defense of a wrongfully convicted man facing the death penalty will be depicted in Just Mercy, starring actor Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson.

All-University Games group portrait

Court Victories

This year, NYU Law continued a legacy of dominating on the court. Law students won both the Deans Cup—the annual charity basketball game against Columbia Law—and the All-University Games, which pitted the School of Law against other NYU schools in a daylong intersport intramural competition.

First played in 2002, the Deans’ Cup competition raises funds for public interest work at both NYU Law and Columbia Law. With this year’s win, NYU Law now leads the series 13–5.

Co-captain Laureen Bousmail ’19 credits the victory to a sustained, all-around effort by her teammates. “Every single one of our players contributed in a big way when we needed them most—whether it was playing good defense, getting an important rebound, or scoring a shot we needed to gain momentum,” Bousmail said. “Everyone played a big part in this win.”

The All-University Games include students, faculty, and administrators from each of the colleges at NYU in competitions like dodgeball, volleyball, tug-of-war, and Ping-Pong.

Law Suitors photograph

Law Suitors

This year, six couples shared their stories about finding love against the backdrop of NYU Law. Mercer Street Residence, in particular, seems to be where sparks flew.

Jake Nasar ’17 and Christine DeVito ’17 became engaged at the residence hall (where they met in 2015); Mikayla Espinosa ’15 and Josh Espinosa ’15 became engaged at their favorite table in the Mercer game room; Eva-Maria Erauw LLM ’02 and Pieter Van Den Broecke LLM ’02, who met originally at a university in Belgium and began dating before applying to NYU Law, were roommates in Mercer before marrying in 2003; and Lenor Marquis Segal ’02 and Daniel Segal ’02 were both living in Mercer when they started dating. “Our second son has the middle name Mercer!” the Segals said.

Ethel Santa Ana LLM ’17 and Divij Kishore LLM ’17 said that the D’Agostino Hall terrace holds the most special memories in their relationship and for Ethan Lutske ’10 and Chen Ye ’08, it was the law library. “Almost every day before we started dating, we would meet in the library and study—or so I thought!” Ye said. “Turns out Ethan wasn’t studying at all—he was just playing games on his laptop, pretending to study as an excuse to be next to me.”

Willem de Kooning The Key and the Parade, 1985 Oil on canvas 70 x 80 inches Collection The Willem de Kooning Foundation Artwork ©2019 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
©2019 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Freedom of Expressionism

The Willem de Kooning Foundation has generously lent one of the Abstract Expressionist artist’s paintings to the Law School. The foundation’s co-president, John Eastman '64, helped facilitate the loan of the 1985 oil-on-canvas work, titled The Key and the Parade. It will be displayed in the NYU Law Library in Vanderbilt Hall.

Jennifer Arlen portrait

ALEA President

Jennifer Arlen ’86, Norma Z. Paige Professor of Law and co-founder and director of the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, served as president of the American Law and Economics Association (ALEA) during the 2018–19 term.

Arlen is the third member of the NYU School of Law faculty to serve as ALEA president, joining a group that includes Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law Lewis Kornhauser and Professor Daniel Rubinfeld. Professor Ryan Bubb currently sits on ALEA’s board of directors.

“A major tech company has realized we should step back from a go-go mentality and be thoughtful about when and where it’s appropriate to use facial recognition.” Professor Barry Friedman in the Washington Post on Axon’s decision to refrain from using facial recognition technology in its devices.
Charles Rettig portrait

Charles Rettig LLM ’82 Becomes 49th IRS Commissioner

Charles Rettig LLM ’82 was sworn in as the 49th commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on October 1, 2018.

Rettig joined the IRS from Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez in Beverly Hills, California, where he was a name partner and had practiced tax law for more than 35 years, representing corporate and celebrity clients such as Albert D. Seeno Construction Company and the estate of Michael Jackson before the IRS and state tax agencies.

Clayton Gillette photo

Fare Prices

The New York City Council has appointed Max E. Greenberg Professor of Contract Law Clayton Gillette to serve on its newly created Taxi Medallion Sales Price Task Force. Medallions, which are issued by the city but then can be sold on the private market, allow owners to operate city-sanctioned yellow cabs.

The council created the task force following reports in the New York Times and elsewhere about alleged financial misconduct of sellers and lenders in the medallion market. Medallion prices soared above $1 million in 2014, but have since plummeted, leaving many drivers in financial ruin, according to the Times.

Gillette, who is director of the Marron Institute of Urban Management at NYU, focuses his teaching and scholarship on local and government law, contracts, and commercial law. Among his research interests are the redistribution of resources by local government, contract design, long-term contracts, relations between localities and their neighbors, and municipal bankruptcy.

Steven Dean’s Awesome Bars

Steven Dean illustration

Steven Dean’s passions in life include taxes and baking. Dean, professor of tax law and faculty director of the Graduate Tax Program, began baking as a child with his mother and sisters and has developed an array of specialties from cakes to croissants. He keeps a stocked basket of individually wrapped cookies and biscotti in his Vanderbilt Hall office for visitors.


(Recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com)

  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 ounces almond flour
  • Coarse salt


  • 1⁄3 cup creamy almond butter or other nut butter
  • 1/4 cup light-brown sugar
  • Finely grated zest from one orange
  • Chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 1/4 cup honey and butter together over low heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together oats, almond flour, and a dash of salt. Slowly fold in honey mixture.
  • Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Return to bowl.
  • Let cool completely on sheet.
  • Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish
  • In saucepan, combine remaining 1⁄2 cup honey, brown sugar, and nut butter over medium heat until brown sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil (10 minutes). Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir in orange zest.
  • Line baking dish with parchment paper and sprinkle with a layer of chocolate chips. Cover chocolate chips with an even layer of the oat mixture. Firmly press granola into dish with a spoon. Refrigerate one hour.