The Conversation 2020

NYU Law Voices Carry

Thought leaders from within and outside the NYU Law community participate in Law School events that illuminate challenging current legal issues with real-world ramifications. These are just some of the speakers who joined in the debates and discussions hosted at NYU Law in the past year.


Anthony Appiah portrait

K. Anthony Appiah

“Now that we see that these identities are things we make together, we can also see that they don’t need to be so heavily policed and imposed upon everybody. Though…I don’t think that means we need to give them up altogether.”

As part of the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging’s annual Speaker Series, Professor of Philosophy and Law K. Anthony Appiah explored how modern notions of identity have developed and how they can be reimagined. Read more about Appiah's discussion.

Earl Ward ’85

Earl Ward photograph

“The Law School trained me and educated me and encouraged my work in public interest, and they sent me out to do good work.”

Earl Ward ’85, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney and former commissioner on New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, received the Law Alumni Association (LAA) Pro Bono Award. Read more about the LAA award.

Sienna Fontaine ’07

Sienna Fontaine photograph

“I’ve come to learn over the years that our work as advocates is to build power. That is the work that we are trying to do. Especially to build the power for those who have been essentially denied power in the systems that really govern their lives and govern all of our lives.”

Assistant Dean Lisa Hoyes ’99 presented the Public Service Award to Sienna Fontaine ’07, legal director of Make the Road New York.

Maribel Hernández Rivera ’10

“What I learned at NYU Law is that it’s not just about being a lawyer. It’s about being an advocate. It’s about community lawyering, where you’re thinking about what does a person on the ground—what are they experiencing? How can you amplify their voice?”

Michelle Hernandez Rivera photograph

Maribel Hernández Rivera ’10, district director for US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, delivered the 2019 Latinxs in the Law Lecture. Read more about the Latinxs Lecture.

Ria Tabacco Mar ’08

“All too often we’ve seen so-called feminist groups…espouse antitrans views under the mantle of feminism. Anyone who is truly a feminist understands the fight for gender justice includes all of us.”

Ria Tobacco Mar photograph

OUTLaw, NYU Law’s LGBTQ student organization, gave its Alumna of the Year Award to Ria Tabacco Mar ’08, now director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Read more about the OUTLaw award.

At an NYU Law Forum sponsored by Latham & Watkins, panelists broadly concurred that corporations are not required to prioritize shareholders’ interests at the expense of other groups. Read more about the Forum discussion.

Martin Lipton photograph

Martin Lipton ’55

“One of the causes of populist discontent is the actual decline in effective real income of the average working person in the United States.... It is reflective of a disproportionate share of corporate profits going to shareholders rather than to employees and other stakeholders.”


Kathryn King Sudol photograph

Kathryn King Sudol ’98

“Directors do have the ability, in complying with their fiduciary duties, to look at all aspects of the corporation—to look at employees, to look at customers, to look at whether they’re using ethical suppliers.”



Anthony Welters photograph

Anthony Welters ’77

“If you want to have a sustainable enterprise, you’d better take into account all of your constituencies and not just one.”

Vanita Gupta ’01

Vanita Gupta photograph

“Judicial diversity really matters, because the public’s trust in our judicial system, and its sense that the judicial system is actually legitimate in communities that interact with it, is really essential to any notion of justice in our communities and in society.”

Vanita Gupta ’01, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, joined a panel discussion on diversifying the bench that was hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice and the NYU Law chapter of the American Constitution Society. Read more about the panel's remarks.

Diana DeGette ’82 

Diana DeGette photograph

“Many of these imprisoned women received horrible sentences when they had been accessories to crimes committed by men. And witnessing these sorts of discrepancies that we see in the law against women…really helped me as I formulated my law career.”

Law Women recognized US Representative Diana DeGette ’82 of Colorado with their Alumna of the Year Award. DeGette noted that Professor Claudia Angelos’s prison law clinic first opened her eyes to how the law punishes women. Read more about the Law Women event.

Josh Shapiro

Josh Shapiro photograph

“I believe that there is no better, more significant job in public service today where you can defend the rule of law, where you can make those contributions, than to serve as a state attorney general.”

Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Josh Shapiro, delivered the 23rd annual Attorney General Robert Abrams Public Service Lecture. Read more about the Abrams Lecture.

Chris Hughes

“In a time when our politics could not be more divided and we can barely get Republicans and Democrats to agree on anything, we have an astonishing consensus that corporations like Google, Facebook, and others have become too large, too powerful, and it’s time to rein them in.”

Chris Hughes photograph

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes discussed how to regulate Big Tech in an NYU Law Forum sponsored by Latham & Watkins. Read more about the Forum discussion.

Barbara Underwood

“Our work has never been more important. We’re fighting for justice now when we can get it, and we’re also laying down a marker for a brighter future.”

Barbara Underwood photograph

The student editors of the New York University Annual Survey of American Law dedicated the journal’s 77th volume to Barbara Underwood, New York’s solicitor general, in honor of her long public service career. Read more about the event honoring Underwood.

Evan Chesler ’75

Evan Chesler photograph

“You too are graduating at a time of enormous challenge.… But that is why this is your time. It is why it is so important to have new lawyers entering the profession. When the pillars of stability and the rule of law are threatened, lawyers are the first responders.”

Evan Chesler ’75 received an honorary Order of the Coif Award and addressed soon-to-be-graduates at a ceremony held in April via teleconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elizabeth Yeampierre

“The truth is that learning happens across the table, and power is built across the table from each other. I think that I am sharper and a better organizer because I work with young people, and I think they know how to read the room politically because they get to work with me.”

Elizabeth Yeampierre photograph

Delivering the Rose Sheinberg Lecture, Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, discussed building a movement to represent those most exposed to the risks of climate change. Read more about the Sheinberg Lecture.

Martti Koskenniemi

“Old vocabularies distort creative thinking.”

Martti Koskenniemi photograph

The Hauser Global Law School Program celebrated its 25th anniversary with a conference,“The International Order Under Challenge.” University of Helsinki. Professor Martti Koskenniemi stressed the need to clarify the language of international law.

Kenneth Mack

Kenneth Mack photograph

“The decision in Blyew is essentially the Supreme Court’s first opportunity to confront the morality of racial violence after the Civil War, and what it did was very clear. It ruled that laws were going to be of limited use in prosecuting state violence.

In the 24th annual Derrick Bell Lecture on Race in American Society, Harvard University law and history professor Kenneth Mack cited the US Supreme Court’s 1871 Blyew v. United States decision as a key moment in the relationship among law, race, and violence in the United States. Read more about the Bell Lecture.

Maite Oronoz Rodríguez

“As the face of justice, state courts and judges are in the front lines, working to resolve the most sensitive and complex problems that affect the lives, liberties, property, and safety of our people.... The importanceof the judiciary and state courts as change agents toward gender equality cannot be overstated.”

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez photograph

Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico discussed how state courts can promote gender equality in the 26th annual William J. Brennan Jr. Lecture on State Courts and Social Justice. Read more about the Brennan Lecture.

Raymond Kethledge 

“A society that respects the individual as an individual— which is to say one that respects the individual’s protected sphere—thereby allowseach person by his several knowledge and skills to help satisfy the needs of society through a contribution of his choice. What makes the protected sphere a reality is the rule of law.” 

Raymond Kethledge photograph

Judge Raymond Kethledge of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit delivered the 15th annual Friedrich A. von Hayek Lecture, considering classical liberal philosopher Hayek’s views on the rule of law. Read more about the Hayek Lecture.

Danielle Sered

Danielle Sered photograph

“The boldness and the courage and the clarity of his willingness to do that and to be grounded in what he understood as a commitment to securing justice, not just to secure conviction, is really profound and is lasting in the shape of New York City.”

In the Kenneth P. Thompson ’92 Lecture on Race and Criminal Justice Reform, Danielle Sered, founder and executive director of Common Justice, cited Thompson’s decision to decline to prosecute marijuana arrests as a key legacy of the former Brooklyn district attorney. Such arrests disproportionately affect communities of color, she noted. Read more about the Thompson Lecture.

Gerard Lynch

Gerard Lynch photograph

“The recognition that there is not one method that will always yield unanimous answers—or for that matter, that will yield consistently just outcomes— is humbling, and humility is an especially valuable virtue for judges.”

In the 51st annual James Madison Lecture, Judge Gerard Lynch of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit examined the ambiguity of exercising judicial restraint. Read more about the Madison Lecture.

Mark Warner

“With near-peer adversaries…because we’ve not had a clearly articulated cyber doctrine, we have been so afraid of cyber escalation, that I think we’ve been kind of open season, open hunting, for other nation states and their agents.”

Mark Warner photograph

At a conference co-hosted by Third Way, NYU Law’s Center for Cybersecurity, and the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, US Senator Mark Warner discussed the need for a clearer federal policy to combat international cyberattacks. Read more about the cybersecurity discussion.

Eva Zlotnicka

“Our thesis is that companies whose product or service or technology is solving global problems…are the companies that will endure and also be rewarded for that value creation. Of course, addressing the current pandemic would absolutely be included in solving global problems.”

Eva Zlotnicka photograph

At a panel hosted by the Institute for Corporate Governance & Finance, Eva Zlotnicka, a managing director at ValueAct Capital, discussed the impact of COVID-19 on corporations’ environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) efforts. Read more about the ESG discussion.