Conference honors Linda Silberman’s 51 years at NYU Law

A conference at NYU Law on April 20 and 21 commemorated the 51 years that Linda Silberman, Clarence D. Ashley Professor of Law Emerita, has taught at the Law School and gave friends, colleagues, and legal luminaries an opportunity to discuss Silberman’s scholarship in transnational litigation, international arbitration, and civil procedure. Since taking emerita status in September 2022, Silberman remains a co-director of the Law School’s Center on Transnational Litigation, Arbitration, and Commercial Law, which hosted the event.

Linda Silberman
Linda Silberman

“Linda has been a force of nature and an inseparable part of NYU Law for decades,” Dean Troy McKenzie ’00 said in introductory remarks before a panel regarding Silberman’s work on jurisdiction. Although he did not have her as a professor, McKenzie said, she became a mentor for him when he joined the faculty in 2007. “One of the joys of being a member of this faculty…is wandering the hallways and popping into Linda’s office for a discussion on just about anything,” he said. “The hallmark of which is delightful conversation, a sparkling mind, extraordinary creativity, and hard work.”

The two-day conference included panels on Silberman’s scholarship in the areas of transnational civil litigation, comparative law, choice of law, and recognition and enforcement of judgment, in addition to jurisdiction. During a panel of personal reflections, US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined Silberman via video for a conversation in which the two recalled important cases they had worked on.

Colleagues Arthur Miller, University Professor and Warren E. Burger Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts, who taught Silberman at the University of Michigan Law School; John Sexton, NYU president emeritus, NYU Law dean emeritus, and Benjamin F. Butler Professor of Law; and Marcel Kahan, George T. Lowy Professor of Law, were among those who talked about how Silberman had influenced their lives.

Kahan recalled that Silberman came to the ceremony on the day he was to be sworn in as a US citizen—the same day that his two young daughters were in the hospital. Kahan was anxious to be with them. As the formalities stretched on, he related, Silberman said, “One second,” and left the hall. Two minutes later, Kahan was ushered into the judge’s private chambers where he was immediately sworn in, and was able to leave for the hospital.

“I refuse to believe she won’t be just across the hall,” Kahan remarked with emotion.

Justice Sotomayor noted that she and Silberman shared many legal interests in common, including their work on a Hague convention on international child abduction. They are also bonded, Sotomayor said, by their shared childhood love for the Perry Mason television series.

“Next time you are in New York,” Silberman responded via video, “come over to the house. I have them all recorded.”

After earning her JD from the University of Michigan, Silberman practiced at Chicago firm Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal before she joined the Law School faculty, where she became the first woman to receive tenure at NYU Law. Silberman is the co-author of a leading civil procedure casebook, Civil Procedure: Theory and Practice, now in its sixth edition, as well as a book on comparative civil procedure, Civil Litigation in Comparative Context. She played an extensive role as an advisor on three projects for the American Law Institute: the Restatement on the US Law of International Commercial Arbitration, the Restatement Fourth of the Foreign Relations Law of the US, and the Restatement Third of Conflict of Laws. Previously, she was co-reporter (with Andreas Lowenfeld) for the ALI Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments: Analysis and Proposed Federal Statute.

Posted May 31, 2023.