Welcome to the 2023 NYU Law Magazine.
Dating back to my student days, I have thought of this magazine as a valuable compendium of Law School events and ideas. It is, in physical form, a window into the vibrant intellectual and social life of our community. I like that it remains in print form so I can digest its contents away from the ever-present screens that seem to dominate our lives. But, first and foremost, what I look forward to most are the magazine’s feature pieces that examine the ways in which members of our community are changing and shaping the world. I always discover something new, and something important, in every issue.
I am proud to say that the 2023 magazine is no exception and, as you can see from the cover, does not shy away from a significant and polarizing issue in American law: reproductive rights. These pages detail the ways in which NYU faculty, students, alumni, and clinics have responded to last year’s landmark Dobbs ruling, and have continued, through scholarship and advocacy, to influence the evolving jurisprudence in the field.
This engagement is a prime example of what Evan Chesler ’75—a long-standing board member and instructor at the Law School and the new chair of the University Board of Trustees—refers to when he discusses the role of lawyers as “first responders” in this issue’s Closing Statements. Our feature on alumni pro bono work illustrates how an alumnus like Ricky Mason ’87 was able to respond quickly, through his expertise, to preserve his cherished Boy Scouts from existential threat while respecting all the stakeholders involved in the fallout from the abuse litigation the organization faced. Like Evan, the alumni profiled here have found ways to use their legal education and experience to serve valuable institutions and causes in need within a traditional law firm setting.
I like to think that their ability to respond rapidly was forged here at NYU Law. It is something that is central to NYU’s DNA as a pioneer in legal education—offering more clinics than any other top law school in the nation—with an unparalleled reputation in public interest law. But it is also a manifestation of another value we hold dear: continuous innovation.
As our society evolves, the law must be made to adapt to and with it. In fact, as my colleague Bryan Stevenson pointed out in a lecture here at NYU Law last year, we must constantly be on guard to ensure that our laws do not become tools of oppression. Priti Krishtel ’02 witnessed this when she embarked on her campaign to challenge patent laws that make life-saving medications unaffordable for so many who need them—work that won her the MacArthur “genius grant,” as you’ll read in her profile.
We as legal scholars also have the opportunity to be on the vanguard of shaping how our society defines the latest innovations. This year’s feature on the blurred lines between what is art and what is commerce is a great example of how lawyers help to create the boundaries of art in the digital age. As artificial intelligence and machine learning progress at breakneck speed, it is likely we will see many aspects of how we define these concepts taking shape in the courts.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the NYU Law Magazine is that it highlights people doing incredible work as active members of our NYU family. They attend campus events, they mentor our students, and in some cases they are our students. They support our programs, they teach in our classrooms, and they pass their knowledge on to the next generation. This is the virtuous circle that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of for more than two decades—I know no better environment for honing the cutting-edge legal scholarship and activism our current times demand.
Troy McKenzie ’00
Posted September 11, 2023