Category Archives: BLS Faculty

2018 Graduation: Photos from the Library and Beyond

Students at Brooklyn Law School spend a lot of time in the library.  It was perhaps fitting that even as their law school journey drew to a close at graduation on May 18, the BLS Class of 2018 couldn’t quite escape the library.   

At the commencement ceremony, class speaker Maria Ortiz reminded graduates of the quote from “A League of Their Own” that every BLS student has passed countless times given its prominent display in the library stairwell: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it… The hard is what makes it great.”  When the happy graduates returned to BLS after the ceremony, many headed to the library’s third floor Nash Reading Room with family and friends to celebrate over food and drink.  The Nash Reading Room only opened last fall (official dedication to come soon!), and it was wonderful to see it transformed into a place of joyous celebration. Build it and they will come.

We look forward to continue seeing familiar faces over the summer as many newly-minted alums will be using the library for their bar exam studies.  Here are some photos from the graduation festivities in the library and beyond. (Thanks to Jean Davis for taking most of these photos!)

Congratulations and all the best to the Brooklyn Law School Class of 2018!!

BLS Professor on Israel Supreme Court

Brooklyn Law School’s Professor Alex Stein gained appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court. Stein, a foremost expert on torts, medical malpractice, evidence, and general legal theory, was appointed along with Israeli District Court Judge Ofer Grosskopf to fill two open Supreme Court positions that were vacated by retiring justices. Stein’s nomination was unanimously approved by the Judicial Appointments Committee. There are 15 justices on the Israeli Supreme Court.

“Professor Stein is one of the world’s brilliant legal minds,” said Nick Allard, President and Dean of Brooklyn Law School. “In the short time he has been with us, he has made an enormous positive impact on the Brooklyn Law School community—as a teacher, a scholar, and a wonderfully energetic and engaged colleague and friend. We could not be prouder of his well-deserved appointment to the Israeli Supreme Court, where we know he will make important and lasting contributions as a jurist—as he has as a law professor and practicing lawyer.”

Born and raised in the former Soviet Union, Stein immigrated with his parents to Israel, where he finished high school, served in the military, and studied law. Following his marriage, he has lived in the United States for the last 14 years and joined the Law School faculty in 2016. While in the United States, he continued his involvement in the Israeli legal academy and practice. Stein has been recognized as one of the most highly cited scholars in the field of Evidence. His books include An Analytical Approach to Evidence: Text, Cases and Problems, (Call Number KF8935 .A83 2016). The book is a problem-based Evidence casebook that presents the Federal Rules of Evidence in context, illuminates the rules, and provides a fully updated and systematic account of the law. Lively discussion and interesting problems (rather than numerous appellate case excerpts) engage students in understanding the principles, policies, and debates that surround evidence law. He received his law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his Ph.D. from the University of London.

Best Law Twitter

Want to keep up-to-date with legal news even though you’re short on time?  Twitter is a great tool to share and receive timely information about the legal industry, legal technology, and law school news.  Many lawyers also use Twitter to refer clients, to build relationships, and to market themselves and their firms.

To get you started, check out the ABA Law Journal’s “Web 100: Best Law Twitter.”  Here you will find the ABA’s suggestions on who to follow on legal Twitter.  Recommended accounts include legal organizations, law schools and law faculty, lawyers practicing in various specialty areas, and even a few accounts devoted exclusively to legal humor.

Also, make sure to follow BLS Library’s Twitter Account.  We’ll keep you up-to-date on legal news and informed on BLS Library’s resources and events.

Happy Tweeting!

Law Professors: An Overview from William Blackstone to Barack Obama

As students prepare to resume their legal studies and begin their scholarship for another semester under the tutelage of their BLS professors, I want to recommend a new book that discusses the contributions to the legal profession of a group of selected scholars and professors over three centuries.

The book is: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law by Stephen B. Presser, West Academic Publishing, St. Paul, MN, 2017.

The author says that he hopes this volume will serve as an “introduction to the law for prospective lawyers and beginning students in J.D. and LL.M. programs.”

The book is composed of short biographical essays covering a representative number of legal scholars who have also been law professors.  The work explores the nature of the American legal system, and how American law professors have had a profound effect on American law and life.

While the author covers law professors from William Blackstone to Barack Obama, here are a few of the giants of those that are included:

  • William Blackstone –  It has been written that the groundwork for U.S. jurisprudence can be found in the multi-volume work of Sir William Blackstone, a noted English judge, scholar and politician of the 18th century.  The work, entitled Commentaries on the Laws of England...in four books, provided a systematic analysis of English common law.  These commentaries were based on Blackstone’s lectures at Oxford University.
  • Christopher Columbus Langdell was Dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895 and is often called the “father of American legal education” because it was he who established the case method of instruction where students read and studied appellate court decisions while teaching at Harvard, incorporating it with the Socratic method where students were asked questions about the cases and they were to draw conclusions in order to engage in a dialogue between faculty and students.
  • Joseph Story served on the United States Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845, taught at Harvard Law School while serving on the Court, and wrote a comprehensive treatise on the U.S. Constitution entitled Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
  • Karl Llewellyn was a distinguished legal scholar, who was called one of the most important legal thinkers of the early twentieth century and whose works have been cited many times. He was a proponent of legal realism who felt that legal opinions should be examined to see how judges were influenced by outside factors.  He wrote a book which served as an introduction to the study of law for first year students entitled:  The Bramble Bush; Some Lectures on Law and Its Study . 
  • John Henry Wigmore was an important legal scholar and professor, who while attending Harvard Law School, helped found the Harvard Law Review.  He taught for many years at Northwestern University Law School and his most important contribution to legal scholarship was his Treatise on the Anglo-American System of Evidence in Trials at Common Law.
  • Barack Obama, law professor at the University of Chicago, United States Senator from Illinois and President of the United States.

CRS Reports on the Supreme Court Appointment Process

Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in today as the Supreme Court’s 113th justice.  If you are interested in learning more about the Supreme Court appointment process, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has several good reports.  A recent report, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee, includes information on the criteria for selecting a nominee, the advice and consent role of the Senate, the political aspects of the process, and the use of recess appointments to temporarily bypass Senate confirmation.  For a more detailed account of the Senate’s role, the following CRS reports may also be of interest:

For more information on finding CRS reports online, see this blog post from the University of Houston’s O’Quinn Law Library.

Equal Pay

On April 4, 2017, as part of the Legal Lunches series, BLS professors Liz Schneider and Susan Hazeldean led a lively townhall discussion on the impact of the Trump administration on women’s rights, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ rights.  

President Kennedy signs Equal Pay Act into law in 1963

One of the topics discussed was equal pay. When the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women received 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Despite progress over the years, women who work full-time currently earn only about 80% of what their male counterparts earn. Among other efforts, President Obama had issued Executive Order 13673 (Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces) on July 31, 2014, which was aimed, in part, at narrowing that gap.

Trump’s revocation of the Obama executive order on March 27, 2017 nullifies rules that required paycheck transparency, and that barred federal contractors from imposing mandatory arbitration when their workers raised claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment.  The revocation is particularly harmful to women workers. Prof. Schneider also pointed out that the Trump administration has deleted the White House webpage on equal pay. Where the Obama White House once had information about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Equal Pay Pledge, all that remains is a landing page with the terse “Thank you for your interest in this subject. Stay tuned as we continue to update whitehouse.gov

April 4, 2017 also happened to be Equal Pay Day.  This is the day that symbolizes how far into the next year a woman has to work, in order to earn what a man did during the preceding year. Equal Pay Day is always commemorated on a Tuesday, to further represent how far into the following work week women have to work, to reach the level earned by men the previous week.

BLS Library has various print and digital resources on the subject of equal pay.  Our collection includes the following:

Omilian & Kamp, Sex-Based Employment Discrimination

Susan Omilian & Jean Kamp, Sex-Based Employment Discrimination (updated through Sept 2016)This treatise is available electronically through Westlaw. It includes comprehensive treatment of claims brought under the Equal Pay Act, including making a prima facie case, defenses, enforcement, and remedies. Citations are kept current, with the most recent update in September 2016. The library also has the looseleaf version of the title in print, updated through June 2014.

Nyla Jo Hubbard, The rape of the American working woman: How the law and attitude violate your paycheck (2016).   Hubbard, a non-lawyer, combines anecdotes from her personal experience with analysis of how women are placed at a systematic disadvantage under our laws. She discusses a wide range of laws and policies, ranging from Social Security, to healthcare, to childcare subsidies, in order to explain the causes of pay inequality. This title is available as an e-book through ProQuest.  

Susan Bisom-Rapp & Malcolm Sargeant. Lifetime disadvantage, discrimination, and the gendered workforce (2016).  The authors, who are law professors in the U.S. and U.K. respectively, examine the disadvantages faced by women at work, including equal pay issues, in light of inadequacies in the law in both countries. They contend that the piecemeal, incremental approaches built into the legal systems of the U.S. and U.K. do not work and that a more holistic solution is required. This title is available as an e-book through ProQuest.

Christianne Corbett & Catherine Hill, Graduating to a pay gap: The earnings of women and men one year after college graduation (2012). The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has long been engaged in studying, analyzing, and providing policy direction on equal pay issues. In this publication, they explain how pay inequality among college graduates begins immediately after graduation. While discrimination is an important factor, the AAUW study recognizes that gender differences in willingness and ability to negotiate salary contribute to the pay gap, recommending that this issue also be addressed.

Chen, Compliance and Compromise

Cher Weixia Chen, Compliance and compromise: The jurisprudence of gender pay equity (2011).  In this book, Chen, a legally-trained professor of international studies, approaches the topic of pay equality from an international law perspective. She focuses in particular on International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration, and how ratifying states have complied or failed to comply with its mandate. This is an interesting read on pay equality laws in countries other than the U.S.: while 173 of the 187 ILO members have ratified ILO Convention No. 100 to date, the U.S. is not one of them.

Episode 100 – Conversation with BLS Prof David Reiss

Episode 100 – Conversation with BLS Professor David Reiss.mp3

This conversation with Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss focuses on his recent article Gorsuch, CFPB and Future of the Administrative State. Prof. Reiss talks about the impact that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch would have on the future of administrative law and, in particular, on federal consumer protection enforcement if he is confirmed. Prof. Reiss reviews the case PHH v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit decided last year. It is likely the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If so, Justice Gorsuch may vote to curtail the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and limit its enforcement powers. More generally, Prof. Reiss believes that, given previous rulings by Judge Gorsuch in cases dealing with administrative law, a Justice Gorsuch will be a skeptic of agency action and will support greater judicial review of agency actions.

Celebrate Women’s History Month By Checking Out HeinOnline’s Women and the Law Collection

In honor of Women’s History Month this March, head over to HeinOnline to see its Women and the Law collection.  This Hein collection brings together books, biographies, and periodicals exploring the role of women in society and the law.  Scholars use this platform to  research the progression of women’s roles and rights in society over the past 200 years.  In addition to a wealth of historical works, the collection also features more than 70 contemporary feminist sources archived from Emory University Law School’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project.

Kindness Chain for the Holidays and Every Day

As the holiday season approaches, law librarians (including this writer), faculty, students and staff at Brooklyn Law School and elsewhere look forward to the end of final exams so they can travel and join family and friends in celebration of the December holidays. From Christmas to  New Year’s Day, from Hannukah to Eid Milad-un-Nabi or the Winter Solstice, many of us will celebrate according to our own tradition. Not all of us will be so fortunate as many people will be working during the holidays to keep the world running while we celebrate the holidays: cab drivers, garage assistants, healthcare workers, carers, police men and women, airline staff, members of the armed forces. All of these people deserve a massive thank you for keeping things going while we sit at home enjoying holiday cooking. So take a minute away from your family and friends and reach out to someone who is working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. All of us can use a random act of kindness not only during the holidays but every day.