Happy Women’s History Month!

In honor of Women’s History Month, Lexis Insights is showcasing 10 famous women attorneys who have had an impact in shaping the legal industry for women in the United States.  You can read short biographies of these attorneys: from Charlotte E. Ray, the first woman admitted to the District of Columbia bar, and the first black woman lawyer, to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, who tirelessly works to further civil protections for marginalized populations.

Between 1872 and today, the proportion of women attorneys in the US has  grown from just above 0% to 38% of all licensed attorneys, due in no small part to the work of these women.

John Marshall Harlan ‘24


On March 28, 1955, NYLS alumnus John Marshall Harlan ’24 formally took his seat as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  An article titled “Mr. Worth Street,” appearing in the April/May 1998 issue of the NYLS student newspaper The Reporter, provides a short sketch of the Justice’s professional career and his connection to the school.

The law school celebrated the formal naming of the portion of Worth Street between Church Street and West Broadway as Justice John M. Harlan Way in May 1991 as part of the law school’s centennial celebration.

On This Day: March 9, 1950

On this day in March 1950, Ferdinand Pecora, who attended New York Law School from 1903-1905, delivered the Commencement Address for the law school’s commencement exercises at the New York County Lawyers’ Association. Pecora received an Honorary Degree from the Law School in 1958.

He was best known in his role as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Banking and Currency, where he was instrumental in the post-Wall Street Crash of 1929 congressional hearings that led to the enactment of the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which represented fundamental reforms to the American financial system.

Pecora went on to become one of the first SEC Commissioners, as well as a Justice of the New York Supreme Court.

See more at: https://digitalcommons.nyls.edu/distinguished_judges/2/

Tracking the Impeachment Inquiry

GovTrack.us offers the impeachment.guide, an online guide tracking the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.  It contains a complete chronology, beginning in 2018 and ending with last week’s public hearings.  It also provides links to key documents, identifies possible charges the President may face and offers background on how the impeachment and removal process works. The guide will be updated on an ongoing basis.

Remembering September 11

September 11 marks one of the darkest days in New York City history. That day in 2001, close to 3,000 people were killed when four US commercial planes were hijacked and then weaponized. Two of the planes were intentionally flown into the Word Trade Center’s Twin Towers, New York City landmarks within walking distance of the Law School. Both towers soon collapsed.

New York Law School community members were deeply affected by the events. Many shared their thoughts, experiences, and recollections. Some of them are summarized below.

Andrew Baffi ‘02, was working as a commercial airline pilot while attending New York Law School in 2001.  He offers his perspective on 9/11 in the December 2001 issue [page 5] of the New York Law School Reporter

The Honorable Roger J. Miner ’56, was in his chambers on the 22nd floor of the federal courthouse on Foley Square that day.  He recounted his experience here:

Later that year, the Law School published Eight Blocks Away: Memoirs of September 11 2001, highlighting the memories and reflections of Law School community members.  Contributors to the memoir included:  Former Law School Dean Richard Matasar, Associate Librarian and Professor of Legal Research Bill Mills, Professors Arthur Leonard, David Schoenbrod, Nadine Strossen, Stephen Ellmann, David Ferstendig, Lawrence Grosberg, Michael Perlin, Richard Bernstein and Jethro Lieberman. Students and staff members also contributed their own personal stories and a collection of emails and memos details the school’s recovery process.

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day

Legislation signed in 1983 marked the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a federal holiday, celebrated on the third Monday of each January. In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, now led by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

This year, the NYLS community is honoring Dr. King’s legacy by expanding its traditional day of service to a week of volunteering, trainings, and discussions. The “Week of Action” is being organized by NYLS’s Impact Center for Public Interest Law, one of its six academic centers. Click here for more information.


Happy Constitution Day!

Constitution Day is observed each year on September 17 to commemorate the date on which thirty-nine delegates to the Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, signed the United States Constitution in 1787.  The Convention was convened as a result of dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States.  For deeper coverage on the world’s longest surviving written charter of government, download the Library of Congress’s free app containing the official, annotated version of the United State Constitution, U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation.

The original Constitution is held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. but you can pick up your own pocket-copy at the library’s reference desk!

The Kavanaugh Nomination Hearing

September 4 marks the first day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Donald Trump nominated the D.C. Circuit Court judge to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Check out the SCOTUSblog for live blogging of the hearing. For articles, books, congressional materials, and web resources by and about the Supreme Court nominee, visit the Law Library of Congress’ Brett M. Kavanaugh page. To track the public statements made by United States senators about how they plan to vote, visit SCOTUS Watch.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

In 1869, Myra Bradwell, who had passed the Illinois bar exam, was denied admission to the bar, on the grounds that a married woman couldn’t enter into contracts because of the common law doctrine of coverture and also because of her gender.  In the Illinois Supreme Court’s view, women weren’t entitled to practice law. Voting 8-1, the United States Supreme Court, 83 U.S. 130, affirmed that decision in 1872.  Undeterred, Bradwell continued advocating for women’s rights and continued to publish the Chicago Legal News, which she had founded in 1868 and which had become the most widely circulated legal newspaper of the time.



In 1890, the Illinois Supreme Court reconsidered Bradwell’s 1869 application and granted it nunc pro tunc, retroactively making her the first woman lawyer in Illinois.

Celebrating Black History Month

Did you know that NYLS’s 57 Worth Street building encompasses the site (236 Church Street) that was once home to Freedom’s Journal, the first newspaper published in the United States by and for black Americans? Founded in 1827 to provide a voice against racism and intolerance, it denounced slavery and lynchings and advocated for black suffrage. The surrounding neighborhood was once home to a large number of free northern blacks who, at that time, constituted a small minority in the city. Just steps away from 236 Church Street a plaque commemorates the site of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which occupied the space from 1800-1864. The church was the first church built for and by black Americans, and had strong ties to Freedom’s Journal.

To learn more about Freedom’s Journal, seek out a copy of the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of New York Law School Magazine, which contains a more in-depth article regarding NYLS’s connection to the newspaper. You can also access a copy of the article here.