Dear Alumni and Friends:
is hard for me to believe that I have entered my third year as the Dean of
Touro Law Center. It has been an exciting and productive two years. Touro Law
has ranked high on many new lists over the past year. For example, the 2014
Princeton Review of Law Schools ranks us #4 for law schools most selected by
older law students; the Social Science Research Network ranked us in the top 10
law schools for new scholarship uploads – putting us with top Ivy League
schools; and Pre-Law Magazine listed us as one of the most under-valued law
schools in the country. You may have also seen an article in August in the New
York Law Journal noting that of the 15 law schools in New York, Touro Law was
one of only 4 law schools that saw an increase in applications. Our fundraising
for scholarships, programs, and endowments has risen dramatically. Our named
scholarships have grown from 4 to 24; and gifts for clinics, institutes and
fellowships have allowed us to initiate new programs that are directly
benefiting our students and our community.
But, despite our success in creating important new programs and raising these funds, the challenges facing legal education – increased competition for quality students, retention issues, increased student debt, and dropping enrollments – compel us to respond to this paradigm shift with a comprehensive strategic plan and road map to meet the challenges ahead. One essential component of that plan is to continue to develop the resources we will need to sustain our growth. Below I’ve outlined some of the highlights of this past academic year – and some of the reasons we continue to need your support.
I am very proud to report that at the first day of 1L orientation our entering class was and remains 187 strong. The class is the most diverse in our 35 year history, and it is a group with strong academic credentials and a passionate, driven desire to succeed. I am also very happy to report that, despite the strong competition, we have been able to reduce the number of transfer students; accomplished in part by our successful scholarship drive. This past spring applications for our 24 named scholarships, our Commuter Scholarships, our Bar Prep Scholarships, our Summer Public Interest Fellowships, and our new Board of Governors Summer Associate Program – totaled in the hundreds. Students have noticed our increased resources and investment in their future – and they have voted with their feet to remain a part of our Touro Law community. Recently we hosted a dinner for scholarship donors and the student recipients of their generosity. The students were thrilled to be able to express their gratitude in person, some of them explaining that without the scholarship support they were facing the prospect of leaving law school all together.
Last year we created a concentration in Criminal Law, and this year we have added Land Use and Sustainable Development Law, Aging and Longevity Law and Small and Solo Law Practice. These new concentrations not only track the opportunities presented by our new institutes, but they also track where we believe there are meaningful employment opportunities in the present and near future for Touro Law graduates. We believe these concentrations will help graduates to be more competitive in the job market in these practice areas.
Clinics and Externships:
This year we have doubled our Clinical offerings – including a new Immigration Clinic, a renewed Veterans Clinic, Small Business Clinic and three Criminal Law Clinics (both prosecution and defense opportunities). Every student who entered this fall will be required to complete a clinic as a requirement of graduation. This further solidifies Touro Law’s ongoing commitment to profession-ready graduates. I have asked Margarett Williams to oversee the restructuring of our externship program, and she has done a great job of opening doors to new opportunities for Touro Law students in a wide variety of practice settings, providing excellent experience and great networking potential for jobs after graduation.
Institutes and Programs:
I am pleased to report that Professor Deseriee Kennedy was appointed as the Gitenstein Distinguished Professor of Law for the 2014-2015 academic year. We continue to explore collaborations with Touro College’s many medical, pharmacy and health sciences programs. Professor Sarah Adams Schoen continues to grow the Institute for Land Use and Sustainable Development Law. The outstanding Advisory Board, consisting of many Touro Law alumni, is helping to guide the Institute’s programming, which includes work for the NYS Energy, Research & Development Agency, an upcoming breakfast series on land use practice on Long Island for members of planning and zoning boards, local legislative bodies and municipal attorneys, and a major conference in April on resiliency for coastal communities. Professors Marianne Artusio and Joan Foley have done incredible work with the Aging and Longevity Law Institute. Part II of a conference on Aging in Place was held at the Law Center this fall, and plans are underway for the launch of a new peer reviewed national journal on Aging and Longevity Law. Both of these institutes have also launched incredibly informative blogs for lawyers and consumers. Our Community Justice Center of Long Island (CJCLI), our incubator in Hauppauge, is closing in on the completion of its first year. More than a dozen Touro alumni have started their own law firms through the CJCLI thanks to the efforts of Fred Rooney and Touro alumna Rosemarie Barnett. This fall, Professor Meredith Miller will be stepping in as faculty director of the CJCLI and solo and small firm practice to ensure growth and development of our incubator program and a deeper synergy with the Law Center.
I am very proud of our Law Review, Journals and our Advocacy Programs. The Touro Law Review has taken a number of steps to improve its visibility and to attract high quality articles for lawyers and practitioners across the country, including Touro alumni. This spring the Law Review will release an issue of articles and essays by Associate Deans for Research and Scholarship at other law schools. This is a significant introduction to Touro Law by the administrators advising faculty colleagues on where to place or publish their articles. The Journal of Race, Gender and Ethnicity will be publishing a companion issue with the Berkley Journal of Gender Law & Justice on the Voting Rights Act. This fall we are also launching a new national publication, the Journal on Experiential Learning – again placing Touro in a leadership role on all aspects of experiential education. Our Moot Court programs have been reorganized to better position our teams to win more competitions and awards. Our efforts have started to pay-off with one overall win, several places, and awards for best briefs and best oralists. Our Trial Advocacy Program likewise is starting to place much higher in regional and national competitions. Many faculty members and alumni have served as coaches and advisors for these students and teams – it truly “takes a village” and we are fortunate at Touro Law to have a big and generous community.
This spring the Law Center will host the Second Annual National Moot Court Competition on Religion and the Law. The final bench will consist of the Hon. Kenneth Starr as the Chief Judge, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harris Hartz and Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York.
Portals to Practice/Curricular Changes:
Perhaps the most exciting new development is the adoption in May and beginning implementation of our five year strategic plan, Portals to Practice, that among other initiatives will dramatically change our curriculum to a total immersion approach. It represents a revised curriculum to meet the needs of a changing profession and best prepares students by providing a year by year integrated, practice-oriented program of instruction.
Communications and Visibility:
- Last year we embarked on a series of ads in Long Island Business News – featuring some of our highly successful alumni in the corporate and business arena. We call the series “Touro Law – We Mean Business.” It ensures that the business oriented readership of this weekly Long Island paper is aware of the reach of Touro alumni. We expanded this for admissions and recruitment by creating a “Picture Yourself Here” campaign adding profiles of many alumni who work in the public and non-profit sectors.
- Touro Law has a new weekly radio show “On the Docket” which airs every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on Long Island News 103.9. Each week features a different guest or two on a wide range of legal issues. We are grateful to the many alumni have been guests on the show. Catch the podcasts at: www.tourolaw.edu/onthedocket, and let us know if you have an idea for a show.
- We have embraced the digital age with a new digital marketing campaign for recruitment on Facebook and Google. A number of our faculty maintain blogs and regularly post on Twitter, Linked-In, and Facebook.
Our Touro Law Community:
- In October we welcomed eight new members to our Board of Governors, all exceptional leaders in the profession and in their fields, and we look forward to their contributions to the Touro Law community.
- Professor Rodger Citron has assumed responsibilities as our new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as Deborah Post completed her term of service and rotated back to full-time faculty.
- I am pleased to report Barbara Hakimi, previously our director of CLE, is now our Associate Director of the Annual Fund.
- Sadly, the Touro Law community recently said goodbye to two distinguished colleagues, Professor Barbara Swartz and Professor Harry Reicher. May their memory be a blessing.
A Final Word:
You are integral to our past, present and future in so many
ways. The many success stories of our alumni have truly inspired those of us
who have been your teachers and mentors. This month we will present our Alumni
Judges Wall of Honor at the Law Center – more than two dozen Touro Law
graduates have ascended to the Bench – and we expect that when students and
prospective students see that proud wall – they will become more motivated than
ever to emulate those who came before them. We continue to need your help as
moot court and competition judges, as admission advocates, as mentors, partners
in practice, and as employers.
I am sensitive to other pressures on your philanthropic dollars – however, I am asking that you consider making a gift to our Annual Fund. A donation to the Annual Fund allows the Law Center to put your gift to use directly where the need is most pressing enabling us to fund the vital activities that make our Law Center the vibrant community it has become. While I hope that you will be as generous as you can, a gift of any size will help us to increase our percentage of alumni giving which sends a positive message to members of the general community who we also ask to make an investment in our Institution.
This is What Your Gift Will Do:
Allow Touro Law to allocate funds to where they are most needed – whether that is scholarship assistance or help for students preparing to take the Bar Exam.
Allow Touro Law to continue to create successful and innovative academic endeavors including our clinics, centers and institutes, our law review and journals and our advocacy programs.
Help to expand the Gould Law Library collections through targeted acquisitions.
Provide for myriad on-campus enrichment programs impossible to sustain with a shrinking budget.
Help to create opportunities for a new generation of Touro students by exposing them to the exceptional educational experience that you benefitted from while at Touro Law.
want to thank you for your past involvement as a friend and a donor. Your
support, together with the support of other alumni has been essential in
helping to ensure the success and growth of Touro Law in the past few years.
Touro Law Center is a great institution. I look forward to working with the
entire Touro community to continue our growth in stature and prominence. I will
never take your support for granted. It is something I very much appreciate.
Please let your voice be heard by contributing to our success. Thank you for
Best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy holiday season.
Patricia E. Salkin
Dean and Professor of Law