The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

Faculty Focus

Accolades for Amsterdam

Printer Friendly Version

Tony AmsterdamUniversity Professor Anthony Amsterdam received the Outstanding Scholar Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation in Chicago on February 11.

Amsterdam has said that he was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter in 1961 when “a sense of justice woke up inside of me.” He took on school desegration, First Amendment and civil rights cases, and, in 1972, won a Supreme Court case overturning all death penalty statutes. The Court later reaffirmed the constitutionality of capital punishment, and now Amsterdam advises capital defendants’ lawyers. Former Law School Dean Norman Redlich (LL.M. ’55) wrote in his nomination, “Amsterdam has written, or edited, more briefs in opposition to the death penalty than can be listed here…. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the [award].”

Amsterdam joined the Law School in 1981, as the director of the Clinical and Advocacy Program, and played a pivotal role in the inception of the first-year lawyering course. His scholarship includes research on lawyering theory, civil rights and criminal procedure. Says Professor Randy Hertz, current director of the Clinical and Advocacy Program: “What is perhaps most astonishing about Tony is that his brilliance as a scholar is fully matched by his extraordinary talents and accomplishments as a teacher, public interest lawyer for those most desperately in need of help, and mentor and adviser to law students, practicing lawyers and a host of others. He has been—and continues to be—a beacon of hope for subordinated clients and a shining example for generations of lawyers and law students.”