The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

The People

Seeking a Few Good Veterans

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Starting this fall, veterans who attend NYU Law can thank Garen Marshall ’14 for helping make possible a free legal education. Marshall, a former explosive ordnance disposal technician who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, made it his mission to recruit more military service members to the Law School—and in the process prompted NYU Law to offer one of the country’s most generous funding packages for eligible veterans.

After leading a 25-person team on more than 120 missions to defuse bombs, the 28-year-old from Staten Island, New York, was undaunted by the demands of law school, including classes, a staff editorship for the Journal of International Law and Politics, and an assistant teaching position for a Lawyering class. He was, however, frustrated that NYU Law attracted few veterans. In Fall 2012, Marshall shared his concerns with Dean Richard Revesz in an e-mail.

Military veterans, Marshall wrote to the dean, added diversity, maturity, and employability to the student body, but they were largely unable to take on the expense of attending NYU Law. Even though the US Department of Veterans Affairs had a program that matched grants from schools, NYU Law’s $3,500 grant for veterans meant service members needed other funding to cover the bulk of their tuition and living expenses.

Revesz agreed with Marshall, and two weeks later the Law School increased its grants to $20,000, in effect enabling eligible service members to attend NYU Law for free. There is no cap to the number of veterans the Law School will fund. (See also “Portrait of a Dean”)

Ken Kleinrock, associate dean for admissions, says the decision to increase funding was an easy one: “The women and men who have experience in the armed services bring leadership experience and commitment to public service, as well as perspectives and talents that make them an asset to our community.”

In the spring the Law School admitted 15 veterans, up from seven last year. “I am incredibly proud of all that NYU Law has accomplished in their support of veterans,” says Marshall.

On September 11, 2001, Marshall was in his high school American history class when terrorist attacks brought down the twin towers just a few miles north. “I remember thinking I didn’t want to be in the position again of not being able to help,” says Marshall. “The military seemed like the best way to contribute to national security.”

The next year, as his classmates were applying for college, Marshall enlisted in the Navy two days after his 18th birthday. He trained for two years as a member of US Navy Special Operations, then was sent on two deployments, disarming IEDs as well as conventional and unconventional ordnance.

Marshall continues to work on veterans issues. He founded Students for the Education and Representation of Veterans, a group that provides legal representation for veterans in New York. Today more than 40 student advocates help former service members receive fair hearings and apply for discharge classification upgrades that can improve their benefits.

“Looking at how things have changed in a matter of months,” says Marshall, “I can really say that NYU Law has transformed from a school that had a weak relationship with military veterans to one with a welcoming culture for service members both as students and as visitors.”

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