The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

The Morrison Memo

Dean of NYU Law Trevor MorrisonIn April, I was honored to be named dean of the Law School. I have long admired NYU Law for its outstanding faculty and fabulous students, and for its unique institutional energy and entrepreneurism. That admiration has only grown over the past several months as I have met with faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The NYU Law community is special, and I am thrilled and humbled by the privilege of guiding this outstanding institution.

In this issue of the magazine you’ll read about some of our truly spectacular programs, initiatives, and people. You may have already seen in the New York Times that we have embarked on an ambitious set of curricular changes announced by my wonderful predecessor, Richard Revesz. These new offerings provide students with a range of opportunities to align their 3L-year studies with their career goals, thus making the most of their time in law school (see “Full Speed Ahead” ). Here, as in so much that NYU Law does, we are at the forefront of innovation in legal education.

Over the last several months I have learned much about the history of NYU Law, including the grand plan, launched in 1945 by Dean Arthur Vanderbilt, to transform the Law School from a regional commuter school to one of the nation’s great institutions of legal education. Vanderbilt’s vision included the Graduate Tax Program, and in “A Tax Haven” you’ll see how his dream has been realized. Through that story you’ll also meet the incredibly impressive members of our tax faculty, including Lily Batchelder, who is currently on leave to serve as chief tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee, and David Kamin ’09, formerly an economic adviser to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Partner for Life” examines the exceptional relationship between NYU Law and one of its most illustrious alumni, Martin Lipton ’55, co-founder of the storied firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Selected for the second class of Root-Tilden Scholars, Marty is the embodiment of the excellence that Vanderbilt envisioned for NYU Law and its graduates. He has repaid the Law School many times over for the education he received, not only by rescuing it from financial peril in the turbulent 1970s but also by continuing to serve his alma mater in leadership posts for four decades. NYU Law is proud to claim the legendary Marty Lipton as a devoted alumnus.

Incidentally, one of Vanderbilt’s directives was to serve in public office. I, too, believe that public service is a critically important part of our profession. “Great Divide” showcases the depth and breadth of the Law School’s ties to Washington, DC. The engrossing discussion features members and friends of our community—veterans of campaigns in both major parties—debating the causes of and possible solutions to the extreme polarization in modern politics.

There is much more in these pages. I’m particularly pleased to introduce three new faculty appointments—all in intellectual property, cementing our position of preeminence in that dynamic and important field. You’ll also meet students like Garen Marshall ’14, an Iraq War veteran who is committed to helping fellow vets, and you’ll read the reactions of distinguished alumni like Sherrilyn Ifill ’87, head of the NAACP LDF, and Trustee David Boies ’67 to the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in two historic cases in which they have been centrally involved.

Sadly, the Law School community lost some extraordinary colleagues and friends over the last year, including the brilliant Ronald Dworkin, a true giant in legal philosophy who did so much to make NYU Law the paragon in that field, and Trustee Dwight Opperman, a visionary leader who championed our Institute for Judicial Administration. I’m sorry to have missed the chance to work directly with those two men, but I am inspired by their legacies as I help guide this great law school along a continuing path of excellence.

I welcome your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions at