The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

The People

Anything but Standard Procedure

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New York University gave Helen Hershkoff, Herbert M. and Svetlana Wachtell Professor of Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, its 2014–15 Distinguished Teaching Award for “exceptional teaching inside and outside of the classroom setting.”

A co-author of Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, Hershkoff teaches Procedure to first-year law students as well as Federal Courts and the Federal System, courses noted for their challenging material. She also serves as co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program and as faculty adviser to the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy. Prior to coming to NYU Law almost two decades ago, she worked as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of New York and as an associate legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

In glowing letters to the selection committee, current and former students applauded Hershkoff’s manner in the classroom. Alessandra Baniel-Stark JD/MA ’16, a Procedure student, wrote, “Professor Hershkoff has figured out ways to ensure that while her students still learn the material and feel some of the heat of the Socratic system, they have a fair opportunity to excel at every turn.”

Others commended Hershkoff’s compassion and support outside the classroom—during office hours, over lunches, and by e-mail—be it providing practical career advice or checking in on a sick student. A group of current and recent Hays Fellows described Hershkoff’s regular end-of-semester invitation to eat out in Greenwich Village: “She helps to create a safe space where we can further explore our legal quandaries, express our concerns about our future careers, and even confess our doubts about the possibility of effecting change through the law.” Like many others, Vinay Harpalani ’09, now an associate professor of law at Savannah Law School, relied on Hershkoff’s support beyond school. During his tenure-track application process, he wrote, Hershkoff went “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Hershkoff and five other awardees were honored on April 23. In her acceptance, Hershkoff reflected on her students: “Whether they work in government or in legal services, at a private firm or in industry, whether they teach or run companies, my students are using the law in creative and important ways.” She added, “They are trying to make the world more joyful, and they know that with shared hard work, we can use law to make the world a better place.”

All of 2015 The People

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