By David Brand
CUNY School of Law students will encounter nine new faculty members, including three alumni, when classes resume later this month.
The new members join an impressive roster of attorneys with expertise in human rights law, immigration, consumer protection and labor law. Faculty will attend orientation August 13 and 14 at the Long Island City campus, which focuses on public interest law.
“CUNY Law is flourishing,” Dean Mary Lu Bilek told the Eagle “This year, we welcome our largest ever class of incoming students as well as new tenure-track faculty — each with a distinguished record as teacher, activist, organizer and scholar.”
The university provided the Eagle with a rundown of the new faces:
Nermeen Saba Arastu
Arasta has long defended marginalized immigration populations. Prior to joining CUNY Law’s faculty, Arastu was a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP and a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She is especially interested in developing lawyering seminars for first- and second-year students that are linked with clinical offerings and further developing experiential tie-ins with doctrinal seminars. Arastu’s studies constitutional protections, civil rights, law and security and immigration doctrine. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Her teaching may include Immigration Law, Lawyering Seminar and the Immigration and Non-Citizen Rights Clinic.
Lisa Davis will bring a distinctive focus on the complexities of race and gender to the classroom. Her teaching philosophy is centered on creating a rich and dynamic learning environment that encourages student passion, while teaching the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for rewarding careers. Davis has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.K. Parliament, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and various international human rights bodies. Prior to joining CUNY Law, she established the advocacy department at MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization. Lisa is a graduate of CUNY School of Law, American University, and St. Mary’s Public Honors College of Maryland. Her teaching may include Human Rights Law, Lawyering Seminar, and in the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic.
Fareed Nassor Hayat
Fareed Nassor Hayat is a successful playwright, entrepreneur, former public defender in the city of Baltimore, founder of the People’s Law Firm, LLC and law professor. Hayat’s previous professional experience includes teaching in the Criminal Justice Clinic at Howard University School of Law and practicing criminal law for ten years. Hayat has grown to appreciate holistic criminal defense, which includes assisting clients in enrolling in drug treatment programs, obtaining prescriptions for legal alternatives to illegal narcotics, receiving mental health treatment and accessing job placement resources. Hayat is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and the University of California Los Angeles. His teaching may include Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and in the Defender Clinic.
Chaumtoli Huq describes herself as a community-centered, social movement lawyer. Her social justice legal career has focused on civil and human rights, especially workplace justice issues assisting organizations for immigrants. Prior to joining CUNY Law, her career included teaching at Brooklyn and New York Law Schools and Rutgers University and as Director of Litigation with Manhattan Legal Services. Huq produced a documentary film on Bangladeshi garment workers called “Workers Voices,” which has been screened in London, Australia, Bangladesh, and several cities throughout the United States. Huq is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Columbia College. Her teaching may include Lawyering Seminar, Labor Law, Contracts, and Business Associations.
Allie Robbins joins the faculty at CUNY School of Law after serving the school as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of Students Affairs and an adjunct faculty member. Nothing makes her prouder than to help social justice activists become social justice attorneys. Robbins’ teaching philosophy is that combining doctrine and skills is the only way to thoroughly prepare students for success on the bar exam, and ultimately, success in the legal profession. She is particularly proud of her work in enhancing the school’s bar support programs. The development of a bar mentor program has assisted in improving bar passage rates, in addition to enhancing alumni relations. Robbins is a graduate of George Washington University and CUNY School of Law. Her teaching may include Core Doctrine and other bar support, Lawyering Seminar, and Torts Legal Methods.
Jeena Shah firmly supports public law schools that have taken steps to make legal education more accessible to historically marginalized communities. She believes that such initiatives are critical to transforming the profession to empower and better reflect those who have the biggest stake in making our legal system operate for justice. Prior to joining CUNY Law, Shah taught at Rutgers University, practiced as an international human rights attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and worked in Haiti and India with local civil rights and human rights offices. Shah graduated from New York University School of Law and Drew University. Her teaching may include Constitutional Law, International Law, Evidence, and Lawyering Seminar.
Over a decade of legal practice and policy work throughout the U.S. and bilingual human rights work in Latin America have strengthened Charisa Smith’s commitment to public interest lawyering, innovative scholarship, and social transformation. Smith hopes to help enhance the remarkable atmosphere of community-building, multi-dimensional teaching, inclusive mentorship, and curricular leadership that are integral to CUNY Law’s mission. Smith has received numerous distinctions, including the Schell International Human Rights Fellowship from Yale University. She graduated from Yale Law School and Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. Her teaching may include Lawyering Seminar, Domestic Relations Law, Torts, and in the Family Law Practice Clinic.
John Whitlow is an Associate Professor at the CUNY School of Law, where he teaches primarily in the Community and Economic Development Clinic. The Clinic works within a law and organizing framework to address structural inequalities in New York City through strategic litigation, transaction representation, and policy reform. Prior to returning to join CUNY Law’s faculty, Whitlow was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the University of New Mexico School of Law’s Economic Justice Clinic. Whitlow began his legal career as a Staff Attorney in the Eviction Prevention Unit of Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services. He graduated from CUNY School of Law and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Whitlow’s teaching may include Lawyering Seminar and in the Community and Economic Development Clinic.