Representing NYC: New York City Law Department Externship - Spring Only
Doris Bernhardt and Steven Louis, Lecturers-in-Law (2 graded academic and 2 ungraded fieldwork credits)
In this externship, students will gain first-hand experience working on litigation matters, transactional matters or policy matters for the City of New York. The New York City Law Department handles the City’s litigation, offers advice and counsel to the Mayor, the City Council, and City agencies, and represents the City in development deals. In the past, students have drafted legislation, participated in development deals, drafted memoranda of law and litigation documents, including complaints and answers, joined City attorneys in meetings with government officials, and assisted at legislative hearings, depositions or trials. Each student will be assigned to work at a division at the NYC Law Department for a minimum of 10 hours/week, working on issues such as: lawsuits challenging the validity of the City’s regulatory laws; litigation in which the City is a plaintiff; economic development projects; discrimination, retaliation, or other employment-related claims; legislation and counseling; or juvenile delinquency matters.
In the seminar, students will explore the legal, policy and ethical questions that New York City and its lawyers face. The seminar will include guest speakers and will focus on significant cases and issues that the New York City Law Department is handling or has handled, such as health policy, large economic development deals, and corrections reforms. The seminar will also review the structure of New York City's government; the City's law-making authority and processes; the tools available to City attorneys; how different parties both inside and outside of City government may influence City policy and practice; and the role of City lawyers in representing the City's interests. For the final paper, each student will submit a proposal for a change in City law or policy and will present recommendations to the class.
Each student will be assigned to one division for the duration of the course. Potential division assignments include:
- Administrative Law - Represents the City in lawsuits that challenge the validity of its regulatory laws and the policies and decisions of the administrative agencies charged with carrying them out. Also brings civil actions and criminal proceedings against individuals and corporations that violate the City's regulatory requirements.
- Affirmative Litigation - Represents the City in litigation in which the City is a plaintiff. Subject areas include commercial disputes; hazardous products claims; civil racketeering and fraud claims; nuisance and restitution claims; antitrust claims; and challenges against the State and federal governments on matters such as funding for public benefits programs and education.
- Economic Development - Acts as the City's business and transactional counsel for a wide range of projects that are intended to enhance the City's economic base either by generating direct revenue for the City treasury or by strengthening the City's tax base and general economic health.
- Family Court - Handles the City's juvenile delinquency prosecutions (children ages seven to fifteen). The offenses prosecuted range from shoplifting and graffiti to more serious crimes such as assault, robbery, sex offenses, and homicide. Dispositions in Family Court focus on rehabilitation and providing appropriate services in addition to public safety.
- Labor and Employment - Represents the City in federal and state court in litigation arising out of the City's role as the employer of more than a quarter-million workers. Cases most frequently concern claims of discrimination or retaliation in violation of federal, state or local anti-discrimination laws; First Amendment free speech rights of municipal employees; and claims by both individual City employees and unions based on collective bargaining agreements and State civil service law.
- Legal Counsel - Provides advice to the Mayor's Office and City agencies regarding the legal implications of policy initiatives and administrative reforms, as well as other legal matters. Reviews and assists in drafting City-sponsored proposed state and local legislation, and administrative rules proposed by City agencies.
Requirements and Application Process
To apply, please complete the externship application available through LawNet. The application period is from October 8, 2019 (2PM) to October 17, 2019 (5PM). Prospective applicants may be contacted for an interview once all applications have been submitted.
Any additional questions can be sent to Susan Kraham at [email protected].