Support for Nerdeen Kiswani

Palestinian Solidarity

An archive of IG posts in support of CUNY Law student Nerdeen Kiswani, who has endured incredibly Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian attacks throughout her time at the school – including a poorly timed post by the school implying she was anti-Jewish for clowning around with a friend about his IDF sweatshirt.

2011 LIC Move


In 2010, CUNY Law had the opportunity to move from its building in Flushing – a former middle school with minimal transit access – to six floors of a former Citibank building in Long Island City. This move had a lot of pros, access first among it, but was also controversial; the space was still imperfect and much less cozy than the previous one had been.

The archives we have for this move can be found here.

Bar Passage at CUNY Law

Bar Passage

The bar exam: a rite of passage for young lawyers, a hazing ritual that has very little to do with practice skills, a known mechanism of racial discrimination….and, at this time, an unavoidable part of legal licensing.

A lengthy critique of the bar exam is far beyond the scope of this page but is available virtually anywhere you look.

CUNY Law, in setting out to be a different kind of law school, has run up hard against the regressive, memorization-over-skills focus of the bar exam. Coupling this with its access mission – accepting more students of color and lower-SES students, two groups the bar exam is biased against – it makes sense that CUNY Law’s strength is not necessarily in bar passage. However, the profession is the profession, and bar passage is one of the most important factors in a school’s accreditation as well as its practicality. If a person cannot pass the bar exam, they cannot practice, no matter how awesome an attorney they will be.

This is a pragmatic view. There are many people inside the CUNY Law institution, now and in the past, who would rather see the school give the middle finger to such a racist and antiquated exam and continue to churn out good lawyers rather than merely lawyers who can pass the bar. Unsurprisingly, the institution has seen it differently, and the cycle continues: students’ bar passage rate dips; CUNY Law enforces ever-more-draconian academic requirements; students protest as these requirements often unfairly target people of color; the school adds back programs designed to support students, such as bar mentors, CORE/ALA, and so forth.

Some of the most heartfelt organizing has happened at the individual level: students banding together to help a classmate challenge their grades or get an exception for the grade policy when it is a close call. Obviously, these records are hard to find – students do not often want documented their own academic precarity. Students should know this has happened before. Student government has also passed resolutions in support of students, although this is necessarily more public.

Some of the recent archived materials on bar passage struggles at CUNY:

Student Government at CUNY Law


Student Government at CUNY Law receives its mandate to govern from the CUNY Law Student Handbook (2020-2021 edition linked; updated annually) and TKTKTK. The CUNY Law Governance Plan establishes a formal role for SG-elected members on the Personnel and Budget Committee, the Committee on Committees, the Faculty Meeting, and other faculty committees as appropriate. CUNY Students are also governed by Article XV of the CUNY Bylaws.

Student government at CUNY Law is relatively well-documented, although rumors continue to exist about a laptop or desktop computer somewhere in the CUNY building that carries more of an archive but is currently inaccessible due to COVID. SG itself varies widely in its efficacy, due to the capacity of law students and the interest of the members.

As a governing body of a public institution, CUNY Law Student Government is subject to the Open Meetings Act and must walk some particularly precarious lines regarding respecting freedom of speech, race- and gender-neutral governance, and so forth. This is especially true when considering organizations that are in the minority viewpoint at CUNY Law, such as the always-controversial Federalist Society.

The SG archive can be found here.

Tenure at CUNY Law


Tenure is the ultimate achievement for an academic – the promise of a permanent job, academic freedom, and the ability to do (within reason) what you want. It is also a little-c conservative feature of the academy – scholars seeking tenure must be judged worthy by the existing tenured faculty. One fear, of course, is that this penalizes people whose thinking goes against the institution and/or challenge its norms.

The larger politics of tenure in law schools is well beyond the scope of this project. At many law schools, academics are not practicing lawyers, or have only practiced briefly. This leads to a profound disconnect between the way the law is taught and the way that law is practiced. This trend is only increasing. See Lynn M. LoPucki, Dawn of the Discipline-Based Law Faculty, 65 J. Legal Educ. 506 (2016).

It should come as no surprise to anyone that tenure is handed out in a way that reflects institutional racism, and that women and people of color – and most especially women of color – experience the tenure process as more unfair and difficult. In case this is surprising to you, see what the ABA has to say: A.B.A., After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the United States 9 (2011).

CUNY Law faculty hiring struggles in large part have been lost to the ages. There are a few notable battles that have survived, most notably the 2001 hunger strike when Professor Maivan Lam was denied tenure, and an early lawsuit brought by faculty on behalf of 2 faculty members who were denied tenure.

Tenure is controlled by the Personnel and Budget Committee, one of two faculty committees set out in the CUNY Law Governance Plan. All tenure recommendations must be affirmed by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

Latest Archive Materials about Tenure:

SG Misc Resolutions 2010-2012

Bar Passage, LIC Move - New Building, Student Government

SG Minutes 2010-2011

Student Government

SG Minutes: 2009-2010

Student Government