Fordham Law

Fordham University’s new Urban Law Center hones in on city issues

Professor Nestor Davidson, Joanna Zdanys '13, and the Urban Law Center in The New York Post, February 27, 2013

Within the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, pressing legal issues innate to urban environments are not lost, thanks to those whomake it to their life’s work.

Fordham University is ensuring that this focus of study flourishes with its launch last fall of the Urban Law Center, housed in the university’s School of Law.

“We are and have been a distinctly uraban nation,” says Fordham law professor Nestor Davidson, who also serves as director of the new center. “Our metro areas are surrounded by pressing questions involving economic growth, gun violence, land use and affordable housing.

“In cities where these challenges are playing out, creative solutions are being found by local governments. There are lawyers involved in all of these issues, so it made sense to have an academic center in a law school focusing on this intersection between urbanism and the law.

“We are hoping to bring together policymakers and legal scholars to advance scholarly conversation as well as broaden public conversation,” adds Davidson.

While law school students will predominantly take advantage of the new center, “it’s important to us to have a very interdisciplinary system. Many of our students enrolled in Fordham’s Urban Studies master’s program, for example, will be excited to take part as well. We invite their perspectives on the role of law and legal institution in
governance, and the impact policies have on the quality of life in today’s cities,” says Davidson.

To enhance student understanding of such legal issues, the new center will also arrange externships (experiencing real-life work) enabling students to work with organizations involved in both the public and private sectors throughout New York City.

Clinics will also be hosted on a variety of issues, including public finance, education, immigration, technology regulation and privacy according to Davidson.

With aspirations of going into litigation, Fordham law students and editor-in-chief of The Fordham Urban Law Journal Joanna Zdanys fully supports the launch of the Urban Law Center.

“It’s important to have an understanding of life in the city that you practice in. Sometimes as a law student, there is a gap between what you learn in classroom and real legal practice. The center will help bridge that gap,” says Zdanys.

In addition, “The Urban Law Center provides a platform for alumni to return and participate in discussions on land use and sustainability, public health initiatives, campaign finance at the local level, criminal and corporate law, and other important issues,” says Zdanys.