New York Law School

About Us

Associate Dean Deborah Archer organized the Racial Justice Project in the fall of 2006. The goal was to create a legal advocacy initiative to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people who have been denied those rights on the basis of race and to increase public awareness of racism and racial injustice in the areas of education, employment, political participation, and criminal justice. Since then, the Project has worked to achieve these goals through the efforts of a growing number of faculty and student participants. To learn more about the individuals working on the Project, click their names below.

Deborah N. Archer (Project Director) | Tamara C. Belinfanti | Kirk Burkhalter | David Chang | Marissa Ellerin-Bossley | Amanda Gayle | Mercer Givhan | Chaumtoli Huq | Jesse L. Kearney, Jr.Erika L. Wood

Deborah Archer Deborah N. Archer
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Director, Racial Justice Project
Specialties: Anti-Discrimination Law and Economic Justice, Civil Rights
An expert in the areas of civil rights, racial discrimination, Deborah N. Archer directs New York Law School’s Racial Justice Project and the Civil Rights Clinic. Associate Dean Archer was previously an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated at the trial and appellate levels in cases involving affirmative action in higher education, employment discrimination, school desegregation, and voting rights. She was also a Marvin H. Karpatkin Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was involved in federal and state litigation on issues of race and poverty. Prior to joining New York Law School, Associate Dean Archer was an associate at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP.As the Director of the Racial Justice Project and the Civil Rights Clinic, Associate Dean Archer continues to work to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people of color and increase public awareness of racism, racial injustice, and structural racial inequality. Associate Dean Archer has also participated as amicus counsel in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeal, including Ricci v. DeStefano, Fisher v. University of Texas, and Hithon v. Tyson Foods. Associate Dean Archer graduated with honors from Smith College in 1993 and was awarded her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1996. Thereafter, she clerked for Judge Alvin Thompson in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Associate Dean Archer is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. She was selected as an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar and has also served on the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Civil Rights Committee, and on the Committee on Civil Rights of the New York State Bar Association.
Tamara Belinfanti Tamara C. Belinfanti
Associate Professor of Law
Specialties: Corporate Law, Law and Culture
Tamara C. Belinfanti joined the Law School in the fall 2009 semester and will teach Contracts, Corporations, and a transactional skills course entitled “Closing the Deal.” Her teaching and scholarly interests are primarily in the fields of corporate law and law and culture. Previously, Professor Belinfanti was a corporate attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. While at the law firm, she counseled domestic and international clients on U.S. securities and general corporate law matters; was co-editor of a securities law treatise, U.S. Regulation of the International Securities and Derivatives Market (Aspen, 2003); and participated in a law teaching pilot program in New York City public high schools. Professor Belinfanti’s recent article on the proxy advisory industry is forthcoming in the Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance. She is a legal aid volunteer and a member of the New York bar.
Kirk Burkhalter Kirk D. Burkhalter
Associate Professor of Law
Kirk D. Burkhalter ’04 joined the faculty in the fall 2010 semester and teaches Legal Practice. Previously, he was the Visiting Assistant Professor of Academic Support at Hofstra School of Law, where he taught Legal Methods. In addition, Professor Burkhalter helped Hofstra students adjust to the academic demands of law school and develop the skills to enable them to realize their full academic potential through workshops, seminars, and individual counseling. He also conducted workshops and seminars that focused on the analytical and organizational skills specific to preparation for the New York State Bar Examination. Professor Burkhalter was formerly the Associate Director of Academic Affairs and an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he provided academic counseling and taught The Principles of Legal Analysis. He has also taught at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Before working in academia, he was an associate in the Corporate Securities and Finance practice group at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Professor Burkhalter also served 20 years in the New York City Police Department (NYPD), retiring as a detective first grade. He spent the majority of his career with the NYPD conducting long-term investigations into organized criminal enterprises and domestic, ecological, and industrial terrorism.
David Chang David Chang
Professor of Law
Specialty: Constitutional Law
At first glance, David Chang’s reserved exterior belies the deep feelings he has for righting society’s wrongs, especially with regard to racial discrimination. But his passion and commitment to addressing these issues quickly become clear not only through his conversation and writings, but also through his actions. Former cochair of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Professor Chang worked hard to combat some of the City’s most heinous incidents of brutality and to push for legislative remedies through the passage of anti–hate crimes statutes. He has written extensively on hate crimes legislation and the constitutionality of affirmative action policies. He has also worked with the Los Angeles–based Center for Law in the Public Interest. He is the former chairman of the Board of Directors of Pratt Area Community Council, an organization that serves a wide range of housing-related needs for low- and moderate-income residents of Brooklyn.
 marissaellerinbossley Marissa Ellerin-Bossley
Fellow, Racial Justice Project
Marissa is currently a second year law student at New York Law School; she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Syracuse University. Her concern for racial justice springs from her undergraduate studies and her observation of both economic and educational disparities in her hometown. Marissa is most passionate about eliminating such disparities because of the deleterious effect they tend to have on minorities in urban areas and the resulting societal dysfunction they cause. She hopes to focus on these issues while working with the Racial Justice Project.
Amanda Gayle Amanda Gayle
Fellow, Racial Justice Project
Member, Justice Action Center
Co-Director, Street Law Project
Amanda Gayle is a third-year law student at New York Law School with a profound interest in racial and social justice. Growing up, her interest in law derived from her discontent with the New York City Police Department’s discriminatory practices and the numerous incidents of police misconduct she witnessed in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. In direct response to her disapproval of stop and frisk practices, she serves as one of the Directors of the Street Law Project. Street Law, which is affiliated with the Racial Justice Project, educates middle school and high school students about their Fourth Amendment rights to counteract racial profiling in their Bronx neighborhoods. As a 3L, Amanda continues to cultivate her skills and knowledge on racial and social justice issues in Racial Justice Advocacy, a project based learning course which assists clients to overcome obstacles within the criminal justice system. This year, she will also serve as one of the Racial Justice Project’s fellows, where she will conduct research on issues of racial discrimination. Upon the completion of her studies, Amanda would like to continue to advocate for minority rights through direct services in civil or criminal practice. Thereafter, Amanda wishes to pursue impact litigation as a civil rights attorney.


Mercer Givhan Mercer Givhan
Associate Professor of Law
Faculty Advisor, Street Law Project
Mercer Givhan, or “Monte” as he is commonly known, is an associate professor with the Legal Practice Program. Professor Givhan has spent virtually his entire adult life working with and on behalf of low income communities of color and has extensive experience in the fields of indigent defense, criminal justice, and community development. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1994, Professor Givhan clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, then joined the staff of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia where he worked for nearly five years in the trial division. Professor Givhan has also served as a program officer with the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute’s Criminal Justice Initiative, managing a grant-making portfolio that included supporting efforts to abolish the death penalty, hold prosecutors accountable for misconduct, combat racial profiling by law enforcement, and raise the quality of legal services available to indigent criminal defendants nationwide.Currently, he is a member of the faculty of the Southern Public Defender Training Center. In addition to his work in the arena of criminal justice, Professor Givhan spent several years working in various capacities with Groundwork, Inc., a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that partners with community members to improve outcomes for children and families living in or near to public housing in East New York and Bedford Stuyvesant. Prior to joining the faculty at New York Law School, Professor Givhan spent two years as a clinical teaching fellow with Fordham Law School’s Community Economic Development (CED) clinic and one year as a clinical instructor with the CED clinic at CUNY Law School. He is a native of Philadelphia, PA, a graduate of Morehouse College, and the father of a teenage son.
Chaumtoli Huq Chaumtoli Huq
Associate Professor of Law
Chaumtoli Huq joined New York Law School in the Fall of 2011 to teach Legal Practice. She recently served as the Director of Litigation at Manhattan Legal Services, an affiliate of Legal Services NYC, and through its offices in Harlem and Lower Manhattan provided free legal services to low-income New Yorkers on a wide range of legal issues, including housing, consumer rights, and employment.For more than 10 years Professor Huq has devoted her career to the public interest, serving in positions such as the director of the first South Asian Workers Rights Project (SAWRP) in the country at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and as the first Staff Attorney to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), a multi-ethnic immigrant worker–led labor organization of taxi-drivers. Professor Huq serves on the Council of Advisors for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national non-profit organization that elevates the perspectives on South Asian individuals and community based organizations through public policy analysis and advocacy.
jessekearney Jesse L. Kearney, Jr.
Fellow, Racial Justice Project
Jesse L. Kearney, Jr. serves as the President of New York Law School’s Student Bar Association and as the American Bar Association’s Law Student Division Executive Lieutenant Governor for the Second Circuit. He is a third year law student and an associate with both the Center for Business and Financial Law and the Institute for Information Law and Policy. Mr. Kearney interned this summer with Louis Vuitton North America, Inc. and with Judge Marc J. Whiten. He also has interned with New York City Council Member Margaret Chin and with the International Advertising Association. At school, he is a member of the Black Law Student Association, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, and the Media, Entertainment and Fashion Law Association. Professionally, he is a member of the American Bar Association, the Dramatist Guild of America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. His awards and fellowships include the Dartmouth College Senior Fellowship, ASCAP Musical Theater Workshop and the Jonathan Larson Musical Theater Fellowship awarded by the Dramatist Guild. Mr. Kearney received his AB from Dartmouth College and his MFA from New York University’s Musical Theater Writing Program.
Erika Wood Erika L. Wood
Associate Professor of Law
Erika L. Wood teaches Legal Practice at New York Law School. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Wood was the Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, taught the Public Policy Advocacy Clinic at New York University School of Law, and was an attorney with the Legal Action Center. She has designed and launched major reform campaigns around the country, litigated complex civil rights cases, and authored several groundbreaking reports and numerous articles. Professor Wood provides legal counsel and strategic guidance to advocates, legislators and policymakers nationwide, and is a frequent speaker and commentator on voting rights, criminal justice reform, and racial justice issues. In 2009, Rutgers School of Law awarded her the Eric. R. Neisser Public Interest Award in recognition of her efforts to carry forward the Law School’s mission of providing liberty and justice for all. Professor Wood earned her BA cum laude from New York University, and graduated with honors from Rutgers School of Law where she earned the Kinoy-Stavis Fellowship and the Myron Harkavey prize.