Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law has received a $2 million donation to bolster its family law and public service initiatives. The gift comes from Susan Halpern, a 1984 graduate who has worked for the City of New York as an attorney in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and in the Department of Consumer Affairs. Ms. Halpern also served as general counsel at the Citizens’ Committee for Children before entering private practice as an adoption attorney in 1991.
Half of the donation will benefit Cardozo’s family law program, which will be renamed the Gertrud Mainzer Program in Family Law, Policy and Bioethics, in honor of late Family Court judge and Cardozo professor. The program will use the funding to expand family law clinical offerings, increase the number of students receiving summer stipends in family law practice and for lectures, workshops and other activities.
The rest of the gift will be used to establish the David Rudenstine Public Service Fellowship Program, named for the former dean who is now a professor. As the school’s first endowment for public service fellowships, the money will support summer and post-graduate fellowships for Cardozo students. Students working with public interest community organizations, legal aid and legal services offices, government agencies or completing judicial clerkships will be eligible for the $4,000 fellowship. A $5 million gift by philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch in 2008 helps students interested in public service with student loan repayment.
“The public service program and the family law program are at the heart of Cardozo’s mission to do justice,” Dean Matthew Diller said in a statement. “Susan Halpern’s generous gift will establish endowments in both areas to ensure their growth as well as expand the opportunities for our graduates to move into public service and family law practice.”