THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH
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Robin Charlow: Professor of Law at Hofstra University School of Law
[By Robin Salisian]Between graduating from Vassar College in 1971 and starting at Cornell Law School in 1978, Robin Charlow traveled the EastCoast, abroad, and the West Coast, acquiring a resume including job titles from substitute elementary teacher to house cleaner tonanny to laundry worker to agricultural worker (to name a few).
But Charlow’s aspirations extended beyondthese short-term jobs. And after spendingmany of her post-graduation years in NewYork City and the San Francisco area, shesettled in at Cornell Law and graduated withher degree in 98.“After law school I clerked for Judge RichardJ. Cardamone, just as he began his tenureon the United States Court of Appeals for theSecond Circuit,” says Charlow. “Every monthwe ‘commuted’ from rural Upstate NewYork, where I rented a house on a workingfarm, to New York City, where we would readabout the cases we were working on on thefront page of
The New York Times
. It waswonderfully exciting and lots of fun. JudgeCardamone taught me, among other things,that law should never be viewed as divorcedfrom life, from consideration of the humaninteractions that it governs.”And it was there that her journey
began.Today, Charlow teaches law at HofstraUniversity School of Law; however, beforeher “serendipitous” arrival there (“a friend ofmy husband was on the faculty [at Hofstra]and just happened to mention that they had anumber of openings, so I applied”), Charlowworked several “practice experience” jobs.“I joined the Federal Defender AppealsUnit. This was then a division of the NewYork Legal Aid Society that handled indigentcriminals’ appeals in the federal courts. Wehad to prepare a new case about once everycouple of weeks, which meant I was filingbriefs in an arguing before the Second Circuitregularly. This job taught me both to think onmy feet and to be supremely prepared beforespeaking, in addition to a lot about criminallaw and appellate advocacy that I use in myteaching position today.”Next, she took a position as a seniorlegislative analyst with the New York CityOffice of Management and Budget. There,she analyzed bills pending before the federal,state, and local legislatures, she says, to seehow they would impact New York City.“My areas included municipal tort liability,sanitation, the environment, the city’sinfrastructure and capital budget (water,power, sewer, construction), and elections…What I took from this experience was a keensense of how law and politics interact, inboth directions.”What followed would be her last non-teaching stint: working as a full-timeconsultant to the Legislative Subcommitteeof the National Advisory Committee of theFederal Public and Community Defenders,researching and consulting “on formulatingthe defense position on various proposedguidelines schemes and to keep the federaldefense organizations around the countrybriefed on guidelines developments.”Now, discussing her current position atHofstra, Charlow says, “I usually teachCriminal Law to first-year students,Constitutional Law to second-year students(this is a year-long course), and an upper-class seminar.”
Q. Wat do you do for fu?A.
Travel, read, cook, play with my kids,collect pottery from around the world. Iused to love to hike but have had to cutback for a while.
Q. Wat CD is i your CD playr rigt ow,or wat kid of music is o your iPod?A.
Right now I have a Books on Tapebiography of Andrew Jackson in my CDplayer. When it comes to music, I mostenjoy three kinds: baroque classical music,rock from the 50s through the 80s (I losttrack after that), and bluegrass — we’rebig bluegrass fans in my house. There’svery little music I don’t like.
Q. Wat is t last magazi you rad?A.
A science journal (can’t recall the name)that someone gave me with an articleabout receding glaciers. We’d just beento Alaska, the land of glaciers, so I wasintrigued.
Q. Wat is your favorit TV sow?A.
I’m a big fan of
Law & Order
(in all its incarnations). But Ihave a tendency to fall asleep watching TV,so I miss the endings.
Q. Wo is your rol modl?A.
My professional role model is probablymy rst husband, a lifelongcriminal defense attorneywho ran the federaldefender ofces in the greater New Yorkarea. He loved what he did, and he did it sowell. He kept his cool no matter what, gaveevery case his all, mentored those whoworked around him with excellent adviceand guidance, and treated every client asthough he really cared, because he reallydid.
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