Faculty News

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Several years ago, Dean Michael A. Simons launched a bold strategic plan anchored by twin goals of academic excellence and student achievement.

The plan’s success is evident across key measures: top graduate employment outcomes; a two-year bar passage rate that is also among the best in the nation; steadily increasing student credentials marked most recently by a 162 median LSAT and a 3.71 median GPA; sharply rising alumni engagement and support; and programs and initiatives that affirm St. John’s commitment to being an actively anti-racist institution.

Our faculty is the cornerstone of that strategic planning and its success. Putting the plan into action, since its inception, we have welcomed 16 full-time faculty members. Each brings a range of gifts as teachers and scholars that makes the Law School immeasurably better. And, together, they will be part of a transformation of our faculty that will propel St. John’s forward for years to come.

Here, we introduce you to our newest faculty members and to faculty members who received promotions and named professorships recently. We also share an overview of scholarly life at St. John's Law:

New Hires

Anna Aronscomes to St. John’s from NYU School of Law, where she was an Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering and the Impact Project Director of NYU’s Family Defense Clinic. Her scholarship focuses on the government’s regulation and policing of families and the intersection of parental rights and race, gender, and poverty. Her most recent article, “The Empty Promise of the Fourth Amendment in the Family Regulation System,” appears in the Washington University Law Review. Prior to entering academia, Professor Arons was a public defender in the family defense practice of Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem. At St. John’s, she teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, and courses related to family law.

Noa Ben-Asher joins our faculty from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, where they were the James D. Hopkins Professor of Law. Professor Ben-Asher is a leading scholar of law, gender, and sexuality whose work has appeared in the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, the Columbia Journal of Gender & the Law, the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Washington University Law Review, the Boston College Law Review, the Ohio State Law Journal, the Cardozo Law Review, the Notre Dame Law Review Online, the Tulane Law Review, and the Family Law Quarterly. Their forthcoming book, Secular-Christian Social Justice, will be published by NYU Press. Professor Ben-Asher will be teaching Torts, Family Law, and Law, Gender & Sexuality.

Miriam A. Cherry, a scholar of contracts, employment law, and the future of work, joined the St. John’s Law faculty from Saint Louis University School of Law, where she served as Associate Dean for Research & Engagement and as Co-Director for the William C. Wefel Center for Employment Law. A prolific scholar, Professor Cherry is the author of over 40 law review articles concerning employment, business, and contract law topics. She is also the co-editor of Invisible Labor (University of California Press) and the author of Work in the Digital Age (Aspen) and the second edition of Contracts in the Real World (West Academic). Professor Cherry is writing a book about online labor activism and a report for the United Nations-International Labor Office on the status of gig workers in the United States. At St. John’s, she teaches Contracts, Business Organizations, and Employment Law.

Elissa Germaine was the director of the Investor Rights Clinic at Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University for over a decade. As one of our newest faculty members, she is the Associate Director of our in-house Securities Arbitration Clinic, teaching students lawyering skills while representing underserved investors in arbitration claims before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). An expert in securities arbitration, Professor Germaine is an appointed member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee and FINRA’s National Arbitration and Mediation Committee. Before joining academia, she was a securities litigator at a major law firm in San Francisco and a law clerk to a federal judge in San Diego. 

Martin J. LaFalce joined the St. John’s Law faculty in January 2022 after 14 years as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society of New York. Most recently, he worked as a policy attorney in Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense Practice, coordinating their legislative reform agenda before the New York City Council and the New York State Legislature. At. St. John’s, Professor LaFalce directs our in-house Defense and Advocacy Clinic and teaches Criminal Law.

Philip Lee comes to the St. John’s Law faculty from UDC David A. Clarke School. His scholarship focuses on academic freedom, diversity and educational access, higher education law, and property law and race, and his work has appeared in a wide variety of law reviews, including Emory, Ohio State, West Virginia, Utah, and St. Louis. Professor Lee earned his doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and also served as Assistant Director of Admissions at Harvard Law School, where he led the office’s diversity outreach initiatives for four years. Before joining academia, he was a trial attorney in New York City for five years—first in the New York City Law Department and later at a white-collar criminal defense boutique. He teaches Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Race and the Law, and Education Law.

Mark C. Niles joined the faculty in January 2023, teaching Civil Procedure, Administrative Law, and Constitutional Law. A former dean of Seattle University School of Law, Professor Niles was a longtime faculty member and Associate Dean at American University School of Law. Most recently, he has been on the faculty at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. He is the author of a popular Administrative Law casebook, as well as numerous law review articles on administrative law, civil procedure, civil rights, and race. His recent article, “A New Balance of Evils: Prosecutorial Misconduct, Iqbal and the End of Absolute Immunity,” appears in the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Colleen Parker '03 serves on the Law School’s full-time faculty as an Assistant Professor of Legal Writing. Already well known to our students, she has taught a variety of courses as an adjunct professor, including Legal Writing I, Legal Writing II, Public Interest Drafting, and the Externship Seminar. She was also an Assistant Director in our Office of Career Development for several years. Before starting her teaching career, Professor Parker spent seven years as a litigator at a major New York law firm, an additional seven years as an education attorney representing children with disabilities, and five years as an impartial hearing officer with the New York City Department of Education.

Anjali Pathmanathan joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Legal Writing. An experienced criminal defense attorney, she has served as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, as a program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, and as senior appellate counsel at the Center for Appellate Litigation. Professor Pathmanathan has taught Appellate Advocacy, and her writing has focused on plea bargaining, misdemeanor prosecutions, bias in traffic stops, and the use of rap lyrics in criminal prosecutions. At St. John’s, she will teach Legal Writing, as well as courses related to criminal law, evidence, and legal practice.

Abel Rodríguez, an expert on sanctuary and asylum as well as the intersection of criminal and immigration law came to St. John’s from Villanova, where he directed the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee, and Emigrant Services. He was also a Lecturer-in-Law at Penn and an Associate Professor of Religion, Law, and Social Justice at Cabrini University. Before becoming a full-time academic, Professor Rodriguez served as a staff attorney at Nationalities Service Center and an immigration specialist at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He was also the Langer, Grogan, and Diver Fellow in Social Justice at Esperanza Immigration Legal Services. At St. John’s, Professor Rodriguez teaches Criminal Law, Immigration Law, and Crimmigration.

Newly Promoted Faculty

Reneé Nicole Allen, who joined the St. John’s Law faculty in 2019, has been promoted to Associate Professor of Legal Writing. She has also been named the inaugural director of the St. John’s Law Center for Race and Law. Professor Allen’s scholarship, which focuses on race, social justice, and legal education, has appeared in the UCLA Law Review, the Rutgers Law Review, and the William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice. In addition to Legal Writing, she teaches Public Interest Drafting, Music and the Movement, and Race & the Law.

Kate Klonick, one of the nation’s leading scholars of online speech governance and content moderation in social media, has been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor of Law. Her law review articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Southern California Law Review, and the Maryland Law Review. A frequent commenter in the media, Professor Klonick’s own journalism has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Lawfare, Slate, Vox, and numerous other publications. At St. John’s, she teaches Property, Internet Law, and a seminar on information privacy.

Courtney Selby, the Associate Dean for Library Services at St. John’s Law, has been promoted to Professor of Legal Research. She joined our faculty in 2019 after serving on the faculty and as library director at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. At St. John’s, in addition to her work in our Rittenberg Law Library, Dean Selby teaches advanced legal research courses, with an emphasis on helping a new generation of legal professionals build strategy-based and practice-ready research skills. She also developed and teaches our required second-year Legal Research course.

New Named Professorships

John Q. Barrett has been appointed the Benjamin N. Cardozo Professor of Law. The biographer of U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, Professor Barrett also serves as the Elizabeth S. Lenna Fellow and a Director at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, NY. A frequent lecturer on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Jackson, Nuremberg, FDR, and other legal and historical topics, Professor Barrett is the editor of Justice Jackson’s previously unknown manuscript, That Man: An Insider’s Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as the author of articles in the Journal of Supreme Court History, the Journal of Law, The Green Bag, and many law reviews. He also writes The Jackson List, which reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. Professor Barrett teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, and Legal History at the Law School.

Rachel H. Smith, the Vice Dean for Student Success at St. John’s Law, has been appointed the Mary C. Daly Professor of Legal Writing. Dean Smith, who served on the faculty at the University of Miami School of Law and Santa Clara University School of Law previously, is the author of two legal writing books: The Handbook for the New Legal Writer (with Jill Barton) and The Legal Writing Survival Guide. At St. John’s, she teaches Legal Writing, Introduction to Law, Legal Research, Professional Responsibility, and Law & Literature.

Scholarly Life at St. John's Law

At St. John's Law, we believe that scholarship is a central part of the life of a law school. That commitment to scholarship appears both in the scholarly programs we host and in the impressive scholarly output of our own faculty.

Through conferences, colloquia, and workshops, we bring the world's top legal scholars to the law school to stimulate a vibrant scholarly culture.Through our unique Visiting Jurist Series, we create a forum for both faculty and students to engage with influential jurists. Our academic centers provide resources and structure to explore topics of particular interest to our faculty, including civil rights and economic justice, race and law, alternative dispute resolution, international and comparative law, law and religion, bankruptcy, and labor law.

St. John's faculty members maintain the Law School's commitment to scholarship by authoring influential books, treatises, and articles in almost every legal discipline. Their work has been published in top journals and law reviews and by the most prestigious academic presses. Faculty members come from diverse personal, professional, and academic backgrounds, and many enjoy national and international recognition in their fields. To keep abreast of our scholarly activities, please read our Faculty Focus blog and follow St. John's Law on social media.

For more information about scholarship at St. John's, contact Eva E. Subotnik, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship.