NYU School of Law’s Family Defense Clinic (FDC), which seeks to protect and expand due process rights of families involved with the child welfare system, has received a generous gift from Elie Hirschfeld ’74.
The gift will establish the Elie Hirschfeld Family Defense Fellowship for an attorney who will assist with FDC cases. Working closely with FDC co-directors Martin Guggenheim ‘71, Fiorello LaGuardia Professor of Clinical Law, and Chris Gottlieb ‘97, adjunct professor of clinical law, the fellow will serve as counsel for parents of children who are in or at risk of entering foster care. The FDC will also present the Elie Hirschfeld Panel on Family Defense, an annual discussion on child welfare.
“As an NYU Law alumnus, I am especially proud to be supporting Professor Guggenheim and the Family Defense Clinic and Fellowship,” said Hirschfeld, president of real estate development firm Hirschfeld Properties. “I am honored to be able to support this important work to help train students to protect children and families.”
Elie Hirschfeld is founder of the Hirschfeld Family Foundation and a longtime philanthropist. He has been a supporter of education, healthcare, athletics, and Jewish causes, and serves on the boards of many organizations.
“I am thrilled that Elie Hirschfeld will be supporting the important work of the Family Defense Clinic,” said Guggenheim. “Through his generous support, the clinic will, for the first time, be able to expand its efforts to include appellate advocacy.” In addition to filing appeals of its own cases, the FDC may also assist in appeals of cases that originated elsewhere and that raise important issues, Guggenheim said.
One of the nation’s foremost experts on children’s rights and family law, Guggenheim has taught at NYU Law since 1973. An active litigator, he has argued leading cases in the US Supreme Court on juvenile delinquency and termination of parental rights.
Amy Mulzer will serve as the clinic’s first Elie Hirschfeld Fellow. A seasoned trial and appellate attorney in family defense and child welfare proceedings, Mulzer was an acting assistant professor of lawyering at NYU Law from 2014 to 2016 and an instructor at Brooklyn Law School’s Disability & Civil Rights Clinic during the 2016-17 academic year. She is a graduate of Columbia Law School.
Founded in 1991 as a children’s rights project committed to preventing overreaching by the government, the Family Defense Clinic champions an interdisciplinary model that pairs lawyers with social workers to represent and rehabilitate families in child welfare cases. Focused on preventing the needless removal of children from their families, the clinic’s model has helped raise the bar for family defense in New York City. The FDC has trained a generation of law students, a large number of whom continue to work in the field of children’s and parents’ rights in a wide variety of legal settings.