Leah Horowitz ’06 has been named assistant dean for public interest and social justice initiatives.
Beginning in July, in her new role, Horowitz will be responsible for developing, coordinating, and leading public interest and social justice programming at the law school to help deliver on the school’s motto “in the service of others.” She will head the Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) at the Law School and will focus on expanding public interest opportunities for all the school’s 1,400 students. She will also strengthen social justice collaborations across the school and establish partnerships throughout the legal community while serving as a key member of the Law School’s senior management team.
Horowitz succeeds Assistant Dean Tom Schoenherr, who will retire in July after serving for 32 years as Fordham Law’s assistant dean of PIRC. He founded PIRC in 1991 and guided thousands of students who were interested in pursuing public interest law, helping them at every step of their career planning and development.
“Tom has done a remarkable job. PIRC has been a national model, emulated all over the country. It is built on the ethos of supporting student initiatives and leadership. I am looking forward to seeing how Leah will build upon Tom’s tremendous legacy,” said Dean Matthew Diller of Fordham Law School. “Leah’s track record as a high impact, passionate leader, her deep commitment to public interest work, and her frontline experience as a public interest attorney make her a perfect fit for this new role.”
Since 2015, Horowitz has served as the director of public interest student engagement at Fordham Law School. In that role she advises and mentors the school’s 27 student-run public service groups, and annually organizes several high-profile public service events, including the New York City Public Interest Legal Career Reception. Prior to her work at Fordham, she served as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders for nearly a decade. In that position she represented low income clients accused of criminal offenses and collaborated with a team of advocates to holistically address clients’ needs.
Horowitz is a 2006 graduate of Fordham Law School. She was a member of the school’s highly regarded Stein Scholars Program, which provides select students committed to careers in public interest with tailored classes, guidance, mentorship, and experience in non-profit and government law offices. She was also president of two PIRC public service organizations. On graduating, Horowitz received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award at the summa cum laude level, in recognition of her leadership and dedication to public service. The award honors the memory of Archibald Murray ’60, who was the leader of The Legal Aid Society for over two decades. Horowitz received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Cornell University in 2001.
“Leah is a key part of the Fordham Law fabric – she has been so visible, so respected, and so loved by students, faculty, and staff alike. It was a great honor to have worked side-by-side with her these past five years,” Schoenherr said.
“I am thrilled to take on this new role. There has long been a tremendous need for legal services among our most vulnerable populations, but that need is even more urgent and widespread today, so our mission is particularly critical now,” Horowitz said. “I am excited to take what Tom has created and continue to help to shape Fordham lawyers who work “in the service of others” across all different kinds of paths and careers. I owe a debt of gratitude to Tom and to all of the leaders who have made PIRC and the public service focus at Fordham Law School a reality.”
To fill the assistant dean role, Dean Diller convened a committee of 9 members, which included faculty, alumni, staff, and one student.
“I want to thank the committee and particularly the chair, Professor Gemma Solimene, for their excellent work during this process,” said Dean Diller. “I’m grateful for the care and consideration they devoted to this important search.”