Maurice A. Deane School of Law Dean Eric Lane, a renowned scholar in public and constitutional law, has decided to return to the faculty after five years of distinguished service as dean, President Stuart Rabinowitz announced today. The Hon. A. Gail Prudenti, executive director of the law school’s Center for Children, Families and the Law and senior associate dean for operations, has been appointed interim dean, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Prudenti, who joined the law school 18 months ago after more than two decades as a jurist, served as Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of New York State from 2011 to 2015. In that role, she supervised the administration and operation of the statewide court system with a budget of over $2.7 billion, 3,600 judges and 15,000 non-judicial employees in more than 350 facilities.
“We are grateful to Eric Lane for his service and dedication to the Deane School of Law during challenging times for legal education and the practice of law,” President Rabinowitz said. “We are especially fortunate that he will remain a valued member of our faculty, and of the Hofstra community.”
“In her short time at the Deane School of Law, Judge Prudenti has had an enormous impact on our students and on the lives of those that the Center for Children, Families and the Law serves,” President Rabinowitz said. “We look forward to her bringing her exceptional skills as a jurist and administrator to this new role.”
Dean Lane, who is also the Eric J. Schmertz Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Public Service, joined the law school faculty in 1976. He has a long history in public service, having served in several roles at the state and local level, including as special counsel to the Speaker of the New York City Council, chief counsel to the New York State Senate Minority and executive director/counsel of the New York City Charter Revision Commission.
“Leaving the deanship will not end my longstanding commitment to Hofstra Law,” Dean Lane said. “I plan to do all I can to help my successor, and all of us, make tomorrow’s lawyers and our legal system the best they can be.”
“Judge Prudenti has truly impressed me with her quick grasp of the workings of the law school and the problems we confront,” he added. “I am confident that she will excel in this new role.”
Over the past year, Judge Prudenti has been recognized by the New York Law Journal with a Lifetime Achievement award, as well as by Long Island Business News, which inducted her into its Hall of Fame and named her one of its Top 50 Women in Business.
Said Judge Prudenti: “I want to thank Dean Lane for his leadership, scholarship and friendship, as well as his commitment to making a difference in the lives of our students, the legal profession and the community. My sincere thanks to President Rabinowitz for his confidence and support. I am proud to be associated with Hofstra Law and anticipate a bright future.”
Prior to her appointment as Chief Administrative Judge, she served as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department in New York State, the first woman to hold that position. Before that, she was the first woman from Suffolk County to serve as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department. Prior to ascending to the Appellate Division, Judge Prudenti was the Administrative Judge for the Tenth Judicial District (Suffolk County) for almost three years. At the time of her appointment as a District Administrative Judge, in February of 1999, Judge Prudenti was also the Surrogate of Suffolk County and was the first and only Surrogate in New York to hold the position of a District Administrative Judge. Judge Prudenti’s judicial career began in 1991 when she was elected to the New York State Supreme Court.
She earned her law degree from the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland, which also awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2004 and an honorary appointment as Professor in the School of Law. She graduated from Marymount College of Fordham University with honors. Her legal writings are extensive. Hundreds of Judge Prudenti’s decisions have been published and she has contributed articles to many publications, such as New York Law Journal, Newsday, The Suffolk Lawyer and The Jurist. She has also published handbooks for guardians ad litem and has written extensively on guardianship proceedings. Judge Prudenti’s record of public service is extensive on many national and regional advisory boards and committees.
Judge Prudenti is an accomplished administrator with experience supervising large-scale operations, including one of the largest statewide court systems in the United States and one of the busiest appellate courts in the nation. As Presiding Justice, she served on the Judiciary’s primary decision-making body, the Administrative Board of the Courts, which provides direction and establishes statewide policies and practices for New York State’s Unified Court System. In her various leadership roles, the judge has developed innovative programs and instituted many initiatives to enhance the administration of justice and promote the public’s trust and confidence in the courts.
A national search for a new dean will begin in early 2017, conducted by a search committee representing trustees, faculty and administrators, with input from alumni and students. Judge Prudenti will be eligible for consideration by the search committee for the permanent dean position, and so will not serve on the committee.