New York, NY (January 12, 2009)—New York Law School today announced the introduction of an online Master of Arts in Mental Disability Law Studies—the only degree of its kind to be offered by an American Bar Association-approved law school—set to launch this January.
The new degree is the latest innovation in the Law School’s Online Mental Disability Law Program, established in 2000. The program began with a single course and has now grown to include nine separate courses, offered at New York Law School and, through partnerships, at other law schools in the U.S. and abroad. It was developed by internationally renowned expert Professor Michael L. Perlin and is based on his extensive research, teaching, and advocacy in the area of mental disability law.
“The new master’s degree is the appropriate next step in the Online Mental Disability Law Program, which has been thriving under the direction of Professor Perlin,” Dean and President Richard A. Matasar said. “New York Law School’s undertaking to further educate those who work on behalf of people with mental disabilities demonstrates our commitment to teaching the law so that people can take action.”
The 30-credit program will offer professionals who represent or work with people with mental disabilities valuable information about this complex and increasingly important area of the law. It will provide them with the tools needed to effectively represent their clients, and will significantly contribute to an environment in which competent representation “becomes the norm, not an aberration,” said Professor Perlin.
Program courses will be taught by experienced, distinguished scholars and practitioners, and will include weekly reading assignments in casebooks, weekly lectures available as streaming video, weekly synchronous classes in a virtual classroom, and two live daylong seminars. Some of the required courses include: Survey of Mental Disability Law; Sex Offenders; International Human Rights and Mental Disability Law; Advocacy Skills in Cases Involving Persons with Mental Disabilities: The Role of Lawyers and Expert Witnesses; and Mental Health Issues in Jails and Prisons. In the spring 2009 term, two new courses will be added to the program: Forensic Reports, the Role of Experts, and Forensic Ethics; and Mental Illness, Dangerousness, Risk Assessment, and the Police Power.
Besides the new master’s degree, students have the opportunity to take individual, 14-week courses or pursue the 15-credit Certificate in Advanced Mental Disability Law.
“I’m especially excited about the diversity we’ve added to the Online Mental Disability Law Program with the creation of the new master’s degree,” Professor Perlin said. “Our program is diverse in a variety of ways: we offer the broadest array of courses focused on mental disability of any U.S. law school; we serve multiple audiences—both domestically and internationally—of attorneys, forensic psychologists, psychiatrists, other mental health professionals, human rights workers, advocates, activists, and others; and our students can become involved at multiple levels, from completing an individual course to our certificate program to the Master of Arts degree.”
Professor Perlin said that the Law School specifically conceived of the degree as a Master of Arts, rather than a Master of Laws (LL.M.), in the hopes and expectations of involving nonlawyers in the program. In the first eight years of the Online Mental Disability Law Program, many psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, government officials, and international human rights activists have taken individual courses. This diversity in the student body is reflected in the faculty, Professor Perlin added, noting that professors in other academic disciplines frequently teach in the chat rooms and the live seminars that are integral parts of the program.
Professor Perlin has taught at the Law School since 1984, where he also directs the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project. Previously, he served as Director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate, and the Deputy Public Defender in charge of the Mercer County, New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. He is the author of multiple award-winning publications, including his multi-volume treatise, Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal, and his books The Hidden Prejudice: Mental Disability on Trial, and The Jurisprudence of the Insanity Defense.
For more information about the Master of Arts in Mental Disability Law Studies, please visit www.nyls.edu/mdl.
About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its eight academic centers: Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program. www.nyls.edu
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