The Government Law Center -- A History of Advancing Law & Policy

A History of Advancing Law & Policy


Government Law Center

New York's preeminent legal and policy research center

The Government Law Center of Albany Law School (the GLC or the Center) was created in 1978, the product of a grant initiated at the federal level and administered by New York State through the Department of State. It started as a small program: one full-time professor acting as Director with one part-time staff person. From these auspicious beginnings, the Center has grown to 13 full-time staff members, 2 part-time staff members, 3 government lawyers in residence, a Sandman Fellow, and more than a dozen law students in any given semester.

The funding to establish the GLC came from the New York State Department of State, then under the leadership of Mario Cuomo as Secretary of State. The funds originated with the United States Office of Personnel Management, and were passed on to the State of New York through the Federal Intergovernmental Personnel Management Act of 1970.

At the time of its creation, the Center was fully supported not only by matching funds from Albany Law School, but also with considerable institutional resources, including office space and faculty participation. Acting Dean John Welsh, and Professors Sandra Stevenson, Robert Tymann, and Bernard Harvith were all involved during the Center's initial stages. The first meeting of the Advisory Board to the Center, which took place on Feb. 16, 1979, included representatives from the highest levels of state government, including members of the judiciary.

In the 25 years since its creation, the Center has developed a reputation for providing in-depth research and reports, remaining neutral in its approach to programs and projects, and for educating not only the private sector and citizens as to issues in law and public policy, but also the public sector, including legislators, legislative staff, members of the executive branch, and members of the judiciary. The effects of its research programs and conferences have been felt nationwide, and have contributed to the Law School's ability to make a positive contribution to public policy development and debate on the local, state and national level.

The Government Law Center; A History of Advancing Law & Policy

The actual creation and funding of the Government Law Center concluded a period in which professors and administrators at the law school, primarily Prof. Sandra Stevenson and Interim Dean John Welsh, conceived of and advanced the idea of a Center to study issues related to government law (thus, the Government Law Center). Prof. Stevenson developed the Center proposal and took it for approval to the Law School Board of Trustees. At that time the Board President was J. Vanderbilt Straub, who embraced the concept, and even agreed to serve on the Center's Advisory Board.

The original pre-application, naming Profs. Sandra Stevenson and Bernard Harvith as "Co-directors" of the project, noted that Albany Law School stood ready to aid state and local governments in New York. "The potential for [the Law School's] use as a state and and community resource is unparalleled." The proposal stated that it was designed to create "a nexus whereby an ongoing relationship will be established between [Albany Law School] and the state and local governments . . ." in northeastern New York.

The pre-application was submitted to the N.Y. State Department of State for review and potential inclusion in the Department's Intergovernmental Personnel Act application to the United States Civil Service Commission. Submission of the pre-application took place in the fall of 1978, and the Center, through Prof. Stevenson, discussed the proposal with staff at the Department of State, most notably Marlene Mauriello and attorney Robert Batson. In August of 1978, Secretary of State Mario Cuomo notified Prof. Stevenson that the proposal had been included in the State's 1979 IPA Statewide Plan submitted to the United States Civil Service Commission, which had final approval authority for the project. Final approval for the project was subsequently received and the Center was officially brought into existence. The first contract between the Department of State and the Center to implement the grant award was dated Oct. 1, 1978.

The early mission and operating method of the Center was identified as early as the pre-application. According to the proposal, the Center's contributions would come "[t]hrough the use of qualified academic personnel and highly motivated students . . . to provide comprehensive, objective legal research with proposals for handling specific problem areas." The Center, according to the proposal, would work in three areas: creation of a superior reference and research materials section in the School's Schaffer Law Library; establishment of a continuing legal educational program; and, involvement of students through internships.

While the role and methodology of the Center has expanded somewhat since these early days of its existence, these three elements of the Center remain significant aspects of the Law School's interaction with government to this day. For example, Schaffer Law Library's collection of titles related to state and local government law is unmatched for its completeness and easy accessibility; the Center's programs, including working with the Public Employee Federation's Public Service Workshops Program to provide training and educational programs for state employees, act to provide information and education to state and local officials on an ongoing basis; and, the student internships in government have been expanded within the Clinic & Justice Center—with a GLC staff attorney serving as an adjunct professor overseeing the program—to three credit placements in numerous government offices at the local and state level.

Following execution of the initial contract, the Center undertook its first program, a seminar on Eminent Domain Procedure Law, in December of 1978. The seminar was attended by more than 100 people, and according to an IPA Quarterly Report filed by the Center, it was "highly praised for its content and organization."


Once the Center was "up and running," Board of Trustees President J. Vanderbilt Straub and Dean-elect Richard Bartlett appointed J. Langdon Marsh, previously the First Deputy Commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, as Director of the Center. His introduction to the Center's Advisory Board took place at its first meeting in February of 1979, and his appointment became effective as of March 1, 1979 (which date was, incidentally, the effective date of Dean Bartlett's appointment as well).

Early IPA reports during the period of Director Marsh's tenure indicate that the Center continued to pursue its course of pursuing student internships, a library collection, and continuing education projects. On March 3, 1979, two days after Director Marsh assumed his duties, then Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo was a featured speaker at the Center's second seminar on Real Property Assessment and Taxation, attended by over 250 people. Lieutenant Governor Cuomo's speech "sparked a lively exchange between the Lieutenant Governor and local officials present."

Toward the end of its first year, the Center, in addition to holding additional conferences and seminars, received a small grant from the Sloan Foundation to advance its continually developing goal of exposing students to government and to public service. The grant was intended to fund activities related to establishing a program of seminars, research, and related activities in the field of government law. The program was run by Meyer Sandy Frucher, Director of the State Office of Employee Relations. During the spring of 1979, the Center again requested Department of State IPA funds to continue and grow the Center, which was subsequently approved.

While continuing with and expanding its internship, government official training, and conference and seminar activities in its second year, in February of 1980 the Center entered into its first contract to provide legal work to a state agency. The Center contracted with the State Department of Environmental Conservation to undertake work related to the Governor's Hazardous Waste Disposal Advisory Committee, which was seeking assistance in determining the ability of the State to control hazardous wastes for a variety of purposes. Using three students as interns on the project, Director Marsh and Professors Stevenson and Harvith were involved in the project. The project resulted in a 162-page report entitled, "Selected Legal Problems in the Control of Hazardous Wastes," an edited version of which was published in the Albany Law Review in the Spring of 1981.

In addition to legal research projects, the Center entered into contracts with state agencies-including the Department of Social Services and the Adirondack Park Agency-- to produce reports or undertake trainings. The APA contract involved providing training specifically for employees and included writing a local land use training manual. The Center also worked over the next few years with the New York Department of State, the Department of Health, and other state agencies. In addition, reports were issued by Director Marsh to the Department of Health and the State Legislature.

In the fall of 1981, the Center started a program under Director Marsh's direction to bring state and local officials, judges and attorneys to the Law School to speak about important legal and policy issues affecting state and local government, and to discuss government career opportunities. The Center continued its involvement in the land use arena by undertaking a research project concerned with zoning and planning enabling statutes. The process of government and government administration was also a concern in 1981 and 1982, as the Center conducted projects in the area of economic development and local governments, financing local government, intergovernmental cooperation, and liability of municipalities and municipal officials.

A 1982 symposium sponsored by the Center on New York's environmental quality review act was published in the Albany Law Review in 1982. In addition, a report to the State Department of Environmental Conservation on Hazardous Waste Management Tax Incentive Project, on which Director Marsh and Professor Harold Dubroff both worked, included a draft bill proposing the elimination of tax incentives that encouraged inappropriate techniques of hazardous waste management. The bill was forwarded to the Governor for possible introduction, and generated considerable interest and discussion among legislators and gubernatorial candidates.

The Center applied for and was granted additional IPA funds through September 1, 1982, with two extensions given through March 31, 1982. Director Marsh left the Center in July of 1983 to become the Executive Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Conservation under Commissioner Henry Williams, and held that position under Williams' successor, Commissioner Thomas Jorling. In February of 1994, he was appointed Commissioner of Environmental Conservation by then-Governor Cuomo, and served as Commissioner until Governor Pataki was elected and took office in 1995. He then took the position of Commissioner of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

For a brief time following Director Marsh's resignation in 1983, Joseph Bellacosa served as the Center's Director. He was subsequently appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo to the Court of Claims in 1985, and served as Judge of the Court of Claims and Chief Administrative Judge of all State Courts from 1985 -1987. He was then appointed to a fourteen-year term on New York's Court of Appeals in 1987.

Following Judge Bellacosa's resignation in 1983, Professor Sandra Stevenson was once again appointed the Director of the Center, a position she had held in the first months of the Center's existence.


Following her appointment as Associate Dean and Director of the Government Law Center in 1983, Dean Stevenson began to work with her staff on the development and administration of a number of new projects. One major initiative was the Saratoga Conferences, named for the Capital Region location in which they were held. The conferences, which focused on current issues in intellectual property law, drew large audiences from all over the United States, and put the Center onto its path of developing national conferences in areas of importance to government and private policy makers.

These conferences, aptly named the Albany Law School Annual Conference on Intellectual Property, further developed the idea present since Associate Dean Stevenson worked to create the GLC: that the Law School and its projects should not work in a vacuum. The Saratoga Conferences were co-sponsored by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an engineering school across the Hudson River from Albany in Troy, New York. This regional, inter-disciplinary approach to conferences, programs, and research remains to this day as one of the hallmarks of the Government Law Center philosophy.

During this time, the GLC also began its foray into the discipline of alternative dispute resolution. Working with the Albany Center for Dispute Resolution, the GLC sponsored a training program in community dispute resolution for Albany Law School students, bringing in nationally known speakers in the field, such as Bo Foster from Duke University. Tying ADR to intellectual property, the Center was successful in earning a grant from the National Institute for Dispute Resolution in 1984 to study the use of ADR in emerging high-technology fields.

The Center also continued to build upon its work in the area of environmental law, undertaking a study on household hazardous waste in 1988 led by Professor Bernard Harvith. Community service activities were also undertaken in the form of a play, entitled, "The Road to Justice," which was written and performed by Albany Law School students at area schools. A grant from the Law, Youth and Citizenship Program helped to purchase costumes and produce materials for the play's audiences.


In 1990, Professor Stevenson returned full-time to teaching at Albany Law School, and Dean Martin Belsky appointed Professor George Carpinello to succeed her as Director. In 1990, the GLC became more involved with municipal law issues, working on a number of projects, including: a national study on the restructuring of local governments and an in-depth study of the use of impact fees in New York. It also developed a number of training programs for municipal officials on ethics and land use planning and zoning.

The GLC also continued to offer conferences and seminars of interest to the public, private and non-profit sectors. These included: a series of training programs for administrative law judges across the state, a conference on the use of economically targeted investments for public pension funds, a statewide conference on municipal liability, and an invitational program on land use reform. In addition, through the efforts of former GLC Director Stevenson, Albany Law School was named the official repository for tapes of oral arguments before the New York Court of Appeals, a program that continues to this day.

The Government Law Center also began a multi-year conference series on the Public Trust Doctrine, a topic that the GLC periodically "revisits," most recently in an invitational roundtable discussion held at the end of 2002. Additional continuing projects initiated during this time period include: The Warren M. Anderson Legislative Breakfast Seminars series, programs that take place during the legislative session on topics of interest to legislators and other policymakers; GLC publication of the substantive newsletter of the County Attorneys' Association of the State of New York; the legal careers series, featuring career programs for students--co-sponsored by Career Planning--and the Center's "Legal Careers in New York State Government" publication, and an internship program that placed students in the counsel's office at various state agencies to provide them with practical experience in and exposure to public service.

In 1992, Director George Carpinello took a sabbatical from the Law School and resigned from the position of Associate Dean and Director of the Center. Assistant Director Patricia Salkin was appointed Acting Director and then subsequently Director by Dean John Baker. During this time the GLC received a grant from the State Justice Institute to produce a documentary on the New York Court of Appeals. This documentary, entitled, "Enright versus Eli Lilly: A Look at the New York Court of Appeals," was completed in 1993, and included video excerpts from the oral arguments in front of the Court from the Law School's archives.

Additional projects during this period included research on county charter reform, and conferences on the anniversary of the Taylor Law and cameras in the courtroom.


Once appointed to the position of Director in late 1992, Patricia Salkin continued to steer the Center toward its goals of assisting government in the resolution of specific problems. In addition to continuing to grow the Center's state and local government programs, the GLC initiated a number of new programs, including the Aging Law and Policy Program and the Public Policy Dispute Resolution Program, each headed by a new staff member hired to coordinate the programs. The year 1993 marked the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Government Law Center which was celebrated with a gala dinner honoring the past Directors of the Center.

Due to the generosity of Albany Law School Alumnus Marty Silverman, the GLC began the Edgar A. Sandman Fellowship program. This program provided up to two second-year students with a scholarship to facilitate the year-long investigation of a specific legal topic. The first year's Fellows researched issues relating to aging law and policy, specifically focusing on the power of attorney. The first report from the Fellowship resulted in legislation and new laws in New York and elsewhere, and continues to generate interest to this day. Subsequent Fellows investigated prison reform, health care, and other aging law related topics. Building on the Fellowship's success in the aging law arena, the Center created the Aging Law and Policy Program in 1994.

One program that has gained increasing popularity and attention is the GLC's Senior Citizens' Law Day program, celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2003. This program brings local attorneys and experts to the Law School for a day of sales-free seminars provided for seniors and individuals interested in aging issues. The program is conducted free-of-charge, and brings several hundred seniors and family members to the Law School in the fall to learn about aging law issues such as powers of attorney, guardianship, and wills and trusts. The program is conducted with generous support from the community and local businesses.

In 1994, the GLC applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education to create the "Mediation Assistance Program." The grant, which provided for the addition of a GLC staff member to coordinate the program, provided law students and non-law students from the Capital Region with state-certified mediation training and subsequent certification as volunteer mediators for the State's Community Dispute Settlement program. Working with GLC staff and other experts, the program was subsequently expanded to encompass issues of public dispute resolution, including providing mediation and dispute resolution services and training to state government and private entities.

In 1996, the GLC initiated the Edwin L. Crawford Memorial Lecture on Municipal Law, in memory of the former New York State Association of Counties Executive Director. This program brings nationally known speakers to Albany Law School to speak on issues of statewide and national importance to municipal officials. The Honorable H. Carl McCall was the inaugural speaker. Previous Crawford Lecture speakers have included: former NYS Budget Director Patricia Woodworth; Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. of the City of Rochester; Dwight H. Merriam, Esq., of Robinson & Cole, LLP; Dan R. Bucks, Executive Director of the Multistate Tax Commission; Professor Jerold S. Kayden of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design; and Professor Robert H. Freilich of the UMKC School of Law in Kansas City, Missouri. Professor David Callies of the University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law is slated to deliver the Crawford Lecture in 2003. Transcripts and audio files of select Lectures are made available to the public free-of-charge on the GLC's website.

Programs that took place during the past five years include a continuation of the Public Trust Doctrine series, the Warren M. Anderson Legislative Breakfast Program, two major programs on Public Policy Dispute Resolution, continued programs on land use and zoning, a conference on Municipal Liability which featured a keynote address by retired Court of Appeals Associate Justice Stewart F. Hancock, Jr., and various programs in aging law and policy. The Center also conducted a number of training sessions for public employees and the public, including a session training lawyers and non-lawyers to be court evaluators in New York State Courts.

The GLC also initiated a GLC prize for Albany Law School graduates during this period. It has been awarded each year since 1994 to Albany Law School graduates who participated in GLC programs and activities and who demonstrated a commitment to law and public policy with a potential for distinction in these areas.


Many exciting changes occurred at the GLC during the past five years, including a move to a spacious suite of offices in Albany Law School's new 2000 Building, a historical partnership with the City of Albany's police oversight board, and the initiation of a first-of-its-kind Racing and Wagering Law Program.

During 1998, the GLC's first membership initiative, the Government Law Network, was established as a way for people working in government to stay informed, meet top officials, and provide input on future directions of the Center. NYS Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno was the featured speaker at the National Alumni Council's NYC kickoff of the GLC's 20 th Anniversary, and Hon. James P. King ‘59 was the special guest at a reception for ALS alumni in government. Throughout the year, students came to hear Hon. Warren M. Anderson ‘40, Barbara Cottrell ‘84, Hon. Richard Dollinger ‘80, June Eustis ‘91, Hon. Gregory Serio, ‘86, and Hon. Thomas A. Whalen ‘59 speak about their careers in the inaugural Alumni Leaders in Government Networking Series.

The GLC received a second U.S. Department of Education grant to replicate its successful mediation and service learning program at three other law schools, expanding upon the strong foundation it had established in the field of alternate dispute resolution.

Land use issues were at the top of the GLC's agenda in 1999. Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. of the City of Rochester presented an inspiring Crawford Lecture on the cost of sprawl for New York State. Albany was the first stop in a series of programs to educate top lawmakers on the political realities of smart growth developed in collaboration with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. The GLC was instrumental in presenting New York State's inaugural "smart growth" conference chaired by the Secretary of State.

The Center joined with the ALS Clinical Legal Studies program to expand hands on learning opportunities by establishing a pilot Semester in Government program during the spring 1999 semester. For the first time, ALS and CUNY Law School students were able to gain more extensive experience by working 30 hours per week in agency offices of counsel in Albany. (The program has since been expanded to provide placements in Washington, D.C.) The Center launched a new initiative providing technical assistance to local governments. Work began on a new publication- The Government Law & Policy Journal-produced by the GLC for the NYS Bar Association' Committee on Attorneys in Public Service.

In the wake of the Columbine tragedies, The 2000 Anderson Series opened with a presentation by Lieutenant Governor Mary O. Donohue ‘83 on violence in our schools. Later that year, Hon. Warren M. Anderson ‘83 was the recipient of ALS's Distinguished Alumni in Government Award. The GLC continued its commitment to providing forums for discussion of timely issues by hosting a successful symposium on the topic of siting new power plants in New York. The first Government Law Networking Breakfast took place, featuring then-comptroller H. Carl McCall, as membership in the Network grew to more than 200 people.

The year 2000 was notable for its innovative collaborative efforts. The GLC was asked to provide services for the City of Albany's newly- created Citizens' Police Review Board, established by the only law of its type that calls upon an academic institution to play a role in the oversight process. The GLC welcomed the NYS Law Revision Commission to Albany Law School. Building upon its relationship with the County Attorneys' Association of the State of New York, the GLC launched the group's new website and administered their annual conference. Administrative Law Judges from around the country came to Albany for the annual conference of the National Association of Administrative Law Judges coordinated by the GLC. The GLC and the State of New York Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration collaborated on the publication of a guide on how to conduct Senior Citizens' Law Days.

The GLC began 2001 with "room to grow" as it moved to a new location in the University Heights Association property adjacent to Albany Law School. Shortly thereafter, it announced the establishment of the Racing and Wagering Law Program and hosted the first Institute on the topic in Saratoga Springs to rave reviews.

An historic, two-day conference marking the 25 th anniversary of the State Environmental Quality Review Act received accolades. The GLC received a grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development to broaden its mediation services to housing communities in the tri-county area. A GLC-sponsored talk by ALS Professor Stephen Gottlieb, author of a successful book on the Rehnquist Court, was broadcast on national public service channel C-SPAN 2.

Based on its growing expertise in police oversight issues, the GLC was hired to facilitate meetings of the City of Schenectady's Police Review Task Force as they developed new recommendations for handling civilian complaints. On the national front, the GLC sponsored a special presentation by Hon. Thomas J. Vilsack ‘75, Governor of Iowa. The GLC broadened its focus to international affairs by sponsoring a talk by an official from Tula, Russia, providing research opportunities for a Tula student studying at ALS, and hosting a Fulbright Scholar from Italy.

In fall 2002, Hon. James P. King ‘59 was named the Law School's first Government Lawyer in Residence, through a program developed by the GLC to provide students with an opportunity to learn from distinguished government officials about their diverse public sector experiences.

The GLC held major forums on a variety of issues: environment, land use, agricultural law, U.S. Supreme Court rulings impacting local governments, power plant siting, and public employee retirement. Hon. Stewart F. Hancock, Jr., retired judge of the NY Court of Appeals, and Robert H. Freilich, Professor Emeritus of the UMKC School of Law in Kansas City, were just two of the featured speakers. The former NYC budget Director for the Giuliani Administration discussed the impact of 9/11 on the economy at the opening program of the Anderson Series.

The GLC undertook a significant research project for the American Bar Association to examine driving under the influence statutes throughout the country. A final report was submitted to the American Institute of Certified Planners assessing their Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The GLC began writing monthly columns for the Empire State Report to provide information to law and policy makers on issues under current exploration at the GLC.

More than 30 free workshops were held at ALS to educate older adults in the community at Senior Citizens' Law Day in 2002. Building on the success of this popular annual event, the GLC and the Clinical Legal Studies, Civil Rights and Disabilities Law Project joined together in 2002 and presented the first ever Disability Law Day to provide information to persons with disabilities, family members, and advocates. The inaugural program featured inspirational welcoming remarks by Member of the Assembly Kevin Cahill ‘80, Chair of the Legislative Task Force on People with Disabilities, and Assistant Commissioner Brian MacLane of the NYS Department of Education, Vocational and Educational Services for Persons with Disabilities (VESID).

As a leading institution in the field of government, ALS began offering a new LL.M. degree in Government Administration and Regulation to provide students with enhanced opportunities to study the challenges of government law. Continuing to meet its goal of teaching "the next generation" about government law and public policy, the GLC hosted its first visiting student from University College, Cork, Ireland.

The Government Law Center—Current Program and Project Areas

The Government Law Center focuses its efforts within its mission of both exposing students to government and the process of public policy, and to assisting government at all levels in the resolution of specific problems. This has translated into various programs and focuses that have developed as the need and interest has arisen on the part of the student body and our public servants, and as the interest of GLC staff members has been drawn to new, innovative areas ripe for discourse and discussion. The current formalized programs within the Center are the: Aging Law and Policy Program, Public Policy Dispute Resolution Program, and Racing and Gaming Law Program. Each of these areas of focus provides a rich array of non-partisan forums, research on critical topics, and opportunities for students.

In addition, the GLC continues to lead the way in the law and policy domains of land use, environment, municipal, administrative/regulatory, government ethics, intergovernmental relations, and citizen oversight of police enforcement. As new law and policy challenges come to the forefront over the coming years, the Center remains committed to addressing these issues in fulfillment of its mission.​​​