Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at the NYU School of Law


NYU School of Law

NYU Law is a leader in law and business, global, public interest, and clinical legal education with innovative programs that prepare students to enter the legal job market ready to succeed. With 16 areas of study and over 30 centers, NYU Law consistently ranks in the top for national and international law schools.

Helen Scott

Professor of Law, Founder and Co-Director of the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business at New York University School of Law and the Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship.

Deborah Kay Burand

Associate Professor of Clinical Law at NYU and Co-Director of the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship.


Ashoka is a pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship with operations in 89 countries around the world. They address the world’s most pressing problems and identify and accelerate cutting edge social innovation. Instrumental in the project from Ashoka: Diana Wells, President; Jonathan Ng, Global Legal Director; Sachin Malhan, Executive Partner of Changemakers; and Sarah Voelkl, former Global Partnerships Manager.

Tara Cunningham

Former Executive Director and Director of Strategy at the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and one of 3,000 Ashoka fellows world-wide.

Initial Advisory Board

includes: Honorary Chair Jay Grunin, Tara Cunningham, Jeremy Grunin, Trevor Morrison,Jonathan Ng, Ira Nordlicht, Rachel Robbins, Diana Wells, Faculty Co-Director Deborah Burand, and Faculty Co-Director Helen Scott.


Jay and Linda Grunin met at NYU School of Law in 1966 where they were classmates.  They soon became study partners and by 1969 were married and practicing law together in Toms River, New Jersey. In 2016 they decided the time was right to give back to the school which had shaped both their personal and professional successes.

Jay and Linda, in consultation with their son, Jeremy and Tara Cunningham, suggested more impact could be created if the considerable sums discussed were used in alignment with our mission and in a truly collaborative way.

At Ashoka, Jonathan Ng, Sachin Malhan and Sarah Voelkl quickly realized the opportunity to pair up with NYU School of Law’s Professor Deborah Burand who was just beginning to scratch the surface to address this need for clarity through her over-subscribed International Transaction Clinic.

NYU and Ashoka showed an unrelenting passion for the project, working in the most collaborative and innovative partnership our Foundation has ever had the privilege of witnessing.


In just six short months, a challenge grant from the Foundation was accepted by the now joint enterprise team, comprised of $5 million for the NYU School of Law and $1 million for Ashoka, to create the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at the Law School.  It is the first center of its kind at a law school and is expected to be a trailblazer in social justice and education innovation. The Center is poised to spark a movement that will transform the way law creates positive impact in the world.

The Center will train a new generation of lawyers experienced in the social enterprise field and knowledgeable about the challenges faced by social enterprise. The Center’s work also will reach beyond their current students. It will advance learning and foster the development of a robust community of legal practitioners, in government and private practice, working on issues of law and social entrepreneurship. The Center also will maintain and extend the web-based Social Enterprise Tracker, which allows users to visualize how laws and regulations impacting social entrepreneurship have spread across the United States.


Lawyers play a critical role in designing, implementing, advancing, and defending models by which economic and social activity are conducted globally. The Grunin Center will award an annual prize (Grunin Prize) to recognize the variety and impact of lawyers’ participation in the ways in which business, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, is increasingly advancing the goals of sustainability and human development.  On June 5, 2018, at the annual Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG)/Grunin Center conference at NYU School of Law, the inaugural Grunin Prize was presented. 

Applications came in from all over the world, and it was narrowed down to six remarkable finalists. After an intensive judging process, the Grunin Prize was awarded to Pam Rothenberg, the leader of Womble, Bond, Dickinson’s Impact Business Group and partner in their Washington DC office, and her Impact Investment Group team members. Pam and team created a new investment product called “Performance Aligned Stock.” This innovation has helped Relevée, a socially responsible jewelry business in India, and stands to aid many more impact businesses.

For more information, visit the NYU School of Law web page: Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship. To watch the Grunin Center launch ceremony, click here.

DECEMBER 2018 UPDATE: Global law firm White & Case LLP has expanded its partnership with NYU Law by supporting the Center with a $1,000,000 grant. Read more about this partnership: White & Case Contributes Support to Establish Social Entrepreneurship Fund at NYU Law. And check out pictures from the event: Photos from Grunin Center & White & Case Reception

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