Alissa Bernstein is the Director of the Center for Public Service Law at Cardozo Law School. Alissa counsels Cardozo students and alumni pursuing public sector careers and engages the Cardozo community in public service law programming, events, and pro bono opportunities.
Prior to joining Cardozo, Alissa led the education nonprofit Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ), which seeks to improve the quality of public schools through impact litigation. In 2015, she joined PEJ as the organization's Senior Legal Counsel, and then was promoted and served as the organization's Executive Director. Previously, she was an associate at a boutique law firm, where she had a broad range of litigation experience in state, federal and appellate courts. Her areas of practice were civil rights and criminal defense litigation, including significant indigent defense representation in matters assigned from the Criminal Justice Act Panel and the New York County 18-B Assigned Counsel Plan. She represented clients in a number of complex and noteworthy cases, including one of the plaintiffs in the Central Park Five civil rights litigation, where a landmark $41 million aggregate settlement was achieved for the wrongfully convicted Central Park Five. In recognition of her work in the Central Park Five case, she was selected as a finalist for the Public Justice 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, which is presented to attorneys who made the most outstanding contribution to the public interest through precedent-setting litigation.
Alissa graduated from Cornell University, with a B.S. in Communication and a concentration in Spanish. She went on to graduate from the University of Miami School of Law, where she was an Intern and Fellow for the Children and Youth Law Clinic (CYLC). Her work at CYLC focused on providing holistic legal advocacy services to foster care children, and she was awarded the Henry Bandier Fellowship and Dean's Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Academic Performance for her work.