Nicole Gordon
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Nicole A. Gordon is the Executive Director of the Marshall Project, a not-for-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to covering America’s criminal justice system. She has served for over twenty-five years in government and not-for-profit leadership positions. She was the founding Executive Director of New York City's pioneer Campaign Finance Board, building this reform agency into a nationally and internationally recognized model. At the Board she was responsible for the disbursement of tens of millions of dollars in public funding to candidates for New York City elective offices, enforcement of the New York City Campaign Finance Act, creation of sophisticated databases for public disclosure of campaign finances, distribution of New York City's multi-lingual Voter Guide to millions of households, crafting of legislative initiatives and agency regulations, and evaluation of the impact of the Campaign Finance Program. After serving for 18 years at the Campaign Finance Board, she was the Vice President of the JEHT Foundation, which focused on criminal justice, international justice, elections, and juvenile justice. There she was in charge of all program areas and grants administration, working closely with government officials, academics, not-for-profit institutions, and other foundations to effect change in governmental policy and practice. She later was Chair of New York State's Task Force on Public Safety Accountability, which was created to integrate evidence-based policy and practice in New York's eight public safety (primarily criminal justice) agencies.

Before joining the Campaign Finance Board, Ms. Gordon served as Counsel to the Chairman of the New York State Commission on Government Integrity and as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in New York City's Law Department, handling a wide range of cases including cases involving environmental, education, civil rights, and employment law. She was also a litigator in private practice as an associate at the firm of Debevoise and Plimpton.

She is a past president of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws ("COGEL") and has served on numerous committees of the New York City and New York State Bar Associations.

Ms. Gordon's public service has been recognized with awards from COGEL (including "Special Recognition to the Campaign Finance Board for Extraordinary Service after September 11, 2001"), the Columbia University School of Law, New York State Common Cause, and the New York County Lawyers' Association. She was a Harvard University School of Law Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.

She has taught at the Fordham University School of Law and Cardozo Law School and has written law review and political science articles on subjects relating to law, public policy, and public administration.

Ms. Gordon holds an A. B. degree from Barnard College with Honors in Classical Greek and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was the recipient of the Convers Prize for best original writing on a legal subject. She was a law clerk to the Hon. Harold R. Medina of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Semester Course
Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2109.001 The Legal Context for Policy and Public Management

The law is central to the making of public policy, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. This course looks specifically at how the law in its various forms shapes the administration of government agencies and the work of not-for-profit (and for-profit) entities that provide direct services or that advocate policy. Knowledge of legal frameworks and processes is essential to undertaking these activities effectively.

This course will equip students with an understanding of the multiple sources of law and how those sources are interpreted and applied in the context of public policy and administration. The course will use case studies to demonstrate how those sources of law--and the governmental and non-governmental policy actors who deploy them--operate to support or limit policy and
practice. Students will gain a clear understanding of the law’s role in influencing their work as
decision-makers in the public sector.

Major course themes include: 1) how the law and its interpretation affect, support, and limit
public policy and practice options; 2) conflict between legal precedent and official actions; and
3) how legal frameworks are most successfully navigated from a government or not-for-profit
(or private) vantage point. These issues will be treated from theoretical and practical viewpoints
and will be the basis for developing concrete skills in research, writing, and developing and
evaluating strategy in a legal context.

Each class will cover a general topic area and at least one specific sub-topic as a case study
that will involve consideration of one or more sources of law. Substantive law topics such as
administrative law, employment law, and ethics/lobbying will be integrated into the course
within the context of the above themes. Because topic areas and cases cannot be fully treated in
isolation, the class will revisit several issues and cases throughout the term. Some classes will
feature invited speakers who are or were involved with cases under study.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2013 PADM-GP.2109.001 The Legal Context for Policy and Public Management

The law is central to the making of public policy, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. This course looks specifically at how the law in its various forms shapes the administration of government agencies and the work of not-for-profit (and for-profit) entities that provide direct services or that advocate policy. Knowledge of legal frameworks and processes is essential to undertaking these activities effectively.

This course will equip students with an understanding of the multiple sources of law and how those sources are interpreted and applied in the context of public policy and administration. The course will use case studies to demonstrate how those sources of law--and the governmental and non-governmental policy actors who deploy them--operate to support or limit policy and
practice. Students will gain a clear understanding of the law’s role in influencing their work as
decision-makers in the public sector.

Major course themes include: 1) how the law and its interpretation affect, support, and limit
public policy and practice options; 2) conflict between legal precedent and official actions; and
3) how legal frameworks are most successfully navigated from a government or not-for-profit
(or private) vantage point. These issues will be treated from theoretical and practical viewpoints
and will be the basis for developing concrete skills in research, writing, and developing and
evaluating strategy in a legal context.

Each class will cover a general topic area and at least one specific sub-topic as a case study
that will involve consideration of one or more sources of law. Substantive law topics such as
administrative law, employment law, and ethics/lobbying will be integrated into the course
within the context of the above themes. Because topic areas and cases cannot be fully treated in
isolation, the class will revisit several issues and cases throughout the term. Some classes will
feature invited speakers who are or were involved with cases under study.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2011 PADM-GP.2109.001 The Legal Context for Policy and Public Management

The law is central to the making of public policy, both in the U.S. and in most other countries. This course looks specifically at how the law in its various forms shapes the administration of government agencies and the work of not-for-profit (and for-profit) entities that provide direct services or that advocate policy. Knowledge of legal frameworks and processes is essential to undertaking these activities effectively.

This course will equip students with an understanding of the multiple sources of law and how those sources are interpreted and applied in the context of public policy and administration. The course will use case studies to demonstrate how those sources of law--and the governmental and non-governmental policy actors who deploy them--operate to support or limit policy and
practice. Students will gain a clear understanding of the law’s role in influencing their work as
decision-makers in the public sector.

Major course themes include: 1) how the law and its interpretation affect, support, and limit
public policy and practice options; 2) conflict between legal precedent and official actions; and
3) how legal frameworks are most successfully navigated from a government or not-for-profit
(or private) vantage point. These issues will be treated from theoretical and practical viewpoints
and will be the basis for developing concrete skills in research, writing, and developing and
evaluating strategy in a legal context.

Each class will cover a general topic area and at least one specific sub-topic as a case study
that will involve consideration of one or more sources of law. Substantive law topics such as
administrative law, employment law, and ethics/lobbying will be integrated into the course
within the context of the above themes. Because topic areas and cases cannot be fully treated in
isolation, the class will revisit several issues and cases throughout the term. Some classes will
feature invited speakers who are or were involved with cases under study.


Download Syllabus