The College of Staten Island established its Legal Studies Institute (LSI) in 2014. The LSI is housed within the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs and the Department of Philosophy. At the College of Staten Island, we view interdisciplinary legal studies as a vital part of a rich and demanding liberal arts education. Accordingly, the mission of the LSI is to offer our students a robust and varied set opportunities in law and related fields, and to enhance the intellectual environment of the college as a whole. At the core of the LSI is a new academic program of study, a sixteen-credit minor in Legal Studies. In addition to enhancing the College’s curricular offerings, our mission also includes:

  • Providing excellent pre-law advising and career counseling services to all College of Staten Island students and alums.
  • Sponsoring an annual lecture in law, philosophy, and public policy, as well as occasional colloquia and lecture series.
  • Conducting many workshops each year for students interested in law school and legal careers; and
  • Coordinating legal internship placements for our students.

The Legal Studies Minor

Students opting to minor in Legal Studies have access to introductory and upper level courses in law and philosophy, American constitutionalism, law and society, criminal law and procedure, and law and public policy.

Minor Requirements: 16 credits

POL 222: The American Legal System4 credits
PHL 331/POL 330: Legal Philosophy4 credits


One course in Legal Philosophy and American Constitutionalism chosen from among the following:

PHL 336: Advanced Topics in Legal Philosophy4 credits
POL 336: American Constitutional Law4 credits
POL 338: Civil Rights and Liberties4 credits


One course in Law, Courts, and Public Policy chosen from among the following:

POL 223: Public Administration4 credits
POL 233/34: CUNY Internship Program in Government and Politics4 credits
POL 237: Criminal Courts and Defendant’s Rights4 credits
POL 238: Criminal Law and Procedure4 credits
ECO 331/POL 331:Law and Economics4 credits
POL 320: The Judiciary in Politics4 credits
POL 321:  Race, Law and Public Policy in the Contemporary United States4 credits
POL 323:  Public Policy Analysis4 credits

Students in any major may minor in Legal Studies.  For more information, point your browser to

Pre-Law Advising and Career Counseling

The LSI offers pre-law advisement and career counseling services to all interested College of Staten Island students and graduates.  Professor Michael Paris is the Pre-Law Advisor for the College.  His office is located in Building 2N, Room 226.  He can be reached at (718) 982-3011, or at

Annual Lecture in Law, Philosophy, and Public Policy

In conjunction with the Provost and the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, the LSI sponsors an annual lecture that brings a prominent legal scholar or practitioner to our campus each year. In 2014, Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein delivered our Inaugural Lecture.

Pre-Law Workshops

The LSI sponsors four workshops or panel discussions each year about the law school admissions process and career options in law and related fields. We host specialists in LSAT preparation, deans of admission at area law schools, and attorneys practicing in various practice fields, all for the purpose of providing students with access to the practical knowledge and networking opportunities they need to succeed in law school and the profession beyond.

Internships in Legal Settings

The LSI sponsors and coordinates student internships in law. Students receive college credit for legal internships in a variety of practice settings, including the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office, Legal Aid’s Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation Divisions, and small firm practice.


For up-to-date information about the LSI and its ongoing activities, as well as useful information for students interested in a career in the law, point your browser to:

Participating Faculty and Staff

Professor Mark D. White
Chair, Department of Philosophy
Ph.D., University of Cincinnati
Professor White has been a member of the CSI faculty since 1998 and teaches courses in philosophy, economics, and law. He has authored over 40 journal articles and book chapters in the intersections between these fields as well as four books, including The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism (Palgrave, 2013) and Kantian Ethics and Economics: Autonomy, Dignity, and Character (Stanford, 2011). He has also edited a number of volumes, including Law and Social Economics (Palgrave, 2015), Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Policy (Oxford, 2011) and Theoretical Foundations of Law and Economics (Cambridge, 2009). Professor White received the 2009 Dolphin Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty.

Professor Michael Paris
Department of Political Science and Global Affairs
Ph.D., Brandeis University
J.D., Columbia University School of Law
Professor Paris has been on the faculty since 2007 and teaches courses in constitutional law, civil liberties, and law and public policy. Professor Paris is the author of Framing Equal Opportunity: Law and the Politics of School Finance Reform (Stanford University Press, 2010), which received an honorable mention for the 2011 C. Herman Pritchett Award, given annually by the American Political Science Association’s Law and Courts Section for the best book in the field published by a political scientist during the previous year. Paris’s other publications include “Racial Liberalism and School Desegregation Jurisprudence: Notes Toward a Usable Past,” in Anne R. Oakes, Ed., Controversies in Equal Protection (forthcoming, Ashgate Publishers, 2015), and “The Politics of Rights: Then and Now,” Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 31, Issue 4, Fall 2006, 999-1034. Professor Paris received the 2011 Dolphin Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty. He serves as the Pre-Law Advisor and Coordinator of the Legal Studies Institute.

Professor Richard Flanagan
Chair, Department of Political Science and Global Affairs
Ph.D., Rutgers University
Professor Flanagan has been a member of the CSI faculty since 1998 and teaches courses in American politics, public policy, administrative law, and urban studies. Professor Flanagan has supervised over 300 students in his role as faculty liaison to CUNY’s Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government and Public Affairs. He received the College’s 2009 Dolphin Award for Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty, and its 2013 Dolphin Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty. Professor Flanagan is the author of Mayors and the Challenge of Urban Leadership (University Press, 2004), Staten Island: Conservative Bastion in a Liberal City [with Dan Kramer] (University Press, 2012) and Robert Wagner and the Rise of New York City’s Plebiscitary Mayoralty: The Tamer of Tammany Hall (forthcoming). His next book, The Fight for City Hall: The 2013 Mayoral Election and the Future of New York City,” chronicles the state of the city at the end of the Bloomberg era.

Adjunct Professor Adam Silberlight
Assistant District Attorney, Staten Island
J.D., Albany Law School
B.A., College of Staten Island
Professor Silberlight has taught courses in criminal law and procedure, constitutional law and legal studies at the College of Staten Island since 2008. He also provides counseling and mentoring services to students. He has served as an Assistant District Attorney in Richmond County since 2001. He has also taught as an adjunct at New York Law School, where he instructed for the Richmond County Criminal Prosecution Clinic from 2011-2013. Professor Silberlight’s publications include “Though Shall Not Overlook Context: A Look at the Ten Commandments Under the Establishment Clause”, 18 Widener L.J. 113 (2008), and “Preventing the Inevitable and Avoiding the Protected: The Potential Use of the Inevitable Discovery Theory in Relation to Non-Privileged Blood Samples for Use in Drinking and Driving Related Prosecutions,” 19 St. John’s J. Legal Comment. 507 (2005).

Erica L.S. Sbordone
College Assistant
College Council/Faculty Senate/Department of Philosophy
B.A., St. Johns University
Erica L.S. Sbordone has been a College Assistant for the last 2 years. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at the College of Staten Island.

Contact Us

The Legal Studies Institute
c/o Professor Michael Paris
The College of Staten Island
Department of Political Science and Global Affairs
Building 2N, Room 224
2800 Victory Blvd
Staten Island, NY  10314
(718) 982-3011, or (718) 982-2900