About the Center
Established in 2019, the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden (Stein Public Interest Center) is dedicated to a broad range of public interest impact litigation and appellate advocacy that advances social, racial, and economic justice; protects civil liberties and constitutional rights; and promotes an open and transparent government.
The Stein Public Interest Center is named after retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein in recognition of his distinguished career of dedicated public service and contributions to the legal profession. During his remarkable 17-year tenure on the New Jersey Supreme Court, Justice Stein helped shape the law for generations to come. In honor of his legacy, the Stein Public Interest Center is dedicated to advocating for the rights and liberties of all individuals.
The establishment of the Stein Public Interest Center reflects the firm’s long-standing commitment to lean in and to leave an imprint on the public issues of our time. Throughout the firm’s history, attorneys at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden have participated in this region’s most significant public interest lawsuits and landmark appellate court cases, remaining at the forefront of issues such as government transparency, free speech, voting rights, and the integration of the state’s public schools.
Under the leadership of Director CJ Griffin, the Center partners with local, regional, and national organizations to promote and advance justice. Since the Center’s launch in 2019, Pashman Stein Walder Hayden attorneys have participated in more than 50 cases that have resulted in published opinions by the New Jersey Appellate Division and New Jersey Supreme Court. These cases involved public access to police internal affairs reports, violations of Miranda warnings, the rights of medical cannabis users to receive workplace accommodations and to have their medication covered by workers’ compensation programs, the standards to obtain a sexual assault protection order, and racial discrimination in the jury selection process.
Pashman Stein Walder Hayden received the 2020 Pro Bono Law Firm Award from the New Jersey State Bar Association. The firm has also received the New Jersey Law Journal’s Law Firm of the Year Award in 2023, as well as its Appellate Department of the Year award for five years in a row, in part because of the significant public interest appellate work performed through the Center.
Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center Fellowship
The Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center Fellowship was established in 2023. Claude Heffron, the inaugural Fellow, joined the center in Fall 2023.
The Fellowship, which has a two-year term, offers attorneys a unique opportunity to work on public interest impact litigation and appellate advocacy within a law firm setting. The Fellow participates as a full member of the legal team with significant responsibility, including drafting complaints and other pleadings, writing amicus curiae briefs, and arguing before New Jersey state and federal trial and appellate courts. A substantial portion of the Fellow’s legal docket is devoted to pro bono amicus curiae work on criminal justice cases pending in the New Jersey Supreme Court, as well as fee-shifting work relating to police transparency, open government, and civil rights.
The Fellow works closely alongside the Center’s Director to promote and supervise the pro bono work of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden. The Fellow also has input into the work that the Center chooses to undertake, as well as the Center’s future vision. In that regard, the Fellow helps to expand the Center’s amicus curiae work to other jurisdictions and to issue research publications based on topics relating to police transparency and accountability. By participating in a variety of coalitions, the Fellow has the opportunity to develop working relationships with public interest lawyers, advocates, and organizations.