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Charles Halpern

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Charles Halpern

Charles Halpern is a pioneer in the public interest law movement, a successful public interest entrepreneur, an innovator in legal education, a long-time meditation practitioner and advocate, and author of Making Waves and Riding the Currents: Activism and the Practice of Wisdom [1]

He is currently Director of the Berkeley Initiative for Mindfulness in Law Berkeley Law exploring the benefits of meditation to legal education and law practice.

Halpern earned his Bachelor of Arts in American history and literature from Harvard College in 1961 and his Law degree from Yale Law School in 1964.

Education and employment

After finishing law school he clerked for two years with Judge George T. Washington of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Halpern then accepted an associate position with the D.C. law firm

Founding of Center for Law and Social Policy

In 1969, Halpern left Arnold and Porter and co-founded the Yale Law School.


In 1982 Halpern was named the founding dean of the City University of New York (CUNY) Law School at Queens College (City University of New York School of Law), a law school with a public interest mission and an innovative curriculum.[5][6]

President and CEO

Halpern later became the first President and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a $400 million grant-making foundation in New York City, a position he held from 1989-2000.[7] Under his leadership the foundation developed and supported many innovative philanthropic initiatives, including Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers and the dialogues between the Dalai Lama and spiritual leaders of the American Jewish community.[8]

The foundation launched a creative program in the area of contemplative practice, drawing primarily on the rich Buddhist heritage of contemplative understanding that had been introduced to the United States in the 1960s, supporting meditation retreats for environmentalists and social activists. Halpern also created the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society which began to infuse a contemplative dimension into law, journalism, and business. Prior to joining the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Halpern lectured throughout Asia on behalf of the United States Information Agency regarding public interest law and new directions in legal education.

Current occupation

In October 2011, Halpern was appointed by Dean [4] which he has taught for the past four years.

Halpern has practiced meditation for the past 20 years with a variety of teachers. He moved to Berkeley in 2000 with his wife Susan Halpern, author of The Etiquette of Illness. Halpern’s first book, Making Waves and Riding the Currents: Activism and the Practice of Wisdom, which explores using meditation to cultivate inner wisdom and foster mindful social activism, was released January 2008.


External links

  • Quiet Justice
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