Law Students of the Year: Kayla Santosuosso New York Law School

Kayla Santosuosso is a rising political star by day and a law student by night.

Before attending New York Law School, Santosuosso was deputy director of a social service agency for Arab immigrants, the Arab American Association of New York. (She has a B.A. from New York University in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and speaks Arabic.)

There, she built the association’s first-ever immigration legal department, an experience that drove home the value of a law degree in pursuing social justice. Santosuosso also co-founded a nonprofit to empower underrepresented voters in Brooklyn. She’s been quoted extensively in local and national press and has presented at numerous political and public policy events.

It was at one such event in November 2016 — “The Presidential Election and the Muslim Community” — that she first visited NYLS to serve as a panelist on behalf of the Arab American Association of New York. The visit started a conversation that led to her 2017 enrollment.

Currently, Santosuosso is deputy chief of staff to  New York City Council Member Justin Brannan in Brooklyn, where she lives. In that role, she researches and proposes new legislation, oversees communications projects, and fields numerous requests from Brooklyn constituents. She then hops a train to Manhattan to attend law classes.

Santosuosso came to NYLS intent on developing a career at the intersection of politics, social justice, and government. “I can’t think of another law school in New York that has such a focus on and deep ties to New York City government,” she says.

She affiliated with NYLS’s Center for New York City Law, an academic center that maintains close connections to state and local government. She’s also received advice from NYLS Dean Anthony W. Crowell, one of her faculty mentors, whose public service career includes more than a decade as counselor to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Santosuosso just completed Dean Crowell’s course on State and Local Government Law.

Through NYLS’s Trial Competition Team, Santosuosso has sharpened her advocacy skills. Those skills came in handy when she spent a recent semester interning at the New York City Law Department, working on high-exposure lawsuits against the city. As a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council at NYLS, Santosuosso applies her strategic and policymaking skills to School governance issues.

Midway through her 3L year, Santosuosso shows no signs of slowing down. Most recently, she was selected as a national delegate candidate for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign.