Professor of Law Emeritus Richard Allan, Beloved Teacher and Mentor, Dies at 92


Richard Allan photo

Professor of Law Emeritus Richard Allan taught at Brooklyn Law School for more than 40 years.  


Professor of Law Emeritus Richard Allan, who taught Entertainment Law, Civil Procedure, and Family Law at Brooklyn Law School for more than 40 years, died of natural causes on Jan. 2. He was 92. 

Beloved by generations of Brooklyn Law School students as a teacher and mentor, Allan was a full-time professor at the Law School for more than 40 years, joining in 1973 after more than a decade of practicing law in New York City. He was a devoted teacher and family man, and his students came to know his two children (Sabrina and David) whom he'd routinely reference in classes and on final exams. He remained a Professor Emeritus after his retirement in 2013.

Allan’s move to academia came because he decided to spend more time with his family, rather than continue working long hours at a law firm, according to an article on his retirement that appeared in Spring 2013 edition of Brooklyn Law Notes. Allan was in discussions to make partner at Kelley Drye & Warren, the law firm where he was working, but began questioning the move after his own father died of a heart attack just two days after discussing his retirement. 

“Coming to Brooklyn Law School was the wisest, best decision of my life,” Allan said at the time. “It has been an enormous privilege to work here.” 

In addition to teaching, Allan concentrated much of his scholarship on the law of international terrorism and security. He chaired and co-chaired conferences and presented papers extensively throughout Europe and the United States on a wide range of topics related to international terrorism, violence, and civil rights. He served for more than 20 years as first a scholar-in-residence and then a senior adviser to the EastWest Institute, a New York-based think tank with a mission of advancing global peace and security through open dialogue and inquiry, with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Allan was also on the editorial board of Crime & Justice International. Until recently, he maintained a website that published on issues related to terrorism, and for nearly two decades was a go-to voice on the subject in media.   

Born in Brooklyn, Allan was a fiercely proud native New Yorker who graduated from Midwood High School in Brooklyn and received both his undergraduate and law degrees from New York University (NYU), in 1953 and 1962, respectively.  

He loved the city, its institutions, and the diversity of its people and their varied opinions. A lifelong learner, he relished new challenges and a good debate.

Allan’s entry into the law began after an earlier stint in arts and entertainment. While at NYU, he starred in the off-Broadway play, “Home of the Brave,” and after graduation, he went on to work at CBS as an assistant producer and director on programs such as The Edge of Night and The Garry Moore Show. The upper management at the network urged him to get a law degree so that he could come back as an executive producer. Allan indeed enrolled at New York University Law School, but after graduation, he went to work as an Assistant District Attorney under longtime Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan and specialized in investigating white collar crime.  

Allan then joined the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren, where he was a general commercial litigator, assigned to many of the firm's significant matters for clients including Union Carbide, Chrysler, Manufacturers Hanover Trust (now Chase), and the Jesuits in a seminal First Amendment case that defined the use of the word “religious” in the state of New York.  

Private funeral services with family members took place Friday, Jan. 5. Allan leaves his wife of 64 years, Lee Allan; his children, Sabrina Allan and David Allan; their respective spouses, Douglas Ellenoff and Brooklyn Law alumna Andrea Lewis Allan ’91; and four grandchildren: Nicholas, Scott, Henry, and Lucas.