Professor Arthur Pinto’s 9th floor office is a sunny rectangular room with striking views of downtown Brooklyn that, quite frankly, resembles a paper factory in a wind tunnel. Reflecting on his retirement after 30 years of teaching at the Law School, Pinto eyes the tornado of paper strewn over the desk and floor and shrugs his shoulders. “This is nothing,” he says. Even the books on the shelves are lying down. “You should have seen it when I was teaching full time.”
Teaching full time is something Arthur Pinto has done since 1975, but in 1984 he finally joined Brooklyn Law School after several false starts. The first time he applied for a teaching position at the Law School in 1975, he was fresh off a three-year stint as an associate in the corporate and bankruptcy groups at Weil Gotshal & Manges, and he was turned down. “They told me I came in second,” he recalled. He took a position teaching at Seton Hall instead. The following year, Brooklyn called him. “They had an opening and wanted me to join the faculty, but I was just starting out at Seton Hall and didn’t want to leave.” Then, in the mid-80s, after he had tenure at Seton Hall, he did a year as a visiting professor at Brooklyn and they made him an offer he could not—and did not— refuse. “That third time, I took the offer and never looked back. I love it here and would not have had it any other way.”
In the decades he taught, Pinto has become one of the most well-respected and deeply engaged members of the faculty. He has taught nearly every business course, including Corporations, Agency and Partnership, Contracts, Corporate Finance, Securities Regulation, Business Planning, and Comparative Business Organizations, as well as seminars in Comparative Corporate Governance, and Mergers & Acquisitions. He also coauthored the book Understanding Corporate Law and coedited the book The Legal Basis of Comparative Corporate Governance in Publicly Held Corporations, and has written extensively in journals on the topic of corporate governance.
But his contributions go far beyond academics and scholarship. Pinto has been instrumental in building the profile of the Law School, helping to put it on the map as a leading institution in the world of international business. He worked on developing the Abraham L. Pomerantz Lecture, the biennial corporate securities lecture that commemorates the life and work of Abraham Pomerantz, a 1924 graduate of the Law School considered by many to have been the “dean of the class action bar.” Along with Professor Roberta Karmel and Gerry McLaughlin, then the associate dean for development, he created and served as a codirector of the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law and its prestigious fellowship program, which has become an important resource for the international business law community. Pinto also founded and directed the Law School’s noteworthy summer programs at the University of Bologna, and the University of International Business and Economics Law School (UIBE) in Beijing.
“Brooklyn Law School won’t be the same without my longtime friend and colleague, Arthur Pinto,” said Stacy Caplow, Associate Dean of Professional Legal Education and Professor of Law. “Ever since our first day in Torts class at NYU Law School we have been soulmates and co-conspirators. He reads balance sheets and Playbills with equal facility, sharing his expertise about both finance and the theatre with students, faculty, and staff. All of us will miss him greatly.”
There is something about students who find their way, and discover their abilities over time and do not give up, that is very inspiring."
Outside the classroom, Pinto has been deeply engaged in the community as a mentor to many of his students, routinely inviting them to join him for brown bag lunches. “Professor Pinto was a very engaged teacher and a highly invested mentor in my, and my fellow students’ professional success,” said Lydia Tomitova ’12 an attorney in the Netherlands with Oikcredit Ecumenical Development. “His commitment to Brooklyn was evident not only in his close work with students, but also in his active work to build up the International Business Law program. Two of his personal qualities stand out vividly in my experience: his curiosity to get to know the person standing across from him, and the equal footing he related in a casual New Yorker way.”
Pinto also served as the faculty advisor to the Brooklyn Law Review for many years and was the long-time faculty advisor to OUTLAWS, the Law School’s student group devoted to LGBTQ advocacy. He has endowed a summer fellowship to fund a student advancing LGBTQ rights. “They do really great work, and I wanted to do something for them that would enable more of the public interest work they do,” he said.
Pinto grew up in Connecticut and was drawn to business from a young age. “I always had an interest in the world of finance,” he said. “I was 12 or 13 years old and I’d wake up and study the financial pages and the stock market. I have no idea why. I can’t say I have had very good investing strategies, but it interests me.”
After graduating from Colgate University with a degree in Political Science he attended NYU Law School and then worked in private practice before joining academia. Now that he has been at it for over 40 years, though, he says it’s time to retire. “I am nearly 70 and I started teaching in 1975,” he said. “It’s been a long time. And I have told everyone who has asked me why I am retiring the same thing: you don’t do this forever. You have to leave to make room for the new blood. I’ve had my time.”
Pinto says one of the most gratifying teaching experiences had been with students who didn’t start out strong but who found their footing along the way. “There were a few students who didn’t do as well they could have in their first year and then blossomed later on,” he said. “There is something about students who find their way, and discover their abilities over time and do not give up, that is very inspiring.”