The history of New York Law School can be summed up in a
single sentence: A year ago, a seemingly daring venture; today the largest
law school, with one exception, in these United States.
— The Counsellor, The New York Law School Law Journal, 1892
The year was 1891. Leading scholars and practitioners of the day saw the need for a school to teach law in a distinctive style—and in a setting close to New York City’s legal, financial, government, and corporate headquarters. To meet that need, Columbia Law School faculty, alumni, and students, led by their former dean, Theodore Dwight, broke away and established New York Law School, a totally independent institution. It was a bold experiment.
The School was an immediate success, quickly gaining recognition for the excellence of its students and faculty. For more than a century, New York Law School has been an independent law school committed to keeping the doors of the legal profession open to a diverse population of students. From the beginning, the Law School welcomed students of all races and, in 1904, created the Evening Division to give those who need it the opportunity to work and attend classes.
From its auspicious start to the present day, New York Law School has graduated some of this country’s most innovative leaders, who continue to change the world through careers in public service, business, the arts, and other fields.
Some of our most distinguished graduates include:
Judges & Justices
Founders of Prominent Law Firms
Pulitzer Prize Winners
New York Law School’s core values focus our approach to legal education and are reflected in our curriculum, our teaching, the services we provide to our students, and our conduct as an institution of higher learning.
Embrace innovation. A recognition that our times demand the ability to adapt to change and to new situations as they arise and that doing so successfully requires a commitment to lifelong learning. At New York Law School, change is driven by the need to respond to the emerging needs of our society and a commitment to help our students develop real-world skills that will be demanded of lawyers in the years to come.
Foster integrity and professionalism. A commitment to pursue the ongoing improvement of the legal profession by embracing ethics and professionalism as a way of life. Law is probably more explicitly challenged to define questions of professionalism and integrity than any other field, and at New York Law School, we deeply explore how lawyers meet this challenge.
Advance justice for a diverse society. An explicit reminder that law ultimately is about justice, fairness, and morality. At New York Law School, we advance justice by bringing real-life experience to bear on scholarship, teaching students theory, equipping them to change the world for the better, and urging them out into that world to test their skills.
In keeping with our values, New York Law School trains students to become active lawyer-citizens who use their skills and knowledge to enhance the lives of others.
New York Law School has sharpened the focus of its curriculum in the last several years to develop a program called “Learn law. Take action.” This program combines traditional legal theory with a strong dose of applied learning through skills courses and innovative programs, giving students multiple opportunities to work on projects that have a real-world impact.
To further these goals, the Law School has developed a second thematic approach: “The Right Program for Each Student,” which acknowledges and accommodates our students’ differing expectations, ambitions, and levels of ability. The School has developed several individualized programs to meet the needs of each segment of the student body, including:
The John Marshall Harlan Scholars
This rigorous academic honors program is designed for students who have performed at the top of their law school class. It gives students the opportunity to focus their law school studies, gaining depth and substantive expertise beyond a broad understanding of the law. Eligible students are offered scholarship funding, a position on the New York Law School Law Review, and an affiliation with one of the Law School’s nine academic centers.
The Comprehensive Curriculum
The Comprehensive Curriculum Program is a unique program that provides intensive support primarily for students who perform in the bottom quarter of their class after the first year, helping them turn a weak start into a powerful finish. Professors work closely with participating students to help them get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed on the bar exam, in law school, and in the workforce. For more information about the curriculum and participating students, go to www.nyls.edu/ccp.
A Focus on Collaborative Learning
New York Law School offers several project-based learning courses aimed at combining attention to legal theory and practice. These courses challenge students to develop both their legal knowledge and important skills such as project planning and collaboration. Classes are small, and participating students work together with close guidance from a faculty member on projects with concrete, real-world significance.
250+ elective courses in areas such as:
1,860 J.D. and LL.M. students
* Entering class, 2011
New York Law School gives each student a solid foundation in the law—the substantive knowledge and professional skills necessary to represent clients responsibly, effectively, and creatively.
We offer students a wealth of intellectual opportunities to actively engage in the profession through experiences in and out of the classroom. Our curriculum emphasizes broad-based advocacy and skills training and allows students to build course concentrations in numerous areas.
Beginning with the first-year required course called Legal Practice, every student is given the opportunity to apply his or her legal reasoning and analysis skills in the context of a simulated interview of a client, then in an interview of a witness and, finally, in a session in which they counsel a client. They also engage in legal research and writing with extensive, close supervision by their professors. This course is a groundbreaking and innovative way of introducing students to the tasks that lawyers are asked to perform.
Building on the Legal Practice course, students have multiple opportunities in their upper-level studies to gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting:
This foundational training is augmented by a wide array of specialized courses. More than half of a student’s credit hours are devoted to elective courses.
Law students begin their professional lives on the day they enter law school. And at New York Law School, they get the support, guidance, and resources they need to shape their own paths to success.
The Office of Professional Development—which encompasses the Office of Career Services, the Office of Student Life, and the Office of Public Interest and Community Service—helps students develop professional portfolios that link their passions and interests to the job market. Among the programs available are a liaison program linking students to senior administrators and upper-division students; a faculty advising system encouraging faculty-to-student mentoring; and an alumni mentor program that engages hundreds of graduates in career counseling of current students.
Staffed by attorneys and counseling professionals who have held positions in large, midsize, and boutique law firms, government offices, academic institutions, and public interest organizations, the Office of Career Services offers career counseling, job listings, job-hunting skills workshops, networking opportunities, and an extensive library of career resources. Career Services also hosts both a fall and a spring On-Campus Interview Program for employers who wish to recruit students on-site.
Interest and Community Service
The Office of Public Interest and Community Service sponsors a variety of programs and opportunities for students to engage in pro bono activities. The office works closely with several of the Law School’s centers: the Justice Action Center, with its focus on issues of civil rights and liberties and international human rights; the Center for Professional Values and Practice, with its emphasis on professionalism and ethics as well as appropriate methods for effecting dispute resolution; and the Center for New York City Law, with its focus on addressing legal issues in an urban setting. Students who perform at least 40 hours of voluntary service while at the Law School receive a Public Service Certificate, which is noted on their transcripts.
The Office of Student Life strives to make each student’s time at the Law School meaningful and productive by providing support for extracurricular opportunities that enhance a student’s professional development. These include the Student Bar Association (SBA), the Moot Court Association, and more than 30 New York Law School student organizations.
Students also build professional experience through participation in the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides approximately 300 paid jobs to participating New York Law School students every year. These include positions at law firms, district attorneys’ and U.S. attorneys’ offices, public defender firms, public interest law organizations, on-campus offices, and with the School’s nine academic centers.
Statistics at a Glance
New York Law School gathered employment information for 492 of the 515 members of the Class of 2011. Of those seeking employment, 80.3% (400/498) were employed as of February 15, 2012. Thirty-one of the employed graduates were in positions funded by New York Law School, representing 6.0% of the graduates.
Among the 400 employed graduates, 312 were in full-time positions and 78 were in part-time positions. Of the 400 employed graduates, 308 were in long-term positions and 82 were in short-term positions*. Among the other 115 members of the Class of 2011, 6 were seeking a post-graduate degree; 11 were not seeking employment (e.g., starting a family); 75 were seeking employment; and 23 were of unknown employment status. For more detailed employment information, please visit www.nyls.edu/employmentstats.
*Long-term positions last at least one year, and short-term positions are for less than one year.
Representative Employers for the Class of 2011
National and International Law Firms
Metro Area Firms
Business and Industry
Student Organizations at New York Law School
You’ll find abundant opportunities to “learn law and take action” at New York Law School’s nine academic centers. Established by the Law School faculty, these eight centers are hubs of specialized study that enable invaluable exchange between students and expert practitioners.
The Center for Business and Financial Law provides students with an unparalleled, rigorous, and integrated approach to academic study and skills training in all aspects of corporate, commercial, and financial law. Through cutting-edge courses, events, projects, and research, the CBFL brings together academics, practitioners, and students to addess the challenges that animate business and finance.
The C.V. Starr Center for International Law provides students and faculty with in-depth support for instruction in many areas of international law. Founded in 1996 with major funding from The Starr Foundation, the Center maintains close ties with New York City’s business, financial, and legal communities. The Center’s activities include sponsoring the prestigious C.V. Starr Lectures and the Otto L. Walter Lecture Series, which regularly bring world-renowned speakers to the Law School; and producing The International Review, the Center’s award-winning newsletter. An affiliate of the Center is the Institute for Global Law, Justice, & Policy, a collaboration between faculty and students to pursue activities in the areas of global law, justice, and policy.
Established in 1993, the Center for New York City Law is the only program of its kind in the country. Its objectives are to gather and disseminate information about New York City’s laws, rules, and procedures; to sponsor publications, symposia, and conferences on topics related to governing the city; and to suggest reforms to make city government more effective and efficient. The Center produces several publications, including CityLaw, which tracks New York City’s rules and regulations, how they are enforced, and court challenges to them; and CityLand, which reports decisions from the New York City land use agencies.
The Law School’s Center for Professional Values and Practice provides a vehicle through which to examine the role of the legal profession and approaches to law practice. The Center’s work supports the development of lawyering skills and reflective professionalism, including consideration of how these have evolved over the decades, even as business and ethical pressures have intensified and become more complex, and the roles of lawyers in society have multiplied.
The Center for Real Estate Studies provides students with a unique educational opportunity to study both the private practice and public regulation of real estate. Launched in 2007, the Center offers an extensive selection of classroom courses, advanced seminars, and independent study projects, as well as externships in governmental offices and real estate firms. It also sponsors conferences, symposia, and continuing legal education programs on a broad spectrum of issues. The Center aims to bridge the existing gap between the private practice and academic study of real estate, and is one of the premier research centers in the country for the study of real estate. In January 2009, the Center began offering the LL.M. in Real Estate.
The Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families exists to ensure that children and the families who care for them receive the legal assistance they need to remain safe and secure, and to thrive. Founded in 2009, the Center offers a comprehensive curriculum aimed at creating excellent practitioners able to represent children and families in all aspects of family law. The Center approach is holistic and interdisciplinary, recognizing that assisting families requires a basic understanding not merely of law, but also social work, psychology, and other fields. Center members engage in volunteer externships, work with alumni mentors, and complete capstone projects that make concrete contributions to the lives of families in need. The Center not only prepares graduates for successful careers, but also helps give New York’s children and families the support they need.
The Institute for Information Law & Policy is New York Law School’s home for the study of law, technology, and civil liberties. The goal of the Institute is to develop and apply theories of information and communication to analyze law and policy. It also seeks to design new technologies and systems that will best serve democratic values in the digital age. The Institute administers the innovative program that leads to the Certificate of Mastery in Law Practice Technology for students who attain substantial expertise in how technology changes law practice and legal institutions. The Institute also offers a Patent Law Program that helps students develop expertise in patent law and prepare for the patent bar exam.
The Justice Action Center brings together New York Law School faculty and students in an ongoing critical evaluation of public interest lawyering. Through scholarship and fieldwork, the Center seeks to evaluate the efficacy of law as an agent of change and social betterment, particularly in the fields of anti-discrimination law and economic justice, civil liberties, criminal law and death penalty, environmental law, family law, immigration law, labor and employment law, and mental disability law. In addition to availing themselves of a focused curriculum, symposia, and research opportunities, participating students can gain direct exposure to the field of cause lawyering through externships, clinics, and workshops.
You should expect outstanding intellectual leadership and scholarship from a law school faculty. At New York Law School, you’ll enjoy something more: a dynamic group of nationally renowned scholars with extensive professional and public policy accomplishments.
Most faculty members have had significant prior experience in legal practice: as public defenders, corporate lawyers, jurists, government officials, and advocates for the public interest. They have collectively authored more than 100 books and hundreds of articles in prominent scholarly law reviews and journals.
Through their scholarship, research, and advocacy, they are engaged in some of society’s most pressing concerns—developing programs on economic literacy, advocating for civil liberties, testifying before congressional committees, and advancing constitutional democracy around the world.
Above all, our faculty members are committed to students’ success. They collaborate with students on real-world projects, engage them in intellectual discussions, provide guidance on professional development goals, and serve as advisors to student-run publications and organizations. They are dedicated to creating ever-expanding opportunities for New York Law School students to make a difference in the world long before graduation.
Click here to see a list of our faculty and to read their profiles.