NYU Law Magazine 2013

Page 22

full speed ahead By Michael Orey

W W W. L A W. N Y U. E D U



n early 2011 the legal profession, like much of the rest of the business world, was still shaking off lingering effects of the economic crisis. Hiring was coming back, but only gradually, and among the leadership of the Law School there was concern that the forces affecting major legal employers were secular, not just cyclical. So Law School board chair Anthony Welters ’77 formed a strategy committee to assess whether NYU Law was doing all it could to prepare graduates for the needs of an evolving legal marketplace. He named trustee Evan Chesler ’75, then the presiding partner (now chair) of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, as the committee’s chair. “NYU has long been a leader in innovative legal education,” notes Chesler. “However, there have been profound changes in the expectations of clients for what lawyers need to be prepared to do.” Many clients, for example, now want even recent graduates to have collaborative problem-solving skills, to understand business fundamentals, or to know how to deal with colleagues or adversaries from different cultural or legal backgrounds. The strategy committee was formed, Chesler said, because “there was the the distinct sense that it was time for our law school to lead the way on the complex issues concerning the imperatives of legal education in the 21st century.” After fact finding over the course of 18 months, the committee—whose members include NYU Law trustees who are leaders at major law firms, general counsel at large publicly traded companies and asset management firms, and others with deep knowledge of the legal marketplace—issued a series of recommendations for curriculum enhancements. Following faculty approval of central elements of the recommendations, then-dean Revesz and Chesler announced the plans to students at a Milbank Tweed Forum on October 17. That morning, the New York Times ran a story about the new steps on the front page of its business section. “In recent years, a variety of forces, including globalization, advances in technology, and the worldwide economic crisis, have significantly changed the way law is practiced in many organizations,” Revesz said at the time of the announcement. “The steps we are announcing today assure that the education we offer is keeping pace with those changes.” A multi-front effort to implement the initiatives got underway as soon as they were announced. One recommendation of the strategy committee was for the Law School to do more to

With ambitious changes to the curriculum, NYU Law pushes legal education forward prepare students for global legal practice, including the introduction of new study-abroad opportunities for students during their third year. Under the supervision of Kevin Davis, vice dean for global affairs and Beller Family Professor of Business Law, NYU has now established semester-long programs in Buenos Aires, Paris, and Shanghai that will accommodate up to 25 JD students each. The initial group of students is preparing to head to those cities in January. “These aren’t the typical study-abroad programs that we and other law schools have offered for years,” notes Davis. “These are designed and managed by NYU Law faculty and they will include not just classroom study, but also clinics, internships, travel study, and language training,” with some variation based on location. In Buenos Aires and Paris, the programs will be operated in cooperation with local university partners. What’s more, Davis emphasizes, these semester-abroad experiences for 3Ls are meant to serve as the capstone of an extensive set of curricular and cocurricular options offered to JD students who are interested in global practice beginning in their first year. (See sidebar at right.) Closer to home, but still well off campus, is the Washington, DC-based Legislative and Regulatory Policy Clinic that is being jointly taught by two of the foremost experts in Washington legal practice: Robert Bauer, former White House Counsel to President Obama, and Sally Katzen, a member of the Obama-Biden transition team who held a number of senior positions in the Clinton Administration. Combining the practical and the scholarly, the clinic’s 16 3L students work four days a week in a federal agency or government office, but also attend a weekly seminar, as well as special sessions with senior government officials and guest lecturers. The clinic is an outgrowth of a strategy committee recommendation calling for “a program of intensive study and practical training in the role of government,” noting that it would

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