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New York Law School

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New York Law School
Established 1891
School type Private non-profit
Dean Anthony W. Crowell
Location New York, NY, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 0 (See List)
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New York Law School is located in New York, NY

New York Law School is a private law school in Lower Manhattan in New York City.


New York Law School is one of the oldest independent law schools in the United States. The Law School was founded in 1891 by a group of faculty, students, and alumni of Columbia Law School led by their founding dean, Theodore William Dwight, a prominent figure in the history of American legal education. Dwight and his fellow trailblazers boldly broke away from Columbia College to protest teaching methods they didn’t support. They established New York Law School in Lower Manhattan—where it has remained ever since—in the heart of the city’s legal, financial, government, and corporate headquarters. In 1894, the Law School established one of the nation’s first evening divisions in order to provide an alternative to full-time legal studies.

New York Law School was an immediate success. In 1892, after only a year in operation, it was the second-largest law school in the United States; by 1904, it was the largest. It experienced steady growth in its early years, that was only interrupted for one year when the school closed during World War I. During these early years, the Law School saw some of its most famous alumni graduate. The Law School was forced to close a second time from 1941 to 1947, for the duration of World War II. After reopening, the Law School started a new program that was influenced by a committee of alumni headed by New York State Supreme Court Justice Albert Cohn. This led to accreditation by the American Bar Association in 1954; continued growth led to further accreditation by the Association of American Law Schools in 1974.

The buildings of the Law School underwent renovation during the leadership of Dean James F. Simon, from 1983 to 1992. Under his successor, Dean Harry H. Wellington, who served in that position until 2000, the curriculum was revised to put greater emphasis on the practical skills of a professional attorney. Since the current dean, Richard A. Matasar, took over, the Law School has continued to grow, with a newly articulated mission statement that centers on three goals: to embrace innovation, to foster integrity and professionalism, and to advance justice for a diverse society. The School has also adopted the motto “Learn Law. Take Action,” which expresses its commitment to teaching students to use the skills and knowledge they gain as lawyers to do something valuable for others.

The Law School opened its first dormitory in the East Village in 2005, and in August 2006, it broke ground on a $190 million expansion and renovation program that will transform its TriBeCa campus into a cohesive architectural complex nearly double its current size. The centerpiece of the expansion will be a new glass-enclosed, 200,000-square-foot, nine-level building—five stories above ground and four below—which will integrate with the School’s existing buildings. The new facility is scheduled for completion in 2008, followed by the complete renovation of the School’s existing buildings by spring 2010.


New York Law School has three divisions: Full-time Day, Part-time Day, and Part-time Evening. The Law School offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.), the Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation, the Joint J.D./LL.M. in Taxation, the Joint J.D./M.B.A. with Baruch College, City University of New York, the Joint Bachelor’s/J.D. with Stevens Institute of Technology, and the Joint Bachelor’s/J.D. with Adelphi University.

The School’s curriculum focuses on integrating the study of theory and practice and on including the perspectives of legal practitioners. The Law School’s Lawyering Skills Center offers clinics, simulation courses, and externships to carry out that goal. Through a number of other new initiatives and programs, the School has expanded its offerings in order to provide “the Right Program for Each Student.” For example, the faculty has established seven academic centers which provide specialized study and offer prime opportunities for exchange between the students, faculty, and expert practitioners:

  • Center for Business Law and Policy
  • Center for International Law
  • Center for New York City Law
  • Center for Professional Values and Practice
  • Center for Real Estate Studies
  • Institute for Information Law and Policy
  • Justice Action Center

These seven academic centers engage many students in advanced research through the John Marshall Harlan Scholars Program, a rigorous academic honors program designed for students with the strongest academic credentials. Harlan Scholars have the opportunity, through affiliation with one of the seven academic centers, to focus on a particular field of study, gaining depth and substantive expertise beyond the broad understanding of the law that is gained in the J.D. program.

New York Law School operates on the standard semester basis. 86 credits are required for graduation, 38 of which are for required courses. The first and second years have mandatory studies, and the third year is all elective courses. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA for all courses. Required first-year courses are Civil Procedure, Contracts I and II, Criminal Law, Evidence, Lawyering, Legal Reasoning, Writing and Research, Property, Torts, and Written and Oral Advocacy. Required second-year courses are Constitutional Law I and II, and the Legal Profession. An upper-division writing requirement is also necessary study.

The areas of concentration offered for study by New York Law School are Civil Liberties, Constitutional Law, Corporate and Securities Law, Criminal Law, International Law, Information and Media Law, Labor and Employment Law, Professional Values and Practice, Real Estate Law and Taxation. New York Law School has five clinics: Criminal Law, Elder Law, Mediation, Securities Arbitration and Urban Law. The stimulation courses offered are Advocacy of Criminal Cases, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Negotiating, Counseling and Interviewing (NCI), Trial Advocacy, and The Role of the Government Attorney.

Notable faculty

  • Andrew Berman, former partner at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood’s New York Real Estate Group.
  • Robert Blecker, nationally known retributivist advocate of the death penalty.
  • Tai-Heng Cheng, expert on international law.
  • Aleta G. Estreicher, authority in corporate and securities law.
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, renowned presidential scholar, expert in American legal history.
  • Seth Harris, authority on labor and employment law; former Counselor to Alexis Herman, U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration.
  • Charles Evans Hughes, Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the United States.
  • Arthur S. Leonard, pioneering scholar and activist on sexual orientation law.
  • Beth Simone Noveck, expert on intellectual property, technology, and law.
  • Michael L. Perlin, award-winning author on mental disability law.
  • Edward A. Purcell Jr., leading authority on U.S. history.
  • David S. Schoenbrod, pioneer in the field of environmental law.
  • Richard K. Sherwin, expert on use of visual persuasion in litigation.
  • James F. Simon, author of seven books on American history, law, and politics.
  • Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Ruti Teitel, authority on international law, human rights, and constitutional law, member of Council on Foreign Relations.
  • President Woodrow Wilson lectured at the school before becoming Governor of New Jersey.


In addition to more than 100 sitting judges and many partners of prominent law firms, New York Law School graduates have achieved success working in business, education, and the arts.

Famous alumni

  • Chester Carlson, a physicist and former engineer at Bell Labs, while a student at New York Law School in 1938 invented the xerography photocopy process.
  • James J. Walker, John Purroy Mitchel, and John F. Hylan, all New York City mayors.
  • Felix Frankfurter, United States Supreme Court Justice, who attended New York Law School before completing his legal training at Harvard.
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, former chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG); current chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr and Company.
  • Kathleen Grimm, Deputy Chancellor, Finance and Administration for the New York City Department of Education
  • John Marshall Harlan II, United States Supreme Court Justice from 1955 to 1971; attended after completing legal training at Princeton University and Balliol College, Oxford.
  • Lawrence S. Huntington, former chairman of the Board of Fiduciary Trust Company.
  • Conrad A. Johnson, an immigrant from Barbados, became the first black Republican alderman in New York City.
  • Marc Lasry, Founder and Managing Partner, Avenue Capital Group;

Founder and Senior Managing Director, Amroc

  • Bernard H. Mendik, former chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York.
  • Hon. Roger J. Miner, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Francis T. Murphy, Presiding Justice New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1977-97.
  • Emilio Nuñez, became the first Latino judge in New York City.
  • Charles E. Phillips, Jr., President of Oracle Corporation
  • Elmer Rice, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright, Class of 1912.
  • Judith Sheindlin ("Judge Judy"), New York family court judge, author, and television personality.
  • Wallace Stevens, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet, Class of 1903.
  • Robert F. Wagner, a Democratic United States Senator from New York from 1927 to 1949.
  • James S. Watson, became a judge and was the first African American admitted to membership in the American Bar Association.
  • Barbara M. Watson, daughter of James S. Watson, first female Assistant Secretary of State of the United States.
  • Zygmunt Wilf, principal owner of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.

Name partners in prominent firms

  • Arthur N. Abbey and Paul O. Paradis of Abbey Spanier Rodd Abrams & Paradis, LLP
  • William Parke of Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside & Wolff.
  • Steven E. Pegalis of Pegalis & Erickson, LLC.

External links