CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW RESTRUCTURES UPPER LEVEL CURRICULUM

·       New Professional Tracks Designed to Prepare Students for Legal Employment

·       Practical Lawyering To Be Required of all Students

·       Immersion and Simulation Courses Expanded

July 2, 2014 – NEW YORK, NY – A yearlong intensive evaluation by the faculty of the Cardozo School of Law has resulted in a major restructuring of the second- and third-year curriculum. Newly created professional concentrations will offer increased structure and guidance for students, linking study to areas of practice. A new practical lawyering skills requirement will ensure all students gain hands-on experience.

These changes will apply to JD students beginning their studies in or after May 2014. Increased faculty and alumni advisory opportunities will help students select the right courses and summer jobs for their future career choices. Beginning January 2015, an expanded midterm break will be used to increase simulation and immersion courses open to all students.

“In the new legal landscape our faculty have recognized that aspiring lawyers need more specific skills relevant to future careers in order to be competitive in traditional and emerging fields of the law,” said Dean Matthew Diller, who led the effort for an updated curriculum. “We owe it to our students to make sure that we do everything we can to tailor their law school experience in order to meet the needs of the rapidly changing legal profession.”

The new plan will involve three institution-wide changes:

·       Professional concentrations will be offered in approximately a dozen fields of law. Students who opt for a specialization will have targeted counseling from alumni mentors and faculty, and alumni advisory groups with expertise in their chosen field of choice.

·       Required experiential coursework will ensure that students beginning their studies in or after May 2014 obtain at least six credits of practical, hands-on lawyering opportunities in clinics, field clinics, simulations, and externships. 

·       Lawyering Skills Month will become a mainstay of the law school’s offerings. The January break will be lengthened to provide workshops, simulation courses, and other intensives that feature direct supervision, role-playing, and critical feedback in a wide variety of practice areas and contexts.

Simplified Requirements and Professional Concentrations

Cardozo’s previous distribution requirements will be replaced with a streamlined approach that allows students to satisfy their upper-level requirements by choosing from a menu of core foundational courses and experiential programs.  Current students have the option of satisfying either the old distribution requirements or the new streamlined core course requirements.

The core curriculum will ensure that all Cardozo students are well grounded in fundamentals while still according a range of choice. Optional professional concentrations will provide clear pathways towards career specialties. Each professional concentration will include a faculty advisory group and an alumni advisory group of practicing lawyers in the field. Each student will also have a dedicated, one-on-one alumnus mentor in his or her area of concentration. 

“Cardozo has a long history of balancing theory with practice and we wanted to make sure that was the foundation of our new thinking,” said Professor Richard Bierschbach, the chair of the faculty’s Educational Policy Committee. “Our new concentrations build on that balance by directly connecting our students with established professionals who will have an investment in their development.”

Experiential Learning Requirement

While the vast majority of Cardozo students already obtain practical lawyering experience through Cardozo’s leading clinics, field clinics, simulations, and externships, a new six-credit experiential learning requirement will ensure that all students receive significant exposure to practice-based learning. 

Students beginning their studies in or after May 2014 shall be required to complete four experiential credits; students beginning in or after May 2015 shall be required to complete five experiential credits; and students beginning in or after May 2016 or thereafter shall be required to complete six experiential credits.

Students will be able to satisfy the requirement by choosing from a broad range of courses whose dominant method of instruction involves simulations, live-client counseling or representation, the regular preparation and critique of attorney work-product, or similar hands-on training in applied lawyering skills that integrates doctrine, theory, and legal ethics. 

Whether students choose to concentrate in a particular field or not, the law school’s faculty and alumni advisory groups will help to guide and assist them to find the right practical lawyering experience to complement their chosen path through the upper-level curriculum. The law school is committed to increasing ties between practice and theory for all students, in order to give them the classroom and fieldwork connections necessary for career success.

Lawyering Skills Month

The law school has expanded the winter break in order to build in more time for intensive simulation and immersion courses that are critical for students’ development into lawyers. January is now Lawyering Skills Month. Cardozo Law’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) has long been one of the most successful trial advocacy programs in the country.

ITAP and Cardozo’s analogous and highly regarded Representation in Mediation (IMAP) were the models for the school’s push to expand its intensive course programming during the intersession break. The intersession will now include intensives in trial and pre-trial litigation, mediation, negotiation, transactions, deal making, compliance, and evaluation of financial statements.

Over 220 Cardozo students participated in Lawyering Skills Month in January 2014. That number is expected to grow substantially as the school expands its offerings across a broad range of practice areas.   

“Good lawyering is a creative processes,” said Dean Diller. “It is not merely applying the rules of the law, but rather a careful balance of judgment, critical thinking, knowledge and wisdom.  Advice that lawyers give and strategies they develop impact people’s lives in fundamental ways.

For Further Information Contact:

John DeNatale

Assistant Dean, Communications and Public - Affairs

212.790-0237

Denatale@yu.edu