Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall served as the backdrop on a hot day in May for Cardozo’s 40th Commencement Exercises, held May 29. Sixty-six students received LLM degrees, and 275 received JD degrees.
As you start your studies, I want to share my vision for the year ahead—and inform you about new Cardozo programs designed to meet the challenges in today’s legal profession.
Our first goal this year is to help you acquire the skills needed for the current job market.
In my travels as dean, those in hiring positions tell me new lawyers need to have a mastery of legal analysis and reasoning—skills developed in a basic law school curriculum. However, I also hear frequently that they need lawyers who possess a range of professional skills in broader competencies, such as creative thinking, strategic planning, client relations, problem solving, negotiation, clear and concise writing, communication skills, and an understanding of basic finance and business concepts.
Cardozo’s first-year lawyering program, the school’s clinics and field clinics, simulation-based courses like ITAP and IMAP, and externships play a key role in helping students develop these essential professional skills. Over the past several years, the school has expanded these opportunities in various ways. Consider how to best use the resources available at Cardozo to develop your professional skills.
This year, Cardozo is adding new clinics (the Civil Rights Clinic and the Youth Justice Clinic), two new field clinics (the Alternative Dispute Resolution Field Clinic and the Gertrud Mainzer Family Defense Field Clinic at The Bronx Defenders). In addition, we are developing a Tech Start-Up Clinic and a field clinic in partnership with the New York State Department of Financial Services. The school also plans to launch an Intensive Transactional Skills Program over the January intersession.
The school’s curricular initiatives will be complemented with a new non-curricular program—the Center for Professional Development (CPD). Under the leadership of Dean Marcia Levy and the Office of Career Services, CPD will offer workshops and events aimed at aiding the transition from student to professional.
Our second goal centers on linking students and recent graduates with employment opportunities.
Cardozo’s Bridge to Practice Postgraduate Public Service Fellowship program and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provide assistance to graduates seeking jobs in the public and nonprofit sectors. This fall, we are introducing the Resident Associate Mentors Program (RAMP) to connect Cardozo graduates with private sector employment opportunities. Working with Cardozo alumni, we have identified small- and medium-sized firms and corporate legal departments interested in hiring graduates as Resident Associates for one year. The program follows a medical residency model, providing postgraduate employment at fellowship-level salaries. The firms participating in RAMP generally do not hire lawyers right out of law school, but are willing to do so because of the parameters of the program.
We are also deepening the Cardozo curriculum in emerging areas of the law.
The school has expanded classes in fields such as E-discovery. We have added depth to our intellectual property and information law course offerings, as the growing digital field makes IP law increasingly important. This year, we are adding a new course in Compliance, a field that is rapidly growing in the wake of the Dodd-Frank legislation—as many financial institutions are rapidly expanding their compliance departments and hiring new lawyers directly into these positions.
In a similar way, the school is focused on expanding offerings in the arts and design fields. Offerings now include Fashion Law, the Fashion Law Practicum, Art Law, the Art Law Field Clinic and Seminar, as well as the Indie Film Clinic. Cardozo’s partnership with the Fashion Institute of Technology allows FIT students in Global Fashion Management to collaborate with Cardozo students, and we have expanded the range of courses that are now cross-listed at Cardozo and The New School.
Finally, Professor Katie Tinto has joined our clinical faculty at the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic and renowned scholar and public intellectual Professor Stanley Fish is teaching as the Floersheimer Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law. In addition, Professors Betsy Ginsberg and Kate Shaw have been appointed to our full-time faculty, and Professors Richard Bierschbach and Alex Reinert have been granted tenure by Yeshiva University.
All of these initiatives build on Cardozo’s long history of innovation and creativity in legal education. As we start the new academic year, I invite you to envision the legal field that is emerging today, and to focus on tailoring your law school experience to fit your future goals and career plans.
I look forward to working together in the year ahead.
Dean and Professor of Law