Thinking of becoming an attorney? Make sure you are mentally, physically and financially prepared.
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Be ready for the most difficult three years of your life. Law School is unlike any other type of education you may have received up to that point. Each night you can expect to be sitting somewhere reading law books for 3-5 hours. At times you will be mentally drained. You will need to quickly discover your limits and work into your study schedule days and nights where you can take a break and recharge.
Along with the mental strain comes the physical impact. There are days where you are so tired that you cannot get out of bed. A walk through the library and you will find students asleep on the couches and chairs. You will on some days not have the time to eat as well. You will again need to know your limits and take care of yourself or you will get sick.
Law School isn't cheap. Especially New York Law School (NYLS). Not only do you have to pay your tuition, but also for books and living expenses. Remember, if you attend NYLS, you will be going to school in New York City and most likely you will be living in the city. Some students live in Connecticut, Long Island, New Jersey and elsewhere outside the city, but they just have to pay for commuting. I graduated in the mid 90's from NYLS and my student loan debt is at $125,000. Keep this in mind. If you don't get a scholarship and feel that the price tag may be too much, then look into going to a state law school...like the State University of New York at Buffalo. The tuition is much lower.
As for NYLS, the school has a very long history. The school's name is known within the legal community, but outside of this, the school is confused with New York University School of Law (NYU). I don't know how many times I have told people I go to or went to New York Law School and they replied "Oh, NYU. Good school." In an attempt to distance NYLS from NYU, in the early 90's, the NYLS administration added the word "The" to the front of the name of the school. We were then called "The New York Law School". This did not go over well with the students. The name did not sound good and soon the "The" was dropped.
Another challenge is that there are so many other law schools in the New York area that you are competing with for a job both during school (internship) and after school. There is NYU Law School, Cardozo, Fordham, Columbia, St. John's, Hofstra, CUNY, Brooklyn Law School, and a few others.
The faculty is very distinguished. Prof. Liberman for Legal Writing or Constitutional Law, Prof. Chen for Criminal Law, Prof. Purcell for Federal Civil Procedure, Prof. Joseph Marino for New York Civil Procedure, and all the rest are extremely knowledgeable and often came to the school after successful legal careers in the private or public sector. Your first year you don't have any choice as to what your classes or who your professors will be. After that, you can then begin to choose your classes. Make sure to speak with upper class students about which classes and professors are worth taking.
Also speak with upper class students about obtaining class outlines. Usually these outlines will contain a condensed version of the entire class materials. These are very helpful to have during the semester to refer to and also for studying for the final exam or to take with you if the final is open book.
The current law library may feel small inside, but is fully functional. It is a great place to hide out and study either alone or with a study group. A study group can be helpful to bounce ideas off of each other, but it can also be confusing if all you do is sit and argue with each other and create further confusion. Try and find a study room and lock yourself inside with a CD player or radio so you can read for the 3-5 hours you will need to read each night. I recommend Mozart and the other classics to help you relax and stay focused. Be prepared to nap as well during this time.
The worst part and most useless part of the school I would have to say was the Career Services office. They did nothing to actively help you find a job once you graduated. All they did was obtain job listings, names of firms and companies in the area looking for attorneys, and other job aids (sample resumes and cover letters). What the school needs to do is convert the office to a Career Placement office and take an active role in finding every student a job upon graduation.
The physical location of the school is great. The school is downtown in Tri-BeCa (Triangle Below Canal). Canal Street is where china town and little Italy are. Great places to walk to during lunch to eat. Downtown is where all the courts are. This is wonderful should you wish to go for an internship in one of the courts. The only down side to being in the city is having to live in or near the city. I lived in Brooklyn and took the subway to school. Sometimes I wish I had gone to a law school outside of the city so I could live in a nice apartment on campus. But it was a great experience to live in NYC with all there is to do. Also, remember that NYLS is a private school with no university affiliation. That too would have been nice to go to a law school affiliated with a college or university so you could take part in the school activities and school spirit.
Anyway, if you are planning on working in New York as an attorney, you definitely want to attend a law school in New York. Most, if not all, law schools in New York base their training on New York law which will better prepare you to pass the New York bar exam. I passed both the New York and Connecticut bars on the first try.
Again, law school isn't easy and not for everyone. Make sure you have thought it through before you commit. I saw so many people drop out after the first couple of months. The sad part was that those people had taken the spots away from others who really wanted to be there but couldn't because someone who really didn't want to be there had started to go to school.
Good luck no matter where you go to school. If you do attend NYLS, then welcome to the profession fellow alumni.
UPDATE FROM NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL:
New York Law School Launches $190 Million Expansion and Renovation of TriBeCa Campus that will create a vibrant new environment for the law school and the surrounding community.
New York, August 1, 2006 – New York Law School, one of the oldest independent law schools in the U.S., announced today the launch of a $190 million expansion and renovation program that will transform the School’s campus in lower Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood 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 three buildings.
When completed, the new complex will bring together the law school’s classrooms, library, student spaces, administrative offices and professional academic centers in a combined 346,000-square-foot environment compared with the 205,000 square feet of space the school occupies today.
Completion of the two-phase building program is slated for spring 2010.
Richard A. Matasar, New York Law School’s Dean and President, commented: “This is a truly transformative event for the law school, both in terms of our physical facilities but also for our entire educational enterprise. In launching the school’s extensive expansion and renovation program, we will be able to provide a comfortable, attractive, warm home for every member of the law school community in a state of the art facility that will serve the school for decades. It will showcase every aspect of our program in a law building finer than any in the city.”
In describing the impact that the expansion and renovation program will have on the School and the community, Arthur N. Abbey, Chairman of the Law School’s Board of Trustees remarked, “Today’s construction launch is the culmination of many years of deliberation and planning by the Trustees. We are absolutely ecstatic that we will now be able to have a campus that will reflect the vitality of this great institution and provide the most modern facilities for contemporary legal education of any urban law school.”
A nationally-recognized expert in law school design, described what evolved into one of the most exceptional law school projects. “New York Law School is truly unique among urban law schools given the School’s lower Manhattan location in the midst of government agencies, courts, law firms, banks, securities exchanges and now a vibrant residential area. Our challenge was to take an assemblage of facilities, including two late 19th century, historically significant, cast iron buildings -- and integrate them with a new structure that could express the school’s vitality and interaction with the community.”
The design approach emphasizes the principles of clarity and transparency while creating two distinctly different, exterior frontages. The new building, which is now under construction on the school’s old parking lot that faces Leonard Street and West Broadway, will house classrooms, student spaces and the law library. Here, a prominent design feature will be a generous lounge and circulation space at each of the five levels along a 200-foot-long glass wall, creating a transparent envelope to enable passersby to see the flurry of activity inside.
“This transparency on all five levels of the new building will give the impression of the School “inside-out” and greatly contribute visual vibrancy to its neighborhood, well into the evening,” described Maves.
The law school’s other frontage on Worth Street will possess a facade with a completely different character by directly relating to the two existing and distinctive, cast iron former warehouses. Their scale and proportions are echoed in the sleek glass grid of the new architecture that respectfully acknowledges the historical context of TriBeCa,
The first phase of the expansion and renovation program began on August 1, 2006 with the ground breaking for the School’s new academic building which is expected to be ready by the fall of 2008. The second phase of the construction project will consist of the complete interior renovation of the School’s remaining buildings on Worth Street that is projected to take at least 12 months to finish with an anticipated opening in spring 2010. These renovations will create new innovative facilities for faculty and students that support the School’s six centers for advanced scholarship and research.
“Once completed,” added Dean Matasar, “the new building will include a large auditorium and a multipurpose space which will allow us to host a wide variety of events, providing community access to lecture series, art exhibits and outreach programs. The facilities will offer new opportunities to interact on-site with alumni, members of the legal community and the public and underscore the School’s fundamental mission of active participation and exchange. The public spaces in particular will become rich opportunities to tell the story of the School’s history and fundamental relationship to New York City.”
In late June, New York Law School sold its Mendik Law Library building at 240 Church Street that enabled the school to move forward with its bond sale and the new building and renovation program. The proceeds from the building sale have been allocated to the school’s endowment which is now among the top 10 of all American law schools. According to Dean Matasar, the school intends to launch a major fund raising campaign in the fall of 2006 that, combined with the new endowment funds, should provide the school “with a resource base that in the years to come will give us the capacity to build and improve student support, expand the faculty, add greater depth to our extraordinary program, and permit us to respond to the needs of our profession.”
New York Law School celebrated the unveiling of its brand-new academic building with an open house on Saturday, April 18, 2009.
The open house featured a tour of the Law School’s new glass-enclosed, 235,000-square-foot structure. The new nine-story building doubles the size of the Law School’s campus, and stands next to the Law School’s three existing buildings. It houses state-of-the-art classrooms, the Mendik Law Library, and public spaces that bring together alumni, members of the legal industry, and the community.
ABOUT NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the school’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The school is noted for its six academic centers: the Justice Action Center, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center on Business Law & Policy, Institute for Information Law and Policy, and the Center for International Law. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. programs and its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program. http://www.nyls.edu/