On the second day of New York Law School’s 2023 New Student Orientation, Dean and President Anthony W. Crowell gathered a section of the incoming 1Ls in the Auditorium. He introduced what would be a deeply interactive seminar: Law, Leadership, and Democratic Institutions. The topic was the January 6 Insurrection, and Dean Crowell drew from his chapter in Beyond Imagination? The January 6 Insurrection, a collaboration with 13 other law school deans around the country.
The goal of the session, Dean Crowell said, was to discuss the incoming students’ development of a civic identity—a critical element of being a lawyer in the United States. To serve as lawyers, Dean Crowell said, must be understood in a civic context, because they would be charged with defending both the Constitution and individual interests. To be an NYLS-educated lawyer is to be a community leader, Dean Crowell said.
Dean Crowell’s session was one of many that welcomed our new 1Ls to the NYLS community over the course of a week in August. “I believe we provide the most comprehensive law school orientation in the United States,” Dean Crowell told the NYLS faculty and staff. “This always serves as the best opportunity to help get our newest students into the right mindset for the rigors of law school and showcase the unrivaled caring, supportive, and welcoming community they are joining.”
Dean of Students Oral C. Hope, Assistant Dean of Students Shani Darby, and Assistant Director of Student Life Jenelle Najhafeez led the effort to create this year’s thoughtful Orientation program with particular goals in mind: “We want our incoming students to come away from the NYLS Orientation feeling supported, comfortable, and confident for the start of their legal education,” Darby says.
To that end, students cycled through a wide-ranging program that included—among many other engaging offerings—sessions on professional development; health, wellness, and mindfulness during the study of law; foundations of the study of law through multiple lenses; and our School’s Mendik Library. Incoming students also shared meals with NYLS faculty, the Student Bar Association, and NYLS Student Ambassadors—a critical element in building community for the new class. Students ended the week with Community Day, a program that provides students an opportunity to examine American law in the context of race and fosters a sense of belonging.
The newest NYLS class also had an opportunity to learn about the student organizations and affinity groups at the School that support our diverse student body. In the Events Center, leaders from various student organizations—like Latin American Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Legal Association for Women, OutLaws, and First Generation Professionals—hosted conversations with the new students and introduced their groups. The mood was downright joyful as students connected over personal experiences and found communities within NYLS to call home.
Of this incoming class’s 354 students, 312 are in our Day Division and 42 are enrolled in NYLS Pro. Again, our incoming class has raised the bar, and this class has the highest median credentials in the School’s 132-year history. Hailing from 30 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and five countries, our new students make up a diverse group: 64% are women, people of color make up 32 percent, and 15% identify as LGBTQ+. What’s more: 24% of the students are the first in their families to attend college, and nearly 80% are the first to attend law school. Twenty students have advanced degrees and four students are veterans from all four branches of the Armed Forces.*
“This is a terrific class,” Dean Crowell says, “and they gel with one another and are smart and enthusiastic. I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish at NYLS and beyond. I am delighted to welcome them to our community.”
View photos from orientation.
*Incoming class statistics updated as of August 25, 2023.