In the wake of the pandemic’s impact on workplaces globally, and new demands of both work and home, NYLS has redesigned its evening program to further support working professionals.
New York, NY (March 22, 2022) – Today, New York Law School (NYLS) is announcing “NYLS Pro,” a redesigned Evening Division to meet the evolving needs of 21st century working professionals committed to transforming their careers. The program aims to ensure the pursuit of a law degree part-time meets modern needs in a more accessible, flexible, and affordable way, providing the same academic rigor as always but with new class schedules, programs, and scholarships necessary to better facilitate career advancement.
NYLS Pro will be available for incoming students in the 2022–23 academic year.
As COVID-19 has fundamentally changed workplace culture and expectations of employers, today’s students must navigate the blurred boundaries between work and home, new demands from work and family, and a rising cost of living. As a result, today’s evening students can often work more than the standard 40-hour work week and find themselves with long and increasingly expensive commutes.
Right before the pandemic, NYLS began a full-scale review of its Evening Division program to identify ways to expand student success through a faculty and staff task force led by Professor Kirk D. Burkhalter ’04, an NYLS Evening Division graduate. The early analysis conducted by the task force, along with experience of remote learning throughout the pandemic, provided key insights into its recommendations and in establishing NYLS Pro.
“We are beyond thrilled to announce NYLS Pro to incoming students for the upcoming academic year, as we believe this education innovation will allow them to more easily manage the competing demands of school, work, and home,” said New York Law School Dean Anthony Crowell. “The NYLS Evening Division is a crown jewel. And, as a first-generation student, and one of the nation’s only law school deans to graduate from an evening program, I know well the challenges full-time working professionals face when pursuing a legal education. NYLS Pro is tailored to the needs of today’s evening students, particularly those with families to support, and with the added flexibility, innovative technology, and accessibility, that will help set them up for long-term personal and professional success.”
Until now, the NYLS Evening Division has generally required students to be on campus four evenings per week for at least their first three semesters when they take a majority of their required courses. With the exception of temporary waivers for distance learning granted by the New York Court of Appeals during the pandemic, distance learning options either in the first year, or in the upper years which typically offer more scheduling flexibility, have been limited. In this contemporized model, building on lessons learned during the pandemic, in their first three semesters (each 14 weeks long), evening students will come to campus three—instead of four—days per week, Monday to Wednesday, during the first 9–10 weeks of the semester, and take two classes per evening. Instruction in those courses during the remaining weeks of the semester will be remote. On each Thursday, every week during the semester, students will remotely attend NYLS’s signature Foundations for the Study of Law program, which they can log into from the convenience of their homes or offices. There are no Friday classes. This enables working professionals to more seamlessly fit a world-class legal education into their busy schedules, further enhancing their ability to perform well academically by providing them valuable time from reduced commuting and alleviating related additional stress.
In the upper years, evening students have greater flexibility to further reduce the number of days required on campus, and they will also be able to take a broader range of remote classes in specialized areas, including those that may be available in early morning hours as well as mid-day. And clinical and experiential learning courses will be flexibly designed and offered with evening students in mind. In addition to this significantly increased flexibility, evening students will continue to benefit from expressly dedicated academic and career advising services for working professionals which will be available both in person and remotely, including during off hours and weekends. They will also benefit from Academic Success programming similarly designed to meet the needs of evening students. And, as always, they will be able to participate in student co-curricular activities like New York Law School Law Review and Moot Court, as well as in student government and affinity groups.
As evening students approach the end of their program, NYLS Pro will offer a new “Bar Success Semester,” that allows students to begin comprehensive bar preparation during their final semester through a combination of NYLS coursework and other resources prepared in consultation with the various bar review providers. The special program would conclude with the July or February bar exam and would take into account the reduced daily study time available for Evening Division students.
“As I prepare for graduation, I am so excited to see NYLS Pro as the next step in legal education for nontraditional students,” said Sabrina Smith 4L Evening, Executive Legal Assistant at the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office, and incoming Assistant Corporation Counsel at the NYC Law Department, “As President of the Black Law Students Association, and an evening student who worked tirelessly to be involved in many facets of NYLS, I know how meaningful NYLS Pro will be to future evening classes. The COVID-19 pandemic began halfway through my own law school experience, and a significant portion of my legal education since March 2020 has been in a remote setting. While I am so happy to have part of my final semester in-person, I have seen first-hand how a fully immersive legal education can integrate remote learning to reduce the pressures and constraints and allow flexibility to evening students who want to engage more outside of their courses.”
NYLS Pro will build upon and expand the evening program’s appeal to professionals from all backgrounds, including public servants throughout government, such as members of law enforcement, teachers, and military personnel, as well as nearby Wall Street financial services professionals, engineers, entrepreneurs in the innovation economy and tech sectors, medical professionals, small business owners, and, of course, paralegals. It will also appeal to stay-at-home parents wishing to return to school and the workforce. Evening Division students represent the grit and resilience that defines New York City—traits that have made NYLS students and graduates highly sought-after and respected in the job market and profession for over 130 years. NYLS Pro’s recruitment efforts will be broad and will aim to drive the great diversity that has been a hallmark of the evening program, through its Diversity Pipeline Program for Working Professionals.
NYLS Pro is consistent with the accreditation standards of the American Bar Association and the rules of admission to practice set forth by the New York Court of Appeals. NYLS and colleague schools are currently working to petition the Court of Appeals for new rule changes that would allow greater flexibility in the program defined above.
Statements of Support From NYLS Evening Division Alumni
“NYLS Pro is the future of legal education for the working professional,” said Dr. Vincent Carbonell ’00, NYLS Trustee and President of United Reprographic Services, Inc. “As an evening graduate myself, and someone who has mentored and supported many evening students over the years, I know how challenging it is to balance all of life’s responsibilities, and go through a rigorous educational experience to finally reach a new professional future. For those professionals with families, or those who have been parenting full-time while desiring a pathway back into a long-term career, NYLS Pro offers the flexibility and opportunity to make their hopes and ambitions come true. Once again, Dean Crowell in partnership with our Board is making sure our law school is providing a legal education that meets the needs of 21st century law students.”
“The NYLS Evening Division provided me with an exceptional education steps from Wall Street where I worked and began building my career. The changes announced today make good sense for the times we live in. They will further put NYLS evening students in a highly competitive position to both excel academically, and seize new opportunities to be influential in the profession and in business,” said Charles Phillips ’93, NYLS Trustee and Managing Partner and Co-founder, RECOGNIZE; former CEO and Chairman of Infor and President of Oracle; Member of ViacomCBS Board of Directors and Board Member of American Express. Mr. Phillips worked in investment banking while attending the Evening Division.
“I know many police officers, EMTs, and firefighters have a strong desire to continue their education and advance their careers,” said former-NYPD Detective Squad Commander Lieutenant Erik Rubinstein ’20, Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton. “Being a first-responder and a father of 5 with responsibilities, stresses, and hours that don’t correspond with the typical workday can make traditional law school seem inaccessible. NYLS Pro offers an exceptional opportunity for first-responders to add to their unique and valuable experience and qualifications and position themselves for future opportunities in their current agencies or in any other sector.”
“As an evening student who had a full-time job in a City agency whose role was to respond to crises across New York City, NYLS Pro will provide a profound innovation in part-time legal education,” said Katelyn (Katie) James ’20, Associate, Fried Frank and former member of NYC Emergency Management. “In addition to my everyday work experience at NYC Emergency Management, I saw first-hand the shift to remote learning that took place in the first months of the pandemic, which happened to be my final months as a law student. My experience as an Evening Division student was exceptional, and I am grateful for the unmatched support from NYLS that ensured I was able to balance everything in my life. NYLS Pro will ensure that future evening students have the built-in flexibility as it meets the moment of hybrid work environments that many companies and organizations are implementing. Future evening students will no longer need to choose between their current responsibilities and the potential for an extraordinary future career.”
“As a former full-time worker at a tech startup during law school, NYLS Pro is an exciting next chapter in legal education and will allow a wider group of individuals to access this extraordinary education,” said Ehiguina (Ehi) Borha ’19, Associate, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP and former Legal Assistant at FanDuel during law school. “Working at a rapidly growing company meant hours and responsibilities that sometimes pressured my ability to get to classes and benefit from the full breadth of opportunities at NYLS in and out of the classroom. Coming to campus two or three days a week, instead of four, would have relieved much of that pressure, and will be greatly appreciated by so many friends and colleagues that I know are interested in exploring a legal career.”