Weeks after NYLS published its new 2020 Strategic Plan: Ever Upward, COVID-19 struck New York City. Now, months into this unprecedented health and economic crisis, the Plan continues to provide NYLS’s team with unified purpose, guiding the School’s successful admissions, bar success, and career development initiatives despite challenging circumstances.
Building an Engaged Learning Community
Accomplished, goal-oriented, and diverse, NYLS’s new entering class of 335 represents a wide cross-section of student experiences. They hail from 143 undergraduate institutions and speak 32 languages. And, with a 3.47 median GPA and a 153 median LSAT, the new class is among the School’s strongest.
To recruit the talented new group, NYLS’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid adapted quicklyto pandemic conditions while prioritizing building a student body that would reflect the values of the Strategic Plan. The team offereddozens of specialized virtual admissions programs, supported by enthusiastic faculty members, students, and alumni who shared their experiences from locations near and far. The Office has now launched an expanded suite of Fall 2020 virtual events for a new group of prospective students.
Supporting Success on the Bar Exam
NYLS’s Class of 2020 showed exceptional grit and resilience in preparing for the virtual October 2020 bar exam. The Academic and Bar Success Initiatives team provided bar takers with seamless, wraparound support—a key priority of the Strategic Plan—that included virtual bar prep workshops, newsletters on effective study strategies, and remote individual coaching.
NYLS’s dedicated alumni lent a hand by donating nearly $45,000, which funded AdaptiBar study software for every Class of 2020 graduate, which, along with NYLS’s new curriculum, helped bar takers perform strongly in the July 2019 and February 2020 exams.
Around 70 Class of 2020 graduates signed up to use NYLS’s campus space and WiFi to take the exam on October 5 and 6, and School leaders were available both on-site and remotely to wish them well and ensure successful operations. NYLS is now moving ahead to preparing bar takers for the February 2021 exam.
Adapting to the Modern Job Market
Following excellent employment outcomes for its 2019 graduates, NYLS is pivoting to prepare the Class of 2020 for a legal marketplace profoundly affected by COVID-19.
A 91 percent employment rate for the Class of 2019, with nearly 88 percent in “gold standard” legal jobs, landed NYLS in the top third statewide among New York’s 15 law schools in both categories.
The strong performance also supported NYLS’s recent inclusion on preLaw magazine’s latest Employment Honor Roll.
Now, in the wake of COVID-19, NYLS’s Academic Planning and Career Development team has adapted to provide creative, high-caliber programs that address the uncertainties of the current job market.
This past summer, when the pandemic limited many law firms’ traditional summer associate programs, NYLS launched a one-of-a-kind Big Law simulation program with Venable LLP. The program offered 3 experiential learning credits, provided professional mentoring opportunities, and engaged NYLS students in skills-building related to cutting-edge COVID-19 legal work. NYLS is exploring how similar programs in the future can provide further support.
During the fall semester, NYLS continues to offer advising services that seamlessly integrate academic planning and career development goals, an approach outlined in the Strategic Plan. The Office of Academic Planning and Career Development is delivering these services virtually to meet the needs of students working in various locations.
Public interest academic and career advising services are offered through NYLS’s Social Justice Hub—a hive of public interest activity shared by a number of national nonprofits with social justice missions.
NYLS also holds frequent networking events (now virtually), including large-scale fall and spring recruitment programs. The School has also hosted special recruiting events, including the Northeast Black Law Students Association’s annual job fair and the annual LGBTQ Legal Career Fair for first-year students. Finally, NYLS regularly promotes job and internship opportunities to students through a weekly career development newsletter, a monthly bulletin highlighting diversity-related opportunities, and other communications.
The Strategic Plan Post-Pandemic
A 2021 update to the Strategic Plan will incorporate NYLS’s COVID-19 response and focus on how the School plans to support New York City’s recovery from the pandemic and its associated economic challenges.