Rabbit, or anyone else in this position, I've been reading the YLS 2011 thread
(which I recommend. There is a substantial debate of Y vs. others) and noticed that you were one of a few Yale admits who chose Yale over schools with greater options in your subject of interest. I know that one can start reading groups to explore any subject. How do you now feel about the dearth of official options or mentors?
Like most of us, I suspect, I'm looking at Yale over schools that offer much more money and many more classes and mentors in my areas of interest.
That's a really good question. There is really only one class offered here on my specific area of interest (and I'm not taking that class this semester, b/c I've heard less-than-stellar things about it, and because I'm involved in something else that conflicts with its meeting time), but I haven't found it to be a problem. I'm really involved with a clinic that *is* related, and through that I've received as much instruction as I would if there were five faculty members and 10 classes offered. I've also found a part-time job and volunteer opportunities through YLS and in New Haven that have let me do other things related to that interest area. Honestly, there is so much here to keep me busy, it doesn't bother me at all that there isn't a formal "program" in what I'm interested in. If I wanted to do a joint degree, I could arrange something with Harvard or Columbia's schools in that area...and it's something I'm considering, but I haven't decided yet whether it will be necessary.
Second, it's not really as if I only have one interest area (though it is what I imagine I'll do for a career, in some capacity)! I've just signed on to be a research assistant for a professor on a somewhat-related topic, and I'm really excited about my other classes...I'm on a completely unrelated journal, and I want to take a class at the School of Management next semester in behavioral economics (again, completely unrelated). I think in general the class & extra-curricular offerings here are broad and deep enough to allow you to find things you're interested in and also to try new things. Asha said yesterday during the Monday admitted student program that maybe only 15% of one's subject-matter experience (she was specifically referencing international law, but I think it's true for other areas, too) at YLS will come from classes, and I think that's probably true!
That said, I do think that the lack of faculty/courses/clinics in a specific area of interest is one really serious consideration that shouldn't be minimized. There certainly are areas where Yale (or any other school for that matter) may lack emphasis...and if you know FOR SURE that you want to concentrate a lot of your work in one area and a school doesn't offer it, you should talk to students about how they deal with that. For some people, it's a completely legit reason to choose one school over another, but I'd say that generally you should be open to the possibility that you might discover more interests when you're in law school, and that the "feel" of a school makes a difference, regardless of academic offerings.
bgc wrote: I'm also curious about the "race for faculty" that was discussed last year. How has that played out?
The school's made a few hires lately - both clinical and academic. The hiring committee is meeting ALL the time - my professors who are on it are constantly going to meetings to talk about candidates. There are some great visiting faculty this year that students are hoping will get permanent offers, too. The school's official position is that we (meaning, the YLS endowment) haven't been hit as hard as other schools have, so now is the time to be aggressive with hiring, especially targeting young "rising stars." It's obviously something that will play out for a number of years, but I think there is a sense here that we can't rest on our laurels (especially with regard to minority/female faculty hires).