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New York Law School
Published February 2010, last updated September 2010
In the current state of the economy, attending any law school and incurring debt is a decision that should be thought over with great care. For that reason, New York Law School (or NYLS), located in New York City, is a school that applicants should stay away from. The tuition is outrageously high ($44,850 for full-time students and $34,500 for part-time students), and the job prospects are mediocre at best. Only the absolute top students from the school get well-paying jobs, and unless you are willing to gamble your financial freedom and future on placing in the top 10% or better of your law school class, you are much better off attending another school. If you are not sure about applying to law school or just beginning the application process, then please take the time to read some of the excellent pre-law articles found here.
Tuition and Fees
As mentioned above, the tuition for New York Law School is very high. Full-time students end up paying $44,850 per year, and part-time students pay $34,500. The school estimates that, adding on New York City's expensive cost of living, full-time students will end up paying around $67,615 annually. Part-time students pay only slightly less at $56,990.
The school does offer some financial aid to students, but it is usually not enough to make a significant difference in students' debt. In the school's most recent ABA data, it was reported that only 33.0% of students (36.4% of full-time students, 22.9% of part-time students) received some kind of financial aid grant. Of those who received financial aid, the vast majority (87.6%) were given less than half tuition. Only a small percentage (11.6%) received half to full tuition, and exactly four students (out of 1,596) were given a full tuition scholarship. The median grant for full-time students was $10,000, and for part-time students it was $5,000.
In addition, the school has very stringent requirements for maintaining scholarships. Students report having to keep a 3.35 GPA if they don't want any of their aid rescinded. The amount of scholarship money that one loses depends on how far below 3.35 one goes, but all aid is revoked if one ends up with a GPA below 3.10. As a point of comparison, the median GPA at NYLS is somewhere around a 2.8; that means that a student has to maintain a class rank somewhere near the very top of his or her class if he/she wants to keep the scholarship offer that he/she entered with. Placing at median means that you will be paying sticker for an NYLS education, a prospect that should be scary for anyone.
To read a TLS article about funding your legal education, click here. Also, if you plan on pursuing a career in public interest, click here to learn about the new program called Public Service Loan Forgiveness (or PSLF). Finally, to read about a new payment option for federal student loans called IBR (or Income-Based Repayment), click here.
Getting accepted to New York Law School is not terribly competitive. In the school's most recent ABA data, the school received 4,188 applications (3,403 full-time and 785 part-time) and made 2,246 offers (1,936 full-time and 310 part-time). This is an overall acceptance rate of 53.63%, with a full-time acceptance rate of 56.89% and a part-time acceptance rate of 39.49%. A total of 736 students decided to matriculate (569 full-time and 167 part-time). The following chart shows the numbers profile for the Class of 2009. To learn more about preparing for the LSAT from some of the highest scorers on TLS, click here.
Unless one obtains a fee waiver, applying to NYLS costs $65. To learn more about fee waivers and whether you're eligible, click here.
Personal Statements and Resumes
Applicants to New York Law School are required to submit two different essays as well as a resume that details their “employment and volunteer, leadership, and community activities since secondary school.” Your resume is a good way of sharing those factors that make you different in a concise and accessible way. To read some advice about creating a professional law school resume, click here.
Your first essay is the more substantial one and should explain “your desire to become a lawyer and the skills that you possess that will enable you to be a successful student and attorney.” The school requests that applicants write no more than four double-spaced pages. The second essay is a “Why NYLS” essay, where the applicant writes no more than two double-spaced pages about why he/she is applying for admission to New York Law School. If you are interested in improving your personal statement or even just looking for ideas to write about, Ken DeLeon, the creator of Top-Law-Schools.com, wrote a fantastic guide to personal statements which can be found here for free. Assistant Dean Perez had the following advice about these essays:
Finally, prospective students can opt to write an optional essay if they so choose. This “supplemental statement” is used to tell the admissions committee about “economic, cultural, or social factors that have been significant in your identity, or that have presented obstacles to you.” Although the application doesn't give a length requirement, writing roughly a page double-spaced is a good bet.
When to Apply
New York Law School does not have an Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) option, but students should apply as early as possible. Applications open on September 1st and close on May 1st. Because of this, the February LSAT is the last LSAT that prospective students can take before applying.
Letters of Recommendation
The school requires that you submit one letter of recommendation, and asks you to limit yourself to three. That being said, the school will accept four, but Dean Perez says that it's “hard to say” whether it will help your application. Furthermore, the Dean notes that, “Your application will go to the committee with only one letter if everything else is received; even if you have told us that you're going to have three letters submitted.” So make sure that you take care of all of your letters of recommendation well in advance. To get some additional advice on obtaining letters of recommendation, click here.
New York Law School gives a tremendous amount of information about its waitlist process, found here. In essence, if you find yourself on the waitlist, you should be prepared for a long wait. Often, the school doesn't look at the wait list until June, and they write, “Agreeing to be on our wait list will require tremendous patience on your part.” There are no sure fire strategies to getting accepted off the waitlist, but one can help one's chances by making sure that one submitted all of one's materials successfully and didn't leave anything blank on the application. The school reports that 15% of applicants forget to attach a resume (which is required), making their chances of admission less than wonderful.
In addition, if you forgot to address a “major weakness” in your application (a sudden drop in grades, a drop on your LSAT score after a retake, large gaps in employment history, etc.), that can also be a red flag for the admissions committee. Finally, submitting a LOCI (or letter of continued interest) is never a bad idea. The school reports that sending a “simple letter” that “[outlines] in specific terms why [NYLS] is your first choice” can be “helpful to the committee.” Make sure that your letter is sincere, and don't “regurgitate” or “plagiarize” the school's website or admissions materials. Please note that the school's waitlist is not ranked.
Transferring to NYLS is very similar to the normal application process. Transfer students are required to “have completed one academic year and be in good standing to be considered,” and can apply at three different points in the year. For fall (August) admission, prospective students must submit their applications by July 1st, and applications must be submitted by November 15th for spring (January) admission. Finally, for summer (May) admission, transfer students must apply by May 1st. One must submit one's law school transcript, between 1 and 3 letters of recommendation, and a collection of other materials in order to be accepted. To read more about the transferring process on NYLS's website, click here, and to read a fantastic article about transferring, click here.
URMs (or Underrepresented Minorities)
Because of their disadvantaged histories in the United States, certain minorities enjoy a significant boost in the application process. To read more about this boost and to see whether you classify as an URM, click here. In addition, there are many pre-law programs specifically created to help URM applicants get accepted to top schools. To read more about some of these programs, click here.
Law School Culture
Unsurprisingly, there is plenty to do in the area around New York Law School. The school is located in TriBeCa (Triangle below Canal Street), a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. In their scarce free time, students can visit nearby SoHo, Chinatown, or any of the other exciting areas in Manhattan. If they want to remain closer to home, Washington Market Park, located in TriBeCa, is a vibrant place to have fun. Students can play basketball and tennis, and they can enjoy the park's community garden, where residents grow flowers and other plants for the enjoyment of all. Other local festivities include the TriBeCa Film Festival and the TriBeCa Open Artist Studio Tour, and new students can take the TriBeCa Walking Tour to get an idea of the different attractions in the area.
Transportation in the area should be relatively effortless. Taxis, buses, and the city's subway system should make any part of New York City readily available. For most students, bringing a car to the school is a bad idea. Either you will have to move your car constantly from spot to spot, or pay an absurd amount of money per month to park in a garage.
While there are a small number of crimes committed on campus and in the surrounding area each year, in general New York Law Students should feel safe. Information about the school's safety policies can be found here, and the school's latest Campus Security Report can be found here. Many buildings on campus have electronic card access systems, and those who live in the school's Residence Hall (discussed more thoroughly below) will be happy to know that there is a security guard stationed there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Listing all the fun things to do in New York City would be impossible, but one can look here to get a taste. The city has countless museums, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. If one can be sure of something about NYLS, it's that students will never be bored by the surrounding environment!
For those who want to live with other New York Law School students, the school has a Residence Hall located in Manhattan. As expected, the rent is quite high at $1,350 to $1,890 monthly (per person). The leasing term is approximately 12 months, and students can live in either two bedroom or three bedroom apartments. If you decide to live elsewhere, you should be able to find an apartment relatively easily; after all, you are living in New York City! Check craigslist and other apartment listings, and you'll be able to find a place for the same price (or even cheaper) than the New York Law School residence hall.
Students' views on campus facilities tend to be negative. One person writes:
While this student might be exaggerating, it seems to be the case that the school's facilities are less than stellar.
The following chart gives a breakdown by gender, ethnicity, and age for the entering class in 2009:
In addition, the school's most recent ABA data reports that the student body is 49.6% men, 50.4% women, and 19.9% minorities. The school's student body is quite diverse, with an even distribution of men and women, a sizable number of minorities, and an age range that encompasses both young and old. There are also plenty of student organizations geared towards specific groups; some examples include the Black Law Students Association, the Italian Law Students Association, the Jewish Law Students Association, and the Muslim Law Students Association. Despite these organizations, graduates report that there is not much cohesion on campus. One person writes:
Another graduate has a slightly better (but still less than outstanding) perspective on the student body:
One graduate had an interesting remark to make about the student body; he said that “a lot” of students actually come from wealthy backgrounds:
Obviously, this attribute does not apply to the entire student body, but it is something to keep in mind when considering the school.
At NYLS, the entire first year of study and part of the second are composed of required courses – including the typical Contracts, Torts, Property, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law (2 semesters). In addition, first and second year students are required to enroll in a number of practical courses: Evidence, Lawyering, Professional Responsibility, Corporate Practice, Legal Writing, Legislation and Regulation, and Written and Oral Advocacy. These courses are designed to give the student more “hands-on” experience, an increasingly common approach to legal education at third and fourth-tier law schools. NYLS emphasizes the issues of law as a trade to a greater extent than legal philosophy or policy issues. As with most schools, the full-time (day) program takes three years to complete, and the part-time (evening) program takes four years.
One glaring drawback to academic life at NYLS is the student-to-faculty ratio – at 23.6, it is the second highest of any ABA-accredited law school (only behind Barry University). This can make it difficult for students to develop close relationships with professors, contributing to the school’s reputation as a “degree mill.”
If one places in the top 15% of one's section after one's first year, one will be invited to join the school's “Harlan Scholars” honors program. This program entails a number of benefits, some of which include maintaining one's scholarship (or gaining a scholarship if one does not have one), affiliation with one of the school's academic centers (discussed below), and special recognition on one's final transcript. Students who participate in the program must also join the New York Law Review, also discussed in more detail below. The school hopes that the program will allow students to “focus their law school studies, gaining depth and substantive expertise beyond a broad understanding of the law.”
For most students, the only joint degree of interest is the school's JD / MBA with Baruch College. Other programs include an accelerated Bachelor's / JD program with both Adelphi University and the Stevens Institute of Technology. If one attends either of these schools for one's undergraduate studies, one can receive both a bachelor's degree and a JD within six years. Keep in mind that a JD / MBA is a specialized degree, and one should carefully consider what one wants to do before pursuing one. To learn more about whether a JD / MBA is the right choice for you, click here.
Comprehensive Curriculum Program
One somewhat unusual aspect of New York Law School is its Comprehensive Curriculum Program (or CCP). This program is designed to help those near the bottom of their classes prepare for and pass the bar. Part of the CCP is making students take certain courses; instead of being free to take easier electives like Sports Law, they are required to take difficult courses like Corporations and Wills and Trusts.
Students are placed in the program after their first semester if they place in the bottom 25% of their sections. This includes a large chunk of the student body, and it is very difficult to break out of the CCP once you have been placed in it. One student explains:
He further clarifies:
Another disadvantage of this program is that it does not allow students to participate in Law Review or moot court until the completion of their second year. Students in the CCP wouldn't have much of a shot of getting accepted to Law Review anyway (due to their low grades), but preventing them from even trying to join means that they are guaranteed to be at a distinct disadvantage come job searching time.
If one places at the very bottom of one's section (bottom 10%), one is required to reduce one's credits per semester. Instead of the normal 15 credits, students take a maximum of 12 credits and stay an extra semester. Because the students take fewer courses per semester but stay longer, they end up paying the same amount as students not in the program. In addition, a student reports that if one stays for this extra semester, one no longer has a class ranking. This can be problematic for employers, since class rank is one of the primary measures used to judge a job applicant. That being said, these students are at the bottom of their class, so it is difficult to tell how much having their ranking would actually help them.
It should be noted that part-time students also participate in the CCP. The program is roughly the same as for full-time students, with the exception that part-time students are not required to spend an extra semester at NYLS regardless of their GPAs. However, they are “allowed to slow their progress through law school if they choose.” Students who participate in the CCP might be able to pass the bar, but their chances of finding a decent job are negligible. If you are placed in this program, it is almost undoubtedly better to count your losses and drop out of law school. Taking on $100,000 worth of debt when you are near the bottom of your class at one of the worst schools in a saturated market doesn't seem worth it.
One student writes about professors at NYLS:
The same student also commented about obtaining recommendations, “Professors do not write recommendations for LLM programs after saying they would, simply going, 'Oops!' This leaves the student relying on that recommendation completely out of luck.” This does not paint a pleasant picture of professors at NYLS. This sentiment certainly does not apply to all professors at the school; some are undoubtedly excellent teachers. However, even one instance of this kind of behavior can certainly sour the image of the school.
There are many different programs and centers on campus that promote research in many different areas of the law. They include: the Center on Business Law and Policy, the Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families, the Center on Financial Services Law, the Institute for Information Law and Policy, the Center for International Law, the Justice Action Center, the Center for New York Law, the Center for Professional Values and Practice, the Center for Real Estate Studies, the Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, the Center for Patent Innovations, the Media Center, and the Lawyering Skills Center.
Just as an example, the Center on Business Law and Policy is dedicated to helping its Harlan Scholars learn more about “business, securities, and commercial law.” The program has a curriculum designed to help students learn the “highly influential role of law and lawyers in shaping businesses' and other market participants' conduct,” and students can attend the center's numerous events and symposia to learn more about business law. As another example, the Center for New York Law has the mission to “provide information about, and analysis of, the laws and legal processes that govern New York City.” The center proceeds through “scholarly research and writing and by widely disseminating information about New York City in accessible and easily understood formats,” and students will be happy to know that they provide a valuable component to this process. A small sampling of what students get to do includes “[drafting] items for the Center's publications, [assisting] in managing the Web site, [helping] plan and run Center events, and [having] special opportunities to attend meetings on governmental and political issues.” The center also helps students find internships; some previous placements include City Hall, the Mayor's Office of Contract Services, and the Department of Transportation. Overall, the centers at NYLS provide a valuable service to both the community and the school's students. Students can explore a certain discipline within the law and get hands-on experience helping others.
Public Interest and Clinics
Like most schools, NYLS dedicates a considerable amount of resources and time to its public interest program. For instance, many of the centers described above help the public a great deal. In addition, there are several different student-run and faculty-run pro bono groups where students can get involved with the community. Examples include the Domestic Violence Project (where students provide “direct advocacy, education and services to domestic violence victims in New York City's Family Courts”), the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (where trained students “assist low-income members of the community in preparing income tax returns”), and the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project, which is “involved in legislative reform, lawyer and law student training, pro bono legal assistance, and the full range of law reform projects that relate to the practice of mental disability law in other nations.”
In addition, the school reports that “about 40%” of externships are in “public interest positions, in the fields of criminal justice, international human rights, immigration law, and New York City law.” Students tend to work 12-15 hours a week in these positions and get some valuable experiences in the public arena. The school also offers a significant number of summer stipends to students who wish to work in “otherwise unpaid government and non-profit positions.” In the summer of 2009, the school reported funding over 190 first-year and second-year students. Finally, there are various events and lectures that students can attend to learn more about public interest; examples include the Sidney Shainwald Public Interest Lecture Series, the Public Interest Coalition Annual Goods and Services Auction, and the Stonewall Law Students Association Annual Charity Raffle and Dinner.
Under the Lawyering Skills Center, the school offers five different clinics for students. These include the Criminal Law Clinic, the Elder Law Clinic, the Mediation Clinic, the Urban Law Clinic, and the Securities Arbitration Clinic. Students in each of these clinics will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience helping others in the real world. For instance, in the Criminal Law Clinic, students work with an experienced Legal Aid Society attorney on felony cases. They work through “all stages of the criminal process, from arraignment through trial.” In the Elder Law Clinic, students get to work on “actual cases involving guardianship proceedings” and perform duties like drafting court papers, researching and preparing memos, and even appearing in court. One can click the other links given above if one wants to see what students do in the other clinics.
If students are interested in getting some hands-on experience with editing legal articles, they can join the school's Law Review. The New York Law School Law Review is the only legal publication at the school, so students interested in a particular area of law (intellectual property, gender studies, etc.) might be disappointed with the lack of specialized articles to work on. Nonetheless, it is certainly a good idea for students to join the journal if at all possible, as it will make their job prospects better and will give them an opportunity to network.
Students can gain membership to the Review in two different ways. First, if one has sufficiently high grades, one is accepted to the Review automatically. However, students can also apply to join via the school's Annual Write-On Competition. The competition consists of “drafting a short paper based on a fact pattern that is developed by the Law Review.” The fact pattern that was used in 2009 can be seen here. Although the school says there is “no limit to the number of students who may write-on,” invitations seem quite limited. The journal reports that in 2009, “The Law Review received approximately 50 write-on submissions and extended invitations to three students.” It should be noted that if one is a member of the school's Comprehensive Curriculum Program (or CCP), one cannot apply to be a member of the Review until after one's second year of law school is finished. The CCP is discussed more thoroughly above. Finally, to see a video history of the journal, click here.
The school's employment statistics for its Class of 2009 showcase just how poor one's chances of obtaining a “large firm” job truly are as a New York Law School grad. With a total of 94% of graduates reporting their employment status, the overall employment rate was 89.7%. Although it is likely that the 6% that did not report their employment status were unemployed, we will take the data at face value and just assume that the overall employment rate given is accurate.
The school's bar passage rate was slightly higher than the state average of 88.98%. For the Class of 2008, with 424 first-time takers reporting (out of 436 first-time takers total), 387 (or 91.27%) passed the New York state bar. The school further breaks down the employment status for the 89.7 percent given above in the following chart:
Please note the dismal percentage for graduates that managed to find work at firms; this is only 40.9% of the overall graduating class. As said previously, comparing the percentage of students that go into private practice is generally a good way of seeing how strong the school's employment prospects are. For example, Columbia reported a percentage of 81.7%, Cardozo reported a percentage of 64.0%, etc. Of course, another way of analyzing the strength of a school is looking at how many students it places into “large firms”:
So, of the 45.6% of employed graduates that found work at firms, only 30% were employed at “large firms” of 101 or more attorneys. This is a total of 13.7% of employed graduates (or 12.3% of the overall graduating class). In addition, 23.3% of employed graduates (or 20.9% of the overall graduating class) found work in the smallest bracket of firm (2 to 10 attorneys). It is never a good sign when the “2 to 10 attorneys” bracket is significantly larger than the “101 or more attorneys” bracket. In addition, the salary information given above is entirely unreliable, as it is gathered from only “approximately 20%” of the class. It is almost certain that the “average salary” for all of the brackets would be significantly lower if all graduates had reported their salaries. Finally, the NALP Directory of Legal Employers reported that 23 law firms' offices are attending the school's 2010-2011 OCI, 12 of which are based in New York City. While this is slightly more than some other schools (Hofstra, Buffalo), it is likely that these employers will hire very few graduates from NYLS, judging from the school's extremely low firm placement.
One student was quite positive (although still realistic) about NYLS's job prospects:
Another student submitted a similarly reasonable view:
So, graduates from NYLS often end up working long hours with relatively low pay. Add to this a great deal of debt, and one can see why attending NYLS is a bad idea for most people. You are almost certainly better off attending a state school, paying much less in tuition, and finding a decent job with better hours. Do not be fooled by the school's reported average salary of $120,197 for graduates working in firms. For a slightly older class (the Class of 2008), only 27% of graduates working in the private sector reported their salaries. While we do not know what percentage of graduates reported their salaries from the Class of 2009, it is most likely a similar number. This percentage is so low as to make the data virtually meaningless. Common sense tells us that if only 30% of those working at law firms are working at large firms of 101 attorneys or more, and 51% of those working at law firms are working at very small firms of 2 to 10 attorneys, that an overall average salary of $120,197 for graduates working in firms is severely skewed. Most likely, many more people in the higher salary ranges reported their incomes. At any rate, this salary data is meaningless, so please ignore it.
New York Law School is not a good choice for most applicants. The cost of attendance is extremely high, the school has overly strict GPA requirements on its scholarships, and the job prospects for most graduates are dismal. Richard Matasar, the Dean of New York Law School, said it best about the exploitative nature of some law schools (found here):
New York Law School is a prime example of the type of institution that Dean Matasar is talking about. Unless you want to take a huge gamble with your future or receive a significant amount of financial aid (with no stipulations), you should seriously consider attending a cheaper state school like the University at Buffalo (SUNY). That path will most likely not be marred with nearly as much financial frustration.
New York Law School
U.S. News Ranking: Unranked (Tier 3)
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