Areas of Study

Labor and Employment


The 1L Year

Procedure lays the necessary foundation for the litigation of labor and employment cases. Torts and Contracts are the sources of the common law doctrines that govern the workplace, and Legislation and the Regulatory State provides the tools to understand the legislative and regulatory dimensions of the field. There is no one “right” elective as preparation for the field, but for students with a strong interest in employment discrimination, Constitutional Law is a good choice. Students interested in the global dimensions of the field should consider taking International Law, and students interested in the business context of the field might wish to take Corporations.

The 2L and 3L Years

Core Substantive Courses

There are four basic substantive courses in the field: Employment Law, Labor Law, Employment Discrimination, and Employee Benefits Law. They form the core of our program. None is a prerequisite for the others, and every effort is made to ensure that each is offered every year.

Employment Law and Dispute Resolution (Professors Cynthia Estlund and Samuel Estreicher) covers the common-law rights and obligations inherent in the employment relationship, as well as a range of statutory schemes establishing minimum employment standards, including a basic introduction to the field of employment discrimination. Labor Law (Professors Estlund, Estreicher, and Deborah Malamud) focuses on employee collective action (e.g., union organizing and collective bargaining), with an emphasis on federal law governing the private sector (with some references to public-sector developments). Employment Discrimination Law (Professors Paulette Caldwell and Malamud) provides an in-depth study of federal protections against discrimination on statutorily prohibited grounds (e.g., race, gender, religion, age, disability). Employee Benefits Law (Professor Brookes Billman), a field with both taxation- and employment-law dimensions, focuses on federal regulation of employer-provided retirement and health benefits.

Seminars and Advanced Substantive Offerings

Recent advanced offerings by full-time, adjunct, and global faculty (many providing opportunities for fulfilling the substantial writing requirement) have included courses or seminars on labor and employment law in the sports and entertainment industries, transnational labor law, labor law and globalization, and affirmative action.

Skills-Oriented Courses

The Appellate Advocacy Workshop (co-taught by Professor Estreicher and former AFL-CIO General Counsel Laurence Gold) makes every effort to include labor and employment cases on the US Supreme Court’s docket, and fulfills the substantial writing requirement.


Four offerings, all taught by full-time faculty members, provide opportunities for guided practice experience in the labor and employment field.

In New York

Three clinical offerings, all taught by full-time faculty members, provide opportunities for guided practice experience in the labor and employment field. Please be sure to make your interests clear in your clinic applications and interviews.

The Civil Litigation - Employment Law Clinic (Professor Laura Sager) (full year) offers hands-on and conceptual training in the litigation of discrimination cases in state and federal courts. Students will be assigned to employment-related cases if they so request.

The Community Development and Economic Justice Clinic (Professor Paula Galowitz) (one semester) focuses on the provision of legal services to grassroots organizations. Clinic students perform fieldwork with attorneys from the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center. Best efforts will be made to assign interested students to workers’ rights cases.

The Litigation, Organizing and Systemic Change Clinic (Professor Sarah Burns) (one semester) works with partner organization Make the Road New York and its national partner, the Center for Popular Democracy. Any student selected for the clinic who has a strong interest in employment-related work (especially wage and hour justice) is guaranteed a fieldwork assignment in that subject area.

In Washington, DC

The Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic (Professors Sally Katzen and Robert Bauer) (one semester), which is part of NYU’s new full-semester program for 3L students in Washington, DC, places each student in a federal agency or congressional office four days a week. The Department of Labor is a possible agency placement.

Courses in Related Fields

Substantive Courses

Feel free to consult with members of the labor and employment faculty for guidance. Depending on your interests, courses you should consider include:

Complex Civil Litigation; Administrative Law; Immigration Law and the Rights of Noncitizens; Corporations; Antitrust Law; Bankruptcy; International Trade Law; Intellectual Property Law Survey; Local Government Law; Taxation of Executive Compensation; Accounting for Lawyers.

Interdisciplinary and Skills-Oriented Courses

Courses and seminars in Sex Discrimination Law, Critical Race Theory Seminar, Class and the Law, Law and Economics, and Quantitative Methods provide theoretical perspectives relevant to the field. We also encourage students in the field to take skills-oriented courses in trial and appellate advocacy, negotiation, and alternative dispute resolution.  

Opportunities for Professional Development

The Center for Labor and Employment Law, directed by Professor Samuel Estreicher, presents programs that provide additional opportunities for students to meet and learn from the leading advocates, agency heads, and judges in the field. The center runs an annual labor conference, now in its 67th year; an annual program on employment law for federal judges (attracting 40-50 federal trial and magistrate judges each year); an annual program on employment law for corporation counsel; and a newly inaugurated annual program on employment law for employee-side counsel. Students are given opportunities to attend, and occasionally to give presentations, at these programs.

Students (including 1Ls) are encouraged to get early hands-on experience in the field through the student-led Unemployment Action Center, one of the leading providers of legal services for unemployment hearings in New York City. Countless opportunities for term-time volunteer and paid employment in the labor and employment field exist in New York’s rich practice environment.