Over the past two-and-a-half months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on all of us, triggering unprecedented shifts not just in legal education but in every aspect of daily life. For some of you, the effects of the virus have come home in painful, even devastating ways. The safety and well-being of all of you and of those close to you will continue to be foremost in my thoughts as circumstances continue to unfold.
This time also has shown that the true strength of the NYU Law community extends far beyond physical proximity. We have had cause to display our resilient spirit and have come together in truly inspiring ways. As students and members of our community, each of you has demonstrated great goodwill and creativity in a challenging semester. Despite disruption and distress, you remained committed to academic inquiry and engagement even as the mode of that commitment abruptly changed. You supported one another and advocated for those most vulnerable among us, demonstrating that when the fulfillment of our core educational mission endures, so too does our ability to positively influence the world.
As this unprecedented semester comes to a close, our community turns its full attention to preparing for Fall 2020. In doing so, we face considerable uncertainty. We look forward to the day when we can all return to Washington Square, but it isn’t yet clear when that day will be. We are hoping and planning to resume in-person operations when the Fall semester begins, but that remains subject to change as the advice of public health experts evolves and as governing authorities issue new rules and guidelines for higher education. Developments on each of these fronts will dictate a great deal about what the Fall semester at NYU Law will look like.
In formulating our plans, we will make the safety and health of all NYU Law community members the principal basis for our decision-making; we will innovate to maintain a standard of excellence in the fulfillment of our core academic mission; and we will provide information and flexibility to our students to the degree possible, so that each student is empowered to make informed choices.
Guided by these principles, I want to provide you with the following preliminary updates about Fall 2020 at NYU Law.
In-Person and Remote Instruction
- We are developing plans for the resumption of some in-person instruction in Fall 2020. We expect that our in-person course offerings will not cover the entire curriculum, and thus that all students will receive some instruction remotely.
- We can assure you that any in-person instruction scenario will be consistent with developing density restrictions, social distancing guidelines, personal protective equipment recommendations, and other health and safety protocols.
- Students who wish to participate remotely in any Fall 2020 NYU Law class in which they are enrolled may do so. Put another way, all in-person class meetings for Fall 2020 will also be accessible remotely, in real time.
- It remains possible that we will need to begin the academic year fully remotely. It is also possible that, as happened this Spring, a complete transition to remote instruction partway through the Fall semester will be necessary. Should either of these measures be required, the faculty, administration, and staff are prepared to pivot and adapt immediately to protect the health and safety of our community while also fulfilling our academic mission.
- While the Spring 2020 transition to remote instruction was necessarily abrupt, the intelligence and creativity of our faculty, students, administration, and staff made the enterprise a successful one. We continue to build on that success in preparation for remote and hybrid instruction in the Fall by sharing best practices among faculty and instructors; workshopping around pedagogy; and enhancing our technological capabilities.
Fall 2020 Registration
- Our academic year will begin as scheduled. August 25, 2020, will be the first day of classes.
- In order to prepare for the possibility of some in-person instruction, we are currently adjusting the schedule of classes for Fall 2020. Although the overall slate of course offerings will remain the same or very similar, we expect to make adjustments to the block schedule and to the meeting schedule for some courses.
- We expect an updated schedule of classes for Fall 2020 to be available by mid-June, and for Fall 2020 Registration (first cycle) to run from June 26 to July 7.
Living on Washington Square
Coming to Campus
- If any student cannot arrive on campus at the beginning of the academic year, that student may begin the Fall 2020 semester remotely until they can join us in person. Students may also opt to participate remotely for the entire Fall 2020 semester should that be their preference.
- If some in-person instruction resumes in Fall 2020 as planned, students who cannot or choose not to come to campus should be mindful that there remain regulatory limitations on remote instruction (also referred to as “distance learning”), which may have consequences for an individual student’s eligibility for bar admission, a student visa, Optional Practical Training (OPT), or the like. NYU Law will continue to advocate for a relaxation of “distance learning” restrictions for our students during this public health crisis, and we will keep students updated as more information becomes available.
Living on Campus
- Recognizing that your plans may change as the current crisis evolves, NYU Law Residence Services will offer students flexible license terms for housing, allowing them both to postpone their arrival and/or to depart early, according to their unique circumstances.
- To help minimize uncertainty, once students are living on campus, their housing rates will not increase, even if they remain for all three years of their JD studies.
Supporting Student Success
Despite the current crisis and its budgetary impact, supporting our students’ success remains a key priority for the Law School.
- The Public Interest Law Center’s Summer Funding Program has increased funding for all 1Ls and 2Ls working in public interest, giving them invaluable training for their legal careers.
- Not only have we made our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP)—now LRAP Plus—even more generous to support graduates pursuing careers in public service, we’ve extended the availability of that enhanced career and income flexibility to all of our qualifying alumni—not just the most recent graduates.
- Rising 2Ls and 3Ls who have incurred unanticipated expenses related to the COVID-19 crisis are eligible for grants from the NYU Law COVID-19 Hardship Fund.
- Our Student Services offices continue to provide individualized and group support for students and student organizations at every stage of their legal education and beyond.
While some aspects of Fall 2020 remain uncertain, we will continue to provide clarity wherever possible and to exhibit flexibility as you begin your summers and plan returning to your studies later this year. We expect to receive additional guidance from state and local authorities and public health experts by July, and we will update you accordingly. We are committed to moving forward thoughtfully, deliberately, and with the best interests of our community in mind.
I wish you the very best for the summer and look forward to seeing you soon.
Eric M. and Laurie B. Roth Professor of Law
New York University School of Law