Anthony W. Crowell
Q: Is a law school education a good buy in the current economic environment? Why is law school so expensive?
A: Investing in any graduate degree is a big decision. I believe that the value of a law degree is measured over the course of a lifelong career. Legal education always has been an incredibly worthwhile and valuable pursuit because the foundations of a good legal educationdeveloping sound reasoning, critical reading, strong writing and communications skills, a passion for advocacy, and a deep sense of societal, business, and civic constructsare valued across so many professions.
In general, legal education costs are largely attributable to providing ever increasing and evolving opportunities for student learningwhether that takes the form of adding outstanding faculty to offer a wide array of classes, introducing innovative clinics and other programs for more tactical and experiential learning opportunities, or introducing the latest technology into the academic setting. There are also additional costs associated with being situated in one of the most expensive cities in the country; however, the access to an abundance of truly unique learning opportunities and a broad diversity of job prospects make the study of law in New York City an unparalleled commodity. I recognize that the cost of tuition is a critical issue and one of my major areas of focus as the new dean is expanding scholarship opportunities for students while undertaking every effort to operate the school as efficiently as possible.
Q: Are you confident that there will be enough legal jobs in the foreseeable future to accommodate your graduates? In what sector will graduates find those jobs (for example, in government, large firms, small firms, insurance agencies)?
A: Yes. The challenge now confronting our profession is the need to place equal value on traditional and non-traditional jobs performed by those with legal educations. In addition to traditional roles in large and small firm settings, lawyers are a driving force in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. Lawyers are leaders, and constitute the ranks of middle and high level management, in government and business alike, and we need to ensure that our law schools prepare students for these roles and that our profession values these contributions.
As the economy diversifies, it is critical that law schools mark changes in trends and adapt their curricula, including experiential learning opportunities, in ways that prepare students to enter new fields with the skills, ability to think innovatively, and confidence required to succeed. Looking at the major sectors expected to grow or diversify over the next 10 to 20 years (government, healthcare, science and technology, real estate and financial services), it is imperative that we provide our students with the tools needed to tackle those industries.
Q: What changes have been made to the curriculum to ensure students are well prepared for a career?
A: The fall 2011 semester marked the launch of New York Law School's new first-year skills program, which features a redesigned curriculum that provides students with a comprehensive introduction to lawyering skills at the beginning of their law school careers. The goal of this program is to ensure that students really see how analysis, research, and writing are interconnected with lawyering skills like client interviewing, counseling, and negotiation.
Because of our first-year skills program, New York Law School was recently named by preLaw magazine to be one of the "most innovative law schools" in the country and was singled out for applying the "medical school model." Students work with "standardized clients," trained actors with whom students practice their interviewing, fact-gathering, and counseling skills (modeled after "standardized patient" exercises in medical schools). The actors assess students based on various criteria, such as how students talk to them, what questions the students ask, and whether they, as clients, feel satisfied at the conclusion of their interaction.