In the past 12 years, the New York University School of Law has become a “leadership school,” perhaps the leadership law school. In a recent article, Vanderbilt Law School Dean Kent Syverud, the Editor of the Association of American Law School’s Journal of Legal Education, summarized Dean Sexton’s achievements, saying, “By almost any measure, he has been the most effective dean of his generation.” Certainly, the NYU School of Law is now one of the handful of law schools whose curricula, programs and priorities are emulated by other schools of law in the U.S. and around the world. Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

In an unprecedented way, NYU Law School has drawn leading professors from other law schools, and it has become the school of choice for the strongest entry-level teaching candidates. Moreover, other than retirees, over that same span only three members of the faculty have left the School.

Since 1988 the Law School has recruited 32 faculty members from other schools; this group includes five from Chicago, six from Harvard, and two from Stanford, among others. In addition, during this period the School has recruited 16 faculty at the beginning of their careers. At 85, the Law School’s faculty now is the largest in the nation. As a consequence, the faculty/student ratio has been reduced from 19:1 to 12:1.

Global Faculty

NYU Law School created a new concept of faculty in developing its Global Law School Program. The school was the first to build a significant cadre of the leading legal scholars from outside the U.S. as regular and returning members of its scholarly community. And, these faculty members (between 16 and 18 a year) do not merely visit; rather, they stay and teach for a whole or half semester.


In 1988, the Law School already was selective. In the years since, it has become one of the three or four most highly selective law schools, along with Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.

The current average GPA of incoming law students is 3.66, compared to 3.54 in 1988, and the current average LSAT score is at the 97th percentile, compared to the 94th percentile in 1988. Approximately 10% of the students in each entering class have advanced degrees (Ph.D’s, MD’s, or other final degrees) in other disciplines.

Moreover, as part of the Law School’s drive to globalization, the student body includes students from all 50 states as well as 50 foreign nations. Some 20% of the School’s students are citizens of countries other than the United States.

Development and Alumni

Developing resources and relationships that enable the Law School to achieve and maintain its stature in legal education has remained a top priority. Over the last 13 years, the School has achieved a remarkable record of success.

Fundraising: Since 1988, fundraising has increased significantly. In 1988, the Law School raised $4 million in cash and pledges; in 2000, it raised $39 million. So far in 2001, the School has raised over $50 million in cash and pledges ($27 million in cash alone).

The Campaign: The Law School’s seven-year campaign, which ended December 31, 1998, raised $185 million, which at the time represented the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of legal education. The focus of the campaign was to increase endowment for faculty recruitment, curriculum development, and student financial aid.

The Law School Endowment: The Law School’s endowment increased from $106 million in 1988 to $220 million today in cash endowment and an additional $25-30 million in real estate investments.

Alumni: The School has built a very successful alumni relations program. This includes a strong reunion program (over 1000 alumni participate each year), a law firm visitation program, and regional visits by the Dean and faculty in this country and throughout the world. This has resulted in a very strong annual fund that exceeds $3 million in cash per year.

Physical Infrastructure

Vanderbilt Hall: To complement the growth in the Law School faculty and programs, the primary Law School teaching facilities in Vanderbilt Hall were renovated during the decade of the 1990s to introduce state-of-the-art classrooms and seminar rooms. This $15-million construction project funded from the endowment brought advanced technology to all the classrooms on the main instructional floor to enhance the teaching of law in a global environment, including distance learning, Internet connectivity, and interactive computer-assisted instruction. Moreover, this project provided some 200 terminals and networks for students throughout the School. At the same time, a process of improvement to the faculty and student spaces began with the renovation of two major faculty spaces and the Golding Student Lounge.

The West Third Street Project: The program of physical plant improvement to Vanderbilt Hall is continuing in the Law School’s Omnibus Building Program – a plan to establish a modern law school campus in the heart of Greenwich Village’s West Third Street corridor. The centerpiece of this program is the construction of a major, multi-use Law School building on West Third Street, across from Vanderbilt Hall, to house new classrooms and seminar rooms, the law clinics, administrative offices, and faculty residences. The Omnibus Program also includes plans for the completion of improvements to Vanderbilt Hall, including a major renovation of the Law Library, Tishman Auditorium, and faculty offices.

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John Beckman
John Beckman
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