Beyond the Classroom: The LLM Student’s Guide to the NYU Law Galaxy

Wondering what NYU has to offer beyond the traditional law school curriculum? Look no further.

For the most part law school can be a very dry and abstract undertaking. But can it also offer fun, interdisciplinary, and thought-provoking experiences? I can certainly answer in the affirmative based on the past seven months I’ve spent at NYU Law.

This is by no means an attempt to categorize, list, or exhaustively describe all the events that take place at NYU Law every single day of the week. But I am sure that some of my classmates have never even so much as glanced at the weekly email we get, which is aptly entitled “Events This Week at NYU Law.” This is only a hunch, though; I have seen many of my classmates at events (that were not directly career-related) throughout the last couple of months.

US Attorney Preet Bharara was just one of the distinguished guests at this year's Milbank Tweed Forums.
US Attorney Preet Bharara was just one of the distinguished guests at this year’s Milbank Tweed Forums.

Since I am a well-known organizational freak, I have noted all the events I have attended so far: 34 in total, ranging from social to political to philosophical and, of course, legal. Now that I revisit my “social calendar” and ponder the many different perspectives that NYU Law has shown me, I am deeply grateful that we have these unique opportunities to engage in debate; to listen to heads of state, policy-makers, and grassroots activists; and to be able to develop our own appreciation for the complex challenges outside the classroom.

So why am I telling you all this? Because it is important that people go to these events. Not only is it our tuition money that helps to fund those events, but it is also our duty to inform ourselves as lawyers and as (potentially) leading members of society.

While we can’t change our past laziness, there are still at least two more months to delve into the plethora of free(!) events (often with complimentary food and drinks). Why wouldn’t you go?

To make the decision a little bit easier, here is my personal take on the events that I have visited so far. Probably the most well-known recurring event at NYU Law is the weekly Milbank Tweed Forum, which is designed to educate and provoke discussion. This objective has certainly been fulfilled throughout the past couple of weeks. Topics discussed ranged from energy and environmental policy to landmark preservation in New York City and free speech on campus. It impresses me greatly that the Law School has not yielded to the temptation of shying away from controversial, difficult, and sensitive topics such as sexual assault on campus. Granted, the sandwiches would not cause any respectable gourmet to rave about them, but it is still well worth listening to an interesting panel.

Other events that I have attended include lunch talks with Professor Richard Epstein, which I highly recommend to anyone who has ever wanted to witness a genius in 3D. You might not be enormously enthused about Roman law, but Professor Epstein sure knows how to deliver a riveting account of the origins of property.

Another personal highlight was the Faculty in Residence lecture with Professor David Garland. He graciously invited us into his apartment and gave a fascinating talk about sexuality and the law inspired by the book The History of Sexuality by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. What was that about the law being dry and boring?

Finally, I was deeply moved by the Emile Noël Lecture on the State of the European Union, which was delivered by President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland. Of course it is always interesting to hear what a fellow European—and, on top of that, such a distinguished one—has to say about the state of Europe today. But he went beyond a standard political lecture. He directly appealed to every young person in the audience and asked them to resist extremism, political and societal schisms, and conventional wisdom by challenging the status quo and ourselves.

You might not change the world by going to these events, but you might change yourself. And that is a very good place to start.