I always have the feeling there is a lot to pay attention to besides classes at NYU. Posters for panels are reflections of a rush and condensation of intellectuality in law school. I normally have a general year-plan and vague monthly goals. However, I do pre-arrange my next week’s panels and keep them on Google Calendar.
Every morning when I wake up, I go through my Google Calendar with my foggy mind and try to figure out which panel would make my day. It becomes obsessive after a while. When there is no intellectual stimulation that day, I have a hard time going to bed. There has to be something–an argument, a comment, or even a joke.
There are generally four types of panels, which I will categorize. The first type is a three-to-five-day-long annual meeting. A typical one is the International Weekend, generally held in late October in New York after the general meeting of the United Nations. The 2013 International Weekend was held at Fordham Law School. The annual Spring Meeting of International Law, held by the American Society of International Law, is the first week of April in New York. The second type lasts a day, usually with four discussion panels. This kind may also be an annual gathering, with different topics each year. For example, the Columbia Arbitration Day has been a great platform for the interaction between academic and practical experience in arbitration. The topic for this year’s Arbitration Day was “Interactions between Different Fora in International Arbitration,” which I found very interesting. The third type is a single panel that is organized by either a center, a firm, or a bar association and either, weekly, monthly, or randomly. Many Law School events fall into this category. The last type is a lunch talk. Two at NYU include the Criminal Law Lunch Talk, held by Professor James Jacobs, and another held by Professor Jerome Cohen and sponsored by US-Asia Law Institute, which covers issues in Asian law.
Choosing which panel to go to is also worth some thought. After a little experience, I’ve learned that makes a panel go from good to great is the moderator, besides the reputation of panelists and the structure of panel discussions. Basically, when you are invited to be a panelist at NYU or any annual meeting, you are a real expert in that field. Therefore, it is the job of moderator to tap the real potential of every panel by asking the right question and also controlling the time allocation to make the whole process work. One of the panels I liked the most was a career pathway discussion for LLMs held by New York Law School. The moderator is a French partner and LLM graduate of NYU who asks concrete questions and leads the panel to address especially the comparative advantages LLMs have in job searching.
Attending panels has so many advantages that exhaustion is impossible. First, you keep yourself in the frontier of the evolution of law. It does not matter whether you are expert in the field or not. Being there, taking notes, thinking about them will benefit you at the end of the day. Second, the importance of networking can never be underestimated. Networking is not limited to the panelists, but also includes your colleagues. I personally have met very good friends and received reference to professors at other law schools. Third, and especially important for me as an addicted writer, it inspires me about what to write next. And fourth, good food doesn’t hurt.
Panels never end. See you at the next one.