It has been one hell of a year—exciting and unforgettable.
Whether it was those LLM parties in the Hayden Hall basement, those midnight trips to MacDougal Street, or those 24-hour take-homes, we are going to miss everything. Okay, maybe not the exam bit so much.
The LLM program at NYU Law is different things for different people. For some, it is a career launchpad after completing law school, while for others it’s an opportunity to study in a different jurisdiction and gain work experience. Basically, it is NYU saying, “You decide what you want to do, and we will give you the platform.”
Situated in Greenwich Village, NYU Law gave us the platform to be a part of clinics, become TAs for professors, and work as research assistants. Living in this expensive city, many of us became chefs, while others simply gave up on food. We all learned the subtle art of buying things off Coase’s List and finding our way around NYU Law’s multiple stairways as we tried to make it to Graduate Lawyering in time. We also wondered just how one would study for the bar exam in such a short period, and some of us are still pondering in the next few months that lie ahead of us.
The year was a platform to meet people from all over the world, as a result of which we have friends now from different cultures and countries and who speak different languages. I now know that Japanese sake (such as that at our sake party) can be quite strong, and that my LLM friends actually can dance very well to Bollywood music. Also, if I’m in trouble anywhere in the world, I can ask a lawyer friend for help, because of the times we have spent together in the LLM program. It is like being part of a family in which wearing an NYU hoodie allows you to make a new friend at the airport because they, too, studied here. Or those platforms where alumni working in law firms will meet you simply because they loved their time spent here and want to give back.
Unlike some other LLM programs that only take students with a certain length of work experience, NYU Law gives LLMs the opportunity to meet people who are at different stages of their careers. This way, the classroom contains not just people who are similar to one another, but multiple ideas and debates. It has the in-house lawyer with years of work experience sitting next to the fresh graduate, or even the litigator alongside the corporate lawyer. In one of my classes with an ex-judge, my professor walked in and told us he didn’t agree with a judgment he wrote years ago. It’s a platform where the former lawmaker is now the provider of knowledge.
There were some difficult moments, especially around the time of the election. There were some verbal assaults on members of our community, and it was a time of great uncertainty. But NYU Law took us under its protective embrace and made sure we felt loved. It was a law school where the dean held meetings with students to make sure they could express concerns, where student groups ensured inclusiveness for all despite political rhetoric. Like a family, no one at NYU Law turned their back on us. NYU Law became a platform for many voices crying for change, in the streets of New York and at JFK Airport to make sure the government didn’t turn its back on others, too.
As we leave these idyllic surroundings, we inherit a world that is divided: a world of hatred and imperfect leaders where representation by the legal profession is required more than ever. NYU Law has given us the knowledge and the opportunity to, as in the movie 21, “dazzle.” But we need to go out there and ensure we do justice to what we have learned here—to ensure that some change happens, whether it is altering the lines of a contract or repealing a statute. We simply cannot let the world’s problems remain as they are, as that would be unacceptable, and we want to make NYU Law proud.