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Trevor Morrison, dean of New York University School of Law, describes its campus location as “an oasis”, situated in the heart of Greenwich Village, a desirable, leafy neighbourhood in downtown Manhattan.
But far from it operating in a remote academic bubble, Prof Morrison believes that one of the school’s strengths is the result of its proximity to the law practitioners, business executives and government officials in New York. He says students benefit from the extra curricular activities the school can offer by having so many experts in their field close at hand.
The school recently invited outgoing US attorney-general Eric Holder to speak on corporate crime, financial fraud prosecutions and enforcement.
Prof Morrison says that corporate compliance, regulation and risk management are areas of increasing significance and growth in the legal profession.
“Financial regulation has become more complex and had more transborder consequences in recent years,” he says. “So there’s a need for law schools to be able to prepare students to practise in that space,” he adds.
With a view to addressing these issues, the school has set up a research centre and think-tank called the Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement to promote research on effective enforcement of regulations and to develop strategies for enhancing compliance.
At the school, there is also a strong emphasis on cross-border business issues. Its Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration and Commercial Law focuses on the study and practice of global business dispute resolution.
Prof Morrison believes the array of research centres and conference events creates opportunities for learning outside the classroom.
The law school also has a partnership with the university’s Stern School of Business as reflected in the recent joint appointment of Mervyn King, the former Bank of England governor. As professor of economics and law, Lord King is teaching a course called Money and Modern Capitalism: Law and Business, which includes looking at reform proposals for banks.
“When I think of the area of financial regulation and banking, there’s no one better than Mervyn King,” says Prof Morrison adding that he wants the law school to have in its midst leading thinkers who have also worked on the practical problems of the world.
NYU:Law and NYU:Stern have also teamed up to teach a course called Law and Business of Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies.
According to the law school, this is the first graduate-level programme in the US to focus on cryptocurrencies and underlines the school’s determination to keep up with new trends.
Leadership training is not only covered within existing courses, says Prof Morrison, it is also emphasised in standalone offerings, such as the emotional intelligence training programme.
“The way we view it is what we are producing at NYU is the next generation of leaders of the profession and leaders beyond the legal profession.”
NYU:Law alumni include Randal Milch, general counsel at Verizon and Vijaya Gadde, general counsel at Twitter. Anthony Foxx, another alumnus of the law school, is US transport secretary.
At NYU:Law, of the 476 full-time LLM (master of Laws) students in the 2013-14 academic year, 76 per cent were international. This type of diversity can contribute to the learning experience, as LLM student Egbiri Egbiri can testify. He says the global diversity of the class promotes an understanding of how other jurisdictions view legal issues even without taking a course on comparative law.
Mr Egbiri specialises in securities and financial regulation and believes his LLM will help him find work in both the US as well as Nigeria, his home country.
He is an Arthur T Vanderbilt scholar which means he is supported by a merit-based, full tuition scholarship. At NYU, every international LLM applicant is automatically considered for the award of a scholarship based on the individual’s academic and professional credentials.
Valentine Bleicher, who is a graduate from the LLM class of 2012, chose NYU because of its reputation. As a student, she studied law in a global context with academics and practitioners from different countries and diverse backgrounds.
She explains that lawyers not only have to be experts in their own jurisdiction, it is important to be able to adapt to a global market. “Nowadays, to be an excellent attorney, you need not only to master the law, but also to understand perfectly the business of your clients as well as their culture,” she advises.
Ms Bleicher, from France, is an associate at the international law firm Clifford Chance, in Paris. She believes her LLM has prepared her well for the workplace and helped her to become comfortable with working in the English language.