Cardozo revamps curriculum, greater focus on practical skills

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University in New York has announced a restructuring of its upper level curriculum in addition to the opening of a new clinic and a new law initiative. Changes will affect J.D. students beginning in May 2014 and all students thereafter. Additionally the law school launched a tech startup clinic — a transactional legal clinic offering services to New York City tech companies.

The law school also announced the Cardozo Data Law Initiative, a program that will prepare students for careers in the fields of information governance, e-discovery, data privacy and cyber security. The initiative offers students a certificate if they meet the requisite number of relevant courses and externship credits.

After a year-long evaluation of the current curriculum, law school administrators announced a plan to restructure the curriculum for second and third year students. Additional professional concentrations have also been added in order to link study and practice. A practical lawyering skills class will also be required.

“In the new legal landscape our faculty have recognized that aspiring lawyers need more specific skills relevant to future careers in order to be competitive in traditional and emerging fields of the law,” said Dean Matthew Diller. “We owe it to our students to make sure that we do everything we can to tailor their law school experience in order to meet the needs of the rapidly changing legal profession.”

The restructured curriculum will be realized through three major changes. The law school will offer professional concentrations in about 12 areas of law. Students who choose to take on a concentration will receive counseling from alumni and faculty mentors. Students will be required to take at least six credits of practical training via clinic, externships or simulations.

Additionally, the law school’s winter break will be lengthened in order to host Lawyering Skills Month,”a month full of workshops, simulation courses and other intensive offerings for students. Over 200 Cardozo students participated in Lawyering Skills Month this year but that number is expected to grow now that it has been revamped to have a broader range of offerings. 

Current students with professional concentrations have the choice of satisfying the old distribution requirements or the new streamlined core course requirements.

“Good lawyering is a creative processes,” Diller said. “It is not merely applying the rules of the law, but rather a careful balance of judgment, critical thinking, knowledge and wisdom.  Advice that lawyers give and strategies they develop impact people’s lives in fundamental ways.