Dean Schizer on the State of the Law School

Addressing a large gathering of alumni during Reunion 2012, David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law; Harvey R. Miller Professor of Law and Economics, highlighted curricular innovations and a growing roster of faculty members as notable achievements.

According to Dean Schizer, the Law School recently revitalized the second- and third-year curriculum, guided by three principles: maintaining a close connection to the legal profession; building on the Law School’s well-established international character; and drawing on the “important and powerful interdisciplinary resources” available throughout Columbia University.

Rejuvenation of the upper-year curriculum, Dean Schizer noted, includes an increase in the number of courses taught jointly by professors from the Law School and Columbia Business School, as well as a program that allows third-year students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., working full time in federal government agencies. In addition, three new Law School centers will focus on international arbitration, constitutional governments, and global markets and corporate ownership, respectively.

Curricular innovation of this sort are possible at Columbia Law School thanks to its diverse and dynamic faculty, Dean Schizer said. During the past eight years, the Law School has hired 32 new faculty members with expertise in a variety of fields—from tax law and corporate governance to constitutional law and national security law, he said. The net growth in that same period has yielded 15 new faculty members, said Schizer, who went on to announce to alumni the newest faculty additions: Anu Bradford, Jessica Bulman-Pozen, Jody S. Kraus, and David Pozen.

After concluding the State of the Law School address, Dean Schizer fielded questions from the audience, and several alumni participated in the give-and-take discussion. One graduate asked Dean Schizer to elaborate on his views regarding the role of faculty-to-student ratio in the Columbia Law School experience.

“The reason I focus on this in particular is that the quality of our teaching, the extent of the interaction between students and faculty, and our ability to offer new courses all depends on that ratio,” Dean Schizer replied.

Dean Schizer noted the popularity of the Law School’s national security law program and its newly created Roger Hertog Program on Law and National Security as another benefit for students resulting from carefully considered faculty additions. The faculty at the heart of the Hertog program—most of whom were hired in the past few years—all bring high-profile public service experience to this dynamic area of the law. Their collective track record includes service in the White House, the State Department, and the Department of Justice.

“We now have 14 different course offerings on national security–related topics, and students love these classes,” Dean Schizer said. “The world changes, and you want to add areas of expertise that are crucially important.”

Dean Schizer also answered a question regarding the diversity of the student body, informing the audience that women comprise 50 percent of the student body at the Law School, while approximately one-third of students are people of color. The educational atmosphere also is enriched by a large contingent of students from abroad, he added, including about 10 percent of those enrolled in the J.D. program and more than 95 percent of the students in the LL.M. program.

The Columbia Law School student body is also distinguished by its impressive regional diversity from within the United States, Dean Schizer said.

“It entertains me to tell you that there are more students [here] from California than from New York, which was certainly not true some number of years ago,” he said.