Columbia's Newest Law Students Get Oriented

Columbia's Newest Law Students Get Oriented
Official Program Kicks Off Weeks of Welcome Events

Press Contact:
Sonia von Gutfeld, 212-854-1453, [email protected]
Office of Public Affairs, 212-854-2650

August 12, 2008 (NEW YORK) -- Columbia Law School’s newest students began their formal orientation this week, the beginning of a month-long series of events that includes movie nights, museum trips and volunteer work in local parks. The activities are designed to introduce new law students to Columbia Law School, the legal profession, Morningside Heights and New York City.

The Law School’s Student Senate has worked with the Department of Student Services to create an extensive program that will help new students get to know one another and connect with returning students.

Three events took place last week. On Friday, the first-ever Community Service Day brought teams of volunteers to work at Morningside and Riverside Parks and in the soup kitchen at Broadway Presbyterian Church on 114th Street. More than 125 students participated.

On Saturday, an eight-hour scavenger hunt sent more than 50 students across Manhattan, from Battery Park to Harlem. Teams of six followed clues to key places on the island, where they took pictures of their findings. One clue led participants to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park; teams that held a human pyramid in the grass long enough for a photo earned extra points. Approximately 150 students celebrated afterward at Havana Central at the West End.

More than 150 students signed up for a Staten Island Yankees game on Sunday, the first of several events being considered to explore each of the five boroughs of the city. The Student Senate is hoping to follow up with outings throughout the semester, including possible trips to the Bronx Zoo and to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Helping to smooth the transition to law school is the peer mentorship program, which assigns each 1L a returning student mentor. With support from the Law School, a mentor hosts a lunch during orientation as well as meals and other activities throughout the year for his or her group of ten students.

Craig Greiwe ’09, who for the second year will serve as a mentor, believes this program combined with this year’s robust orientation schedule will help law students settle in comfortably. Griewe, along with Meredith Uhl ’09, is the co-chair of this year’s orientation program.

“We’ve learned over the years that we can find ways to channel enthusiasm to help 1Ls get to know the school in a way that is not too confusing,” said Greiwe, who recalled feeling both excited and overwhelmed as a 1L by the many opportunities for involvement. “They’ll feel more comfortable with each other and with current students, and feel a part of the tradition that is Columbia.”

Yesterday, new students heard from Law School administrators, including Dean of Admissions Nkonye Iwerebon ’93, Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin ’99, Assistant Dean of Information Technology Frantz Merine, Director of the Diamond Law Library Kent McKeever, and Dean of Registration and Financial Services Alice Rigas.

Incoming students attended a faculty welcome with Professors Elizabeth Emens, Philip Genty, Ben Liebman, Susan Sturm and John Witt. Upperclass students also shared their advice to 1Ls during a panel discussion.

Students learned about opportunities for pro bono work and community service during a lunch fair showcasing the Law School’s public-interest student groups and a breakfast sponsored by the Center for Public Interest Law.

Dean David M. Schizer, the faculty and associate deans of the Law School will host a formal welcome dinner for the Class of 2011 in Low Memorial Library on September 4.

Columbia Law School also hosts orientation programs this week for J.D. transfer students and for LL.M. candidates. Those new J.D. candidates heard from the Office of Career Services and had lunch with administrators and former transfer students. The LL.M.s, who come from more than 50 countries, received a welcome from Dean of Graduate Legal Studies Sylvia Polo and a comparative introduction to American law from Professor George P. Fletcher and several associates-in-law.

Throughout August and September, new students will enjoy optional welcome events sponsored by the Law School’s nearly 60 student organizations. The program offers a taste of the numerous activities of the diverse student body.

Several of Columbia’s law student culture associations will host dinners at local eateries. These include the South Asian Law Students Association’s dinner at Indus Valley restaurant and the African Law Student Association’s and Multicultural Exchange Society’s dinner at Africa Kine restaurant. The Law School’s Southern culture group Y’Allsa will co-host a dinner with the Federalist Society and a barbeque with the Law School Democrats.

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.