New Options for Students During Winter Break

Columbia Law introduces a pilot “J-Term,” a series of one-week electives.

Columbia Law students looking for academic opportunities during winter break will have a new option: For the first time, the Law School is offering students a series of one-week electives during winter break.  The pilot program, dubbed  “J-Term,” includes five new classes on cutting-edge issues such as data and predictive coding for lawyers, bioethics mediation, and international maritime conflicts. Taught by members of the Law School faculty, the one-credit electives will be held January 8 through January 12, the week before the end of students’ winter break. 

Both faculty and students have greeted the opportunity enthusiastically, with all five courses filling up immediately.

“Students are hungry for chances to experiment, and professors are likewise looking for new models of teaching,” said Matthew Waxman, the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law and the faculty chair of the National Security Law Program. He will be co-teaching an immersive seminar on the national security dimensions of maritime law and conflicts with Robert Harris, the assistant legal adviser in the Office of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department State. “Practicing International Law: Maritime Conflicts and the Law of the Sea” includes role-playing exercises and guest speakers from government, think tanks, and private legal practices, he said, speaking at an info session held for Law School students in the late fall.

As part of Columbia Law’s commitment to offering innovative opportunities for students, the courses incorporate experiential learning techniques. “Conflict Resolution and Diplomacy,” taught by Alexandra Carter ’03, Clinical Professor of Law, will include simulations designed to give students experience in skills required to mediate transnational conflicts, including developing a tiered dispute resolution system. Carter also serves as the director of the mediation clinic.

Similarly, a four-day, intensive course on bioethics mediation also will be highly interactive, with role-playing and extensive feedback geared towards managing conflicts between and among healthcare staff and families. Carol Liebman, Clinical Professor of Law, and founder of Columbia’s Mediation Clinic and Negotiation Workshop will be teaching.

For students who want to become knowledgeable about how big data is transforming the law, Associate Professor Joshua Mitts will be teaching “Data and Predictive Coding for Lawyers.” Mitts, the Law School’s newest faculty member, stressed that the course doesn’t require deep mathematical background and will, instead, focus on “qualitative reasoning” and cover core materials usually introduced in statistics, econometric and machine learning.

Eric Talley, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, also designed his course, “Introduction to Financial Valuation,” to be accessible to students who have no background in the subject or “whose background is seriously dated or needs refreshing.” Students will develop an understanding of how (and why) the courts and regulators use financial methodologies in, for instance, assessing and valuing risks and measuring damages. Like the other courses, there are no prerequisites to enroll.  



Published on December 21, 2017