Planning for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

Important information about the academic calendar for AY 2020-2021, plans for instruction, and health and safety measures. 

Dear Students, 

As we draw this academic year to a close in a manner that was unthinkable just a few short months ago, we are already looking ahead to the fall—and the academic year ahead. We’ve been working to develop a range of contingency plans considering everything from technology to physical space; in-person courses to innovative virtual instruction and programming; housing to residential life.  While we cannot know for certain how events will unfold, I write today to share some details of our thinking and planning. 

  • The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are of utmost importance. We are drawing on the expertise of Columbia University’s leading scientists and public health experts to ensure a safe learning and working environment. Doing so will no doubt require appropriate measures for physical distancing, protective equipment, and other safeguards. 
  • We plan to resume instruction in the fall in a hybrid format, allowing for in-person participation to the extent possible under public health guidelines. We know that every in-person class must include a way for those who cannot teach or attend in person to participate remotely.
  • Fall semester instruction for incoming students will begin on Labor Day, Monday, September 7, with one week of Legal Methods I and Introduction to American Law classes for incoming J.D. and LL.M. students, respectively. J.D. and LL.M. orientation will take place on September 2, 3, and 4.
  • Fall semester classes for continuing students will resume on Monday, September 14—not on September 8 as originally planned. The resumption of full-semester classes will follow one week of Legal Methods I and Introduction to American Law classes for incoming J.D. and LL.M. students, respectively. We are currently developing a revised academic calendar to account for these changes. 

Even in these tumultuous times—indeed, especially in such times—Columbia Law School remains firmly anchored by its mission: to prepare the next generation of graduates to be superb lawyers capable of confronting the most challenging issues of our time, to generate new knowledge through the scholarship of our world-renowned faculty, and to draw strength from the deep well of expertise of our distinguished research university in this great city of New York. 

I am so very grateful for the ways in which we have come together as a community during this period of disruption and change, and I am heartened by the ingenuity, resilience, and sense of common purpose that you have brought to the challenges we have confronted. We will continue to share updates and information as new developments arise. 

With my best wishes,

Gillian Lester
Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law