Spring 2021—Important Information

As the Fall 2020 semester wraps up, Dean Lester calls the community's attention to a number of important items relating to the start of Spring 2020. 

Dear members of the Columbia Law School community, 

The holiday season is now upon us. As we wrap up the term and get ready for a well deserved rest, I’d like to call your attention to a number of important items relating to the start of the spring semester. 

Academic Calendar Update

Please take a moment to review the Spring 2021 academic calendar, which includes deviations from the usual spring semester schedule. Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • January 7-8: Orientation for incoming LLMs

  • January 11-13: Introduction to American Law for incoming LLMs

  • January 11-13: Winter Interview Program for 2Ls

  • January 14: Full-semester Law classes begin. Classes held on a MONDAY schedule. 

  • January 15: Friday Legal Methods II classes begin for 1Ls

  • January 18: No Classes—Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In accordance with the University’s recent announcement, all classes University-wide will be convened virtually until Monday, January 25, when hybrid and in-person classes will begin meeting on campus. This remote start for classroom instruction will allow students and faculty to undergo gateway testing and complete any necessary quarantine requirements. Law School buildings will be accessible (see schedule below), subject to University public health protocols.

Please note: Since the University academic calendar provides for a shorter spring semester than usual, some Spring 2021 class meeting times will be adjusted slightly to ensure compliance with ABA requirements. Final class times will be communicated by the Office of Registration Services shortly. 

Spring 2021 Gateway Testing

In accordance with the University’s Spring Term Gateway Testing protocol, all students, faculty, and staff who will be accessing campus buildings during the spring semester are required to complete a new COVID-19 gateway test through Columbia’s Test and Trace program no later than January 25. Spring semester testing will commence on Monday, January 4, and affiliates may access the Columbia Health portal to book spring appointments beginning on Wednesday, December 23. Faculty and students who plan to engage in hybrid or in-person instruction are encouraged to schedule a diagnostic test as early in January as possible. 

In addition, all graduate and professional students who are accessing campus this spring, including those who are living off campus, are strongly recommended to undergo weekly diagnostic testing throughout the term. For faculty and staff who are coming to campus two or more days per week, weekly diagnostic testing is also strongly recommended. Weekly surveillance testing will continue to be conducted for students, faculty and staff. For faculty and staff who regularly access campus but do not meet the criteria above, voluntary testing will also continue to be available. 

Building and Library Access

Law School buildings will be accessible to all Law School students, faculty and staff through Wednesday, December 23, at 11 p.m. Building hours are available here

Beginning on December 24 and continuing through January 3, Law School buildings will be closed to students and staff to allow for cleaning and minor improvements. Faculty and essential employees may gain access via CUID card swipe during this period. Buildings will reopen on Monday, January 4, under the same public health protocols that have been in place during the fall semester. 

The Law Library will close at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23, and reopen at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 7. Library staff will remain available to provide services remotely on December 28-30 and January 4-6.

Lenfest Cafe is closed for the remainder of the fall semester and will reopen on Tuesday, January 19. During the spring term, the cafe will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Complimentary coffee and tea will be available to Law School students, faculty, and staff from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

Working and Conducting Business Remotely

Protocols that have been in place this fall for administrative staff and researchers will remain in place for the spring semester. Beginning on January 4, select administrative employees may work on campus after completing the necessary public health requirements and in consultation with their supervisor. Research staff and center employees not participating in hybrid instruction will continue to work remotely during the spring semester.

I encourage you to visit the Law School’s COVID-19 page, as well as the University’s Resource Guide, for up to date information and answers to frequently asked questions. 

My sincere best wishes for a joyful and restful holiday season. I look forward to reconvening in the new year. 

Best regards,

Gillian Lester
Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law