Welcome Back—Fall 2023

Dean Gillian Lester shares updates and welcomes the community back to campus. 

Dear Students,

Today marks the official start of the fall semester and it is my great pleasure to extend, on behalf of the faculty and staff of Columbia Law School, a warm and enthusiastic welcome.

Whether you’ve just joined our community—like our 1L and LL.M. students—or you’re returning after a summer of restoration and professional learning, the Columbia that you’ll experience this fall is different from the Columbia of last academic year. Over the summer, we welcomed two outstanding scholars and teachers to our full-time faculty, Professors Clare Huntington ’96 and Dorothy Lund, and we are thrilled that Professor Kerrel Murray has returned from leave after serving as law clerk to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her first year on the U.S. Supreme Court. We also redoubled our efforts to expose students to a broad range of career pathways, including inaugurating a refreshed career orientation module and updating the names of our three career support offices to more clearly reflect their unique missions and goals. In Jerome Greene Hall, construction to upgrade the life safety systems—the first stage of the full-scale renovation of our Law Library—began in May and has left no area of the building untouched. And, across Amsterdam Avenue, Columbia welcomed a new president, Minouche Shafik, who took office in July, while President Emeritus Lee C. Bollinger ’71 rejoined our faculty.

In August, when I greeted our incoming classes, I had the pleasure, once again, of marveling at the extraordinary range of talents, experiences, and ambitions your new classmates bring with them. The diversity of this group—and of our entire student body—is a signal strength of Columbia Law School and core to our excellence. Reaffirming this value, and the belongingness of all who come to study here, are especially important this year following the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down race-conscious admissions in higher education. I know this is a ruling that many members of our community feel very personally. This fall, true to our mission, we will come together to engage with the substance of the Court’s opinion, as well as explore through a new lens the vital building blocks of continued, lawful pursuit of a deeply inclusive legal academy and profession.

Columbia Law School’s legacy is defined by the progress we’ve driven and the challenges we’ve helped society confront in the pursuit of justice. This fall, as you open your casebooks and step into your classrooms, I hope you will let this forward-looking Columbia spirit animate, guide, and ground you.

All best wishes for the semester ahead,

Gillian Lester
Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law