Law Student Life: The LLM Cruise

Written by Samarth Chaddha

Two weeks ago, the LLM Class of 2017 set sail on the Spirit of New York for a formal cruise. Hundreds of students from dozens of countries boarded to dance, drink, and talk the afternoon away in one of the highlights of the LLM program so far. The Office of Graduate Affairs is to be thanked for organizing this.

The cruise left from Chelsea Piers with a spectacular view of Manhattan, and was a great opportunity for LLMs to connect with each other. Many of us spoke about our reasons for joining the program and whether we intended to take the bar exam and work in the United States after graduation. In August, we had gotten a primer on American law through Introduction to US Law lectures. The three sections of that course rarely had a chance to mingle, but we all came together here.

We went so close to the Statue of Liberty, it felt like we could shake hands with her! At first, the ship swayed noticeably along with the waves, and the passengers rocked from side to side with the music in order to keep their balance. The chicken entrees came dangerously close to sliding off the plate, and the crockery clinked together. But soon enough, everyone began to get their sea legs.

This boat was a far cry from the Staten Island ferry; it had a dance floor and two bars as well as the standard seating areas. The look and feel of the ship more than compensated the initial “bumps.” The weather generally cooperated, though it warmed throughout the day and some regretted wearing suits in the early September heat. Wearing one was optional, though many LLMs opted for a simple tee or a polo!

The LLM class came from dozens of different countries, but we quickly bonded over selfies and social media. People connected on Facebook and Instagram, forming bonds that would carry us through the hectic first few weeks of the semester. Plenty of selfies and group snapshots were taken amidst discussions of classes, professors, and future travel plans to cities within the US. Students enthusiastically recommended New York’s tourist hotspots to each other. Some people chatted at the bar, while others stood on deck admiring the Manhattan skyline. The LLMs even shot their first group boomerang, and many were seen competing to click pictures with a placard provided by the cruise company. Clearly, the LLMs are not just a photogenic bunch, but take their pictures seriously.

The afternoon ended with all of us disembarking at Chelsea Market. A brave few walked back to campus, while others took their new friends’ recommendations and explored the neighborhood shops. This was just one of many group bonding events for the LLM class; right now, we’re looking forward to the SALSA ball and continuing to explore New York.

Editorial: NYU Must Make Greater Effort to Stabilize Law School Tuition

Written by The Commentator Editorial Board

Recently, a new class of students started at the Law School. While they attended orientation, befriended new classmates, and began their legal career, most of them probably missed the fact that they are paying nearly five percent more in tuition and fees for their first year of law school than when they accepted NYU’s offer in the spring.

New York University has come under fire for its undergraduate tuition hikes. And we commend President Andrew Hamilton’s efforts to stem the tide. However, the cost of a legal education at NYU should be setting off alarms, too. It now costs almost $90,000 per year to attend NYU Law, about $60,000 of which goes towards tuition.

The tuition hikes are unacceptable. As NYU Law works to elevate its status as a top law school, it must also renew its focus on keeping tuition within reasonable limits. The cost of hiring new faculty, developing new programs, and purchasing cutting-edge technology should be a collective investment that propels students forward, not a burden that holds them back.

This summer, some law firms increased their starting salaries for associates by as much as $20,000. While this can help alleviate the debt burden for those students who pursue private-sector careers, it is no excuse for raising tuition on the front-end. Recent history reminds us that law students cannot rely on the viability of Big Law. So, the assumption that students will be able to reliably work off their hefty debt misses the point that raising tuition itself can have detrimental effects on the law school community.

The argument that students will be able to repay their student loans after a few years at a large firm dismisses the nearly 20 percent of students in the class of 2018, for instance, who entered law school with an interest in pursuing a public interest career. It also ignores the countless number of brilliant potential students, especially students from diverse backgrounds in a profession devoid of much diversity, who were deterred from pursuing a degree at NYU Law because of the school’s ticket price.

At its core, this kind of feedback cycle doubles down on the status quo at the student body’s expense. It benefits law firms who can attract the most intelligent, capable future lawyers. It allows the school to maintain its competitive status. But it is also a system that requires those who have the least to pay the most, and that’s not a fair shake. That runs contrary to the values of this community. Simply put, that is not NYU.

NYU Law must redouble its efforts to stay the rising cost of tuition. As NYU strives to be more competitive globally and more people look to NYU as a leader in legal education, the more urgent and important matter is that the school make the cost of attendance a priority. Not addressing the issue could have long-lasting effects on the law school community, including impeding our ability to remain the leading “private university in the public service.”

NYU needs to take a hard look at the way it is paying for legal education. The NYU community – and the legal profession – would be better off for it.