November 2007 - Posts
Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions. I'm interested in
studying International Law, and am excited about YLS's course offerings. I
did have some questions, which I'm hoping you might help with. Does
YLS allow its students to study abroad at foreign institutions as part of
their legal training? Are there summer and/or semester-year
long programs? What do most students whose focus is international
law do with their degrees? How do they serve?
OK, so right now I am so jealous that you are in Honolulu, because the weather here is starting to get pretty cold. Not that that's a bad thing: Sarah will, no doubt, be giving you some insight into the many things you can do on cold and snowy days in New Haven, so stay tuned!
Now, to your question. Yale does not offer a formal study abroad program during the academic year. While this is popular at the undergraduate level and some law schools do allow this, our program currently emphasizes the fostering of a strong community for the three years you are here, and with all of the courses, activities, journals, and independent research opportunities we have, we think it's important that you are in residence for all six semesters in order to take advantage of your time here.
With that said, there are opportunities to go abroad, apart from an exchange with a foreign legal institution. First, Yale offers the possibility of doing an Intensive Semester, which can involve spending a semester in a foreign country. To do an Intensive Semester abroad, a student must have a very detailed research proposal which would be impossible to carry out while remaining in residence at the Law School, which must then be approved by the Faculty Committee on Special Courses of Study. I should note that the bar for doing an Intensive Semester is very high, and only a few students are approved to do this each year. Nevertheless, it is an option for those of you whose specialized interests may involve foreigh legal systems and research.
In addition, the Law School has region-specific programs that can involve going abroad over the summer or during the school year. For example, the Middle East Legal Studies Seminar (MELSS) is an annual meeting bringing together students, academics, lawyers, and judges interested in Middle Eastern legal issues. You can read more about last year's meeting, which took place in Athens, Greece, here. In addition, the Law School sponsors a South America Linkage Program over the summer, in which Yale Law School students visit their student counterparts in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil -- the Yale students then host the South American students in New Haven the following spring.
Finally, the most common avenue for students to go abroad is during the summer. The Law School's Schell Center for International Human Rights provides summer fellowships for students seeking to do human rights work over the summer: the fellowships cover travel costs, and are in addition to the Summer Public Interest Fellowships (SPIF) which cover living expenses for any student doing public interest work during the summer, both domestically and internationally. Students have used this funding to work in countries such as Uganda, Thailand, Israel, and China, just to name a few.
As for what to do with a internationally-focused law degree from Yale, the answer is: just about anything. Dean Harold Koh has made globalization a cornerstone of the Law School's future, and you'll find that almost any subject will have international implications. Students from Yale go on to become (among other things) human rights activists, journalists, attorneys specializing in international financial transactions, and environmental lawyers...the world is your oyster!
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If you’re a regular reader of 203, you’ll remember my Global Constitutionalism Seminar post in which I talked about the staggering array of visitors, many of them leaders within the legal profession, who pass through the doors of the Law School. What many people don’t realize is that the School also plays host to many notable guests from outside the legal field, like Tom Friedman, author and columnist for the New York Times, and Yul Kwon, YLS alumnus and winner of last season’s Survivor: Cook Islands. You can view their talks here: Friedman and Kwon. Some guests come at the invitation of the Law School while others visit for University functions that are held at the School because of its beautiful facilities and central location.
David Pogue visited at the end of September. David is a Yale alumnus, the personal technology columnist for the New York Times, and a technology correspondent for CBS News. You might remember him from one of his blog postings that received a lot of attention this summer: iPhone: The Musical. David visited the campus as a Poynter Fellow in Journalism and gave a talk/show-and-tell at the Law School on the latest high-tech gadgets to pass across his desk. You can view his talk online at the University’s Office of Public Affairs website. Unfortunately, the University still uses RealMedia as its streaming video format, so you may need to download RealPlayer. Maybe they need to spend some more time with David.
I have heard that Yale does not have a traditional Admissions Committee, like at most schools. Can you please explain how the admissions process works?
Sure thing. Basically, at Yale, the entire permanent faculty -- over 60 people -- serve as the "Admissions Committee." It works like this. First, I review each file. Files are read in the order they become complete -- in other words, we do not sort by grades or LSATs. At this stage, I am looking for whether you can 1) perform extremely well academically at Yale and 2) make a significant contribution to the composition of the incoming class, in terms of (among other things) experience, perspective, leadership, special skills, and future goals.
We are very fortunate to have many more people who fit the above criteria than we have room for in the incoming class. To this end, I send about 25% of our applicant pool -- close to 1,000 files -- to our faculty "Committees." At this stage, each application is sent, in a stack of about 50 files, to three faculty readers. Each faculty member uses his or her own criteria to rate each file on a scale of 2-4, with 4 being the highest. Each faculty member reads independently -- that is, the faculty member
does not know who the other two readers of the file will be and so
there is no discussion of the files with other people --and his or her scores are kept confidential from the other readers.
Once the application is circulated through the three readers, we add up the scores in the Admissions Office. All applicants who receive a 12 (straight 4s) and most who receive an 11 (two 4s and a 3) are admitted.
There are roughly 50-80 applicants each year who are "presumptive admits" and who bypass the three reader process. Instead, they are reviewed by myself and a a faculty member who serves as the Chair of the Admissions Committee. These are students who are truly outstanding in every way, not just scores -- again, we are trying to fill the class with interesting and well-rounded students, not just students who can take tests well! It's hard to articulate what places a student into the presumptive admit category, so I'll just borrow Justice Potter Stewart's view: I know it when I see it.
As you can see from our process, we have a very thorough review process, in which each file is read carefully by up to 4 readers. This process, which has been in place for as long as anyone can remember, allows the perspectives of a broad range of people -- not just a select few "admissions" folks -- to determine the depth and diversity of the class, and also gives each faculty member a personal stake in the outcome. The result is the most highly-qualified, interesting, and talented law school classes in the country and a close knit community for all those who come to Yale.
What it means for you, the applicants, is that your chances of getting into YLS are not just based on numbers. In fact, I have had several faculty members tell me that when they read files, they are not as concerned with numbers as they are with some other part of the application: some focus on the personal statement or the 250-word essay, others on the recommendations, and one even swears by the LSAT writing sample (I want to say he was joking, but I'm not actually sure). While this makes it difficult to know "why" someone does or does not get in, it also means that your entire application, not just your scores, mean a lot to us.
So, take the opportunity to shine in every aspect of your application -- there is someone who will notice!
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Location and décor: Across
the street from the New Haven Green and a short three block walk from YLS. Very wanna-be NYC trendy hot spot décor.
-Grilled Natural Hanger Steak
-Scallops and Beef Kielbasa
Crabmeat and Cucumber Salad
-Roasted Organic Yellow Beets
-Peach Crème Caramel
The evening started off oh-so promising. We had a lovely and attentive waiter who
delivered our pear martinis, bread bites with salsa, and other appetizers
without a hitch. The yellow beets were
wonderful, and the dab of cool ricotta cheese on top, a great compliment to the
sweet taste of the beets. The crab salad
with cucumbers was delightful (or so I was told, as seafood makes me tad
squeamish) and I can certainly vouch for the parts of the salad that were sans
seafood (the radishes and cucumbers).
Content with our selections, we waited for the main course …
Exactly one hour and twenty minutes from when we were seated
our meals finally arrived.
My hanger steak could have been phenomenal, except that the
meat I was served was definitely not cooked to “medium” as I had ordered. (We suspect that the plates were mixed up,
as someone else in the group had ordered theirs well done, and got something
pink and juicy instead.) On the plus
side, the greens and manchego cheese tamale were yummy. The tamale was a bit spicy, with a taste
reminiscent of the salsa that we were served at the beginning of our meal.
The scoop on the scallops and kielbasa was that although the
two didn’t conflict with each other, they also didn’t complement each other or
blend well. The green lentil ragout and
salsa verde were unfortunately not magical side dishes that turned the seemingly
random hodge-podge into a dazzling culinary treat. And while this is the inherent risk for a
fusion inspired restaurant, it seems to me that trying to fuse scallops and
sausage into a treat for the taste buds is prima facie risky.
So as not to end my restaurant review on a down note, I must
say that the dessert, a mix between crème brulee and flan with little bits of peach
throughout, was absolutely delicious.
Cool, creamy and light, it was the perfect end to a … well, a meal that had the potential to be perfect.
The Law School recently held a student organization fair in the courtyard. The fair, an annual tradition, highlights the rich extracurricular offerings of the School and gives students a chance to receive more information about different student organizations, speak with representatives from each group, and sign up for email lists if they’re interested in becoming involved. Most groups have introductory meetings at the beginning of the year, but the fair is great opportunity to “one stop shop” all of the groups’ offerings.
The Law School has an amazing selection of student organizations, particularly for a school of slightly over 600 students. Many groups have a web presence and most are listed here. The nine student journals are listed separately; you can find them here. All of the organizations, including most of the journals, are open to 1Ls. Since the required curriculum is limited to the first term, and even that is Pass/Fail, 1Ls have plenty of time to become involved.
There is a wide range of activities with which to become involved. Understandably, most have a legal focus like the Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals, the Yale Environmental Law Association, and the Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale. However, there are many without any tenable relation to law, such as College Acceptance, Yale Law Revue (no, not that law review), and Six Angry Men which, contrary to popular belief, is an a cappella group, not a faculty workshop. I encourage you to view the list of organizations online, since there are too many groups to list in this posting.
New groups are formed each year as students, and their interests, change. For example, College Acceptance was started last year by a group of 1Ls. It’s relatively easy to start a group and to secure funding for it from the School. However, with such a diverse selection of student organizations, the problem students usually face is how to pare down their lists.