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Kevin Escudero ’15 MSL
An LL.M. Student’s Experience
What brought you to YLS?
I came to YLS because of the strength of its faculty, the reputation of the school as one that studies the nuances of the law alongside over-arching questions of justice, equity and inclusion, and the community atmosphere. I found the unique grading system, the small class size, and the plethora of community building activities to also be key in my choice to attend YLS.
What might you say to a prospective student considering attending YLS's graduate programs?
I would highly encourage prospective students considering a YLS graduate program to come and visit, to sit in on a class, and to meet with current students. Or, if unable to visit in person, I would suggest emailing current students and gaining their perspectives on their time at the law school. YLS is a vibrant intellectual and academic community, but is also a unique place where communities form not only around those with shared interests and backgrounds. The heterogeneity among the student body, but overall commitment to the potential of the law as a tool for advancing one’s cause I found was what made studying at YLS such a great experience. Even speaking to past students before deciding to attend, I did not fully grasp the uniqueness of the community of which I was about to become a part. The Graduate Programs Office also did a wonderful job of making us as graduate students feel integrated as part of the overall YLS community. For MSLs we had the option of participating in a small group, we were encouraged to participate in journals and student groups. I even chose to participate in a clinic and found my experience very much flowed between the graduate student and JD student communities at YLS.
What is your area of interest, and how did you pursue it at YLS?
My area of interest is U.S. immigration policy, in particular collaborations between legal professionals and immigrant rights activists. YLS was an ideal institution to study this topic as I was afforded the opportunity to take seminars such as “Law and Social Movements” with Professor Gerald Torres and to participate in the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program working with a team of two other students to assist an Iraqi family living in Jordan and seeking resettlement abroad. Additionally, to complement my legal interests, I took a graduate seminar in the American Studies Department entitled, “Transborder Studies of Migration,” that helped me to take my newly acquired legal knowledge and apply it in an interdisciplinary fashion. For this course we did weekly blog posts discussing critical issues facing immigrants in the U.S. today and many of my posts combined a legal analysis with an understanding of immigrant rights mobilization. The breadth of courses offered both in the law school and across the Yale University campus are invaluable resources for all students. Interested in finding like minded students across the law school, I also co-organized a Law and Society reading group with a fellow graduate student who previously worked as a human rights attorney in Argentina and now teaches on socio-legal issues. Together we invited faculty from the law school and read the work of those scholars writing on issues of justice and community empowerment. With the supervision and support of Professor Issa Kohler-Hausmann, we were able to take initiative in developing our own syllabus, facilitating weekly class discussion, and incorporating discussions of contemporary social issues in the campus and broader community.
Which experiences at YLS were most significant and memorable to you?
I am especially appreciative of the community at YLS that I was able to partake in. While people always say you will learn much more than you ever expected from your peers and classmates, I found this to be especially true at YLS. Outside of class, whether it was over lunch in the dining hall, waiting to meet up with a classmate at the table, or studying together in the library, I was always engaged and pushed in new, interesting directions by my classmates. The graduate community at YLS is truly diverse, intellectually, in terms of academic background and in the types of activities we all chose to get involved in during our time at the law school. I indirectly benefited from this diversity through informal conversations and other out of class interactions.
Also, being a MSL student and participating in a first-year small group section was also a highly enriching experience during my time at YLS. Many of my small group classmates had completed graduate degrees and worked in a variety of fields prior to law school. This helped enrich my experience supporting my academic interests in the law, but also led to class discussions that went beyond solely understanding legal doctrine, but included questions of how to apply the law, what constituted “justice,” and how we saw ourselves positioned with the legal system.
How did YLS contribute to your intellectual and professional goals and to your work today?
YLS has had a significant impact on my intellectual and professional career trajectory. Since graduating I have recently begun a postdoctoral fellowship in American Studies at Brown University. The understanding of the U.S. legal system I gained as an MSL student coupled with my previous background studying immigration, race, and social movements, has given me a unique lens through which to enter these academic conversations. I found the MSL program and graduate study at YLS to be highly beneficial in giving me a critical, well informed understanding of the law, but also space and time to consider the relationship of the law to other areas of scholarship and research, which I am continuing to do even after graduation.
Updated September 2021