Friday, May 20, 2016

The Graduate Programs at Yale Law School

Our graduate programs are quite distinct from our peer institutions, particularly the LLM. The LLM is a need-blind basis of admission, and that’s unique. We do not provide merit scholarships to our students. We do that in part because we feel that all of the student who have been admitted are meritorious, and we do it in part because that’s a deep commitment of the institution. We want to enable anybody who is qualified and should be here to be here. That also extends to the fact that our LLM students are fully integrated into the intellectual life of the Law School. We don’t have separate classes for the LLMs. We don’t have separate faculty for the LLMs. They are a part of the intellectual community and fully engaged in the intellectual community. I think that really does distinguish the program.

The graduate students at Yale are very much a part of the intellectual life and the community of Yale Law School. It is a very small law school and a very intimate law school. Students often work directly with faculty both in research and in the classroom as well. This is true of our graduate students. A number of our JSD students have become collaborators and co-authors with our faculty. They work directly with the faculty on faculty research projects. So there’s a real intellectual community that develops. But there’s also a genuine community of our students. We have a lot of programming that they initiate and that they support. And we also have a lot of programming that we provide for them. Our graduate students have full access to our library, they often have carrels to study in the library. We have a graduate programs lounge, which is a place for them to come and have coffee and talk to each other and spend time working with each other. You know it’s very much always been told to me and I think it’s very true here that graduate students really will learn as much from each other as they’ll learn from the faculty. So having a place and having an opportunity to work together with each other on their research, on their coursework is a huge plus.

Yale’s always seen itself and always has been a very academic law school, very interested in innovations in the law, in blazing new trails in the law, in thinking fresh about the law. So I think this is a natural extension to our graduate programs as well, but our graduate programs then feed back and provide some of that very same exposure. So students from around the world, from different legal systems, different legal traditions interacting with our students and with our faculty actually bring the world to Yale.

The graduate programs bring students from around the world—six different continents and dozens of different countries—and their exposure, their specialization, their training is different from what our JD students have experienced. This brings expertise, it brings experience, it brings a different set of questions. You know, different perspectives really do generate different questions. Students who’ve been trained exclusively in the American system wouldn’t think of these questions. Having these questions posed, having the experience of other students from around the world is tremendously important for them and vice versa.

Gordon Silverstein, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs, talks about the different graduate programs offered at Yale Law School.