The Brooklyn Law School (Brooklyn Law) is unique in that it is not connected to any larger university. Instead, since 1901, Brooklyn Law has solely focused on offering a legal education to the rich and diverse Brooklyn community. Since its student body entered the school, Brooklyn Law has welcomed minorities, women, and immigrants to study the practice of law. This commitment to diversity has produced alumni who are deeply committed to making Brooklyn and New York City a stronger community. Alumni include former mayors of New York City, countless N.Y. state assemblyman, and over 10 N.Y. state senators. The school’s renowned entertainment law program has also produced a number of entertainment moguls including Geraldo Rivera and Russel Lewis, the CEO of the New York Times.
Brooklyn Law offers both a traditional 3-year curriculum for their Juris Doctor program as well as an extended 4-year program. For both, the “first-year” curriculum contains six core courses plus two additional skill-based courses. Students take the core courses of civil procedure, criminal law, and torts before taking constitutional law, contracts, and property. In their first full semester, students take a course in legal research and writing. This is followed by a unique course titled “Gateway to Lawyering” that covers the profession of being a lawyer from various perspectives. Extended curriculum students follow the same progression over four semesters.
Upper-level students need only complete the requirements for a course in professional responsibility, satisfy six credits of experiential learning, and complete a major writing project prior to graduation. All other coursework is elective. Brooklyn Law offers upper class students almost 250 advanced level courses that cover all practice areas of law as well as provide ample skill-based courses. The law school is also home to seven different centers (all which house legal clinics) that also offers students a path to apply their upper-level coursework with practical skills through a clinical experience.
Brooklyn Law offers several short-term programs for international students including a program to help foreign law students master the English language in a short intensive session lasting in three or four week. The language course is offered each summer. International students of all levels of English fluency benefit from the courses distinct focus on the use of the English language in a legal context.
Foreign lawyers and academics may also spend weeks or as much as a year a visiting scholar at Brooklyn Law to pursue academic interests using the school’s substantial library resources.
Juris Doctor candidates at Brooklyn Law also have the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree through a partnership with nine international law schools. Students spend a year abroad at an international law school, completing 28 credit hours (all of which are available in English).
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, over 86% of graduates of Brooklyn Law are employed in careers that either require a law license or a law degree. Students also pursued professional careers or additional education. In total, over 92% of all graduates of Brooklyn Law School are employed or pursuing further education soon after they complete their degree. Over a third of graduates pursued traditional law firm work although students opted for small law firms (1-10 attorneys) as often as large law firms (500 or more attorneys). Large percentages of students also pursued careers in government offices (15%) or public sector careers (14%). Almost all graduates remained in the New York area to begin their careers.
The large, diverse student body of Brooklyn Law school is served by a staff of 10 career counselor and administrators at school’s Career Development Center (CDC). In 2013, the CDC published a “manual” for all students that provides a complete picture of the center’s programs and strategy for helping all students achieve their career goals. The center’s goal is to help students build job-seeking skills that will serve them throughout their careers. The center’s eight counselors–all former attorneys–offer personal counseling on the many varied practice areas of law. The CDC also host a broad selection of programs throughout the year to help students prepare for on-campus interviews and plan their careers generally. Brooklyn Law also has a deep commitment to increasing diversity in the legal practice.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Brooklyn Law is one of the pioneers of the “law in action” movement that stresses the need for law students to emerge from law school with practical skills. Brooklyn Law’s location has allowed them to create one of the premier clinical programs in the country. Students can learn hands-on legal skills through one of the schools seven in-house clinics or work in one of the school’s 13 hybrid clinics where Brooklyn Law partners with an external legal clinic to provide students more opportunities in various practice areas. The clinical experience allows students to work with real clients on a variety of levels. Clinics are overseen by faculty experts–many of whom also teach subject matter courses.
Brooklyn Law students also have numerous externship opportunities. All externships allow students to spend a semester immersed in a legal office in the surrounding regional area. These externships offer even more opportunities especially for students interested in corporate law or large law firm opportunities.
Although Brooklyn Law does not offer remote or distance learning, it does offer students the option of its extended Juris Doctor program.
With almost 400 students in each class, the student body at Brooklyn Law schools is as large as it is diverse. The school is also unique in that it is not affiliated with any other university. Practically, the law students are the only focus of the school. The school’s many student-run organizations reflect the school’s diversity with organizations that celebrate the school’s rich Muslim, Latino, and Jewish communities as well as organizations that advocate for disability rights or animal defense. Students also socialize with softball teams and board gaming groups.
Located just one subway stop from Manhattan, the Brooklyn Law school is at the crossroads of the legal practice and life in New York City. The school’s surrounding community offers many housing options while the greater area is easily accessible through New York’s public transportation system. Brooklyn Heights is also renowned for its unique and diverse culinary scene–all within walking distance of the law school.