A Message from Dean Diller:
April 1, 2020
I hope you are all well during this challenging time and that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy.
By now, you will have received a communication from Fr. McShane informing you that the in-person University Commencement scheduled for Saturday, May 16, and our School of Law diploma ceremony scheduled for Monday, May 18, will be postponed. In lieu of an in-person ceremony on that date, the University will host a virtual event to celebrate the graduating class.
I know this is very disappointing news. Class of 2020, I have been looking forward to shaking each of your hands as you crossed the stage–something that is now clearly impossible. However, because it is important to mark your completion of law school, we will hold a virtual event on May 18. You will receive an invitation to the virtual event as well as an invitation to the University’s virtual celebration.
We will also hold a celebration of your achievements at an in-person event later in the year when Covid-19 is behind us. Class of 2020, we invite you to join us in determining what form this celebration should take. I welcome your input since the event will be for you and to celebrate your hard work at Fordham Law. We will be working closely with the SBA as we make our plans. Next week, we will send you a link to a form on which you can share your thoughts about the in-person celebration. We will incorporate your suggestions and recommendations in planning the celebration, and we hope to come together as a community at a time and place that is convenient to as many of you as possible.
The New York Court of Appeals just announced that the New York State Bar Examination will not be administered on July 28-29, 2020 as previously scheduled. You can read the press release from the Court of Appeals here.
The Board of Law Examiners has also suspended the April application period and will announce the new date for the exam and the dates for the application filing period as soon as it becomes available.
Although we anticipated this as a possibility, we did not expect the decision this soon, and I realize that this news might add to some of the stress you are already feeling. However, receiving this information now puts you in a better position to make adjustments to what the coming months will look like.
As always, we remain committed to getting you through the semester and through the bar exam and will identify resources that will support you through these changes. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
The faculty has voted to modify the grading system for this semester so that all courses will be graded pass/fail. The only exceptions to this policy are courses that have already concluded, including all sections of 1L Legal Writing and 8 upper-level courses.
A simple pass/fail system has the advantage of reducing competition among students and encouraging them to support each other. It is also the most effective way to neutralize the advantages that some students have. To the extent that factors other than hard work affect students’ ability to perform this semester, a simple pass/fail system does the most to recognize the arbitrariness of those extraneous factors.
The faculty did not make this decision lightly. The entire faculty participated in discussions and had the opportunity to vote on this decision. The faculty considered the decisions made by other schools, the information we received from employers, and the tremendous number of communications we received from students, through the SBA and otherwise. Many of you wrote to us directly, and we appreciate how candid and open you were in sharing your personal challenges. We are moved by your commitment to your families, your education, and your futures.
More information on grading can be found here.
With the numerous hardships caused by the global coronavirus outbreak in mind, I have worked with our Fordham Law Alumni Association to establish the FLAA Student Emergency Fund.
The fund will focus on providing modest grants (under $1,500 per individual) to Fordham Law students who have incurred unexpected costs that are directly related to the extraordinary difficulties caused by the pandemic. For example, the emergency fund may assist with unforeseen medical expenses associated with the coronavirus but not covered by insurance, temporary housing due to pandemic-related displacement, or technology needed to ensure continuity of online learning.
If you have encountered a hardship and need assistance, please apply now.
Applications will be reviewed by a committee and we will communicate decisions to students via email within 72 hours of receipt of the application.