The Law School is developing plans for returning to Weinmann Hall during the Fall 2020 semester. A Reopening Working Group is meeting regularly to craft a proposal for resuming on-campus instruction consistent with public health directives and University guidance, and we have formed a COVID-19 Dean’s Advisory Committee to gather input from students. See Dean Meyer's Message to Students 5/29.
These plans reflect President Fitts' message outlining university-wide efforts to create a roadmap for returning to campus and the summary of recommendations published for review and comment by members of the Tulane community.
Please follow the links below for information on COVID-19 and the Law School's response.
As previously announced, we will be starting the Fall 2020 semester early (Aug. 12 for 1Ls; Aug. 17 for upper-class students), in order to complete all classes and exams by Thanksgiving. Also as previously announced, classes will be recorded and accessible remotely for any students who are unable to be present on campus because of ongoing summer work commitments.
Following the University’s direction, we are eliminating fall break and non-federal holidays to discourage travel during the semester and minimize any associated risks of viral exposure. As Yom Kippur (Sept. 28) is not a federal holiday, it has been eliminated from the University schedule; however, recognizing that many faculty may need to reschedule classes on Yom Kippur for religious observance, we have predesignated Sept. 26 as a make-up day for those missed classes.
Other than the elimination of fall break and the shift forward with the earlier start, the academic calendar is essentially the same as in other years; classes will meet for the same number of weeks and classroom minutes and will not be otherwise compressed.
As indicated on the revised academic calendar, final exams will run from Nov. 14-25 and closely track the original exam schedule. (1L exams start Nov. 14; upper-class exams start Nov. 16.) We are planning to administer all exams in person and in the building (with necessary social distancing and accommodations for students with a disability that prevents them from being in the building).
Please take note that University policy now mandates that all persons must wear masks while on campus (unless isolated within a closed office). We expect this mandate will continue throughout the fall semester. You may have seen recent reports finding that the wearing of masks drastically reduces the risks of viral transmission (see, e.g., https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/06/16/mask-covid), so compliance is essential.
We will also be making a number of modifications to the facilities and traffic flow within the building, based on the expert guidance of an industrial-hygiene consulting firm hired by the University. We expect to receive those recommendations soon, which will also guide our decisions about how to optimize access to the library and student organization offices.
Like almost all other law schools this year, we plan to adopt a “hybrid” model that combines in-class and remote instruction. This will take several forms:
For students who must participate in classes remotely for some or all of the semester, steps are being taken to ensure a high-quality learning experience. First, the Law School is assessing and upgrading all classroom technology and adding cameras and microphones as necessary to maximize access for those not in the classroom. Second, the Law School is offering training for faculty this summer on both technology and pedagogy to maximize learning in the new hybrid classroom environment. Finally, for selected larger-enrollment courses, student “classroom assistants” will be hired to assist the professor in facilitating equal participation by remote and in-class students.
Students with health and safety concerns will be permitted to take all of their classes remotely in the Fall semester if they so choose. The ABA, the accrediting body for all U.S. law schools, has authorized schools to exempt students from in-person attendance for any reasons relating to health and safety. “Health and safety” concerns may include not only concerns for the student’s own health, but also for the welfare of other household members or relating to travel or other circumstances.
The University is now finalizing the campus form that students may use to indicate their election. If you have questions about electing remote instruction, please contact Dean Gaunt.
The Financial Aid Office is working with students to adjust their aid packages and to advise on available resources. While the deadline to modify federal loan packages for the 2019-2020 academic year has passed, financial aid resources remain available for graduates and continuing students:
The Financial Aid Office can also assist you in applying for emergency grants or loans related to COVID-19. Law students may apply for emergency assistance from a variety of sources:
Students facing significant hardships occasioned by the crisis should consult with Dean Gaunt for advice about available support.
For those interested in practicing in Louisiana, the Louisiana Supreme Court has now posted final information about the bar exam on its website: https://www.lascba.org/.
If you had already registered to take the Louisiana exam, you do not need to reapply – but you will need to fill out a short form online indicating your preference of where and when you would like to sit for the exam (since it will now be offered on two alternative dates and in four different cities). We understand that you are permitted to indicate your preferred city (e.g., New Orleans), but not a specific testing site within that city; however, we believe the bar will seek to place Tulane graduates at Tulane Law School for the exam, if possible.
Testing location and date preferences will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should act soon to secure your top choice!
Information on the status of the bar examination in other states continues to emerge daily. The latest information, updated continually, can be found at this site: http://www.ncbex.org/ncbe-covid-19-updates/july-2020-bar-exam-jurisdiction-information.
Graduates planning to take the bar exam in New York or Massachusetts are likely aware that those states have adopted rules that will give priority seating at the exam to applicants who graduated from in-state law schools. Dean Meyer joined with dozens of law school deans from other states across the country in urging the Chief Justices in New York and Massachusetts to consider alternative arrangements that would make more seats available to test takers from other states, including Tulane.
Based on extensive and ongoing discussions with employers both nationally and regionally, Tulane’s On-Campus and Off-Campus Interview programs, usually held in late summer, will be rescheduled for January 2021. This is in keeping with the preferences of most employers (both law firms, public interest, and others) and with what other law schools are doing, both in Louisiana and nationally.
We are confident that this shift will maximize job opportunities for all students. The delay will give employers the time they need to hire with greater confidence, both because rising 2Ls will have the benefit of two semesters of graded work and, even more important, because employers will have more time to assess their hiring capacity and gain confidence in the economic recovery. Forcing employers to make hiring decisions in the late summer or early fall would likely lead them to hire more conservatively, given the present uncertainties.
While the bulk of interviewing will move to January, we will work individually with any employer who wishes to hire on an earlier schedule to interview our students. We have not yet fixed precise dates in January for our interview programs, but will do so soon in close consultation with employers.
Determinations of whether students holding merit-based scholarships have attained the cumulative GPA targets necessary to retain or recover their scholarships, ordinarily conducted in May, will be deferred until January 2021, so that Fall 2020 grades may be considered in lieu of Spring 2020 grades. As a result, students holding such scholarships will automatically retain them, at their current amounts, for the Fall 2020 semester.
Students failing to attain prescribed GPA targets at that point will have their scholarships reduced prospectively beginning with the Spring 2021 semester. Rising 3L students (current 2Ls) who have previously had their scholarships reduced on the basis of 1L grades and who attain the GPA targets qualifying them to recover their original scholarships will have their original scholarships restored in January 2021 retroactively to cover the entire 2020-2021 academic year.
We are aware that many students’ individual and family circumstances have been impacted by COVID-19. Students who may need to consider a leave of absence for the Fall semester should contact Dean Gaunt.
We anticipate that public-health guidelines concerning social distancing and the avoidance of large gatherings will affect the usual operation and activities of student organizations. Although large social gatherings or in-person events are likely to be inadvisable for the time being, organizations will be encouraged to creatively retool their activities to take advantage of technology or outside spaces. The availability and use of student organization offices will be guided by further University guidance and the recommendations of the expert hygienists now assessing Weinmann Hall and other campus facilities.
Tulane University has suspended or postponed all gatherings on campus for the time being which will impact a number of law school conferences, lectures and other events. Tulane University and the Law School are both hosting periodic webinars and “virtual” alumni gatherings over the summer. The Law School’s next virtual Alumni Event is planned for Thursday, June 11, at 5:00 p.m. (central time). More details will be announced soon.
On March 20, 2020, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a “Stay at Home” mandate for the City of New Orleans. While faculty and staff are considered “essential” personnel under the Mayor’s order and are permitted to travel to the Law School if there is a “critical need” to do so, they should remain in the building no longer than absolutely necessary. Weinmann Hall is currently locked and accessible only by Splashcard.
If you must come into the office, please practice social distancing measures and preventative measures throughout the university. We urge you to follow these same recommendations at home.
On June 13, 2020, Mayor Cantrell announced that the City would movie to “Phase 2” of its reopening plan; As the City transitions toward greater reopening, the University will continue to update its own transition plans.