COVID-19 Law Student FAQ
Updated March 31, 12:30 p.m. The latest changes are noted in red text.
1. Can smaller student-sponsored events take place after instruction resumes on March 23?
No. Student-sponsored events of any size will not be permitted on or off campus even after instruction resumes.
2. Will the Law School Convocation proceed as scheduled?
As you have now learned from President Pollack’s message, convocation must take place in a different way than we had originally planned. Although our plans for May 2020 must change, we will have a convocation in Ithaca at a date to be determined in the future when public health officials deem it prudent to do so. Everyone will be invited and we will provide a virtual option for people who cannot make it back. Because COVID-19 has deprived you of so many things, we would like to hear from you about what form Convocation for the Class of 2020 should take. We will be in touch via the appropriate class listserv or FB page for your degree program in the near future with proposals and polls. We will, of course, take public health considerations into account along with your expressed preferences. Please know that whatever form the ceremony takes, we are committed to celebrating you as you transition from law student to lawyer and member of the Cornell Law alumni family.
Regarding pending regalia orders, there are several options based on your preference:
- Keep the order as-is. When the time comes, students will pick up their regalia a day or two prior to the rescheduled ceremony and return it on the day of the ceremony.
- Receive refund now; reorder closer to the rescheduled ceremony. Graduates who have placed their order and are undecided about attending a future ceremony can cancel their orders and receive a full refund. The site will reopen and graduates can reorder or order for the first time.
- Cancel now and receive a refund. Graduates who know they will not be able to attend any future ceremony can cancel their order now and receive a full refund.
1. Do Cornell Law students really need to leave Ithaca? Do they need to apply for a specific exemption to remain in Ithaca?
The University would like professional students to return to their permanent residence as soon as possible. However, that may not be feasible for many of our students. Students should determine which location makes the most sense for their ability to continue their educational activities online.
2. What about externship students and Pro Bono Scholars placed in other cities?
All students should immediately consult with their placement supervisors about the feasibility of continuing to work at their work sites. If the work site is in a city that has not begun social isolation measures, students should continue to work as normal if they feel comfortable doing so.
Regardless of location, all students should consult with their placement supervisors to set up a plan to work remotely if possible. If students are not able to work remotely, or if the work site remains open but students are not comfortable traveling to the work site, they should consult with Professor Mooney. As best we can, measures will be taken to assist students to complete the semester and earn the credits they are enrolled for.
3. What about the clinics, practicum courses, local externships, and local Pro Bono Scholars?
Law school students are enrolled in numerous for-credit courses that involve them in direct service to the community, work that is of great, often urgent, importance to our clients and community partners. We gratefully and proudly recognize the extraordinary efforts of clinic, practicum, and other Cornell Law students to support their clients and client communities despite their own personal turmoil. We also recognize that the students in these courses perform many different types of service, and we will refer to all of this service generically as “casework.”
The building is now closed to all students and faculty, including clinic and practicum students and faculty. The staff continues to work remotely and as always they are reachable through firstname.lastname@example.org. We are checking the 5-4196 voicemail hourly during business hours, and legal mail is being scanned to the clinic and practicum faculty. If you need supplies or materials from the clinic space to carry out your casework, let your supervisor and the clinic staff know and we will work with you to make sure you have what you need.
Casework-related travel involving public transportation, and even local casework-related travel, should be delayed/cancelled unless it is absolutely essential to meeting the clinic’s professional obligations. For example, community presentations and client interviews should be shifted to remote interactions.
If a student prefers not to participate in local casework travel, they will be permitted to refrain from the travel without being penalized. It is appropriate for faculty to require that students make a decision (to either commit to or withdraw from a given task), within a timeline far enough in advance to ensure excellent client representation.
If a student may not complete the number of casework hours or amount of work ordinarily required to achieve the number of credits for which they registered, faculty will attempt to assign other work to them that allows them to earn the credits with an equivalent level of effort.
4. If I plan to stay in my Ithaca residence, do I still have to abide by the travel guidelines?
Yes. If you consider Ithaca to be your permanent residence, you may plan to remain in the area. However, if this is the case, please abide by the University’s travel guidelines.
5. If I remain in Ithaca, will I have access to the Law School building?
Following the University’s guidelines about access to campus, the Law School will be closed to most J.D. and LL.M. students after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. After that, only students who need access to the building for essential, clinic-related purposes will be allowed to enter the building using ID card access.
6. How will faculty office hours and student services be handled after March 18?
After the building closes, faculty will hold office hours using Zoom Rooms. All students should use the Zoom Room to participate in office hours, regardless of their location. Reference librarians and other student service providers (such as the career services departments and the Dean of Students office) will also make use of electronic communications (email, Zoom, etc.) and the telephone to communicate with students.
7. Should international students stay in Ithaca or return home?
Cornell's Office of Global Learning has recommended that international students remain in the U.S. for the remainder of the semester if they are graduating this spring and planning to apply for post-completion practical training (OPT). To be eligible for OPT, you must be in the U.S. in F-1 status, with a valid I-94 document. Please contact the Office of Global Learning's International Services for questions about the OPT application process and travel.
8. Will the University or Law School help students get out of their off-campus leases?
No, we cannot negotiate the termination of your lease with off-campus landlords. We encourage you to review the terms of your lease and speak with your landlord directly.
9. What will happen to my Student Health Insurance Plan after March 23?
If you are on the student health insurance plan, your policy will remain in effect until July 31, 2020, whether you stay in Ithaca or return to your permanent residence.
10. How will the online instruction policy take into account different time zones, especially for students whose permanent residence may be many time zones away? Will classes be recorded and available to watch at a different time, or will all students be required to attend remotely at the scheduled time?
After March 23, the Law School will be offering live, remote instruction for all classes. All classes will also be recorded, and the recordings will be made available via Canvas. The Zoom software provides faculty with real-time information about student attendance and participation. Students are expected to participate in scheduled classes at the time they are offered unless their local time zone would lead it to being offered outside the hours of 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Students who cannot participate in the live session of the class – either because of the time zone or because of their technical difficulties– should contact their instructor in order to find alternative means of asking questions and participating in class discussion. Faculty use of email and discussion boards will allow students to engage with each other and with faculty even when they cannot be online at the same time.
11. What should students do if they do not have access to a good and consistent Internet connection at home?
Reliable access to the Internet (outside of the Law School buildings) should be an important part of your consideration in determining where to reside after instruction resumes on March 23. Learn more about the specific technology required for online learning.
The Law School will be sending out a survey to assess student access to technology and the Internet.
Charter-Spectrum is offering students who do not currently have Spectrum WiFi service two months of free WiFi as a result of the coronavirus situation. For more information on that offer, you can reach Spectrum at 844-488-8395. Additionally, Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers.
12. How will I access classes online?
The Registrar’s Office has added the Zoom information to your student schedule. Log in to view that information. Please also take a moment to review the following helpful tips for setting up and using Zoom:
- Make sure you have installed and tested Zoom. Follow these directions to install Zoom.
- When signing in for class, make sure to sign in with your Cornell account. Choose “Sign in with SSO” Type “Cornell” and login to your Cornell Account. It is very important you sign in with your Cornell account because this is the account we may use to assign you to breakout rooms for team activities and take attendance!
- Please review the following hardware recommendations, cameras/microphones
- Connect to the class or meeting with the Zoom meeting number or link/invitation that you were provided for your class. You may also find the link in your Student Schedule.
- Muting/unmuting: by default many classes or meetings your microphone is muted at the beginning of the session. Please be sure to unmute your microphone to speak, and mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
- Watch a video on videoconferencing etiquette.
- Your video should be on and attendance will be required subject to our class’s normal attendance policy. You should be dressed as you would for class, using a comfortable, well lit, and neat environment.
- Please test your system, if you have any questions please email@example.com or contact the University HelpDesk Contact the IT Service Desk.
- Reset your time zone: Instructions for setting time zones for Windows 10
- Reset your time zone: Instructions for setting time zones in macOS
13. Will final exams be administered remotely, and if so how will that work? Will specific software programs be required, and what if a technical problem is encountered?
Final examinations will be administered remotely. The Faculty has voted to allow faculty to deviate from the exam descriptions on their syllabus in light of the extraordinary situation. Faculty will communicate their new examination administration plans to students directly in advance of the examination.
No. For spring 2020, the Academic Programs and Planning Committee (APPC) has recommended — and the full faculty has adopted — a modified, mandatory S/U grading policy for the spring 2020 semester. The new policy (and the APPC memo explaining the change) can be found here. This policy will also apply to Law School courses offered as part of the Tech LL.M. and to other law students enrolled in those courses, whether based in Ithaca or in residence at Cornell Tech. Students enrolled in nonlaw courses in other university divisions may, pursuant to the University’s policy and deadlines announced in its FAQs, elect to take those classes on a graded or an S/U basis. A small number of law school courses were completed and graded before the shift to online instruction commenced and are unaffected by this change. To maintain uniformity, no passing grade received in any spring 2020 course will be included in calculating the cumulative merit point ratio.
15. What resources are available to support students’ emotional well-being after the campus closes?
Students needing additional emotional support should contact the counselors at Cornell Health. Phone appointments will continue to be available after the closure of campus.
16. What support is available for students with increased financial burdens due to the campus closing?
Students needing financial assistance in departing campus because of COVID-19precautions should contact the Law School Financial Aid Office for a needs assessment and to discuss possible budget adjustments due to exigent circumstances. The Law Financial Aid Office also can direct students to other resources, including the university’s Access Fund and the Law Dean of Students Office.
17. Where can students who need to leave campus or Ithaca store their personal items?
There are a variety of local storage facilities. UHaul, for example, has offered 30 days free self storage for a limited time to new customers with college IDs, subject to availability. Visit the UHaul website to find the store nearest you. Contact the store by phone or visit in person to take advantage of the offer.
1. Will the July Bar Exam be administered on time?
Each jurisdiction has exclusive authority over the administration of its bar exam. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has posted an FAQ on COVID-19 that addresses this particular question. You should check the website for your planned jurisdiction and the NCBE's jurisdiction information page for information on any changes to the planned administration of the July 2020 bar exam. Several states have postponed the exam to date, including New York, where most Cornell Law graduates take the bar. Additionally, the NCBE indicates that they are currently working with their members to coordinate a response to the extent possible. The response to COVID-19 continues to evolve rapidly and each jurisdiction is likely currently considering options.
2. How will the move to online instruction affect students’ eligibility to sit for the NY Bar exam?
The New York Bar Examiners limit the number of credits students may earn via “distance learning” if they plan to apply those credits towards their eligibility to sit for the New York Bar Examination. For LL.M. students and 1Ls, the restrictions are particularly stringent. The regulations governing the New York Bar Examination define distance learning as “an educational process in which more than one-third of the course instruction” occurs using distance learning technology. Under the current plan, any course that was not more than 2/3 completed by March 23 will count as “distance learning.”
On March 19, 2020, the Law School sought a waiver from the New York Bar “distance learning” restrictions from the New York Court of Appeals on behalf of both J.D. students and LL.M. students. On March 20, 2020, the New York Court of Appeals granted both waivers. View the New York Court of Appeals Waiver for Online Instruction.
3. What about other state bar exams?
The New York bar has one of the most restrictive policies with regard to distance learning. You can find more information about other jurisdictions’ requirements for the bar exam, including distance learning requirements, at www.ncbex.org and each jurisdictions’ website. Additionally, the Cornell Law Library is working to help compile information on state bar distance learning requirements.
After reviewing these resources, if you learn that your chosen jurisdiction imposes limitations on distance learning, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will work with you, to the best of our ability, to either seek waivers or find alternative means of satisfying other states’ requirements.
1. Does the information on the CUL Covid-19 Library Service Update page or other information I’ve heard about the rest of the university’s libraries also apply to the Law Library?
No. Information specifically related to the Law Library will be posted and updated regularly on this page and the Law Library website. You can continue to send us questions by email email@example.com.
2. Will the due date change for books or equipment I have checked out of the Library?
All non-reserve books that are due before September 8 will have their due date extended to September 8. The current three-hour loan period for equipment and the current two-hour loan period for course reserves and other reserve materials will continue to apply until the end of Library circulation services on Sunday, March 15. Please make every effort to return your materials as soon as possible.
3. What about late fees?
Effective Monday, March 16, the Library will waive all late fees for circulating materials, other than equipment and course reserves, until June 1.
4. How can students who leave Ithaca check out reserve readings and books from the Library from March 16 onward?
Effective Monday, March 16, loan of course reserve materials is paused. We are working with publishers to facilitate access to digital versions of casebooks. Many are available now; see the new guide Law Databases: Online Study Aids and Casebooks, which is updated with new online materials as they become available. The links in this guide are set up for off campus access. The Library and the Law School together are making best efforts to have other course reserve materials available online through Canvas sites in time for the online instruction period.
5. What about materials I checked out through an interlibrary loan?
The Library asks all Cornell Law School community members to return interlibrary loan and Borrow Direct material before the end of Library circulation services on Sunday, March 15. Students who need material longer should contact the Library. Library staff will do their best to arrange extended interlibrary loan but these are subject to the limited operations of other libraries and the March 20 Executive Order 202.8 by the Governor, which requires 100% work-from-home.
6. If I leave Ithaca, what do I do if I need to check out books or articles while I’m away? If I stay in Ithaca, can I continue to check out books from the Library during the online instruction period?
All students should check out any books they may need before the end of Library circulation services on Sunday, March 15. Students can continue to make use of alternate Library services such as ScanIt and email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Library may be able to arrange access to electronic editions of books that students require for research. Plans for a method to allow books to be shipped from and back to the Library are suspended during the application of the March 20 Executive Order 202.8 by the Governor, which requires 100% work-from-home.
7. How long will I be able to access the Library space, including lockers?
Students can access the library space until student access to the Law school building is restricted at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. Library service hours will be available only until the end of Library circulation services on Sunday, March 15. If you think you have an exceptional circumstance, you may contact the Library at email@example.com. Students are expected to heed the direction of Cornell University administration regarding social distancing and gatherings.
8. Will research librarians be available?
Research librarians will continue to be available for consultation by email and phone. Individual consultation meetings will not be handled in person, but students will be able to meet with a research librarian by Zoom.
9. Where can I find any information about online study aids?
The Library has subscribed to additional resources to help meet the needs for online study aids, casebooks, and other materials. For specific titles, see the guide Law Databases: Online Study Aids and Casebooks, which is updated with new online materials as they become available. The links in this guide are set up for off campus access.
10. Can I access online library resources from off campus? What if the site asks me to subscribe or pay for an article?
Most library online subscriptions allow access from off campus. To avoid paywalls or subscription prompts when you search for articles or access databases, begin your searches from the Cornell Law Library site. If you click on a subscription-only resource, you’ll be prompted for your NetID and password. Many online resources are linked in law library research guides The links in these guides are set up for off-campus access.
11. Can the library help me to manage the switch to online learning?
The switch to online learning during a term is a new experience. The new guide Law Student Online Learning Strategies offers links to resources to help with this transition and to point students to online library materials and how to use them. Many of the resources are specific to law students, and the guide is updated with new resources as they become available. Zoom or email consultations with research librarians continue to be available through firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Can I continue to utilize the Career Advising Departments?
Yes, the Career Advising Departments are all operating during their normal business hours, but all counseling is being conducted remotely. Below is information on how to make an appointment:
- Career Services Office: As in the past, you may make an appointment by emailing Lisa Carberry or by emailing a counselor directly. Once your appointment has been scheduled, you will receive a Zoom invitation which will allow you to reach your counselor by Zoom or by phone.
- Office of Public Service: Select an appointment time and type here (Zoom meeting or phone meeting). For Zoom appointments, you’ll receive a follow-up email with your Zoom link. For phone appointments, enter your phone number when you book the meeting, and we will call you at your appointment time.
- Office of Judicial Engagement and Professional Development: Select an appointment time here. You will have the option to select a Zoom or telephonic meeting. For Zoom appointments, you’ll receive a follow-up email with your Zoom link. For phone appointments, you’ll enter your phone number when you book the meeting, and a counselor will call you at your appointment time.
2. My summer employer hasn’t contacted me yet. Should I contact them to find out how they will handle summer law student employment?
At this time, we advise students to hold off on contacting their summer employers, though we do advise checking employer websites regularly for any updates which may be posted there. We appreciate that you are understandably worried about your summer plans, and it is natural for you to want to gather as much information as you can now so that you can plan ahead. Based on feedback that we have gotten from employers (firms, non-profits, government agencies, and judges), we think that it is too soon for you to make contact. All of these workplaces are going through major changes as they transition to remote work while meeting their clients’ and/or the public’s legal needs. We anticipate that your summer employer will be getting in touch with you once they have settled into the “new normal” and develop a plan for summer employees. This is general advice, of course, so you should feel free to email or make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss your individual situation at any time.
3. What should I do if my summer employment plans are disrupted?
In the event that you find yourself in need of legal work which may be performed remotely this summer, the law school is in the process of gathering research opportunities from members of the faculty and other sources such as the Legal Information Institute. More information will be forthcoming, but please do not hesitate to contact us immediately if you find that your employment arrangements have been interrupted.
4. I have not yet secured a position for the summer. What should I do?
Contact a career counselor to strategize and discuss your options.
5. Will the Public Interest Fellowship (PIF) provide additional funding for costs incurred due to COVID-19?
Although PIF will not provide additional funding there are resources available at the University for help. Please contact the Law School Financial Aid Office, which can direct you to additional resources, including the Dean of Students Office, if needed.
6. What about fall recruiting for 2Ls?
Our 2020 recruiting program has been postponed to January 2021. For a full statement including the reasons underlying this decision, please visit the Cornell Law School careers page.
Conditions, of course, continue to unfold and we will be sure to keep you updated in the coming weeks.