Dean's Statement of March 13, 2020

Dear Members of the Cornell Law School Community:

By now you have no doubt had a chance to read President Pollack’s message, notifying the Cornell community that, effective at 5 p.m., all Ithaca-based instruction will cease. Cornell Law School’s Ithaca-based instruction will also cease at 5 p.m. today.

Because the Law School operates under distinctive regulatory and professional constraints imposed by our accrediting and licensing authorities that do not affect the rest of the Cornell community in the same way, our upcoming calendar will differ in certain respects from what President Pollack announced for the rest of the Ithaca campus.

  • Instead of a three-week break, the Law School will take a one-week pause as we prepare to move instruction online.
  • On Monday, March 23, the Law School will resume instruction, but delivered online. The Law School will then remain in continuous session through Monday, April 27. The Law School will work to secure waivers from the ABA and the relevant bar examination authorities regarding their distance learning requirements.
  • Law School examinations will be conducted online within the already-scheduled examination period. /li>
  • More details about the format of those examinations, as well as the manner of their delivery and grading, will be forthcoming before the resumption of instruction on March 23.

In the interim, Cornell Law students are encouraged to return to their permanent addresses and prepare to transition to online instruction as soon as practicable. For many Law students, Ithaca is their permanent address. For others, such as our international students, returning home may not be feasible or consistent with your continued academic and professional progress. As we indicated in our previous communications, we ask you to use your best judgment about where to reside as you continue your education online, taking into account your need for reliable Internet access.

Even for Law students who remain in Ithaca, access to the Cornell campus, including the Law School buildings, will change dramatically after this weekend, as we seek to comply with the university’s instructions regarding social distancing in response to the coronavirus. Although Law School operations will continue, the Law School will be shifting to new modes of operation in order to permit faculty and staff to engage in social distancing.

  • Effective at 5 p.m. today, all Law School events (including faculty workshops) will either be canceled or transition to an online format. Faculty meetings, including committee meetings, will occur through Zoom rooms.
  • Effective Wednesday, March 18 at 5 p.m., J.D. and LL.M. student access to the Law School building will be restricted to essential clinical operations. Faculty and staff will continue to have card-key access to the Law School building. Outside of the clinics, student access to faculty and staff will occur electronically or by telephone.

No doubt you have many questions. The situation has been changing rapidly. We will be working hard to provide you with answers as best we can within a rapidly changing environment. We will be updating the FAQs on the Law School’s coronavirus information page to reflect these new developments. Please continue to check that website in the coming days for up-to-date information about university and Law School operations.

Needless to say, we are in truly uncharted territory, none of it ideal. Our school, and indeed our entire world, is confronting a challenge that none of us have ever experienced. We will get through this challenge together, as a community, by supporting one another and by demonstrating the patience, grace, and ingenuity that have always characterized this Law School’s students, faculty, and staff.

Best wishes,

Eduardo M. Peñalver
Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law
Cornell Law School
Myron Taylor Hall