Yale Law School looks to expand

As the Yale Law School approaches its centennial anniversary, administrators and professors said they are looking to expand the school’s facilities to sites possibly including the Hall of Graduate Studies.

Despite a comprehensive multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2001, professors, students and administrators said space constraints have led to a lack of classroom space, smaller offices and problems with library storage space. Although space has been a long-standing problem, Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh said he is prioritizing an investigation into possible solutions as the head of the Law School’s space committee.

“We are currently evaluating these needs and will be working with the University to make some short term and long term accommodations,” Yale Law School spokesperson Janet Conroy said.

Ian Solomon, associate dean at the law school, said the law school’s expansion is of one of the top priorities of administrators.

“All options are on the table and this has been the topic of conversation between the Dean of the Law School Harold Koh and Yale President Richard Levin,” Solomon said.

But the question of where to expand is still unresolved due to the limited amount of land and existing buildings within close proximity to the Law School that could undergo construction, administrators said.

“We did most of our expansion when we redid the building a few years,” Yale law professor Robert Ellickson, who was chairman of a past building committee, said. “We cannot expand in the block so we are looking for a space nearby.”

Although the Hall of Graduate Studies is considered a possible building to expand into, no plans have been finalized, and Ellickson said that it would be incorrect to say that the Law School has any definite claims on HGS.

“An advantage of the Hall of Graduate Studies is that it is nearby, but there are many people there who consider it theirs,” Ellickson said.

Ellickson said that it is the expanding faculty, not the size of the student body, that has created a crunch in building space. Ellickson predicted the faculty would continue to increase, demanding a need for expansion.

Students said they understand the need for space based on experiences with crowded classrooms. Rebecca Tinio LAW ’06 said small seminar groups meeting in the law school usually consist of around 17 students while classrooms only fit 15.

“You always feel really squished and one or two people have to sit outside of the circle,” Tinio said.

The Yale Registrar’s office did not return phone calls requesting comment about classroom sizes.

But some professors, including Mirjan Damaska, said that it is not classroom space but faculty office space that is the most in demand.

“Professors — have such small offices they cannot bring in all of their books,” Damaska said. “But I have not had problems with classroom space and I have not heard my colleagues complain that no rooms are available.”

Although no definitive plans have been proposed, in addition to expanding to HGS, or erecting a new building, another possible solution is turning student dorms into offices, professors said.

The Law School is in need of more space both for classrooms and faculty office space. The expansion may extend to the Hall of Graduate Studies.
Jack Mahoney
The Law School is in need of more space both for classrooms and faculty office space. The expansion may extend to the Hall of Graduate Studies.

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