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NYU Law tops goal with $540 million fundraising campaign

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REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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  • Long-running capital campaign aimed to raise $450 million
  • Three donors gave $20 million or more

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(Reuters) - New York University School of Law has just wrapped what it says is the largest capital campaign by any law school in the country.

The school launched its Lead The Way campaign in 2013 with the goal of raising $450 million, and ended in August with $540 million raised. That funding has helped the Manhattan school bolster financial aid for students, hire additional faculty and add new centers.

“The unprecedented success of our campaign affirms the excellence of NYU Law and provides a tremendous investment in its future,” law dean Trevor Morrison said in announcing the campaign’s conclusion.

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Law school capital campaigns vary widely in their goals, depending on their length and the school’s size and alumni base. Harvard Law School in 2008 raised more than $476 million during its then-record-breaking Setting in the Standard campaign. The University of California at Los Angeles School of Law in 2020 announced that its latest capital campaign raised upwards of $181 million — more than the initial $150 million goal. And Albany Law School said in June that its We Rise Together campaign netted $33 million, $3 million over the goal.

NYU’s recently concluded campaign included a combination of large, multi-million gifts with many smaller ones, said Nick Vagelatos, assistant dean for development and alumni relations.

“During the duration of the campaign we got thousands of gifts, from as small as $5 up to well over a million,” he said. “But we did get three gifts of $20 million or more that helped us to exceed our goal.”

Alumni and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pledged $20 million to the school in 2015, and alumni and former U.S. Congressman Frank Guarini also gave $20 million in 2018. An anonymous donor contributed a large gift as well, Vagelatos said, though he declined to specify the amount. Among the law firms that contributed to the campaign are Latham & Watkins; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; and White & Case.

Funds raised through the campaign have helped the school provide more financial aid to students, NYU said. The percentage of incoming J.D. students receiving scholarships has doubled since 2012, to 66%. The school has also increased summer stipends for students doing public interest work and has enhanced its loan assistance repayment program (LRAP), which helps alumni in lower paying public interest jobs repay their student loans.

On the faculty front, NYU has hired 23 new faculty members since 2013 and launched 15 new centers during the course of the capital campaign, among them the Grunin Center for Law & Social Entrepreneurship and the Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.

“There was a really overwhelming response from folks,” Vagelatos said of donors. “NYU Law is a special community. Our alumni and supporters really love NYU Law and how it has grown and its trajectory.”

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at karen.sloan@thomsonreuters.com

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