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Should You Apply to NYU's High School Law Institute?

If you’re a high schooler interested in a career in law, you should consider participating in a pre-college law program. These programs can help enhance your resume and college applications, offer valuable opportunities to explore legal studies, familiarize yourself with legal processes, and gain hands-on experience! 

Today’s blog focuses on New York University’s High School Law Institute (HSLI) and how it can potentially improve both your knowledge and your profile for college admissions.

What is HSLI All About?

NYU's High School Law Institute (HSLI) is a rigorous pre-college program for high school students that offers courses in constitutional law, criminal law, and speech and debate throughout the academic year. HSLI is a student-run organization by current NYU Law students and aims to provide high schoolers with a comprehensive introduction to legal studies, covering various aspects of the legal system, critical thinking, and advocacy. It is intended for motivated students who wish to gain a deeper understanding of law and its impact on society. Through weekend classes, you will have the opportunity to learn about different areas of law, engage in mock trials, and develop skills in legal research and writing. NYU's Law School, renowned for its academic excellence and influential faculty, provides a valuable environment for you to learn and grow. The institute leverages the expertise of NYU Law's faculty and resources, offering an unparalleled educational experience.

How is HSLI structured?

HSLI holds weekly classes every Saturday during the fall and spring semesters, from 10 am to 1 pm. In these in-person classes held at NYU’s Washington Square Park campus, you will get to engage in interactive lectures, discussions, and workshops. The syllabus includes constitutional law, criminal law, and civil rights, among other topics. The program also offers access to NYU's state-of-the-art facilities, including law libraries and research centers, that you will be visiting regularly to complete assignments and projects that deepen your exposure to the legal system. You will be taught by teams of current NYU Law students, using pedagogy created by HSLI veterans, and rounded out with practical activities like participating in mock trials and collaborating on group projects.

Is it prestigious?

Since HSLI is only open to students within commuting distance of NYU’s campus, it is not as selective as some other programs may be, but that does not detract from the learning experience it provides. Since you gain exposure to legal education at one of the foremost law schools in the country, you benefit from both professional exposure as well as theoretical knowledge building. The program also provides training and ongoing support throughout the year, further deepening your exposure and enhancing your profile. Being a part of HSLI can significantly improve your working knowledge of legal studies, as well as make you stand out as a serious applicant for future programs or degrees in law.

Who is eligible for HSLI and how do you apply?

To be eligible, you just need to be a 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th-grade high schooler living within commutable distance of NYU’s Washington Square Park campus. You don’t necessarily need to be a resident of NYC. The program is fully on-site, so you will need to commute to the campus every Saturday for class.

Applications for this year’s HSLI will open in the summer, so we suggest keeping an eye on the program website. The application form will require your basic information, your academic interests and history, and 200-word essay responses to two prompts.

Note that HSLI is a full scholarship program - there is no application fee and no tuition cost!

Pros and Cons of HSLI


  • Comprehensive legal education: Through the courses offered across their sessions, you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of various legal topics and practical skills like mock trials and case research.

  • Full scholarship: Having access to such high-quality learning for no fee frees up your funds to further invest in your education.

  • Good networking opportunities: Since the program is 100% in-person, it gives you a great opportunity to connect not only with NYU law students and noteworthy legal professionals but also with peers.

  • Mentorship and ongoing support: You’ll receive guidance and support directly from NYU Law students and faculty, and it will not just be restricted to the sessions themselves. Throughout the year you will receive support on how to best enhance your education in the field of legal studies.


  • Restrictive admission: Since the program is only open to those who are able to commute to the NYU campus, you may be out of luck if you live too far from the city.

  • A serious time commitment: Not strictly a con but an important point to consider - you will have to commit at least 10 Saturdays to the course, requiring you to schedule your semester accordingly.

  • Not as in-depth as a lengthier summer program: While there’s no doubt that you’ll be learning a lot in each of the sessions, it is still only 30 hours or so of effective learning. Compared to multi-week or month-long summer programs, the depth of learning is somewhat limited.

Our review - should you apply?

NYU's High School Law Institute can be a valuable opportunity for any high school student interested in pursuing legal studies. It offers integrated and comprehensive classes along with solid mentorship and networking opportunities, all led by current students of one of the best law schools in the country. While it’s in-person only and restricted to those living around NYC, its full scholarship and great exposure still make it a must-attend if you live in the New York metropolitan area. By participating in HSLI, you can enhance your college application and take significant steps toward a future career in law.

One More Option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Alternatively, if you’re interested in conducting in-depth research in law, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: NYU logo



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