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Eleven independent graduate schools have launched a new organization, the National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools, to advocate for their collective interests. Those members are Appalachian School of Law, Bank Street Graduate School of Education, Brooklyn Law School, California Western School of Law, Erikson Institute, New England Law | Boston, New York Law School, Relay Graduate School of Education, South Texas College of Law Houston, University of California Hastings College of the Law and Vermont Law School.

Anthony Crowell, dean and president of New York Law School and lead organizer of the effort, said that despite there being dozens of stand-alone graduate schools in the United States, legislative efforts and funding formulas often are not thought of with these institutions in mind.

“With CARES Act funding, free-standing law schools and stand-alone graduate schools were not eligible for some of the relief because the formulas were based on the number of Pell Grants that were received at the individual schools,” he said. “It brought to light that we are living in a world of definitions that is creating some unnecessary or erroneous limitations on us.”

Beyond funding formulas, the groups will also hope to keep stand-alone graduate schools in the minds of legislators, said Matt Gewolb, associate dean and general counsel at NYLS.

“When we started meeting with legislators and their staff members, they were all really happy to learn about our institutions, but it hadn’t been fully on their radar screens before when they’re engaging in education policy,” he said. “We’ll be rolling out a larger legislative agenda.”

The association has a plan to expand its membership and grow a shared strategic vision for its members, Crowell said.

David Faigman, chancellor and dean of UC Hastings Law, said that independent graduate schools have the advantage of being able to embark on new projects with speed and agility. “An occasional disadvantage is not having a larger institution advocating on our behalf for the resources needed to support these projects,” he said in a release. “This initiative will allow us to marshal our collective voices in service of the multitude of initiatives that are the hallmark of independent graduate schools.”