University at Buffalo School of Law, The State University of New York
The information on this page was provided by the law school.
Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs
New York State’s Public Law School
The University at Buffalo School of Law—the only law school in the State University of New York system—is situated on the flagship campus of a premier public university. Located in Buffalo, New York, just 20 minutes from Canada, the University at Buffalo is recognized as a top public research university, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). University at Buffalo is known as one of the top large schools in the Northeast. Students choose from more than 110 undergraduate degree programs, 205 master’s degree programs and 84 doctoral programs—the widest range of any public institution in New York or New England. The University enrolls close to 30,000 students each year, approximately one third at the graduate and professional levels including more than 450 law students.
UB School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the state of New York, drawing on over 130 years of experience and innovation in legal education. Our curriculum is constantly evolving, recognizing the need to prepare students for the rapidly changing, global nature of legal practice. Each year, we graduate more than 140 lawyers who are ready to practice law in a diverse range of fields including corporate law, environmental law, public service, criminal law, intellectual property, and cross-border practice.
UB School of Law has a long history of pro bono service and social justice initiatives. Our students view the world with compassion, knowing that regardless of where they ultimately choose to work, they have a moral responsibility, as lawyers and as leaders, to use their skills and knowledge to ensure justice and to give back.
Located in Amherst, New York—a suburb of Buffalo—UB School of Law has a small-school feel with all the advantages of a large university, including access to other professional and graduate departments, Division I sports, a fine arts center, a concert hall, and numerous other academic, social, and cultural opportunities.
The greater Buffalo area offers a wide variety of social and cultural activities such as downhill skiing, water sports, professional sports, a world-class symphony orchestra, professional theaters, nightlife, and proximity to Toronto, all a short distance from the law school. Recently voted America’s Friendliest City by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, as well as one of the most affordable cities in the United States. The second largest city in New York State, Buffalo’s recent economic boom has caught national attention, touting Buffalo as a great place to live.
Library and Physical Facilities
UB School of Law is housed in John Lord O’Brian Hall, a seven-story building that includes a state-of-the-art courtroom, which provides students with an opportunity to watch judges and lawyers in action. The library is the core of the law school, occupying six of the seven floors, including a law-student-only reading room with space for 84 students.
Like the law school, the law library is committed to providing students with exceptional research and writing instructors. This enables first-year law students to gain one-on-one instruction in various research methods.
UB School of Law has also added state-of-the-art technology to enhance faculty teaching and student learning.
The JD Program
UB School of Law provides a flexible JD curriculum that affords students a broad range of curricular options, practical coursework, and special programs. Our curriculum emphasizes the study of law as well as the practical application of law to prepare our students to practice their profession upon graduation. We offer a large number of interdisciplinary courses in a variety of programs and concentrations that include Criminal Law, Cross-Border Legal Studies, Intellectual Property and Privacy, International Law, Environmental Law, Family Law, and Finance and Development.
Instruction is offered in two semesters from early September to May, including a January short term and a summer session from mid-May to mid-July. Six full-time semesters or five full-time semesters plus two summer sessions are required for graduation. Students who plan ahead are able to graduate a semester early.
Beyond the first year, students are required to complete 58 semester credit hours, including Advanced Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing or a qualifying law school seminar during the second year; Ethics and the Legal Profession; at least six credits of experiential learning courses; and one additional course that provides an intensive experience in legal analysis, research, or writing. The upper-division program is otherwise elective.
The University at Buffalo is the State University of New York’s largest and most comprehensive campus. The campus includes nationally recognized schools of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Engineering and Applied Sciences. Access to these and many other graduate and professional schools within the campus offers unparalleled access to dual-degree programs that permit students to earn credit toward a master’s or PhD degree jointly with the JD. In recent years, the most active dual-degree programs have been with the Schools of Management and Social Work.
Advanced-Standing Two-Year JD Program
The Advanced Standing Two-Year JD for Internationally Trained Lawyers allows professionals who already have a first degree in law from outside the United States to earn a JD in two years rather than three. It provides a more thorough immersion experience in US law and legal education than a traditional one-year LLM program. Highly qualified students who are proficient in English and who wish to sit for the New York State Bar exam are our ideal candidates.
Exceedingly important, New York law is practiced all over the world. New York City is a common venue for the lawful settlement of disputes, both in courts and through arbitration, from all over the globe. As the state of New York’s law school—the only law school in the SUNY system—UB School of Law is uniquely positioned to offer experiences, both in and out of the classroom, that capitalize on the role New York law plays in global affairs.
Advanced Standing Two-Year JD students take the first-year curriculum and are part of the incoming JD class. In the second year, students take mostly electives in research, classroom instruction, and experiential learning with an opportunity to participate in our New York City Program in Finance and Law.
UB School of Law offers four LLM programs for students who already hold a first degree in law, including the General LLM, the Criminal Law LLM, the Cross-Border Legal Studies LLM, and the Environmental Law LLM. These programs offer special courses designed to introduce international students to American law and to prepare them for the New York State Bar exam. All students benefit from our small-group, personalized approach that allows them to design their own curriculum.
The General LLM provides professionals with the flexibility to create a highly specialized course of study that draws on our excellence in research, classroom instruction, and experiential learning. LLM students have access to nearly all of the courses offered at the law school and can spend their time focusing primarily on the wide range of subjects offered each semester (including those students who need an LLM to become eligible to sit for the New York Bar Exam). Students can also engage in research, working closely with a member of our faculty on a master’s thesis or an independent study. And they can take advantage of the many opportunities to learn law and the legal profession through our pioneering clinical programs, externships, and judicial clerkships. Admitted students receive one-on-one academic advisement in the selection of their courses to help them navigate through our substantial range of course offerings and practical learning opportunities.
The Criminal Law LLM builds on the University at Buffalo School of Law’s strength in the interdisciplinary study of criminal law and the work of the Buffalo Criminal Law Center. Our Criminal Law LLM was the first of its kind in the United States and continues to be one of the only such programs. This program has attracted lawyers and professors from all over the world who intend to teach, do policy work, or serve as prosecutors or judges in their home jurisdictions. Criminal Law LLM students are advised by Professor Luis Chiesa, an internationally known criminal law scholar with extensive experience in Spain and Latin America.
Our innovative Cross-Border Legal Studies LLM Program, one of the first of its kind in the United States, recognizes the increasingly global nature of legal practice and the need for skilled attorneys to guide clients through their cross-border interactions. Located just 20 minutes from Canada, the US’s largest trading partner, the School of Law is uniquely situated to provide students with exposure to cross-border legal issues both inside and outside the classroom. A strong network of alumni based in Buffalo, New York and Ontario, Canada engage in a wide range of cross-border legal practice including trade, tax, immigration, real estate, and corporate and transactional work. These practitioners serve as community partners in the program and informal mentors to LLM students throughout the course of their studies. In addition, each student is assigned an academic advisor to provide one-on-one guidance throughout the program.
The Doctor of Juridical Science is the law school’s most advanced degree. It makes full use of our creative and interdisciplinary faculty to prepare students for careers as law professors, judicial and other public offices, as well as high-level policy positions in international organizations.
Our program trains legal scholars to employ interdisciplinary tools to observe, analyze and assess legal doctrines, policies and institutions. It is designed to enable students to:
- explore law in its social context and from a comparative perspective in an American setting;
- understand different schools of legal theory and bring them into dialogue with their previous legal training;
- apply such theoretical approaches to the analysis of legal problems and institutions;
- understand and critically assess the full range of research methods used in legal scholarship; and
- identify and master those methods most appropriate to their proposed project.
The JSD draws on the strengths of our research centers and our welcoming and interdisciplinary faculty. Students are encouraged to address legal issues and institutions theoretically and comparatively, topically and from an interdisciplinary policy perspective. The program inculcates the research skills most relevant to each student's research agenda and culminates in the preparation of a substantial work of original legal scholarship.
UB School of Law’s Experiential Learning Program is the cornerstone of the school’s curriculum. We have been recognized as one of the top law schools for practical training given our focus on developing and producing practice-ready lawyers able to meet the challenges of the legal profession. A key component of the initiative is our Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research (LAWR) program. The three semesters of required LAWR coursework allow every student to receive the necessary training in these essential skills broken into manageable segments.
Another integral component of the Experiential Learning Program is our Advocacy Institute, which gives law students the opportunity to develop and practice their advocacy skills through the guidance of distinguished members of the local bar and bench.
UB School of Law runs three national moot court competitions—the Buffalo Niagara Mock Trial Competition, one of the largest in the nation; the Herbert J. Wechsler National Criminal Moot Court Competition; and the Albert R. Mugel National Tax Moot Court Competition—as well as the intramural Charles S. Desmond Moot Court Competition. Students also compete in Alternative Dispute Resolution competitions, in the increasingly important areas of mediation and arbitration, as well as on teams that compete in national mediation competitions, and in an annual in-house mediation competition.
In the Innocence and Justice Project, second- and third-year students identify cases in which there is a strong evidence of miscarriage of justice and press the case for redress.
Skills training in the clinical program is coordinated with substantive law courses to give students a theoretical understanding of practical issues. Students serve clients and conduct research and fieldwork in areas such as animal law, civil liberties and transparency, community justice, environmental law, family violence and women’s rights, health justice, law and social work, and mediation. Launched in January 2018, the Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic provided students the opportunity to learn about disaster recovery and travel to Puerto Rico for a service experience, providing direct legal aid to people and organizations facing the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
New York City Program in Finance and Law
This program provides law students with an introduction to New York City’s financial markets and a gateway to its highly competitive financial-sector job market. Each year, approximately 15 students are selected to participate in this unique program, which is located in New York City. Accepted students can apply for early placement to the New York City Program.
Practicum courses provide service learning experiences for UB School of Law students. These four-credit courses are based on 120 hours of in-field work assisting and observing practicing attorneys. They also require weekly classroom work in conjunction with a full-time professor, exploring substantive law in depth and reflecting on the process of becoming an attorney.
Pro Bono and Access to Justice
The School of Law’s Pro Bono Scholars Program gives third-year law students the opportunity to take the February New York State Bar before they graduate, then work full-time in a pro bono placement while taking one course for their final semester of law school. The course, taught partially via distance, explores access to justice issues and lawyering skills, and includes a short paper and presentation at a local conference.
Each semester over 50 UB School of Law students are placed in supervised externships and another 20 or more students are placed in judicial clerkships. Externships and judicial clerkships provide law students with unique legal and public service experience as they work in a variety of government and nonprofit organizations and get credit for doing so. Students learn how to work with a client and address the client’s specific needs and goals—something that’s difficult to teach in a classroom.
Our students help judges, attorneys, and legislators with pressing legal questions that arise in ongoing cases, in the development of public policy or legislation, and in response to citizen inquiries or problems.
Our study abroad options provide students with the opportunity to
- pursue areas of legal study which will complement their Buffalo coursework;
- to improve their understanding of a foreign legal system and cultural practices;
- and to enhance their ability to work across cultures and borders in their future legal careers.
In addition, students will gain valuable skills navigating their way around a new school, legal system and country, while making linkages and friendships that will endure long past law school.
Student Bar Association
UB School of Law students experience a relaxed, friendly, and collaborative atmosphere. There are ample extracurricular activities. The Student Bar Association, an elected representative body, oversees all law school student organizations.
The Advocacy Institute
The Advocacy Institute is dedicated to helping students cultivate the skills, discipline, and ethics necessary to become creative and principled litigators.
The Institute serves as host to the law school’s programs in Trial Advocacy, Appellate Advocacy, and Mediation. Through these programs, students train with leading judges, trial attorneys, and faculty to develop the litigation skills necessary to successfully advocate on behalf of their future clients. The Advocacy Institute is also home to the Law School's Innocence and Justice Project, which tackles the problems of over-incarceration, racial injustice in the criminal legal system, and unjust convictions, through litigation and research.
The Buffalo Law Review is a professional journal edited by students, as are other specialty journals in environmental law, human rights law, public interest, and gender, law, and social policy.
A variety of housing opportunities are available when you’re attending the School of Law.
University-owned housing is located both on and off campus, and privately owned housing is available near UB as well as in the City of Buffalo.
Career Placement and Bar Passage
The ultimate goal of nearly every law student is establishing his or her career upon graduation. In fact, 86%* of UB School of Law graduates find positions or enter advanced degree programs within ten months of their graduation. Our Career Services Office provides job-search and résumé services for all students, and helps first- and second-year students conduct their summer job searches. As products of New York State’s law school, many of our graduates seek employment in New York City and Buffalo; however, UB School of Law graduates can be found in positions across the county and throughout the globe.
*83.6% employed in full-time, long-term positions requiring bar passage or JD advantage
Tuition and Aid
Buffalo is able to offer state-subsidized tuition to New York residents and a very affordable out-of-state tuition rate:
- in-state tuition—$25,410 plus fees
- out-of-state tuition—$30,250 plus fees
UB School of Law’s overall educational expenses are less than half the cost of many other law schools. Merit scholarships are available to students demonstrating high academic achievement, and state aid is offered on a need basis to qualified students. Additional alumni-sponsored scholarships are offered to second- and third-year students.
Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers
Our admission process is selective and based on both quantitative and qualitative criteria. In addition to your LSAT score and your undergraduate grade point average (GPA), the Admissions Committee considers other non-numerical factors in reaching decisions. These factors include:
- Achievement or activities that indicate a high level of probability of scholastic excellence and intellectual contributions while in law school;
- Achievements or activities emanating from work, life experience or community service that indicate a potential for contributing to the enrichment of the law school;
- Special factors in your academic background that may have affected your academic career, including discrimination based on race, creed, gender, disability or national origin, and economic or social impediments.
The School of Law is committed to a nondiscriminatory admission policy and philosophy. We welcome applications from all people without regard to race, age, gender, disability, religion, national origin, family status or sexual orientation.