Cornell Law School

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


Lawyers in the Best Sense

When Cornell University’s founding president, Andrew Dickson White, began to lay plans for a law department at Cornell University, he wrote that he wanted to educate “not swarms of hastily prepared pettifoggers, but a fair number of well-trained, large-minded, morally based lawyers in the best sense. . .” He hoped graduates of the school would become “a blessing to the country, at the bar, on the bench, and in various public bodies.” More than a century since President White’s vision, this ideal still holds true. A small top-tier law school located in beautiful surroundings, Cornell draws on, and contributes to, the resources of a great university, consistently producing well-rounded lawyers and accomplished practitioners cut from a different cloth.

Cornell is an international center of learning located in Ithaca, New York, the heart of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Law School’s small classes, broad curriculum, and distinguished faculty, combined with the advantages of being part of one of the world’s leading research universities, make it ideal for those who value both depth and breadth in their legal studies. Students find Ithaca to be a safe and supportive, yet culturally rich, environment in which to pursue legal studies.

Enrollment and Student Body

More than 60 percent of the Law School’s entering students have taken one or more years between completion of their undergraduate degree and enrollment in law school. Selective admission standards, combined with an emphasis on applicants’ unique records and achievements, ensure that the student body is made up of people with wide-ranging interests, skills, concerns, and backgrounds.

Library, Physical Facilities, and Computing

The Law School is located in the renovated and expanded Myron Taylor Hall, at the heart of the scenic 745-acre Cornell University campus.

Cornell Law School is a world leader in the development and support of electronic legal research. It combines outstanding collections with professional expertise and access to worldwide electronic information sources for Anglo-American, as well as foreign and international, law. Students have access to the full array of Internet services. The Law School’s multiple-node network, wireless network, and computer terminals are available to students for word processing, legal research, statistical analysis, and database management. Students also have access to the many satellite computer clusters and mainframe facilities located on the university campus.

Faculty

Cornell Law School’s faculty are known not only as prolific scholars but also as great teachers. Tenured and tenure-track faculty teach and produce scholarship in their areas of law; clinical faculty run client-focused and simulation courses centered around legal aid in addition to several specialty clinics; and a large number of visitors, associated faculty from other university divisions, and adjunct faculty teach at the school each year. Many of the latter group are legal scholars and professors from other countries who teach in the Law School’s significant international program.

Curriculum and Clinical Studies

Cornell Law School offers a national law curriculum leading to the JD degree. First-year students take a group of required courses as well as an intensive Lawyering course emphasizing a variety of legal research, writing, and advocacy techniques, and have a spring-semester elective option. After the first year, students may choose from a wide range of elective courses, including many seminars and problem courses.

Since the 1970s, clinical courses at Cornell Law School have helped students move beyond the classroom into the world of practice. Numerous courses provide students with opportunities to assume the role of advocate on behalf of real clients with real legal problems. All of this is done under the supervision and mentoring of experienced faculty, who work closely with students to assist their development into excellent ethical professionals.

To begin the transition from student to practitioner, some students elect to enroll in in-house clinics; others choose to participate in externships. Each clinic provides opportunities for developing skills that are crucial to the practice of law. Current clinics and externships include:

  • Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic
  • Advanced Immigration Clinic
  • Advanced Labor Law
  • Advocacy for LGBT Communities
  • Attorneys for Children
  • Capital Punishment
  • Child Advocacy Clinic
  • Criminal Defense Trial Clinic
  • Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic
  • Global Gender Justice Clinic
  • International Human Rights Clinic
  • Labor Law Clinic
  • Legal Research Clinic
  • New York Attorney General Clinic
  • Prosecution Clinic
  • Securities Law Clinic
  • Full-Time Externship
  • Part-Time Judicial Externship
  • Part-Time Local Externship
  • Neighborhood Legal Services Externship

Joint/Dual Degrees

Being part of a world-renowned university, and the interdisciplinary environment it provides, is of great benefit. Cornell Law School and Cornell University offer many opportunities for combined-degree programs, including both three- and four-year programs for the JD/MBA (business degree from the Johnson Graduate School of Management), JD/MPA (public affairs degree from the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs), JD/MILR (labor relations degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations), JD/MRP (regional planning degree from the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning), and JD/MA or PhD in a variety of fields (master’s or PhD degree from the graduate school). Law students may also take as many as 12 credits outside of the Law School for law school credit.

International Legal Studies

The Berger International Legal Studies Program is one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished programs in international legal education. The Law School’s comprehensive program features a unique JD specialization opportunity; a three-year JD/LLM degree in international and comparative law; a four-year JD/Master en Droit (French law degree) program; a three-year JD/MLLP (German law degree) program; a Paris summer institute with the Sorbonne Law School at the Université Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne); a comprehensive speaker series; the Mori, Hamada, and Matsumoto (Tokyo law firm) Faculty Exchange; the Conseil d’Etat Clerkship (French Supreme Court clerkship); the Turin Interuniversity Centre; a large number of visiting foreign professors and scholars; a weekly luncheon discussion series; international moot court competitions; law clinics; internships; and a leading journal of international and comparative law edited by students. Students have the option to spend one semester abroad at a partner law school (we have partnerships with over 20 law schools in 18 different countries), or to design an individual “term away” at a foreign law facility with which the Law School is not partnered.

The Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture brings an exciting interdisciplinary and humanistic focus to the study of law in East Asia. The Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East sponsors seminars, colloquia, and lectures, and supports student and faculty exchanges with institutions in the region.

Programs and Projects

Cornell Law School is the home for several unique programs and projects of interest to students. These programs and projects include the following:

  • Cornell Center for Women and Justice (improve access to justice in an effort to eliminate violence against women and girls)
  • Death Penalty Project (clinics and symposia related to capital punishment)
  • Clarke Scholars Program (visiting scholars)
  • ILR-Law School Program on Conflict Resolution (raising the standards of arbitration, mediation, and other methods of alternative dispute resolution)
  • Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (only legal journal dedicated exclusively to empirical legal scholarship)
  • Lay Participation in Law International Research Collaborative (transnational collaborative team dedicated to research on lay participation in court systems)
  • Legal Information Institute (world’s leading investigator of new ways to perform electronic legal research)
  • Clarke Business Law Institute (classes, more faculty, seminars, conferences, and other programming)
  • Empirical Studies Project (empirical study of court cases)

Student Activities

Student-edited law journals include the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell International Law Journal, and the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy.

Student organizations and activities include

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Society
  • American Constitution Society
  • Art Law Society
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Briggs Society of International Law
  • Business Law Society
  • CLS +1
  • California Law Students Association
  • Christian Legal Society
  • Cornell Association of Law and Economics
  • Cornell Bioethics and Health Law Society
  • Cornell Chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project
  • Cornell International Law Journal
  • Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy
  • Cornell Law Review
  • Cornell Law Second Amendment Club
  • Cornell Law Students Association
  • Cornell Law Veterans Association
  • Cornell Sports & Entertainment Law Society
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Intellectual Property and Technology Association
  • Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
  • Italian American Law Students Association
  • Jewish Law Students Association
  • LAMBDA Law Association (LGBTQ)
  • Latino American Law Students Association
  • Law Softball Club
  • Law Students for Reproductive Justice
  • Legal Information Institute Supreme Court Bulletin
  • Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
  • LLM Association
  • Mock Trial Board
  • Moot Court Board
  • Muslim Students Association
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • National Security Law and Policy Society
  • Native American Law Students Association
  • Public Interest Law Union
  • Society of Wine & Jurisprudence
  • South Asian Law Students Association
  • Spring Break Service Trip
  • St. Thomas More Catholic Society
  • Student Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Student Leadership Council
  • Women of Color Collective
  • Women’s Law Coalition

Expenses and Financial Aid

Cornell Law School offers an institutional-based financial aid program. Almost 50 percent of students receive scholarship aid (awards averaging $25,000 per year), with a higher percentage receiving government-backed loans.

Our Public Interest Low Income Protection Plan, one of the most generous of such programs, assists those choosing qualifying public interest law jobs through the use of a moderated loan repayment assistance plan.

Career Services

Cornell’s law students continue to be among the most recruited in the country. Every fall, hundreds of employers from across the country recruit our students on campus and at job fairs in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. A professionally staffed Career Services Office provides employment counseling to students and alumni, and serves as a liaison to legal employers. In addition to connecting students with private-sector job opportunities, the Office of Public Service hosts an annual Public Interest Law Career Symposium dedicated to fostering the Law School’s commitment to service. Both offices assist first-year students with their summer employment search. Students and alumni interested in judicial clerkships will have the assistance of a full-time professional and faculty committee to assist with their application strategy.

APPLICANT PROFILE

Admission to Cornell Law School is very competitive. Members of the most recent entering class had a median undergraduate grade-point average of 3.77 and a median LSAT score of 167. However, we do not evaluate candidates by the numbers alone. The admission committee carefully considers non-quantifiable factors such as extracurricular and community activities, life experience and work background, and recommendations. Cornell Law School subscribes to the university’s long-standing tradition of affirmative action, and members of traditionally underrepresented minority groups are encouraged to mention their status where they think it is relevant. The decision to offer admission ultimately rests on whether the committee is convinced that the applicant will be an energetic, productive, and successful member of the Cornell Law School community and, ultimately, the legal profession.

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Cornell:

3.76 to 3.93

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cornell:

164 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Cornell:

3.76 to 3.93

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cornell:

164 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Cornell:

3.76 to 3.93

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Cornell:

164 to 169

120
135
150
165
180

Contact Information

Myron Taylor Hall,
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901,
United States
Phone: 607.255.5141