Cornell Law School, Ithaca, New York

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<<Cornell offers its students four types of degrees: a J.D., an LL.M., a J.S.D. (Doctor of the Science of Law), and a joint J.D./master's degree which can be pursued in three different disciplines for students interested in European business and law. The joint master's degrees offered include:
  • Master en Droit, completed at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne where students are prepared for bar exams in both the United States and France over four years
  • Master of German and European Law and Practice (M.LL.P.), a three-year program completed at the Humboldt University of Berlin where students study the academic and practical aspects of German and European law
  • Master in Global Business Law, a three-year program at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris covering international law and business issues from the European perspective
Admission to the law program at Cornell is highly competitive, with more than 4,000 students applying for fewer than 200 openings, averaging to an enrollment rate of less than 5% of its applicant pool. For the 2006 entering class, the median LSAT score was 167, and the median GPA was 3.67. Cornell accepts LSAT scores that are less than four years old. Though the admissions committee officially maintains that there is no minimum threshold for LSAT scores or GPAs, a strong academic record is viewed as a necessity for acceptance.

<< Cornell enrolls between 180 and 195 new J.D. candidates per academic year; additionally, it enrolls between 50 and 60 LL.M. candidates. The average age of new students is 24, with slightly over one-third of students entering directly from college. Women make up nearly half of the student body and minority students one-quarter.



The legal faculty at Cornell is often described as the nation's most prolific. It is often credited for helping Cornell achieve New York State's highest bar passage rate at almost 95%. The complete faculty totals 68 professors, with 48 being full-time members. The student-faculty ratio currently stands at 10.8:1.

Graduates of Cornell Law can expect to be met with many opportunities in the private sector. Ninety-eight percent of graduates are employed within six months of graduation, with the majority (over 80%) transitioning into private practice. Judicial clerkships and government posts make up the remainder of jobs.

Tuition at Cornell is expectedly at the higher end of the spectrum: for the 2008-2009 academic year, tuition for 1L students totals $43,620. Tuition decreases by about $1,000 each year as students move on to their second and third years. LL.M. tuition stands at $45,690, and room and board costs run to about $10,300 in the Ithaca area. All together, J.D. candidates can expect to spend just over $60,000 per year while at Cornell.

Cornell's financial aid department takes some unusual steps in helping students map out their academic spending and loan applications. It makes sure that students understand that limiting their borrowing is in their best interests, advising them that "living like a frugal student will allow you to live like a lawyer after graduation."

<<Prior to applying for loans, grants, or scholarships, Cornell law students are advised to take the following steps to ensure minimal and manageable debt after graduation:
  • Eliminate all credit card debt.
  • Request a credit report from all three credit bureaus to check for errors or fraud.
  • Check credit score.
  • Develop a feasible personal budget.
  • Search for outside scholarships.
Cornell grants budget increases on a case-by-case basis under certain circumstances (medical expenses, childcare, purchasing a computer) but refrains from financing other expenses (personal debt, car payments, insurance, etc.).

Cornell is also home to three student-edited law journals: the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell International Law Journal, and the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. The faculty publishes its own peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.

Notable alumni of Cornell Law School include U.S. Senator and Governor of Maine Edmund Muskie, noted criminal defense attorney Samuel Simon Leibowitz, Olympic gold medalist Pablo Morales, and Princess Bajrakitiyabha of Thailand.

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