How to Get into Cornell Law School

Cornell Law School

Program Overview

Cornell Law stands out in its small size and rural setting, complemented by the benefits of a larger university and neighboring college town. The Law School emphasizes its intimate learning environment, a close-knit community that facilitates frequent interaction between students and faculty, as well as a collegial atmosphere and meaningful collaboration. Cornell celebrates the teaching ability of its faculty and also provides individualized academic support to students in the form of workshops, counseling and tutoring.

The Law School also maximizes its connection to the larger University by encouraging interdisciplinary study, particularly through numerous dual degree opportunities. Student life is closely connected to Cornell’s home in upstate Ithaca, New York, and its rustic surroundings. Overlooking Cayuga Lake and many gorges, Cornell allows for a variety of outdoor activities as a break from studies (and has many students joking, “Ithaca is Gorges”). The town itself has been recognized as one of the “foodiest” towns in the country, with more restaurants per capita than New York City. Most law students live near other graduate students in Lower Collegetown, a short walk from the law school campus, while others choose to stay slightly farther away in downtown Ithaca, amid family homes.

Notable alumni include U.S. Secretaries of State Edmund Muskie and William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel Pierce, and the first female president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen.


Each entering class at Cornell is approximately 200 students and is divided into six sections of approximately 32 students. The first-year curriculum consists of 10 required courses, with first-year legal research and writing taught in a class of 32 students and the others in larger groups. During the first year, students have the opportunity to work with an academic support counselor and can also be assigned a faculty and/or student mentor. During the second and third years, courses are elective, although a few courses in ethics and advanced legal writing are required. The J.D. program also offers optional concentrations in Advocacy, Public Law, Business Law and Regulation, and General Practice.

With an interdisciplinary focus, Cornell offers 17 dual degree programs, including programs to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Master of Teaching, Master of Food Science, and Master of Hospitality Management. Cornell also offers a select group of students the opportunity to obtain an international law degree at the Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, or at Heidelberg University Faculty of Law. Students may also spend a semester abroad during one term of their second or third years.

Cornell Law School does not rank its students.

Clinical and Experiential Learning

Cornell offers both in-house clinics and externships, available only to upper-class students. Among the 17 in-house clinics, some of the more unusual include the Death Penalty Project, the Gender Justice Clinic, the International Human Rights: Policy Advocacy Clinic, the Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic, and the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic.  Clinics promise direct client interaction and frequently involve argument in appellate or trial courts.  As for externships, students can enroll in local, part-time externships (including judicial externships, the Law Guardian Externship, or at the Neighborhood Legal Services Office), full-term externships (including at the American Civil Liberties Union, Department of Justice, or federal prosecutor/defender offices), or occasionally, abroad.


Class Profile

Class Size: 198

Average Age: 24

Women: 52.5%

Students of color: 42.4%

Median LSAT: 167

Median GPA: 3.77

Career Placement

  • Law Firms: 78.84%
  • Judicial Clerkships: 8.92%
  • Business & Industry: 5.12%
  • Government/Public Interest: 6.5%
  • Education: 0.62%


  • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 62.6%
  • Central: 9.2%
  • South Atlantic/Central: 12.1%
  • Mountain/Pacific: 11.5%
  • U.S. Territories/Foreign: 4.6%