20 Things You Didn’t Know About Cornell University Law School


Cornell University Law School is a private institution in Ithaca, New York. The school has a rich and storied history dating back more than a century. It’s one of the top law schools in the nation today. If you’re considering Cornell University Law School but haven’t had much experience with the university, you’re in the right place to learn more. Here are twenty things you probably didn’t know about Cornell University Law School to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your academic and professional needs.

1. Cornell University Law School is an Ivy League institution

Wikipedia reports that Cornell Law School is one of America’s Ivy League law schools. Ivy League schools are among the most desirable because of their prestigious reputation that can help open doors for the best employment opportunities after graduation. There are eight private Ivy League schools in the Northeastern part of the country with just five Ivy League law schools.

2. Cornell University Law School Offers four law degree programs

The four law programs offered by Cornell University Law School are graduate level. The law school’s programs include JD, MSLS, LLM, and JSD degrees. They also provide various dual-degree programs working with other professional Cornell University programs to meet student needs for specific and tailored degree content in niche disciplines. For example, dual degree programs may combine an MBA for business law, a dual degree with an emphasis in medical practice, and other areas of the law, including but not limited to International Business, Accounting, Taxation, Political Science, Human Services, and other disciplines.

3. Cornell University Law School is a T14

The T14 law schools are a group of the top-ranked institutions in the nation. Cornell University Law School has consistently ranked among the T14 schools. It is one of the smallest T14 schools on the list graduating 200 students a year. The Cornell University Law School has not missed a year of being on the roster of the top-rated schools since its founding.

4. Cornell University Law Schoool graduated notable professionals

The law school has graduated some of the most successful people in the world. Alumni of Cornell University Law School include Edmund Muski and William P. Rogers, US Secretaries of State, Myron Charles Taylor, business executive and philanthropist, Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female president, Mary H. Donlon, federal judge, many US Congress members, attorneys general, state and federal judges, businessmen and women, and numerous governors and diplomats.

5. Cornell University Law School has a lengthy history

Cornell University opened its law department in Morrill Hall in 1887. The law program goes back 125 years before becoming an official law school. It was a department in the university. The first dean of the law department was Judge Douglass Boardman.

6. The admissions process has evolved over time

The first students to enter Cornell University’s law department were not required to possess a high school diploma. Admissions were open to more people at the time. By 1917, admissions requirements began to stiffen. The school required two years of undergraduate work necessary. The law department evolved into a graduate program in 1924. The following year the law department was officially named the Cornell Law School.

7. The Cornell Law School has valued diversity since its inception

The first graduate of color at Cornell Law School was George Washington Fields. He graduated in 1890 with his law degree. Cornell valued diversity since its inception, graduating Mary Kennedy Brown, its first female graduate, in 1893, when the law was considered a male occupation in society. The school maintains a diverse student body with value placed on diversity, welcoming students from all backgrounds without discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, sexual preference/gender, disability status, or political affiliations. Cornell Law School upholds human rights and provides equal opportunities for all students applying for acceptance.

8. Cornell University Law School honors alum Charles Evans Hughes

Charles Evans Hughes taught at Cornell University in the law department from 1891 through 1893. He became a governor, then became the US Secretary of State. Hughes later became the Chief Justice of the United States. He returned to the school as a special lecturer in the late 1890s. The school honored Hughes by naming Hughes Hall, one of the central buildings of the law school, for his contributions and memory. He remains one of Cornell’s most notable faculty, helping to teach some of the first students in the law department. Hughes is one of many examples of the exceptional faculty who taught throughout its history.

9. Cornell University Law School is expensive

US News explains tuition at Cornell University Law School is high. The application fee to submit your application for consideration is $80 and is non-refundable. Most students considering Cornell University Law School have the financial means to attend the school. Financial aid is available for students who cannot afford to pay for the annual costs out of pocket. Students pay tuition rates of $70,274 to attend. Cornell Law School is one of the most expensive law schools. It ranks as number 13 out of the T14 law schools in the nation. It’s not the most affordable school to attend, but students get a lot for their money. It’s among the most prestigious institutions of higher learning. As such, a degree from Cornell university’s law school can open up doors to employment at prestigious law firms and other employers.

10. The student-faculty ratio at Cornell University Law School is low

Students attending Cornell University Law School enjoy the benefit of the low student-to-faculty ratios. The small graduating class of 200 students makes it possible to maintain a ratio of 5 students for every faculty member for some courses. Faculty may exceed the cap under some conditions. Faculty have more time for one-on-one interactions with students. It’s not the lowest ratio of all law schools, but it’s far better than some larger schools with auditorium classes. Large classes create situations of poor interaction with faculty. Massive class size isn’t a problem at Cornell University Law School. Students get a personalized learning experience.

11. Cornell University Law School is highly ranked in program offerings

Cornell University Law School offers several degree specialization programs. It is among the most highly rated for the number of possibilities for students. Some of its most notable and exceptional programs include Business/Corporate Law, Clinical Training, Constitutional Law, Contracts/Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, Health Care Law, Intellectual Property Law, International Law, Legal Writing, Tax Law, and Trial Advocacy. The Cornell University Law School covers all disciplines and specialties within the law.

12. Cornell University Law School changed the way New York lawyers became educated

BCG Search reveals that the founding of Cornell University’s law department changed the way that aspiring lawyers earned their credentials in Ithaca, New York. When the first students in 1887 went to Cornell, nearly all law students received their training through on-the-job training programs. They started as law office clerks and learned from attorneys while they worked. The new program admitted young men and gave them the fast-track to becoming qualified practicing attorneys. The school was instrumental in changing the methods of education for lawyers.

13. Competition for admission is stiff

It’s not easy to get into Cornell University Law School, as competition is fierce. Requirements are somewhat rigid. Students admitted to Cornell University Law School have median LSAT scores of 167. The range of student scores lies between 163 to 168. The median GPA is 3.73. The student scores lie between 3.6 to 3.81. These are still lower than the median scores at Northwestern University Law School, so Cornell University is a little easier to get in. The admissions rate for all applicants at Cornell Law School is 24.1 percent, which is much better than the 19 percent of Northwestern. Although it’s not the most difficult school to get into, roughly three-quarters of all applicants are not accepted. Cornell University Law School received 4,100 applications. The school approved just 987.

14. It’s tough to appeal a grade at Cornell University Law School

Unless the professor makes a mechanical or mathematical error, it’s nearly impossible to have an issued academic grade changed at Cornell University Law School once it is submitted. We learned that there is no formal grade appeal procedure available for students. Faculty members are not allowed to change the grade unless they have a written statement from the dean of the law school.

15. Cornell University Law School has a unique honors system

The honors system at Cornell University Law School begins with the lowest honor bestowed. Myron Taylor Scholars with a cumulative MPR at the top 30 percent of the class are honored with this award with a notation on transcripts. Deans list is another award for the top 30% of students. Magna cum laude awards are granted to JD students ranking in the top 10 percent. Summa cum laude awards are for JD students by special vote for exceptional performance. The highest honor that the school bestows is the Order of Coif. It is an honorary scholastic society granted to JD students ranking in the top 10 percent of graduates with a minimum of 63 graded credits in law school. It’s a national organization that makes its own rules. Only lawyers, teachers, and judges earning high distinction for professional or academic accomplishments are inducted into the Order of Coif.

16. Cornell University Law School distributes 33 awards for excellence

Students at Cornell University Law School may compete for 33 awards. Some of them include the American Bankruptcy Law Journal Prize for students earning the highest grade in a bankruptcy course. Similarly, the American Bankruptcy Institute awards an annual medal to exceptional students in the bankruptcy law niche. The American Bar Association Prize is awarded to two students annually who excel in local government and land use niches. The Nathan Burkan Memorial Competition awards two prizes for students preparing the most exceptional papers on copyright law. Dozens of similar awards in key areas of the law award exceptional accomplishments with recognition and distinction.

17. Cornell University Law School offers 25 student organizations

Student organizations can help law students to gain more clarity, knowledge, and experience in niche fields of law studies. Cornell University maintains 25 individual student organizations. Some of them include Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, American Constitution Society, Art Law Society, Black Law Students Association, California Law Students Association, Christian Legal Society, Cornell Bioethics and Health Law Society, The Cornell chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, Cornell International Law Journal, and many more.

18. Cornell Law School has a diverse student population

Cornell Law School reports that the most recent statistical figures show that the incoming student body is diverse. Just 31 percent of students come straight from college. Nearly two-thirds have taken a break in between degrees. Fifty-tow percent are men, 47 percent are women and 1 percent did not indicate gender. Forty-two percent are a minority and the median age is 23 years old.

19. Cornell Law School welcomes students from around the world

Students from across the country and around the world make up the student body at Cornell Law School. Most come from other universities with just 13 completing their undergraduate studies at Cornell. Statistics show that students from ten countries secured admission to the school.

20. Cornell’s bar passage rate is high

Cornell does not have the highest bar passage rate, but it is still high. For 2017, the school’s bar passage rate was 91.6 percent. The rates rose to 95.9 percent for first-time test-takers in 2020. It’s exceptional compared to the overall state bar passage rate of 75.7 percent. Less than five percent of all exam takers fail to pass on the first attempt. This data suggests that Cornell University Law School does an exceptional job of preparing students to pass the exam.

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