When 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."
"We wish the new school success," the Albany Law Journal noted acidly, when it learned of White's plans, "but we do not expect it." There were only a few law schools of any consequence in the country when Cornell's department admitted its first students in 1887; most young men (they were almost always men) clerked in law offices, and studied on the job.
A high school diploma was not a prerequisite for entry to Cornell's new department; tuition was $75 a year for three hours of classes a day. Students were thirsty for knowledge: "We had to drive them out of the library at night, and had a hard time answering their questions the next morning," wrote faculty member Charles Evans Hughes. (Hughes, who later served as chief justice of the Supreme Court, then as secretary of state, said he'd "enjoyed teaching most of all.")
The school's growth mirrored that of legal schooling in the country; the number of law students in the U.S. tripled over the next ten years. The law department's standards rose. By 1917, admission required at least two years of university education. World War I saw a halt in the stream of graduates, but students returned after the Armistice. Legal study was made a graduate degree in 1924, and the department of law became a professional school. In 1925, the trustees voted to give the new institution a new name: Cornell Law School.
By the end of World War II, law students who had fought overseas brought back internationally-scaled aspirations. In response, the Law School entered the arena of international legal studies in earnest.
The faculty grew in strength and numbers over the next thirty years; graduates who had prospered endowed professorships, and research flourished. Classes in legal history and philosophy found places in the catalogue of second- and third-year elective courses. So that students' more practical legal training might not suffer, the Legal Aid Clinic was established to give students the opportunity to confront real legal problems in the real world; other clinics followed.
Today, students still come to Cornell Law School from nearby upstate New York communities; but most now come from much farther away, Florida, Tulsa, L.A., Santo Domingo, and China. When they graduate, they join major law firms, or corporate law departments; they work as public defenders, or help AIDS victims win discrimination cases; they teach law and publish books. And Andrew White's dream has grown in a way he could hardly have anticipated, the school's graduates serve not just this country, but several dozen others, as well. International graduates return to their own countries to posts in government and on the bench. The Albany Law Journal, thankfully, was wrong; the Law School's success is undisputed.
|Director of admissions||Monica Ingram|
|Application deadline||February 1|
|Approximate number of applications||4100|
|Tuition and fees Full-time:||$61,485 per year|
|Room and board||$16,766|
Actual grade distribution data for all law courses is made available to students at the end of each semester. Grades awarded are:
Faculty grading policy calls upon each faculty member to grade a course, including problem courses and seminars, so that the mean grade for J.D. students in the course approximates 3.35 (the acceptable range is 3.2 to 3.5).
However, faculty who announce to their classes that they might exceed the cap are free to do so. If the 3.5 cap is exceeded in any class pursuant to such announcement, the transcript of every student in the class will carry an asterisk* next to the grade for that class, and for various internal purposes such as the awarding of academic honors at graduation, the numerical impact of such grades will be adjusted to be the same as it would have been if the course had been graded to achieve a 3.5 mean. Because the possibility of higher grades and a transcript asterisk may be relevant to some students in selecting courses, all faculty must announce their intentions regarding this aspect of the grading policy. As a practical matter, this can be as simple as a statement by faculty that they intend to grade within the cap set by faculty policy, or, alternatively, that they reserve their right under the policy to award asterisked grades with a course mean above that specified by the policy.
Faculty are not obliged to adhere to the 3.35 goal in grading courses with fewer than ten J.D. students receiving letter grades. They are expected, however, to be mindful of the goal.
Students who opted for Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading in the class should be awarded a grade of S if they would have received a C- or better. A grade of U should be given to any student who would have received a D+ or worse.
|Order of Coif||This honorary scholastic society’s purpose is to encourage excellence in legal education by fostering a spirit of careful study, recognizing those who as law students attained a high grade of scholarship, and honoring those who as lawyers, judges and teachers attained high distinction for their scholarly or professional accomplishments. The Order of the Coif is granted to those J.D. students who rank in the top 10% of the graduating class. To be eligible for consideration for the Order of the Coif, a graduate must take 63 graded credits in law school. This is a national organization that determines its own rules.|
|summa cum laude||The faculty awards the J.D. degree summa cum laude by special vote in cases of exceptional performance.|
|magna cum laude||The school awards the J.D. degree magna cum laude to students who rank in the top 10% of the graduating class.|
|cum laude||Students who rank in the top 30% of the class receive the J.D. degree cum laude unless they are receiving another honors degree.|
|Dean’s List||Each semester J.D. students whose semester grade point average places them in the top 30% of their class are awarded Dean’s List status. Students are notified of this honor by a letter from the Dean of Students and a notation on their official and unofficial transcripts.|
|Myron Taylor Scholar||This honor recognizes students whose cumulative MPR places them in the top 30 percent of their class at the completion of their second year of law school. Students are notified of this honor by a letter from the Dean of Students and a notation on their unofficial transcripts.|
|Name of Award||Awarded for/to|
|American Bankruptcy Law Journal Prize||The American Bankruptcy Law Journal awards a one-year subscription to the student who earns the highest grade in any bankruptcy course.|
|American Bankruptcy Medal of Excellence||The American Bankruptcy Institute annually awards a medal to a student who demonstrates excellence in bankruptcy law.|
|American Bar Association Prize||The Section of Urban, State, and Local Government annually awards a personalized certificate to the two graduating students who excel in the areas of land use and local government.|
|Peter Belfer Memorial Prize||A gift of Jean Belfer in memory of Peter Belfer, J.D. 1970, to encourage study of federal securities law. The Belfer Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the student who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School, demonstrates greatest proficiency and insight in federal securities regulation and related laws.|
|Boardman Third-Year Law Prize||A gift of Judge Douglas Boardman, the first Dean of Cornell Law School. The Boardman Prize is awarded annually to the student who has, in the judgment of the faculty, done the best work through the end of the second year.|
|Nathan Burkan Memorial Competition||Two prizes are awarded to the students who prepare the best papers on copyright law. The Dean of Cornell Law School, or the person the Dean delegates, makes this judgement.|
|CALI Excellence for the Future Award||The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Information awards a personalized certificate to the student with the highest grade in selected courses.|
|Arthur S. Chatman Labor Law Prize||Given in memory of Arthur S. Chatman, A.B. 1952, LL.B. 1957 to a third-year student who demonstrates general academic excellence, particularly in the field of labor law, or has written a paper on labor law.|
|Daniel P. Chernoff Prize||Established from the estate of Daniel P. Chernoff, B.E.E. 1956 LL.B. 1959. The Chernoff Prize is awarded annually to a second- or third-year student who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School, demonstrates general academic excellence in intellectual property and patent law, and demonstrates interest in the broader university community.|
|Cornell Law Library Prize for Exemplary Student Research||First and second prizes are awarded annually to the students whose academic research papers best demonstrate sophistication, originality, or unusual depth or breadth in the use of research materials, exceptional innovation in research strategy, and skillful synthesis of research results into a comprehensive scholarly analysis. Judged by Law Library faculty, funding for the prize is provided by an endowment given to the Law Library by Barbara Cantwell in honor of her late husband, Robert Cantwell, a 1956 graduate of Cornell Law School.|
|Cuccia Prize||Two prizes are the gift of Francis P. Cuccia, LL.B. 1912, in memory of Mary Heagen Cuccia. Cuccia Prizes are awarded annually to the teams reaching the finals of the fall moot court competition.|
|Fraser Prize||Two prizes are the gift of William Metcalf, Jr., LL.B. 1901, in memory of Alexander Hugh Ross Fraser, former librarian of Cornell Law School. Fraser Prizes are awarded early each fall to third-year students whose law study has been taken entirely at Cornell University and who have most fully evince high qualities of mind and character by superior achievements in scholarship and by attributes that earn the commendation of teachers and fellow students. The awards are made on recommendation of the third-year class by vote, from a list of candidates submitted by the faculty as eligible by reason of superior scholarship. The holders of the Boardman Prize and the Kerr Prize are not eligible.|
|Freeman Award for Civil-Human Rights||Established from the estate of Professor Emeritus Harrop A. Freeman, J.D. 1930, J.S.D. 1945. A Freeman Award is made annually to the law students who, in the opinion of a committee appointed by the Dean of Cornell Law School, have made the greatest contributions during their respective law school careers to civil and/or human rights. Freeman Awards are made each spring to third-year students from nominations submitted by members of the Cornell community.|
|Morris P. Glushien Prize||Established in honor of Morris P. Glushien, A.B. 1929, LL.B. 1931, former editor of Cornell Law Quarterly, member of the Law School faculty, associate general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, and general counsel of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. The Glushien Prize is awarded annually for the best student note or comment concerning current social problems published in the Cornell Law Review, Cornell International Law Journal, or any other Cornell student law journal.|
|Stanley E. Gould Prize For Public Interest Law||A gift of Stanley E. Gould, J.D. 1954. The Gould Prize is awarded each spring to a third-year student who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School, has shown an outstanding dedication to serving public interest law and public interest groups.|
|Harry G. Henn Prize In Corporations||Endowed in memory of Harry G. Henn, LL.B. 1943, the Edward Cornell Professor of Law, and faculty member from 1953 to 1985. The Henn Prize is awarded to the student with the highest grade in the upperclass corporations course. The prize is the gift of Ellen K. Jacobs, A.B. 1961, and Arnold S. Jacobs, B.M.E. 1961, M.B.A. 1963, J.D. 1964.|
|Seymour Herzog Memorial Prize||Endowed in honor of the late Seymour Herzog, LL.B. 1936. The Herzog Prize is awarded each year to a third-year student who demonstrates excellence in the law and commitment to public interest law, combined with a love of sports.|
|International Academy of Trial Lawyers Award||Given annually to the student who makes the most outstanding record in the course in trial and appellate practice. The recipient's name is inscribed on a plaque honoring the student.|
|Louis Kaiser Prize||Two prizes, given by Louis Kaiser, LL.B. 1921. The Kaiser Prize is awarded after the fall and spring moot court competitions to the upperclass team submitting the best brief.|
|Marc E. and Lori A. Kasowitz Prize for Excellence in Legal Writing and Oral Advocacy||The Kasowitz Prize is awarded annually to students who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School and based on comments from faculty, perform with the greatest distinction in writing and oral advocacy skills. This endowed prize is a gift from Lori A. and Marc E. Kasowitz, J.D. 1977, to help ensure that outstanding students are recognized.|
|John J. Kelly Memorial Prize||Established by the children of John J. Kelly J.D. 1947, A.B. 1942 (Arts) in honor of their father's life and career. The terms of the Kelly Memorial Prize stipulate, "Payout from the Fund will be awarded, in memory of John J. Kelly, to a graduating Law School student who, in the judgment of the Dean of the Law School, best exemplifies qualities of scholarship, fair play and good humor."|
|Ida Cornell Kerr And William Ogden Kerr Memorial Prize||Established in memory of Ida Cornell Kerr and William Ogden Kerr by Jane M. G. Foster, LL.B. 1918. The income from an endowment fund provides the prize, which the Dean of Cornell Law School awards to a third-year law student who demonstrates general academic excellence.|
|David Marcus Memorial Prize||Established by David Marcus, J.D. 1945, former co-editor of Cornell Law Review. The Marcus Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the student who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School, writes the outstanding comment in Cornell Law Review.|
|Robert S. Pasley Memorial Prize Fund||Established in honor of Robert S. Pasley, LL.B. 1936, the Frank B. Ingersoll Professor of Law and a member of the Law School faculty from 1954 to 1976. The Pasley Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the student who, in the judgment of the Dean of Cornell Law School, best exemplifies Professor Pasley's scholarship interest in both the law and the arts, classics, or humanities.|
|Herbert R. Reif Prize||A gift of Arthur H. Dean, LL.B. 1923. The Reif Prize is awarded annually from the income of an endowment fund established in honor of Herbert R. Reif, LL.B. 1923, to the student who, in the judgment of the faculty, writes the note or comment for Cornell Law Review that best exemplifies the skillful and lucid use of the English language in writing about the law.|
|The Esther And Irving Rosenbloom Prize Fund||A gift of Evelyn B. Kenvin and Arthur H. Rosenbloom, J.D. 1959, in memory of Mr. Rosenbloom's parents. The prize recognizes excellence in the area of law and finance including, but not limited to, damage quantification in securities cases, valuations of closely held corporations for estate and gift tax purposes, and other corporate finance-related issues. The Rosenbloom Prize is awarded to a student who, in the judgment of a faculty member or a faculty advisor to Cornell Law Review, or at the discretion of the Dean of Cornell Law School in conjunction with the donor, has written the best class paper or Law Review note in law and finance.|
|Helen Belding Smith And Henry P. Smith Iii Moot Court Fund||Established by gifts from Helen Belding Smith and the estate of Henry P. Smith III, J.D. 1936. The income from this endowment fund sustains annual moot court competitions.|
|The Student Legal Ethics Award||The Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the New York Bar Association offers the annual Student Legal Ethics Award to the student who demonstrates, in a law review note, a seminar paper or independently-written paper, or through work in a clinical program or in some other significant way, an exemplary understanding of the issues concerning the professional responsibility of lawyers. Any Cornell law student is eligible through self-nomination or through nomination by a faculty member or another member of the Law School community. The prize carries an honorarium and publication of the winning paper in a collection published by the bar.|
|The Honorable G. Joseph Tauro Dean's Prize||The Tauro Prize was established through the generous gifts of Mrs. Helen M. Tauro in memory of her husband, the Honorable G. Joseph Tauro, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and Superior Court. The Tauro Prize is awarded to a law student on the basis of general academic excellence.|
|Myron C. Taylor Scholar||This honor recognizes students whose cumulative MPR places them in the top 30 percent of their class at the completion of their second year of law school. Students are notified of this honor by a letter from the Dean of Students and a notation on their unofficial transcripts.|
|Transactional Lawyering Competition Prize||This prize recognizes the winners of the Law School's annual Transactional Lawyering Competition. The two-person teams judged to be Best Seller's Counsel and Best Buyer's Counsel, respectively, receive an award. This prize fund is a gift from an anonymous donor.|
|Fredric H. Weisberg Prizes||Established in memory of Fredric H. Weisberg, J.D. 1967, by Marc S. Goldberg, LL.B. 1967, the Philip Morris Matching Gift Program, and other Law School classmates and friends of Mr. Weisberg. Two Weisberg Prizes are awarded annually and at the discretion of the Dean of Cornell Law School: (1) the Fredric Weisberg Prize for the student who performed with the greatest distinction in Constitutional Law; and (2) the Fredric Weisberg Prize for the student who performed with the greatest distinction in Legal Methods.|
|West Publishing Company Awards||At the conclusion of each year, the West Publishing Company presents the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award to four first-year students with excellent overall scholastic achievement.|
2017 Cornell International Law Journal:
The Cornell Law School will host the Cornell International Law Journal's annual International Law Symposium: North Korea: The Legal Frameworks in and Around the Hermit Kingdom, on Friday, February 17th, 2017 in Myron Taylor Hall Room 184, starting at 9:30 AM. North Korea, after being subject to a new UN resolution in December 2016, observes changing relationships with the international community. In conjunction with the new U.S. administration, one can expect a new international policy approach towards the Hermit Kingdom. If you have any questions regarding the Symposium and cannot locate the information on this website please contact reach either Taniel Akay at firstname.lastname@example.org or Charlotte Ruzzica - de La Chaussée at email@example.com. They are the CILJ Symposium Editors. The event is open to all interested.
Founded in 1967, the Cornell International Law Journal (ILJ) is one of the oldest and most prominent international law journals in the United States. Three times a year, the Journal publishes scholarship that reflects the sweeping changes that are taking place in public and private international law. Each issue features articles by legal scholars, practitioners, and participants in international politics, as well as student-written notes.
Law students perform all editorial functions for the Journal. The Editorial Board selects articles and notes for publication, communicates with the authors, edits manuscripts for substance and style, and manages the Journal’s financial and administrative affairs. Journal associates are the driving force behind the Journal and complete many sourcing, editing, and proving assignments, in addition to writing substantially publishable Student Notes on international law. Members are selected based on academic performance and writing ability.
Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (JLPP): Founded in 1991, the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (JLPP) has quickly risen to become one of the leading public policy journals in the nation. A fixture among the top 10 policy journals, JLPP has consistently been among the top 100 student-edited law journals.
JLPP publishes articles, student notes, essays, book reviews, and other scholarly works that examine the intersections of compelling public or social policy issues and the law. As a journal of law and policy, we are a publication that not only analyzes the law but also seeks to impact its development. Many of our published pieces address emerging issues in contemporary society that are being debated not just in academia, but also in courtrooms, the media, and the broader political arena. This practical focus has helped make JLPP attractive to a wide audience.
Part of JLPP's success comes from our commitment to diversity of opinion on a wide variety of topics. Along with works by well-known legal scholars, we strive to publish thought-provoking pieces written by distinguished policy-makers such as then-Senator Joseph Biden, Congressman Dick Armey, noted defense attorney William Kunstler, economist Walter Williams, and Attorney General Janet Reno.
The remainder of our success comes from the dedication of our editors. During the first year on JLPP, Associate Editors are responsible for assisting in the editing of pieces chosen for publication. We publish three issues a year in print, and are currently in the process of expanding our Internet presence. Additionally, Associate Editors write an original Note on a legal topic involving law and public policy. This expansive and dynamic field covers a wide variety of subject matter from which to choose a Note topic, and we are proud of the diversity of our student-authored works. Upon elevation, Associate Editors are eligible to submit Notes for publication. JLPP generally publishes six student Notes in print each year.
Participating on a journal is an invaluable and rewarding experience. While undoubtedly a large responsibility, it is also very gratifying. As a member of a journal, each student will be introduced to, and learn about, a variety of legal issues while further developing individual editing, writing, and research skills. However, it is the sense of commitment, to the journal and to one's peers, that makes the experience truly worthwhile.
In addition to the formal aspects of our work, being on JLPP is a great way to get to know fellow classmates. Each year we hold a number of social events to provide Journal members an opportunity to interact outside of the academic setting. Our current Editorial Board is an energetic and interesting group of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are enthusiastic about JLPP, and we look forward to welcoming new members in the upcoming academic year.
Cornell Law Review: Founded in 1915, the Cornell Law Review is a student-run and student-edited journal that strives to publish novel scholarship that will have an immediate and lasting impact on the legal community. The Cornell Law Review publishes six issues annually consisting of articles, essays, book reviews, and student notes.
The Legal Information Institute (LII): We are a small research, engineering, and editorial group housed at the Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY. Our collaborators include publishers, legal scholars, computer scientists, government agencies, and other groups and individuals that promote open access to law, worldwide. We are supported by private donations, corporate sponsorships, and our parent institution, the Cornell Law School.
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies: Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (JELS) fills a gap in the legal and social science literature that has often left scholars, lawyers, and policymakers without basic knowledge of legal systems. Always timely and provocative, studies published in JELS have been covered in leading news outlets such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes Magazine, the Financial Times, and USA Today.
Every year, CLS students participate in moot court competitions held at the Law School under the auspices of the student-run Moot Court Board: the Cuccia Cup Moot Court, held during the Fall term and concluding in late October or early November; the Winter Cup Upperclass Moot Court, which begins shortly after the intersession recess and concludes in February; and the Langfan Family First-Year Moot Court, which gives first-year CLS students a chance to compete against each other as solo practitioners. The monetary prizes, trophies, and plaques given to the winner and runner-up in each competition—as well as to the authors of Best Brief in the Cuccia and Winter Cup competitions, respectively—depend on the generosity of a handful of thoughtful and enthusiastic donors, while the operational costs associated are underwritten by Cornell Law School. Gifts designated to Moot Court would offset these expenses and those associated with sending our "in-house" winning teams and individuals into four extramural, nationwide competitions, the final rounds of which are judged by appeals-court judges, including a circuit judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals. Alumni and friends attracted to the proposition and practice of Moot Court can support these talented students by providing current-use funding for special awards and recognitions within each competition, or by establishing an endowment for comprehensive support of "in-house" and extramural aspects of the program.
Since the 1970's, clinical courses at Cornell Law School have helped students move beyond the classroom into the world of practice. A variety of 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.
Clinics offered by the school include:
Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)
|Private sector (25th-75th percentile)||$160,000 - $160,000|
|Median in the private sector||$160,000|
|Median in public service||$56,766|
|Graduates known to be employed at graduation||86.9%|
|Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation||91.3%|
|Graduates Employed In||Percentage|
|Business and Industry||1.7%|
|Public Interest Organizations||3.4%|
Full-Term Externship: The Full Term Externship allows students to craft a unique educational experience. Each student locates a setting that will advance his or her educational goals. These can include the following areas: not-for-profit sector, governmental agencies, in-house counsel offices in media or sports, or judicial clerkships.
Judicial Externship: The Judicial Externship This course provides the student with the opportunity to learn about judges, the judicial decision-making process, and the justice system in general, while working as a clerk, one or two days a week, in one of a wide range of New York state and federal trial and appellate judge’s chambers. The course is highly recommended for the student (whether J.D. or LL.M. student) who wishes to better understand the unique perspective of a trial or appellate court judge.
Law Guardian Externship: Students interested in children’s rights have found the Law Guardian Externship to offer important insights into the representation of children in Family Court. In this externship, students work in the Law Guardian Office, which provides representation to children in abuse and neglect, custody, juvenile delinquency and Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) cases.
Legislative Externship: For students interested in politics, policy issues, legislation and the legislative process, the Legislative Externship offers important insights in these areas as well as an opportunity to work in a less traditional legal setting. In this externship, students work with Assembly member Barbara Lifton and other members of her staff. Students will be involved in researching areas for possible legislative action, drafting legislation and tracking legislation for constituents, but generally will not be involved in mundane constituent service requests.
Neighborhood Legal Services Externship: For students interested in providing legal assistance to indigent clients in civil matters with the opportunity to observe the workings of a legal services office, the Neighborhood Legal Services Externship is the perfect match. In this externship, students work under the guidance of the attorneys, representing clients of the Ithaca office of Legal Assistance of Western New York (LAWNY).
Students interested in working overseas should take advantage of on-site internship opportunities in order to gain relevant experience and make valuable contacts. The diversity and breadth of the international law practice area precludes it from being confined to a tidy definition. In the public international law field, most lawyers’ interest stems from an affinity with a particular country or global region (India, South Asia) and/or an interest in particular policy issues (hunger, poverty).
Cornell graduates in the field advise students to learn everything they can about the region in which they are interested in order to be sensitive to the legal structure, social and political norms, customs, and geography. Internships are an excellent way to learn about an area of interest.