Cornell Law School

Cornell Law School is the law school of Cornell University, a private Ivy League university in Ithaca, New York. One of the five Ivy League law schools, it offers four law degree programs, JD, LLM, MSLS and JSD, along with several dual-degree programs in conjunction with other professional schools at the university. Established in 1887 as Cornell's Department of Law, the school today is one of the smallest top-tier JD-conferring institutions in the country, with around 200 students graduating each year.

Cornell Law School
Cornell Law School Library.JPG
MottoLawyers in the Best Sense
Parent schoolCornell University
Established1887; 136 years ago (1887)
School typePrivate
Parent endowment$10 billion
DeanJens David Ohlin[1]
LocationIthaca, New York, United States
USNWR ranking13th (2024)[3]
Bar pass rate90.3% for first-time takers 97.4% within two years of graduation[4]
ABA profile[1]
Cornell Law School wordmark.svg
Cornell Law School Quadrangle.

Cornell Law alumni include business executive and philanthropist Myron Charles Taylor, namesake of the law school building, along with U.S. Secretaries of State Edmund Muskie and William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel Pierce, the first female President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, federal judge and first female editor-in-chief of a law review Mary H. Donlon, former President of the International Criminal Court Song Sang-Hyun, as well as many members of the U.S. Congress, governors, state attorneys general, U.S. federal and state judges, diplomats and businesspeople.

Cornell Law School is home to the Legal Information Institute (LII), the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and the Cornell International Law Journal.


Entrance to Myron Taylor Hall, Cornell Law's principal building for instruction

The Law Department at Cornell opened in 1887 in Morrill Hall with Judge Douglass Boardman as its first dean. At that time, admission did not require even a high school diploma. In 1917, two years of undergraduate education were required for admission, and in 1924, it became a graduate degree program.[5] The department was renamed the Cornell Law School in 1925. In 1890, George Washington Fields graduated, one of the first law-school-graduates of color in the United States.[6] In 1893, Cornell had its first female graduate, Mary Kennedy Brown. Future Governor, Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the United States, Charles Evans Hughes, was a professor of law at Cornell from 1891 to 1893, and after returning to legal practice he continued to teach at the law school as a special lecturer from 1893 to 1895. Hughes Hall, one of the law school's central buildings, is named in his honor.

Boardman hall, the old Cornell Law College building, circa 1910

In 1892, the school moved into Boardman Hall, which was constructed specifically for legal instruction. The school moved from Boardman Hall (now the site of Olin Library) to its present-day location at Myron Taylor Hall in 1937. The law school building, an ornate, Gothic structure, was the result of a donation by Myron Charles Taylor, a former CEO of US Steel, and a member of the Cornell Law class of 1894. Hughes Hall was built as an addition to Myron Taylor Hall and completed in 1963. It was also funded by a gift from Taylor. Another addition to Myron Taylor Hall, the Jane M.G. Foster wing, was completed in 1988 and added more space to the library. Foster was a member of the class of 1918, an editor of the Cornell Law Review (then Cornell Law Quarterly), and an Order of the Coif graduate. In June 2012 the school embarked on a three-year, multi-phase expansion and renovation. The first phase created additional classroom space underground, adjacent to Myron Taylor Hall along College Avenue. The second phase will include the removal and digitization of printed materials from the library stacks so that the space can be converted to additional classroom and student space. The third phase involves converting Hughes Hall into office space.[7]

In 1948, Cornell Law School established a program of specialization in international affairs and also started awarding LL.B. degrees. In 1968, the school began to publish the Cornell International Law Journal. In 1991, the school established the Berger International Legal Studies Program. In 1994, the school established a partnership with the University of Paris I law faculty to establish a Paris-based Summer Institute of International and Comparative Law. From 1999 to 2004 the school hosted the Feminism and Legal Theory Project. In 2006, the school established its second summer law institute in Suzhou, China. The Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture was established in 2002.

Hughes Hall after 2017 renovations

Myron Taylor Hall saw the addition of 40,000 square feet of underground classrooms in 2012–2014. Hughes Hall was renovated in 2017.[8]


Banner outside the law school's Jane M.G. Foster wing

Cornell Law School is extremely selective: the median LSAT for the 2022 entering class was 172 (98th percentile of all test takers), with 25th and 75th percentiles of 170 and 174, respectively. The median undergraduate GPA was 3.87, with 25th and 75th percentiles of 3.76 and 3.94, respectively.[9]

For the 2021 LL.M. program, which is designed for non-U.S.-trained lawyers, 900 applications were received for the 50 to 60 openings. LL.M. students come from over 30 different countries.[10]

Along with consideration of the quality of an applicant's academic record and LSAT scores, the full-file-review admissions process places a heavy emphasis on an applicant's personal statement, letters of recommendation, community/extracurricular involvement, and work experience. The application also invites a statement on diversity and a short note on why an applicant particularly wants to attend Cornell. The law school values applicants who have done their research and have particular interests or goals that would be served by attending the school versus one of its peer institutions.[10]


Cornell Law School was ranked 13th in the 2023-2024 U.S. News & World Report Law School rankings and 3rd in the 2022 Above the Law rankings, which prioritizes career outcomes above all other factors.[3][11] The Master of Laws (LLM) program at Cornell Law School was ranked 1st in the 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2011 AUAP rankings.[12] Cornell Law is known for its large firm prowess, placing a greater portion of its J.D. graduates at big law firms than any other law school in the United States.[13] On the public service front, Cornell Law is known for the Cornell Law Death Penalty Project;[14] its Tenants Advocacy Practicum;[15] and for housing the Legal Information Institute, a non-profit, public service of Cornell Law School that provides no-cost access to legal research sources online at, serving over 47 million unique visitors per year.[16]


View of Cornell Law School from Central Avenue
Interior of Cornell Law School quad

Cornell has offered LL.M and J.S.D degrees since 1928.[17] The joint JD/MBA (with Cornell's Johnson School of Management) has three- and four-year tracks,[18] the JD/MILR program is four years, the JD/MPA is four years, and JD/MRP is four years.

In addition, Cornell has joint program arrangements with universities abroad to prepare students for international licensure:

The JD/Master en Droit lasts four years and prepares graduates for admission to the bar in the United States and in France. The JD/M.LL.P is three years and conveys a mastery of German and European law and practices. The JD/Master in Global Business Law lasts three years.[citation needed]

Cornell Law School runs two summer institutes overseas, providing Cornell Law students with unique opportunities to engage in rigorous international legal studies. The Cornell-Université de Paris I Summer Institute of International and Comparative Law at the Sorbonne in Paris, France offers a diverse curriculum in the historic Sorbonne and Centre Panthéon (Faculté de droit) buildings at the heart of the University of Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne. Coursework includes international human rights, comparative legal systems, and international commercial arbitration. French language classes are also offered.[citation needed]

In 2006, Cornell Law School announced that it would launch a second summer law institute, the new Workshop in International Business Transactions with Chinese Characteristics in Suzhou, China. In partnership with Bucerius Law School (Germany) and Kenneth Wang School of Law at Soochow University (China), Cornell Law provides students from the United States, Europe, and China with an academic forum in which they can collaborate on an international business problem.[citation needed]


Approximately 92% of the Class of 2022 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment within ten months of graduation.[19] According to Reuters, Cornell Law placed a greater portion of its 2022 graduates in associate positions at big law firms than any other law school in the United States.[20] Of the graduating class of 2022, approximately 80% were employed at large firms with more than 250 attorneys.[19] And in total, approximately 83% of that class obtained elite employment outcomes in the form of federal clerkships or employment at firms with more than 250 attorneys.[19] In a comparative survey of all law schools, Cornell graduates earned the highest average salaries in the United States from 2014 through 2019, with a mean salary of over $183,000.[21] In 2021, ranked Cornell Law #3 on its ranking of the 50 best law schools for getting an associate position at the largest 100 law firms in the country.[22][23]


The 2022-2023 non-discounted tuition for the JD program was $74,098 per year.[2] The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Cornell Law School for the 2022-2023 academic year was $97,618, bringing the total non-discounted cost of attendance for the J.D. class of 2025 to approximately $313,831 (assuming a total cost increase of 7% per year).[2] According to Cornell Law's 2022 509 ABA disclosures, 86% of its students received grants or scholarships, though only 17% received grants or scholarships covering half or more of their tuition.[2]


Cornell seal beneath the tower of Myron Taylor Hall

Legal Information InstituteEdit

Cornell Law also is home to the Legal Information Institute (LII), an online provider of public legal information.[24] Started in 1992, it was the first law site developed for the internet.[25] The LII offers all opinions of the United States Supreme Court handed down since 1990, together with over 600 earlier decisions selected for their historic importance.[26] The LII also publishes over a decade of opinions of the New York Court of Appeals, the full United States Code, the UCC, and the Code of Federal Regulations among other resources.[24]

The LII is a public service of Cornell Law School that provides no-cost access to legal research sources online at, serving over 47 million unique visitors per year.

Cornell Law recently created Wex, a free wiki legal dictionary and encyclopedia, collaboratively created by legal experts.[27] And the LII Supreme Court Bulletin is a free email- and web-based publication that intends to serve subscribers with thorough, yet understandable, legal analysis of upcoming Court cases as well as timely email notification of Court decisions.[28]


The school has three law journals that are student-edited: the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell International Law Journal, and the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. Additionally, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies is a peer-reviewed journal that is published by Cornell Law faculty.

Moot CourtEdit

Cornell Law students actively participate in myriad moot court competitions annually, both in the law school itself and in external and international competitions. The Langfan First-Year Moot Court Competition, which takes place every spring, traditionally draws a large majority of the first-year class. Other internal competitions include the Cuccia Cup and the Rossi Cup.

Institutes and ProgramsEdit

  • Berger International Legal Studies Program
  • Clarke Business Law Institute
  • Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies
  • Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Clarke Program on Corporations and Society
  • Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture
  • Death Penalty Project
  • Empirical Legal Studies: Judicial Statistics Project
  • Global Center for Women and Justice
  • Graduate Legal Studies Program
  • ILR-Law School Program on Conflict Resolution
  • International Comparative Programs
  • Law and Economics Program
  • Lay Participation in Law International Research Collaborative
  • Migration and Human Rights Program

Summer School with Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne UniversityEdit

Cornell University holds since 1993 the "Cornell Law School-Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne Summer Institute of Comparative and International Law".[29]


Cornell Law is housed within Myron Taylor Hall (erected 1932), which contains the Law Library, classrooms, offices, a moot court room, and the Cornell Legal Aid Clinic.


The Cornell Law Library is one of 12 national depositories for print records of briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law library contains 700,000 books and microforms and includes rare historical texts relevant to the legal history of the United States.[30] The library is one of the 12 national depositories for print records of briefs filed with the United States Supreme Court. Also, there is a large collection of print copies of the records and briefs of the New York Court of Appeals. The large microfilm collection has sets of Congressional, Supreme Court, and United Nations documents, as well as a large collection of World Law Reform commission materials. Microfiche records and briefs for the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and D.C. Circuit, and the New York State Court of Appeals are also collected.[31] The library also has a large collection of international, foreign, and comparative law, with the main focus being on the Commonwealth of Nations and Europe. Along with this, there are also collections of public international law and international trade law. A new initiative by the library is to collect Chinese, Japanese, and Korean resources to support the law school's Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture.[31]

Rare books in the library include the Samuel Thorne collection, which has 175 of some of the earliest and most rare books on law. Other significant collections include the Nathaniel C. Moak library and the Edwin J. Marshall Collection of early works on equity and the Earl J. Bennett Collection of Statutory Material, a print collection of original colonial, territorial, and state session laws and statutory codes.[31] Among the library's special collections are 19th Century Trials Collection, Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection, Scottsboro Collection, William P. and Adele Langston Rogers Collection and the Chile Declassification Project.[31]


Deans of Cornell Law School[6]
Name Tenure
Douglass Boardman 1887–1891
Francis Miles Finch 1891–1903
Ernest Wilson Huffcut 1903–1907
Frank Irvine 1907–1916
Edwin Hamlin Woodruff 1916–1921
George Gleason Bogert 1921–1926
Charles Kellog Burdick 1926–1937
Robert Sproule Stevens 1937–1954
Gray Thoron 1956–1963
William Ray Forrester 1963–1973
Roger C. Cramton 1973–1980
Peter William Martin 1980–1988
Russell King Osgood 1988–1998
Charles W. Wolfram † 1998–1999
Lee E. Teitelbaum 1999–2003
John A. Siliciano † 2003
Stewart J. Schwab 2004–2014
Eduardo Peñalver 2014–2021
Jens David Ohlin 2021–present
denotes interim dean


Notable alumniEdit


Federal Judiciary

State Judiciary

International Judiciary

Law and Business




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Fleischman, Tom. "Jens David Ohlin named dean of Cornell Law School". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Cornell University – 2022 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Focusing on Outcomes for Students: A Preview of the 2023-2024 U.S. News Best Law School Rankings".
  4. ^ "Cornell Law School 2023 Bar Passage Report" (PDF). Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  5. ^ "Cornell Law School: History". July 8, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Cornell Law School: Historical Timeline". July 8, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  7. ^ Okin, Harrison. (November 22, 2011) As Law Faculty Increases, School Plans Expansion | The Cornell Daily Sun Archived June 15, 2013, at Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  8. ^ Crandall, Brian (November 27, 2015). "Cornell plans renovation for Hughes Hall". The Ithaca Voice. Retrieved May 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "2022 J.D. Class". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Cornell Law School". Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  11. ^ "Above the Law Rankings 2022". June 8, 2022. Retrieved June 8, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "AUAP Rankings". Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  13. ^ Sloan, Karen; Sloan, Karen (April 20, 2022). "The biggest law firms turned to these schools for U.S. recruits". Reuters. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "Death Penalty Project". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  15. ^ "Tenants Advocacy Practicum". Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  16. ^ "LII's 2022 in Review". Retrieved April 14, 2023.
  17. ^ "Robert S. Stevens, Cornell Law School (1919–1954)". Retrieved March 3, 2010.
  18. ^ Cornell Law School: Joint Degrees. (September 21, 2012). Retrieved August 27, 2013.
  19. ^ a b c "Employment summary for 2022 graduates" (PDF). Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  20. ^ Sloan, Karen (April 28, 2023). "Large U.S. law firms love hiring from these schools". Reuters.
  21. ^ "SoFi's 2017 Law School Rankings: What You'll Earn (and What You'll Owe)". SoFi. January 23, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "The Best Law Schools For Getting A Biglaw Job (2021)". Above the Law. March 5, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  23. ^ March 04, Karen Sloan |; PM, 2021 at 04:00. "The Top 50 Go-To Law Schools". Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Legal Information Institute". Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  25. ^ Laurence, Helen; William Miller (2000). Academic research on the Internet: options for scholars and libraries. Routledge. p. 160. ISBN 0-7890-1177-8.
  26. ^ Hall, Kermit; John J. Patrick (2006). The pursuit of justice: Supreme Court decisions that shaped America. Oxford University Press US. p. 244. ISBN 0-19-532568-0.
  27. ^ "Wex Legal Dictionary and Encyclopedia". Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  28. ^ "LII Supreme Court Bulletin". December 18, 2007. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  29. ^ Lagadic, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - Marc-Olivier. "EDS: International relations". with Panthéon-Sorbonne University
  30. ^ "Tax Proof Blog: Rankings of Law Libraries". Tax Proof Blog. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  31. ^ a b c d "Cornell Law School Library". Cornell University. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  32. ^

External linksEdit

42°26′38″N 76°29′09″W / 42.443874°N 76.485803°W / 42.443874; -76.485803