Want to know how to get into Cornell Law School? We can understand why. Cornell law school has consistently been ranked among the top law schools in the country, and its status as an Ivy League School is only one of the reasons it is world-renowned. Thousands of students apply to this rigorous law program every year, but very few get admission. If you want to be one of those few who get admitted to one of the best law schools in North America, you need to know its admissions requirements, statistics, and selection factors. That is precisely what we go over in this blog, and we also answer some frequently asked questions about the admissions process for Cornell law school. 


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Mission statement

Cornell Law School’s mission has remained the same for 120 years. Upon the founding of the law school, Cornell President Andrew Dickson White declared the following “Our aim is to keep its instruction strong, its standard high, and so to produce … a fair number of well-trained, large-minded, morally based lawyers in the best sense.”

Available programs

Cornell Law School offers several different degrees and programs of study. Here is a little overview of the most notable available programs:

The JD program: This is the program that most people associate with law school, and also the one we will be talking about in the rest of this article. It is a three-year degree that is designed to prepare students for admission to the bar and ethical and responsible participation in the legal profession upon graduation. 

 JD joint degrees: Cornell is a large research university that emphasizes multidisciplinary academic pursuits and that extends to the law school. The school offers several joint degrees for students, allowing them to explore various areas of study. For example, Cornell Law School offers two different JD/MBA programs. It also offers the JD/MILR degree, which allows law graduates to get a Master of Industrial and labor relations (MILR) in four semesters. Another notable joint degree is the JD/MPA program, which is offered in conjunction with the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs (CIPA).  

Advanced law degrees: Cornell law school also offers a few advanced degrees. The most notable of which is the MSLS program, a master's degree in legal studies specifically designed for business professionals. They also have a doctoral program (the JSD degree) which gives its candidates a chance to conduct original research into the specific legal topics they're interested in while learning more about American domestic law, international law, and comparative law. 

The academic curriculum

Cornell Law School's three-year JD degree curriculum is highly rated, and one of the many things that make it stand out is its small class sizes. Even though it is part of a large research university, Cornell law school is a close-knit, collegial community of learners. The ratio of students to faculty is 5:1, and more than 70% of the third-year classes have less than 25 students. This allows students to interact more, learn from each other, and gives professors the ability to teach students more personally. 

The JD academic curriculum is designed to foster this close-knit environment. In fact, during the first year of the program, students are divided into groups that Cornell refers to as sections. These sections help foster a collaborative and cooperative environment. The different first-year sections do get to interact during certain classes, allowing students to expand their network further. 

 During this first year, students have a series of required courses that they must take. While during the second and third years, that is not the case. At the upper-classman level, students have a different set of requirements to fill, but they have the freedom to choose the classes they will take to fill those requirements. Furthermore, in the final year at Cornell law school, students are encouraged to pursue a concentration in one of seven areas of study listed below: 

  1. Advocacy
  2. Business Law and Regulation
  3. Conflict Resolution
  4. General Practice
  5. Law, Inequity, and Structural Exclusion
  6. Public Law
  7. Technology and Law

Admissions statistics

Cornell Law School acceptance rate:

Cornell's overall acceptance rate is about 29%, which is slightly higher than it has been in recent years. It is definitely higher than the acceptance rate of other Ivy Leagues institutions like Yale or Harvard law school. That said, the school has reported that not only have they seen a 42% increase in student applications, but that this was one of their strongest and most diverse application pools yet. In other words, the competition to get into Cornell law school is fierce.

The current class profile confirms that Cornell law school only admits strong candidates. Its median LSAT score, and GPA are 171 and 3.86, respectively, telling us that you need to have a solid academic background if you want to attend Cornell for law school. You should also aim to score at least 172 on the LSATs if you're going to be a competitive candidate. If you’re hoping to get into law school with a low GPA, then you will need an even higher score and impressive application components if you want that law school to be Cornell. 

Check out this infographic for a quick summary of the key points we'll cover later in this blog:

Tuition & Scholarships

Below are the estimated costs of attending Cornell Law School for its JD program. These costs are subject to change, so you should always verify the school's website for the most up-to-date information.

·        Tuition $71,522

·        Student Activity Fee  $86

·        Room $11,250

·        Board $5,516

·        Books and Supplies    $1,100

·        Personal expenses      $5,000

·        Health Insurance Fee $420

·        Loan Fee        $220

Total Tuition and Estimated Expenses          $95 114

As you've seen from the calculations above, attending Cornell law school can cost close to $100 000 per academic year, which is pretty similar to the cost of attending one of its ivy league counterparts, like Yale law school or Harvard law school. $95 114 per academic year is a lot of money, but if you've decided that Cornell law school is the right place for you, don't let that deter you because you have options. 

Every year, Cornell Law School awards $12 million in institutional aid to law school students. More than half of the students at Cornell law school, 86% of them to be exact, receive some form of scholarship assistance. The Charles Evans Hughes Scholars (CEHS) program is the law school's most prestigious scholarship program. It aims to recognize and support students who have shown a commitment to academic excellence, public service, and civic and social engagement. If you wish to apply for financial aid at Cornell, you will need to submit an application by the specified deadline, usually in mid-March. For the CEHS program, the submission date is usually earlier, and the application process requires a supplemental essay.  

In addition to the internal scholarship offered by Cornell law school itself, the school offers need-based financial aid for American students. Furthermore, students have the option of applying for outside scholarship programs that they may be eligible for, such as the American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship or the American Association of University Women Education Foundation-Women of Color award. There are quite a number of scholarships available for current and future law school students. While some schools may provide you with a list of scholarships you could be eligible for, we recommend investing in Law school admissions consulting. Good consultants can help you find and apply to different scholarship programs, thus saving you time and money. 

How to apply to Cornell law school

The Application process

Applications to Cornell law school are submitted through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). You will need to submit the following application components: 

  1. The electronic application forms 
  2. The $80 non-refundable application fee
  3. Your transcripts (from undergrad and graduate school, if applicable) 
  4. Your resume
  5. Two letters of recommendation 
  6. Standardized test scores (LSAT, GRE, and GMAT are accepted by Cornell law school) 

 Cornell gives students the option of applying through their Binding Early Decision option. The Early Decision option allows students to submit their applications earlier and also get a response from the admissions committee early. In exchange for this early decision, applicants have to enter a binding agreement with the school saying that if admitted, they will enroll at Cornell law school and withdraw any pending applications to other law schools. Cornell even requires applicants to pay a $1,000 non-refundable deposit within five business days of acceptance to secure their spot.

There are two Early Decision rounds, one in the fall and the other early in the winter. The exact submission dates do change from one application cycle to another, so make sure you verify the school's website for the most up-to-date information. However, to give you an idea of how much earlier you could find out if you've been admitted to the program, here is a list of the current deadlines for application to Cornell law school:

While the school insists that it applies the same admission standards during the early decision and regular decision processes, it is worth mentioning that when you apply through the Early Decision option, the admissions committee considers your commitment to attending Cornell law school as a positive aspect of your application. That said, because the Early Decision option is binding, we recommend only using it if Cornell is your top choice!

Selection factors

On its website, Cornell law school says that its community is characterized by frequent and meaningful interaction among students, faculty, and administrators. The admissions committee is looking for students who show academic promise and who will also be able to contribute to this very collaborative community that they describe. They have a holistic admissions process to help them determine which students likely fit the bill, meaning that they consider all of the application components you're required to submit. Let's look at them in more detail: 

Transcripts: Your undergraduate GPA and grades play an essential role in the law school admissions process. While your GPA is not everything, it is regarded as a great indicator of success by many admissions officers. They often refer to it to get a sense of the kind of student you were and will be. The admissions committee may also look for patterns or performance trends in your transcripts to try to get a sense of the kind of student you are. So if you're still completing your undergrad, you should use high-yield study techniques and do everything you can to improve your GPA. Remember that the median GPA for the recent matriculants at Cornell was 3.89, so you want to have a similar GPA or higher. 

LSAT/GRE/GMAT: Cornell Law School is one of the few law schools that accepts all three standardized tests for admission. You are only required to submit scores for one of these three exams. You should know that the school does not accept LSAT scores that are more than five years old, and that if you take the test more than once, the general policy is to use the higher score if it is at least three points higher than a prior score. Cornell invites applicants to submit a law school addendum to explain the different LSAT scores and why they should consider the higher score. 

Your resume: In addition to your academic potential, Cornell looks at your extracurricular and community activities, work background, and other life experiences. This is the information that you should list on your law school resume. We highly recommend crafting a resume specifically for this application. This document should highlight any community involvement, collaborative or group efforts, and other relevant skills and experiences that would make you a more attractive candidate. Cornell does not give specific guidelines for the resume, but we recommend sticking to a one-page document that provides a snapshot of your professional background. 

Admission essays: Cornell requires that all applicants submit a law school personal statement. The suggested length of a personal statement for Cornell law school is two pages, and the topic of the essay is entirely up to you. We recommend using this essay to tell the admissions board about you, the person behind the transcripts, and extracurriculars. You should talk about your background, why you've chosen to pursue law studies and why you've selected Cornell. One important thing to remember is that your personal statement will be evaluated for both content and construction. If you're not sure where to start, we recommend speaking with an essay advisor as they can help you through the brainstorming, writing, and editing process. 

In addition to the personal statement, you have the option of submitting a law school optional essay to provide any relevant information that you couldn't include anywhere else in your application. For example, you can choose to write an addendum to address low grades during undergrad or a law school diversity statement to discuss how the uniqueness of your perspective will contribute to the Cornell law community.  

Have you started working on your law school personal statement? This video is for you:

Letters of recommendation: Cornell requires at least two letters of recommendation, but applicants are allowed to submit additional letters. For applicants who are currently completing their undergraduate studies or who graduated less than two years ago, the letters should be written by faculty members who taught them. On the other hand, those who graduated more than two years ago may provide professional references instead. 

It's important to remember that because you are applying to an academic program, the admissions committee is primarily interested in your academic abilities and potential for success in the legal profession. You should select recommenders who know you well enough to discuss your skills and abilities using specific examples and who have openly supported your desire to become a lawyer. Additionally, you should make sure that every letter of recommendation that you add to your application provides additional information. Often, students make the mistake of assuming that the more letters of recommendation they have, the stronger their application is but this is not always the case. Five letters of recommendation that say the same thing would not strengthen your application. It could actually be counterproductive. We recommend that you focus on securing quality references from faculty members who know you well and who are enthusiastic about your candidacy to ensure that they will write a compelling letter. 

Interviews

Cornell law school does not interview all applicants. You may receive an interview invitation from the admissions committee, which you are strongly encouraged to accept. Law school interviews are a great way to tell the admissions board a little more about you and what you can contribute to their program. You should start to prepare for a law school interview as soon as you submit your application, instead of waiting for an invitation. Start by reviewing common law school interview questions and preparing your responses in advance. Preparing in advance will help you reduce the chances of being caught off guard, and it will make you feel more confident on the day of the interview.

Acceptance and Waitlist

Once your application has been submitted, you will receive an email from the admissions office with a username and password to login on to the Cornell applicant status page to keep track of your application. If you applied through the Early Decision option in round 1, you would receive a response by the end of December. If you applied during round 2, you would hear back by the end of February. While if you apply using the Regular Decision option, you will be notified of the admissions board's decision by mid-May.

In both cases, there are three possible outcomes: Admission, rejection, or a spot-on Cornell's non-binding reserve list. If you are placed on the reserve list, you have essentially been waitlisted, and although it can be disheartening, it means that it's not over yet. We recommend submitting a letter of continued interest to reiterate your interest in the school if you want to improve your chances of getting off the reserve list.

Contact information

Cornell Law School Website

E-mail address: [email protected]

Mailing address: Myron Taylor Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

FAQs. 

1. How hard is it to get into Cornell Law School?

Although Cornell has one of the highest acceptance rates of the Ivy law schools, getting in can still be challenging. For every 100 applications that Cornell law school receives, about 29 applicants are offered admission. You need to be a competitive applicant to be among those 29 students. 

2. Can I apply to Cornell law school with the GRE instead of the LSAT?

Yes, you may. Cornell accepts scores for the LSAT, GRE, or GMAT. 


3. What LSAT score do you need to get into Cornell law?

There is no minimum score required, but it is worth mentioning that the median LSAT score of the entering class is 171. You should aim to have this same score or higher.

4. Do Cornell law school students have to choose a concentration?

Cornell law school students are encouraged to select an area of study to focus on in the final year of their degree, but they are not required to declare a concentration. 

5. Is Cornell law school a good school?

In short, yes, it is! It has a rigorous curriculum and small classes that many current students and alumni rave about, but that doesn't mean it's the right school for you. Make sure to read up on the school's program to ensure that it is a good school for you.

6. Is Cornell law school expensive?

Attending Cornell law school costs approximately $96 000 per academic year, but the school offers need-based financial aid and several merit scholarships for eligible students. 

7. Does Cornell consider your highest score if you take the LSAT twice?

Cornell only considers the higher score if it is higher than the other score by more than three points.


8. Can I get into Cornell law with a low GPA?

It is possible, but it will be challenging. If you want to get into law school with a low GPA, you should write an addendum explaining your low grades, and you should ensure that all of your other application components (including your LSAT score) are outstanding

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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