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New York Law Schools

Published October 2006, last updated April 2010

Directory including 2010 law school rankings for the top law schools in New York City and state

Some of the top law schools in the nation are located in New York, the epicenter of the American legal community. NY law schools run the gamut from the large, renowned law schools in New York City to lesser known but top law schools in upper New York State. This New York law schools directory discusses all of the top law schools in New York.

Any New York law schools directory has to begin with the Big Apple. Not surprisingly, this international hub of commerce and the legal world is home to the best New York law schools, Columbia and NYU.

Law Schools in New York City - Columbia

Columbia University has an exceptional law school that is consistently placed by national law school rankings as the best of all New York law schools and always amongst the top five law schools in the nation. Columbia generally receives over 7700 applications every year, of which over 1,000 students are admitted to fill the 360 spots available in its first year class. The median LSAT and GPA for Columbia Law School was 172 and 3.7 respectively.

Although considered one of the more cut-throat of the New York Law Schools, Columbia students recently report that fellow students are cooperative and supportive. Attending this top law school is not cheap, with tuition at nearly $33,000. The resulting large student debt makes most Columbia grads work for large firms on Wall Street (not unlike other graduates of top law schools in New York City).

Overall, Columbia’s excellence in the legal word was evident in the following 2010 law school rankings:

  • 4th by US News law school rankings
  • 7th by Gourman Report
  • 5th by Educational Quality Rankings

Columbia also excelled in the following law school ratings for specialties and was amongst the:

  • Top 10 law schools for Intellectual Property (I.P.) law
  • Top 5 law schools for International Law
  • Top 25 law schools for Clinical Training
  • Top 25 law schools for Environmental Law

Additionally, Columbia law school is also one of the top law schools in Constitutional Law, Business Law Areas; Criminal Law & Procedure; Critical Race Theory; Jurisprudence/Legal Philosophy; and is one of the best entertainment law schools.

Law Schools in New York City – New York University (“NYU”)

No New York Law Schools Directory would be complete without a long discussion about NYU, also one of the best law schools in the country. Over 8,000 applicants recently applied to become part of NYU’s most recent class.

Why does NYU receive more applications than the other law schools in New York City? A combination of an amazing location in the heart of Greenwich Village, an academic reputation always amongst the top ten law schools in the nation, all housed in beautiful facilities make this a tough combination to beat. As a result, NYU is the hardest of all law schools in New York City to gain admission to (edging out Columbia). In 2012 the entering class had a median GPA of 3.69 and a median LSAT score of 171.

Negatives of NYU are similar to other NY law schools, a high tuition of over $40,000 coupled with the high cost of living in the Big Apple. Also similar to other top law schools in New York, most grads work in corporate law firms on Wall Street.

NYU is one of the nation’s top law schools as reflected in the 2010 law school rankings:

Rankings amongst top ten law schools:

  • 5th by US news law school rankings
  • 6th by Educational Quality Rankings

NYU was amongst the best law schools for the following:

  • The nation’s top law school for both International law and Tax law
  • In top 10 law schools for IP law (generally in top 5)
  • In top 10 law schools for Entertainment law (generally in top 3)

Law Schools in New York City – Fordham University

After the twin titans of Columbia and NYU, Fordham is the third best of all law schools in New York City. While the main Fordham campus is located in the Bronx, Fordham’s law school is located in Manhattan near beautiful and bustling Lincoln Center. The law school’s excellent location and good reputation in the NY legal community help explain the high admission standards, with over 7,000 applicants recently applying and those admitted having a median LSAT score of 164 and a median GPA of 3.58.

Tuition, although on the lower side for law schools in New York City, is still nearly $40,000.

While on the rise, Fordham is on the cusp of but not yet considered amongst the top 25 law schools.

2010 Law school rankings:

  • 30th according to the US news law school rankings and 26th according to the Educational Quality Rankings.
  • Amongst top 25 law schools in the following specialties:
  • Intellectual Property law and Clinical Training.

Law Schools in New York City – Yeshiva University (Cardozo School of Law)

No New York Law Schools Directory can ignore the rising star that Yeshiva (Cardozo) has become since its recent formation barely twenty seven years ago. Becoming increasingly competitive to attend, with students having a median LSAT of a 162 and a GPA of over 3.50. Yeshiva (Cardozo) is a law school that continues to gain prestige and can occasionally be found in national law school rankings amongst the nation’s top 50 law schools (currently 49th).

With a faculty concerned about teaching and the ability for motivated students to graduate in two and a half years, most students who attend Cardozo are happy with their choice. Negatives do include a competitive atmosphere (wanting to be at the top of the class to compete against NYU and Columbia grads), an older building housing the school and a Jewish tradition that closes the library during Sabbath.

Yeshiva (Cardozo) is ranked amongst the top ten law schools in Intellectual Property law, Dispute Resolution and is also among the better entertainment law schools.

Law Schools in New York City – Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn law School recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and now boasts over 16,000 alumni.

Statistically, there are many law school comparisons between Brooklyn and Yeshiva (Cardozo) schools of law. Very close in location, these schools also fare nearly the same in national law school rankings and the degree of difficulty in gaining admission.

However, the law school comparisons end when you examine the two schools’ focus, with Brooklyn being very focused on teaching practical and not academic law skills. Brooklyn’s close proximity to several courts, including the U.S. district court, State Supreme and Family Courts, and the offices of the U.S. attorney may help explain Brooklyn’s emphasis on court externships, moot court, and other skills that focus upon the practice of law versus the theoretical study of law.

Brooklyn Law School is amongst the top 100 law schools, ranked about 61st according to the US News law school rankings. No specialty is ranked amongst the top 25 law schools.

The second part of the New York Law Schools Directory focuses upon top law schools in New York that are not in the City, including the Ivy League law school at Cornell.

Cornell Law School

The many positives of Cornell include an outstanding faculty focused upon teaching generally small classes, a luxury allowed because Cornell limits each year’s enrollment to only 180 students (little more than 1/3 the size of Harvard’s class). The negatives of the small law school are student’s complaints that there are not enough classes offered. Cornell has effectively dealt with this criticism by allowing law students to take classes from other graduate departments. Cornell’s unique location, small class size and prestigious reputation make it an excellent choice for many students. Admission is slightly easier than the best law schools in New York City, with admitted students possessing an average LSAT score of 167 and GPA of just under a 3.60.

While clearly one of the top fourteen national law schools, Cornell is not usually amongst the top ten law schools in most law school ratings. Here are the 2010 law school rankings for Cornell:

  • 13th by US News law school rankings
  • 12th by Gourman Report
  • 14th by Educational Quality Rankings

Surprisingly, no Cornell specialty programs are ranked amongst the top 25 law schools.

Because this New York law schools directory is focused upon top law schools, other law schools in New York are not discussed at length.

The following NY law schools are generally ranked amongst the top 100 law schools:

  • St. John’s University
  • University of Buffalo
  • Hofstra University

These New York law schools are close to being ranked amongst the top 100 law schools:

  • Syracuse University
  • Pace University
    (Note that while Pace is not yet in the top 100 law schools, it is on the rise and has done well for its short existence. Amongst environmental law schools it is ranked in the top 10 and also has excellent clinical programs.)







Top 2014 Law School Rankings

New York Law Schools

Environmental Law Schools

Entertainment Law Schools

California Law Schools

California Law Schools

San Diego Law Schools

Dissecting the Rankings: The “Top 14”

Choosing a School in the New York Market