Best Law Schools in New York

New York state is home to fifteen law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association. Among those schools, the ten listed below tend to top the rankings based on criteria such as bar passage rates, selectivity/average LSAT scores, job placement rates, academic offerings, and opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience through simulations and clinics.

The list includes both public and private institutions, and the law schools range geographically from Buffalo on the west side of the state, to the greater New York City region to the east.

01
of 10

Columbia Law School

Low Library at Columbia University
Low Library at Columbia University. Allen Grove
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 16.79%
Median LSAT Score 172
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.75
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Columbia Law School consistently ranks among the very top law schools in the country according to U.S. News and World Report. Columbia University's location in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan provides students with a wealth of opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. With 30 research centers, Columbia Law School can offer students real-world legal training in areas ranging from human rights to corporate governance.

A Columbia legal education begins with its Foundation Year Moot Court program, which allows students to practice preparing legal briefs and presenting oral arguments to judges from year one. Students gain further experiential learning through a range of clinics, simulation classes, and policy labs. Clinic students become members of Morningside Heights Legal Services, Inc., Columbia's very own law firm focused on public interest issues.

The school takes social justice seriously and offers a range of support and opportunities for students interested in human rights, public service, and legal volunteer work. Law students can receive up to $7,000 in summer funding to work in a job focused on public interest.

02
of 10

New York University Law School

Vanderbilt Hall, part of New York University School of Law
Vanderbilt Hall, part of New York University School of Law.

 STAN HONDA / Getty Images

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 23.57%
Median LSAT Score 170
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.79
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

With an enviable location in New York City's Greenwich Village, New York University Law School can deliver a legal education situated in the heart of a major global financial center. NYU Law offers a wide range of law and business courses, and law students can easily take classes at NYU's highly regarded Stern School of Business. For students with international aspirations, NYU's Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies focuses on international law, and NYU administers programs in Paris, Buenos Aires, and Shanghai.

However, NYU is not all business and finance. The university offers summer funding for students who want to work in government or public interest positions. Graduates who take on public service jobs may also qualify for NYU Law's Loan Repayment Assistance Program so that educational debt doesn't need to be a consideration when choosing a legal career that might have a lower than average salary.

03
of 10

Cornell University Law School

Cornell University Law School
Cornell University Law School.

 Eustress / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 21.13%
Median LSAT Score 167
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.82
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

A top-ranked law school does not need to be in a major city. Cornell Law is located in the small city of Ithaca (one of the country's best college towns), overlooking beautiful Lake Cayuga. If you need a break from your legal studies, Finger Lakes wineries and hikes up stunning gorges are just minutes away.

Cornell's law school curriculum begins with the Lawyering Program, a yearlong course designed to help students develop the professional skills they'll need as practicing attorneys. The course focuses on skills including legal analysis, research, legal writing, oral presentation, and client counseling and interviewing.

Experiential learning is important at Cornell Law, and the school has enough seats available in clinics for all students to participate. The options are wide-ranging: LGBT Clinic, Juvenile Life Without Parole Clinic, Farmworker Legal Assistance, Campus Mediation Practicum, Labor Law Clinic, Protest and Civil Disobedience Defense Practicum, and many more.

Cornell Law also takes pride in its outcomes: 97% of graduates pass the New York State Bar, and 97.2% find employment within nine months of graduation.

04
of 10

Fordham University School of Law

Fordham University School of Law
Fordham University School of Law.

Ajay Suresh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 25.85%
Median LSAT Score 164
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.6
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

With an incoming class of slightly over 400 students, Fordham University's School of Law is one of the bigger programs in the country. Many of the school's areas of specialty have been ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, and Trial Advocacy, International Law, and Clinical Training are all ranked in the top 20 nationally. Fordham's student journals also rank well, and five of them are among the most cited in judicial opinions. These include Fordham Law Review, Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, and Fordham International Law Journal.

Other points of pride for Fordham include the 152,000 hours of public interest work performed by the class of 2018 during their time at the law school. Graduate outcomes are also impressive, and 52% of the Class of 2018 had jobs in either big law firms (over 100 attorneys) or as federal clerks.

Finally, Fordham students will appreciate the school's location in Manhattan's Upper West Side, next door to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Central Park is just a couple blocks away.

05
of 10

Cardozo School of Law

Cardozo School of Law
Cardozo School of Law.

Ajay Suresh / Flickr /  CC BY 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 40.25%
Median LSAT Score 161
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.52
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Located in Greenwich Village, Cardozo School of Law has its own campus but is part of Yeshiva University. Unlike its parent institution, Cardozo is open to students of diverse backgrounds, and the school has no specific religious mission other than its focus on social justice and the ethical practice of law. The school uses its location to engage students with New York City's active areas of law connected to fashion, entertainment, business, criminal justice, media, and public service.

Cardozo has numerous areas of strength, and its programs in conflict resolution and intellectual property rank highly in U.S. News & World Report. The school is well known for being the home of the Innocence Project, an initiative that has helped free over 350 wrongly-convicted prisoners. Through its twelve clinics and other experiential learning opportunities, the school is able to provide over 400 field placements for students annually.

06
of 10

St. John's University School of Law

St. John's University D'Angelo Center
St. John's University D'Angelo Center. Redmen007 / Wikimedia Commons
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 41.93%
Median LSAT Score 159
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.61
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Located on St. John's University's main campus in Queens, the university's School of Law enrolls roughly 230 students each year. The urban location allows the school to offer hundreds of internship and externship placements in the New York City area. Students can choose between nine clinics including the Securities Arbitration Clinic, Child Advocacy Clinic, and Domestic Violence Litigation Clinic. The school is also home to seven student-run legal journals.

St. John's University School of Law takes pride in offering an innovated education that is very much grounded in practical skills such as legal writing and client advocacy, and numerous courses are practice-oriented, including Estate Planning, Insurance Law, Bank Law, and Medical Malpractice. Learning is further enhanced by the school's eleven academic centers.

07
of 10

Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn Law School
Brooklyn Law School.

Ajay Suresh / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 47.19%
Median LSAT Score 157
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.38
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Brooklyn Law School is home to over 1,000 J.D. students who come from 163 undergraduate colleges and universities, and those students represent 79 undergraduate majors. The school's Brooklyn location places it close to a range of state and federal courthouses, government agencies, business incubators, and legal services organizations. The result is a vast network of clinic and externship opportunities for Brooklyn Law students.

The school is proud of the collegial and diverse community that it has been able to cultivate by not being part of a large, bureaucratic university. The faculty are supportive, and students are highly engaged with over 40 organizations focused on both legal areas and cultural groups. The curriculum has more flexibility than many law schools, and interested students can take advantage of Brooklyn Law's 4-year extended J.D. option.

08
of 10

Syracuse University College of Law

Dineen Hall, Syracuse University College of Law
Dineen Hall, Syracuse University College of Law.

Psteazy / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY-SA 4.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 52.1%
Median LSAT Score 154
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.38
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

When visiting Syracuse Law, you'll find the facilities are surprisingly new and state-of-the-art. The school is housed entirely in Dineen Hall, a 200,000 square foot, five-story facility that first opened its doors in 2014. The building was carefully designed to encourage student-faculty interactions and support the needs of a 21st-century legal education.

Syracuse Law enrolls slightly fewer than 200 students each year, and like all top law programs, the school provides plenty of experiential learning. Students develop their skills through moot court and trial advocacy courses, and they can choose from nine clinics including the Elder Law Clinic, Veterans Legal Clinic, and Community Development Law Clinic. Syracuse University is also home to five law centers and institutes. Students wishing to gain some experience away from Central New York can take advantage of externship programs in London, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

09
of 10

CUNY School of Law

CUNY School of Law
CUNY School of Law.

Evulaj90 / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY-SA 4.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 38.11%
Median LSAT Score 154
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.28
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Located in Queens, CUNY School of Law takes great pride in being ranked #1 in the country for public interest law. The City University of New York is home to over a quarter of a million students through its six community colleges, eleven senior colleges, and seven graduate schools. The system was founded on the principle of making higher education accessible to students regardless of their economic means. The law school is true to these ideals in that tuition is a fraction of what other schools on this list charge, and the school works to help students from underrepresented groups earn a J.D.

CUNY Law's hands-on learning opportunities also reflect the school's mission. The school takes advantage of its Queens location to connect students to nonprofit, grassroots, and community organizations engaged in social justice work. Clinics include the Economic Justice Project, Defenders Clinic, Immigration & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, and Human Rights & Gender Justice Clinic.

10
of 10

University at Buffalo School of Law

University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo. James G. Miles / Flickr
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 57.91%
Median LSAT Score 153
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.41
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

The UB School of Law enrolls about 150 students each year. Whereas many of the law schools on this list are located in the New York City area and take advantage of the legal opportunities in a major metropolitan area, the University at Buffalo's location offers an entirely different set of opportunities. Because Buffalo sits on an international border, the School of Law has created a cross-border legal studies concentration, and students have numerous cross-border learning opportunities.

Much like winter session or J-term in undergraduate programs, UB School of Law has created short courses in January so that students can gain experiences to complement their legal educations. Options include travel to France, Thailand, and New Zealand to study alongside lawyers practicing their craft. The school strongly believes that classroom study needs to be backed by hands-on learning, and numerous practicum courses provide essential experiential learning.