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J.D. Program

We’re not like other law schools. And we like it that way. With about 600 J.D. students, Cornell Law is a close-knit, collegial community of learners. We like to think of ourselves as serious, but not stuffy. Elite, but not elitist. 
“Day after day, the smaller class size at Cornell enables me to learn from my classmates and be challenged by leading scholars. ”
Federico J. Wynter J.D. '21
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Cornell Law offers a highly-rated national law curriculum leading to the three-year J.D. degree.

The professional curriculum at Cornell Law School conforms to American Bar Association Standard 302 for Approval of Law Schools. We offer a rigorous program of legal education designed to prepare students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation in the legal profession at the highest levels.

Upon completion of the program of legal education, Cornell Law School graduates will:

  • Possess knowledge of the substantive and procedural law required for effective participation in the legal profession
  • Engage in legal research, analysis, and problem-solving
  • Communicate effectively in both oral and written form as counselors and advocates
  • Possess the practical skills fundamental to exceptional lawyering and client representation
  • Conduct themselves with the highest moral and ethical standards.

See all learning outcomes.

The program also offers substantial opportunities for:

  • Live-client or other real-life practice experiences, appropriately supervised and designed to encourage reflection by students on their experiences and on the values and responsibilities of the legal profession, and the development of one’s ability to assess his or her performance and level of competence
  • Student participation in pro bono activities
  • Small group work through seminars, directed research, small classes, or collaborative work
Curriculum
Concentrations

To encourage the use of the final year to pursue a concentration, the school offers the opportunity to focus your studies in one of seven areas.

A complete list of classes that can be used to fulfill each concentration can be found in the Student Handbook on the current student community site.

Advocacy

Attorneys do more than simply provide an objective analysis of the law — they are often called upon to advocate for a client’s legal position by articulating a particular interpretation of the law or by advocating a particular application of the law to a given set of facts. The courses in this concentration help students develop a skill that is both science and art.

Business Law and Regulation

A business transaction, such as a corporate merger or acquisition, requires a large amount of legal work before the transaction may come to fruition. The courses in this concentration focus not just on the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in such a “transactional” legal practice but also on the complex norms and rules imposed by the government and other actors to regulate the corporate, financial, and economic environment.

Conflict Resolution

Legal conflicts can be resolved either through traditional litigation in the courtroom or alternative dispute resolution mechanisms — such as mediation and arbitration — which occur outside of a courtroom. This concentration aims to impart the skills necessary for a successful practice in conflict resolution in either of these forms.

General Practice

This concentration focuses on the wide range of legal skills necessary for general practice in law, including but not limited to family law, litigation, commercial law, real estate, and trust and estates.

Law, Inequity and Structural Exclusion

A well-rounded legal education should include an understanding of how law can act, not only as an instrument for furthering particular client goals or as a basis for rights promotion, but also as a mechanism for inequity and structural exclusion. This broader view is important for understanding the law not only as it currently works, but also in its possibilities for change over time. To this end, the courses in this concentration explore interrelationships between law and inequality, in contemporary and historical dimensions.

Public Law

Public law, broadly construed, regulates the relationship between individuals and the community, as opposed to private law which regulates relationships between private individuals. The courses in this concentration explore the legal regimes, such as constitutional law or criminal law, that focus on governmental actors.

Technology and Law

Technology has transformed not just business and commerce but all areas of human life, raising new legal challenges and possibilities. The courses in this concentration study how technology is changing law and how law is regulating — or should regulate — technology. Major practice areas in this concentration include intellectual property (such as patents), entrepreneurship in the tech-startup space, as well as internet, cyberspace, and information law.
Clinical Program
Since the launch of the first clinic in 1960, Cornell Law School has helped students move beyond the classroom into the world of practice. Today, through more than 20 clinics and practicum courses that help Cornell Law students develop as client counselors, litigators, and transactional lawyers while serving the public interest locally and around the world.
See All Clinics
students talking in Hughes Hall
170
+
courses offered
64
full-time faculty
70
%
of upper division courses had fewer than 25 students per class
Contact
J.D. Admissions
Phone:
(607) 255-5141

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