Columbia Law School

by Maya Itah on


Academics & Programs: Columbia Law School is “a very exciting and dynamic place.” The curriculum is very heavy on legal theory “with a dash of practical, just for show,” and the “breadth of course offerings” is staggering. There are countless centers and programs specializing in everything from law, media, and the arts to European legal studies to tax policy to gender and sexuality law. “Getting on a journal is remarkably noncompetitive.” “Being in New York affords the opportunity to participate in almost any internship you could imagine.” Programs in international law and intellectual property law are reportedly excellent. Columbia is also “a corporate lawyer factory” and the “best place in the country for budding transactional lawyers.” Public interest law is yet another strong suit here. Students who are involved are “a bit clique-ish” but, if you are in the clique, you’ll have access to a wealth of opportunities as well as a tremendously generous loan repayment assistance program.

The “unbelievable,” “unmatched” faculty at Columbia is “amazing” “across the board.” “Columbia does a good job mixing the young, relatable rising superstars with older, more practiced professors.” Virtually all of them “make class interesting,” and “they’re the number-one reason to come to CLS (besides the prestige, of course).” Professors also “make a huge effort to be approachable” and “are happy to give career-related advice or answer questions.” The administration isn’t as beloved. Happier students note that there are some “really caring people” on staff. However, the general sentiment seems to be that management is somewhat “disdainful.”

When the time comes to find a real job, “employment prospects are unbeatable and the alumni network is extraordinarily strong.” Career Services is “very helpful in offering support in a variety of capacities.” Columbia boasts a “high placement rate in big law firms” and “the opportunities for working in prestigious government and sought-after public interest positions are unparalleled.” “It’s Columbia,” candidly explains a 2L. “The name buys you a lot.” About the only complaint we hear is the contention that “the employment focus is a little too New York–centric.”

Campus Life/Facilities: The facilities here are far from great. “Everything is very modern” and “the building is serviceable and clean, but it is ugly.” Classrooms “aren’t terribly comfortable,” and “They’re not as pretty as what you’ll find at other Ivy League law schools.” “The library is one of the best in the country” as far as the resources on offer are concerned, but its aesthetic “is absolutely hideous,” says an appalled 2L

The population of future lawyers at Columbia is “extremely diverse,” generally young, and “quite national.” Students describe this place as “a nerd paradise” full of “geniuses” who are “brilliant and accomplished but surprisingly cool.” “There are spoiled brats, and awkward types, and public interest people, and friendly people, and inflated egos, and social people,” reports a 3L. A few students say there is a “divide between students of different economic and academic” backgrounds. However, many others insist that personal circumstances don’t matter at all. “There isn’t any sort of conspicuous divide between the student body on socioeconomic or geographic factors until you realize that most of the Ivy kids are terrible at beer pong,” quips a 1L

Academically, “There is an atmosphere of [intensity] here.” Students are “constantly assessing how they stack up, which feeds into the collective neurosis.” Some students assert that the struggle for top grades is pretty brutal. “People in general are not happy to share notes,” claims a 2L. “They are, in fact, very secretive about their notes.” “Our reputation for gunning, competitive jerks is unfortunately true for about five percent of the class,” laments a 1L. Other students tell us, “People are extremely generous about sharing their outlines and studying together.” “If you miss a class,” they say, “your neighbors will e-mail you their notes without you even asking.”

Columbia’s location in a “safe, relatively quiet” neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side provides few distractions when you are trying to study. When students put down their casebooks, though, they can take advantage of a “vibrant student community.” “You’ll be happy socially here unless you are a complete tool,” promises a 2L. “Everyone is fairly involved in all sorts of organizations.” “There are multiple lunch events every day, and there’s some sort of lecture or panel or firm event with dinner almost every evening.” There are “plenty of students who want to party like it’s college,” too, and “no shortage of happy hours.” Living in the Big Apple is also a massive plus. “It’s hard to explain the type of magnetic force this place can be unless you’ve lived here and worked here,” reflects a 1L. “New York City means students can do anything they please (with the free hours they have).”

* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.

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