Cornell Law School
524 College Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14853
Academics & Programs: Cornell University is a small school with a big name. Thanks to this favorable combination, Cornell University’s Law School works hard to keep up its reputation for producing quality lawyers, and places a big emphasis on cultivating a diverse student body, from work background and race to hometown. This “great and unique” law school stands out due to its smaller size since there are less than 200 students in each year’s class, which means sections consist of about 30-35 students, and “you get a real sense of community being here.”
Every Wednesday, the school has a student/faculty coffee hour called “The Weekly Perk,” where all of the students and professors “can mingle and have some coffee and cookies.” The Deans also host a monthly breakfast for the leaders of the student organizations “so they can hear concerns and suggestions from the students themselves.” In case it is not clear from all of the food-based collaboration, the “eager to help” administration “works hard to provide as many opportunities as they can, including public interest grants for summer work.” Students who want to be involved in the Cornell community have plenty of opportunities, and “faculty take a genuine interest in student’s ideas and research goals.”
Much of the high tuition at Cornell goes to maintaining the excellence in the faculty. The “rock star” professors here are “amazing” and “truly want every student to succeed and excel.” Some say “the ability to take classes with some of the leading professionals and thinkers in a particular area is one of the best aspects of a Cornell Law education.” “They are like legal celebrities.” Others say that it is “the ease with which graduates can land a big law job in NYC.” “Our career services department made the process both painless and simple, and most students had their summer employment locked down by the beginning of Fall 2011,” according to one student. The rest of Cornell Law School also “runs like a well-oiled machine.” “I have had the opportunity to see my legal writing published in national magazines, and I have been given chances to do things I never thought I could achieve, through the guidance of the staff and faculty at Cornell,” says one student.
Students are required to take 13 credits per semester, leaving many wishing for “more mandatory pass/fail one credit classes,” since many students are left “scrambling for that extra credit” in the second semester. Still, the focus on the practical experience is what firms are looking for in this economy, and “the clinical classes give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned to real world problems.” “It’s refreshing to have theory classes taught by individuals who also have real-world experience in the field,” says one student. “For example, my Public International Law professor helped to draft the new constitution for Kenya and [has a working relationship] with Kofi Annan.”
One huge benefit of the school’s size includes the opportunities to schedule a directed reading or supervised writing. With a directed reading, if a student is interested in taking a course in something that is not currently offered, that student can contact the professor and set up a directed reading or supervised writing to receive credit and study a particular topic. Though students frequently admit, “Ithaca is a lovely place,” they are also keenly aware that “there aren’t the same type of part-time externship opportunities that one would find in New York City, Washington, D.C., or even the smaller cities.” Luckily, networking opportunities and reputation can help compensate, and “just having ‘Cornell’ on your resume can open certain doors.”
Campus Life/Facilities: “Because we study in a small town, we all know each other well and work together as much as possible,” says one student of Ithaca. Of course there are still some gunners and “a few overly type-A individuals,” but for the most part Cornell students make up a “tightly knit community that seems to care more about getting through this together rather than a bunch of individuals doing anything to make sure they are the best in the class.” The town may not be the best place to live for three years “if you’re used to a much more cosmopolitan area,” but “many students do visit NYC/Boston on weekends,” and the nightlife can be “quite active.” Additionally, each semester there are usually two formal events that many students attend, and if you “really put yourself out there by initiating study groups (which double as dinner and drinking groups) or get involved in volunteer activities/sports/religion,” then you can have a decent social life.
Though the facilities “are not the most modern,” they are “more than adequate” and “it makes up for it in charm.” The library is particularly “state-of-the-art.” The campus is “beautiful,” and students often remark, “We attend school in a castle.” This castle is “a very insular community,” and a lot of law students don’t venture far off of the hill. The student body is understandably “extremely close.” “I know the names of the majority of my fellow students in my class year,” says one; however, the small population can “create a bubble of stress that can sometimes be hard to overcome.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.