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How to Get Into Cornell Law School - Acceptance Rate + Stats

May 13, 2024
8 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 11/8/23

Do you want to join a law school renowned for producing successful lawyers? Read on to learn more about how to get into Cornell Law School, tuition costs, and more!

Like many aspiring lawyers, you might dream of working at a big law firm where you’ll handle high-profile cases and earn a six-figure salary. While getting employed by big firms is generally challenging, attending Cornell Law School can significantly increase your chances of living your dream!

Cornell Law School sent a higher percentage of its 2021 graduates to large law firms than any other law school in the United States! In fact, 76% of Cornell graduates took jobs at big law firms.

If you’d like to join this 76%, read on to learn more about how to get into Cornell Law School to kickstart your legal career!

Cornell Law School Acceptance Rate: 13.7%

According to the 2023 entering JD class, Cornell Law School has an acceptance rate of 13.7%. 4,453 applicants hoped to get into this prestigious school, but only 609 were offered admission. 

Being an Ivy League and T14 institution, Cornell has a history of maintaining competitive acceptance rates, but this admissions cycle saw the lowest in recent years:

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 4,453 609 13.7%
2022 4,913 857 17.4%
2021 5,998 924 15.4%
2020 4,261 811 19%

How Hard Is It to Get Into Cornell Law School?

Cornell Law School is challenging to get into; only around 1.4 out of every 10 applicants are offered admission. While they receive around 5,000 applicants each year, only a select few successfully meet Cornell’s rigorous standards. 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Cornell Law School!

Cornell Law School Programs Offered & Ranking

Cornell offers a range of law programs to its students:

Programs Offered Length of Program Key Information
Juris Doctor (JD) 3 years A typical JD program
General Master of Laws (LLM) 1 year Allows you to create a tailored course of study in a particular area of law
Tech Masters of Laws (LLM) 1 year Provides students with the specialized skills they need to advise, support, and lead tech companies
Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) 3-5 years Students conduct original research on legal topics of their interest while deepening their understanding of American law

Cornell Law School Ranking

Cornell Law School ranks as the 13th-best law school in the nation, solidifying its place among the coveted T14 law schools. This esteemed position reflects the school's commitment to delivering top-tier resources and programs in the field of legal education.

Cornell Law School Admissions Statistics

Cornell University

Assess how you stack up against the scores of the 2023 incoming class:

Cornell Law School Average GPA: 3.87

The students admitted to the 2023 admissions cycle at Cornell Law School had an average GPA of 3.87. The 25th percentile GPA was 3.82, and the 78th percentile GPA reached 3.94.

Cornell Law School Average LSAT Score: 172

In the 2023 admissions cycle, candidates admitted to Cornell Law School had an average LSAT score of 172. The 25th percentile score was 170 and the 75th percentile was 174, underscoring the school’s commitment to admitting high-achieving students.

Cornell Law School Requirements

To successfully apply to Cornell, you’ll need to submit the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Transcripts from every post-secondary institution attended
  • LSAT, GRE, or GMAT scores
  • A resume highlighting your post-secondary academic, work, and volunteer experience
  • A personal statement (up to 5 pages)
  • At least 2 letters of recommendation, both from academic faculty members
  • Optional addendum
  • Optional diversity statement
  • Application fee of $80 or a fee waiver

Cornell Law School Letters of Recommendation

Cornell Law School requires applicants to submit at least two letters of recommendation, but states you can submit more if they aren’t repetitive. Both letters should come from academic faculty members or an employer if you graduated two or more years prior to application.

These letters should focus on your academic abilities and potential for success in the legal profession.

person writing letter

Cornell Law School Personal Statement

Arguably, the most difficult part of any law school application is the personal statement. This essay should present interesting information that tells the committee who you are, what your passions are, and what you’ve accomplished.

Cornell asks that you respond to at least one of the following prompts in your personal statement: 

1. We aim to train excellent lawyers. GPAs and test scores have some predictive power, but they don’t tell the whole story. Please describe any significant challenges you have overcome, including but not limited to economic hardship, discrimination, trauma, or disability, and/or significant accomplishments of which you are proud.

2. In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, Ezra Cornell wrote, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” For over 150 years, Cornell University has remained deeply committed to Ezra’s vision. Explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a law school learning community devoted to “…any person…any study.” We encourage you to think broadly about what you will contribute to a law school class and eventually to the legal profession, including but not necessarily to expertise you have, experiences you can share, and how communities of which you have been part have shaped your perspective.

3. From its founding, Cornell Law School has not only focused on producing excellent lawyers, but “lawyers in the best sense.” A law school education teaches you a craft, and prepares you for a great career, but law is also a calling, and a lawyer in the best sense is one who will, in some way, serve justice. If your career goals include representing under-served populations or otherwise vulnerable individuals or groups, please tell us about those goals and how you hope to pursue them.

4. Is there anything else you wish the Admissions Committee to know about you beyond what you have revealed in other parts of your application? You can describe a formative experience, or your motivation to go to law school, or a story that reveals your character, personality, or strengths, or whatever else you think is relevant.

Personal Statement Example

“Jane Mendez, aged 13 years, a devoted daughter, loving sister, and cherished friend, passed away Saturday, March 17, 2018. 
As I sat, re-reading my sister’s obituary, I couldn’t help but wonder how she could be reduced to a one-page statement. A statement that seemed so matter-of-fact, that left out all her little quirks that I took for granted, like the way she still slept with her broken blue night light that buzzed when it was plugged in, or how she only ate her pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries because she hated the taste of maple syrup. 
This obituary wasn’t my sister, but it was all she was remembered as. The poor 13-year old with so much life yet to live, tragically killed by a drunk driver. The pain and grief from her loss were indescribable. I found myself grappling with questions of justice and accountability. 
Driven by a desire to transform my personal tragedy into a force for change, I embarked on a journey that intertwined my grief with a passion to do more. Through tireless research, I educated myself about the legal intricacies surrounding drunk driving and the devastating consequences it inflicts upon society.
Empowered by my knowledge, I actively engaged with local organizations dedicated to combating drunk driving. Collaborating with legal advocates, I participated in awareness campaigns, organized fundraisers, and lobbied for stricter legislation. Witnessing the impact of my efforts, I realized that the law possessed the potential to save lives and provide solace to those affected by tragedy.
This awakening fueled my academic pursuits as I immersed myself in legal studies, devouring courses on criminal law, torts, and public policy. In classrooms and debates, I sought to unravel the complexities of our justice system, exploring the nuances of accountability, rehabilitation, and victim advocacy.
In my journey, I discovered the powerful intersection between law and advocacy. Through internships at law firms and victim support organizations, I worked diligently to provide compassionate legal assistance to those navigating the aftermath of traumatic events. Assisting survivors in court hearings, I witnessed firsthand the pivotal role attorneys play in giving voice to the voiceless and restoring faith in a broken system.
I found solace in channeling my grief into compassionate action. I became determined to contribute to a legal system that prioritizes the rights of victims and ensures that justice prevails, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy.
Cornell Law School, with its unwavering commitment to social justice and academic excellence, stands as the beacon of hope for realizing my aspirations. The opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty members renowned for their expertise in criminal law and victim advocacy is a privilege I deeply covet.
My sweet sister’s untimely death forever altered the trajectory of my life. Her memory propels me to pursue justice, inspire change, and ensure that no other family experiences the pain I endured. Guided by my sister’s legacy and with her broken blue night light in hand, I emerge through the darkest period of my life with resilience, empathy, and an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice. I stand ready to make a lasting impact at Cornell Law School and in the broader realm of law.”
Why It Works

This is an effective personal statement for a few key reasons. Firstly, it’s emotionally charged and skillfully captivates the reader's attention. The author incorporates personal details, such as the mention of the blue night light, which deeply involve the readers in the narrative. 

It evokes empathy for the writer, conveys their experience of loss, and inspires admiration for their resilience. The writer also demonstrates a clear vision for their future, underscoring their research, advocacy, and active engagement in combating drunk driving. 

Their determination to make a more significant impact as a lawyer shines through. Furthermore, they effectively link their aspirations back to Cornell, displaying a genuine and compelling interest in the school.

Cornell Law School Interview 

Cornell Law doesn’t interview every applicant but will sometimes extend interview invitations to students they require more information from to make a final decision. If you’re invited to an interview, you should accept it, as it can clear up any doubts that are preventing the admissions committee from extending you an acceptance.

Cornell Law School Tuition and Scholarships

Cornell Law’s tuition costs around $77,508 a year. In addition to the other expenses you can expect as a first-year law student, the total estimated cost to attend Cornell is around $105,000. 

Attending any law school will surely put a significant dent, or more accurately, crater, in your wallet. But, being prepared and creating a budget can help you manage this crater better. Here’s a breakdown of your estimated 1L costs at Cornell:

Expense Cost
Tuition $77,508
Student Activity Fee $85
Room $11,562
Board $6,992
Books and Supplies $2,700
Personal $2,420
Travel $3,042
Health Insurance Fee $500
Total $104,809


Cornell offers more than 80% of its students’ scholarship assistance based on merit and need to ease some of their financial burden.

There are also various external scholarships students can explore to reduce borrowing costs.

Cornell Law School Application Deadlines

Cornell Law School opens its applications on September 1st, 2023, and will close them on March 1st, 2024 for regular applicants. All application materials must be submitted to LSAC before this time to be considered for application. 

Here are the key deadlines to mark on your calendar:

Dates & Deadlines Application Stage
September 1, 2023 Applications open
January 1, 2024 Early Decision applications due
March 1, 2024 Regular applications due

Cornell Law School Bar Passage Rate: 92.2%

92.2% of Cornell Law’s graduates pass the bar exam on their first try. This is significantly higher than the national average of 83%! 

female student celebrating

How to Get Into Cornell Law School: 3 Tips To Improve Your Admission Chances

Follow these tips to wow the admissions committee and get into Cornell Law School:

Pay Attention To Your Undergrad Courses

Students often think Cornell’s admissions committee only looks at their overall GPA. However, they thoroughly review transcripts, evaluating trends in an applicant’s grades, grading curves, and the rigor of the courses taken. As such, taking “easy” courses to maintain a high GPA will actually put you at a disadvantage. 

Cornell wants to know that you’re capable of excelling in challenging courses, considering their JD program is so robust!

Gain Leadership Experience 

Another tip to increase your chances of acceptance at Cornell Law is to pursue valuable extracurriculars. While Cornell’s admissions committee doesn’t have a set list of extracurriculars they look for, they do value leadership roles. 

They also encourage students to prioritize quality over quantity, as they will not be impressed by the sheer number of extracurriculars you’re involved in, but how significant your role in those extracurriculars is. 

Carefully Consider Retaking the LSAT

While LSAT scores are important, on their own, they don’t determine your candidacy for law school. Since data suggests students who retake the LSAT often only increase their score by up to 2 points, Cornell suggests students rethink retaking them. 

Their policy is to only consider the highest score possible if it is at least 3 points higher than the other exams. 

What Does Cornell Law School Look For?

Cornell typically looks for candidates with a track record of academic excellence, demonstrated by a competitive undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores. They value diversity and seek individuals with unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to contribute to their community. 

Commitment to public service, leadership, and community involvement are also highly regarded!

students attending university lecture


If you have remaining questions about how to get into Cornell Law School, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Cornell.

1. What GPA Do You Need to Get Into Cornell Law School?

According to the 2023 admitted applicants, you should aim to maintain a GPA around 3.87.

2. What Are My Chances of Getting Into Cornell Law School?

Your chances of getting into Cornell Law School completely depend on the strength of your application and scores. You have a good chance of getting into Cornell if you have high standardized test scores, a high GPA, a well-written personal statement, and strong letters of recommendation.

However, if you feel your application lacks in any of these areas, you can still get into Cornell—you’ll just have to put more effort into other areas of your application. For instance, if you have a lower GPA, you may make up for it with a higher LSAT score and a stellar personal statement or addendum.

3. What Do I Need to Get Into Cornell Law School?

In order to get into Cornell Law School, you need to submit your transcripts, test scores, a resume, a personal statement, and at least two letters of recommendation.

4. Is Cornell a Good Law School?

Yes! Aside from ranking as the 13th best law school in the nation, Cornell offers its students the unique experience of being part of small classes to feel like they’re part of a tight-knit community. Due to these small classes, students form strong bonds with faculty that significantly develop their legal careers.

5. What is the Employment Rate of Cornell Graduates?

Cornell law students are fully prepared for the legal landscape and go on to land high-paying jobs. But, don’t just take our word for it! Here are some impressive statistics about the 2021 Cornell graduates: 97.9% of them were employed within 10 months of graduation, and their average annual salary was $250,500!

6. Do I Have to Write the LSAT to Get Into Cornell Law School?

No, you can write the LSAT, GRE, or GMAT to get into Cornell Law. All tests are accepted and weighted equally. Choose whichever test you believe you will score the highest on! While the test itself doesn’t matter, the score does. 

Getting into Cornell Law with Juris

Now that you’ve learned what it takes to get into Cornell Law School, you’ll know how the competition to get into this prestigious institution is increasing. It’s essential you begin thinking about how you can make your application stand out.

Whether it’s scoring a 172 on your LSAT or writing a moving personal statement that is sure to impress the admissions committee, Juris can provide you with beginning-to-end support to ensure you succeed!

Schedule A Free Consultation

Plan Smart. Execute Strong. Get Into Your Dream School.

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