If you’re considering a career in the law, starting things right is essential for passing the bar, finding a job, and future success. That means starting with the best possible education to give you a firm foundation. Choosing the right law school to attend can be a confusing process.
After all, there are many options. If you’re considering studying in New York state, you’re bound to feel a little overwhelmed. To assist you in finding the right school, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10 choices.
Each of our options earned its spot by providing a solid education. They’re all good schools and all American Bar Association-accredited. Here are the top 10 options in New York state:
- Columbia University School of Law: Care to take a bite out of the Big Apple? Columbia is our top school and situated in New York City.
- Cornell Law School: This school is in Ithaca.
- New York University School of Law: This school is in New York City.
- Fordham University School of Law: This school is in New York City.
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University: This school is also in New York City.
- Syracuse University College of Law: This school is in Syracuse.
- SUNY Buffalo Law School: This school is in Buffalo.
- Albany Law School of Union University: This school is in Albany.
- St. John’s University School of Law: This school is in Queens.
- Hofstra University—Maurice A. Deane School of Law Hempstead: This school is in Hempstead.
Columbia University School of Law
- Ranking: 5.
- Bar Passage Rates: 98.3 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $180,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 7 percent.
- LSAT: 1,410 – 1,570
- ACT: 31 – 34
Columbia has one of the best law programs in the country. Graduating here almost guarantees you your pick of plum jobs. It’s a private university of moderate size. There are around 7,600 students on campus.
With an almost 100 percent pass rate, you’re also almost guaranteed to pass the bar if you apply yourself to your studies. Of course, thanks to the school’s reputation, they can be picky about who they accept.
You have to hit a minimum of 1,410 on your LSATs. Even if you do, the acceptance rate is only 7 percent. So, do get your applications in early and study hard. The school will also consider extra-curricular activities. So, you should try to gain relevant work experience, and volunteer for a good cause.
For a school with this kind of reputation, the fees are surprisingly affordable.
Cornell Law School
- Ranking: 13.
- Bar Passage Rates: 96.07 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $64,228 to $180,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 13 percent.
- LSAT: 1,390 – 1,550.
- ACT: 31 – 34
This private university is one of the top 15 in the country. They’re very particular when it comes to who can apply. You have to perform well academically and demonstrate that you can maintain balance in your life.
Acceptance is difficult to achieve – only 13 percent of applicants make the grade. That’s a good thing, though, because this is not an option for slackers. If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll get an excellent grounding for your law career.
Alumni are very active and usually happy to mentor new graduates. The college campus is beautiful, with historic buildings to inspire you. With just under 15,000 students, Cornell University is considered large.
The cost to attend the school is above average. Financial aid is available to several students.
New York University School of Law
- Ranking: 6.
- Bar Passage Rates: 97.5 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $180,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 28 percent.
- LSAT: 1,290 – 1,490.
- ACT: 29 – 33.
This private university is in Manhattan. It is large, with a student body of around 25,400. The school is relatively tough to get into. But it’s a smidge easier than making it into Columbia or Cornell. Students here do need to work hard, however.
The focus of this school is on academics rather than sport. While there are sports programs available, they’re not well-supported by the student body. If you’re looking for a party school, move along.
While there’s an active social scene at this school, the workloads prevent too much hedonistic behavior. NYU law school is another historic campus – the school started in 1831.
Fordham University School of Law
- Ranking: 34
- Bar Passage Rates: 92.3 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $61,250 to $180,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 46 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,230 – 1,410.
- ACT Range: 27 – 31.
This private Catholic school has offered outstanding education since 1841 and draws on traditional Jesuit values. These values emphasize respect and hard work. Graduates of Fordham can expect similar salaries to the top schools on this list.
The school is of moderate size. You can expect fewer than 10,000 students to attend annually. For a private school, that’s a nicely sized student body.
The entrance is slightly more relaxed in terms of LSAT and ACT scores. That said, you’ll need to pull up your socks. There’s a fair amount of competition for the top spots here.
Again, sororities and frats don’t feature highly here. The school has an excellent sports program, but the atmosphere prioritizes academic achievement. There are some lovely historic buildings on the campus.
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
- Ranking: 52.
- Bar Passage Rates: 85.07 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $70,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 63 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,160 – 1,420.
- ACT Range: 23 – 29.
This is a private university with a small body of students. There are usually fewer than 3,000 students in any given year. The bar passage rate is a little lower than the previous options. Part of that might be that the school is more relaxed about who it accepts.
As long as you achieve an LSAT score of 1,160 or more, you’ve got a good chance of getting in. The competition for entry is average, so you’ve got a good shot at getting in. Campus life is active, but the focus is definitely on academics.
There’s little to no Greek life here, and sports are not considered too important. The campus does offer sports programs, but they’re not much to write home about.
The curriculum is not faith-based, but there is strong support for the Jewish community here. The fees are higher than average. That said, this school offers more financial assistance for students than any reviewed in this state so far.
Syracuse University College of Law
- Ranking: 91
- Bar Passage Rates: 91.4 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $50,750 to $65,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 47 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,160 – 1,350.
- ACT Range: 25 – 30.
Experts highly recommend this private institution in Syracuse. It has a large student body, with about 15,000 students attending annually. It’s still quite competitive to get into the school. That said, it’s easier than trying to get into Columbia or Cornell.
That the school has such a high bar passage rate despite the lower admission requirements speaks volumes about the quality of education there.
Syracuse law school is something of a party school, but students are expected to pull their weight. So, it’s not a case of attending a kegger every night – you need to hit the books too.
The price is above average, but the school offers financial aid. Sports are important here. While more focus is on academics, students are encouraged to participate in a range of activities.
SUNY Buffalo Law School
- Ranking: 104.
- Bar Passage Rates: 77.5 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $54,000 to $62,500
- Acceptance Rate: 57 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,080 – 1,260.
- ACT Range: 24 – 28.
This Law School has earned a good reputation. The campus is large, with a total of around 19,500 students. Gaining entry is relatively simple because of the scores required. Just do get your application in early because there’s a fair amount of competition for space at the school.
The average cost of education here is reasonable. The school also offers financial aid programs for those in need. The school focuses on students having a balanced college life. Sports are important here.
The social scene is active here. There is some fraternity and sorority Greek life on campus, but it’s of secondary importance. Choose to join a fraternity or sorority if you like. It’s not a big deal if you don’t.
Albany Law School of Union University
- Ranking: 18
- BAR Passage Rates: 70.6 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $59,000 to $73,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 37 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,220 – 1,400.
- ACT Range: N/A.
If you’re looking for more individualized attention, this school could be a good fit. There is a total of around 2,200 students on the whole campus. Admissions are competitive, so it’s time to present your best effort.
Albany is a private school with above-average charges. Many students do qualify for student aid. If you want the whole college experience, with Greek life included, you’ll find it here. There are both fraternities and sororities that you can join.
The educational standards are high, but there is a party culture here. If you lack self-discipline in this area, look for a different school. The school does offer sports programs, but sports are not an integral part of the culture.
St. John’s University School of Law
- Ranking: 77
- Bar Passage Rates: 88.6 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $62,500 to $79,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 68 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,060 – 1,250.
- ACT Range: 22 – 29.
As the name suggests, this is a Catholic school. It’s privately run and has an excellent reputation. The significant advantage here is that it is relatively easy to get accepted. The SAT scores required are lower than is the case for most top institutions. There is also relatively average competition for entry.
The school is in Queens. It is considered large, with around 11,500 students. Sports are a relatively significant part of campus life, but Greek life isn’t that important. Less than half of the students live on campus.
The school is reasonably priced. Financial aid programs are on offer.
- Ranking: 100
- Bar Passage Rates: 60.44 percent.
- Post-Graduation Salaries: $61,000 to $70,000.
- Acceptance Rate: 64 percent.
- SAT Range: 1,130 – 1,310.
- ACT Range: 24 – 29.
At first glance, that bar passage rate looks pretty low. It looks even worse when you compare it to the others on this list. So, how did Hofstra squeeze its way into the top ten? It’s a good school.
We think that the lower rate could be related to the lower scores required to gain admission. But what made us include it here is that the school puts a lot of emphasis on the practical aspects of the law. And, if you plan to practice law, especially in court, this is a significant advantage.
Is the school up to the standards of Columbia or Cornell? Not by a long shot. But, at the same time, not everyone can get into those top schools.
Overall, you’re getting a good education. The school is of moderate size with fewer than 7,000 students. Students agree that it offers a balanced educational experience.
The fees are pretty steep, but if you’re willing to work, you’ll get your money’s worth. The faculty are very supportive of students who are eager to work hard.
Which School is Right for Me?
Any of the schools on this list will provide you with an excellent education. Choosing the best school is tough. The following three schools scored quite close in the final reckoning:
- Columbia University School of Law.
- Cornell School of Law.
- New York University School of Law.
We also felt that Fordham deserved special mention thanks to its high bar passage rate. In the end, though, there can be only one. We stuck with Columbia simply because its bar passage rate was higher than the others.
From this list, it’s clear what our top choices are. Our top four all offer excellent academic opportunities. On the downside, though, they are high-pressure environments and difficult to gain entry to.
For that reason, we’d like to give a special mention to the Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law, Yeshiva University. The tuition and entrance requirements are a bit more reasonable.
Which school will you choose?