When it comes to choosing the best law school to attend, there are countless factors to consider. From the location and campus facilities to the admission requirements and curriculum, every aspect can have a significant impact on your education and future career. Two of the most prestigious law schools in the United States that often come up in these discussions are Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School. In this in-depth comparison, we will take a closer look at these two institutions to help you decide which law school is the best fit for you.
Introduction to Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School
Harvard Law School is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is part of Harvard University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Founded in 1817, it is also one of the oldest law schools in the United States. On the other hand, Cornell Law School is situated in Ithaca, New York, and is part of Cornell University, a sought-after Ivy League institution. Cornell Law School was established in 1887, making it substantially newer than Harvard Law, but still one of the more respected law schools in the country.
Both Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School offer a wide range of programs and opportunities for students. Harvard Law School has a strong focus on public service and offers clinics and programs that allow students to gain practical experience in areas such as criminal justice, environmental law, and human rights. Cornell Law School, on the other hand, has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and offers joint degree programs with other schools at Cornell, such as the Johnson Graduate School of Management and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Location and Campus Facilities
Harvard Law School provides stunning views of historic Boston and Cambridge, while Cornell Law School features sprawling greenery and stunning natural scenery of Ithaca, New York. Both law schools offer modern, state-of-the-art facilities for students, including lecture halls, libraries, and computer labs.
In addition to these facilities, Harvard Law School also boasts a world-renowned law library, with over 2 million volumes and access to numerous online legal databases. Cornell Law School offers students the opportunity to participate in the Legal Information Institute, which provides free access to legal information and resources online. Both law schools also have moot courtrooms, where students can practice their advocacy skills in simulated court proceedings.
History and Reputation of the Schools
Harvard Law School has a storied history, with alumni that include multiple US presidents, Supreme Court justices, and famous public figures. It is widely regarded as one of the top law schools in the country, if not the world. Cornell Law School, although not as renowned as Harvard, still has a solid reputation and is known for its focus on practical skills and experiential learning.
Harvard Law School was founded in 1817 and has since then been a pioneer in legal education. It was the first law school in the United States to require a bachelor's degree for admission, and it was also the first to establish a law review. The school has a long-standing tradition of producing exceptional legal scholars and practitioners, and its graduates are highly sought after by top law firms and government agencies.
Cornell Law School, on the other hand, was established in 1887 and has a more recent history compared to Harvard. However, it has quickly gained a reputation for its innovative approach to legal education. The school offers a wide range of clinical programs that allow students to gain practical experience in various areas of law. Cornell Law School also has a strong commitment to public service, and many of its graduates go on to work in public interest organizations and government agencies.
Admission Requirements and Application Process
Both law schools have rigorous admission requirements and a high level of competition, with low acceptance rates to match. The application process for Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School includes submitting transcripts, test scores, essays, and recommendation letters. However, Harvard typically has more strict LSAT score and GPA requirements than Cornell.
It is important to note that both schools also consider extracurricular activities, work experience, and personal statements when evaluating applicants. Additionally, Harvard Law School offers an early decision program for applicants who are certain that they want to attend Harvard and are willing to commit to attending if accepted. Cornell Law School, on the other hand, does not offer an early decision program but does offer an early action program for applicants who want to receive an admissions decision earlier in the application cycle.
Curriculum Comparison: Courses and Specializations Offered
Both law schools offer a comprehensive curriculum designed to prepare students for a successful career in law. Harvard Law School provides a wide range of courses that cover various areas of law, including constitutional law, civil rights, corporate law, and more. Cornell Law School has an impressive selection of clinics, externships, and elective courses, thus enabling students to specialize in specific areas of law.
Additionally, Harvard Law School offers a unique program called the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, which provides free legal services to low-income clients in the Boston area. This program allows students to gain practical experience while also giving back to the community. On the other hand, Cornell Law School has a strong focus on international and comparative law, with opportunities for students to study abroad and participate in international moot court competitions.
Faculty Comparison: Qualifications and Teaching Styles
Both law schools offer a talented and accomplished faculty, with many lawyers who worked at top law firms, government agencies, and leading non-profit organizations. Harvard Law School emphasizes theoretical and analytical approaches to the law, while Cornell Law School prioritizes practical, hands-on learning and problem-solving in the real world.
Additionally, both schools have a diverse faculty, with a range of backgrounds and experiences. Harvard Law School has a higher percentage of faculty members with PhDs, while Cornell Law School has a higher percentage of faculty members with practical experience in the legal field. This diversity in qualifications and experiences allows for a well-rounded education for students at both institutions.
Student Life: Extracurricular Activities, Social Opportunities, and Housing Options
Both schools offer a diverse range of extracurricular activities, social clubs, and events. Harvard Law School has over 90 student organizations, including the Law and Government Society and the Women’s Law Association. Cornell Law School features over 20 student-run organizations, such as the Public Interest Law Union and the Business Law Society. Both schools provide housing options for students, with Cornell offering on-campus apartments and Harvard listing a variety of on-campus accommodations and off-campus apartments for students.
Aside from the numerous student organizations, both Harvard and Cornell Law Schools also offer various social opportunities for students. Harvard Law School hosts several events throughout the year, including the annual Public Interest Auction and the International Women’s Day Celebration. Cornell Law School also has its fair share of social events, such as the annual Barrister’s Ball and the Public Interest Lawyering Conference.
Furthermore, both schools have unique housing options for students. Harvard Law School offers on-campus accommodations such as the North Hall and the Hastings Hall, which are both located within walking distance of the law school. Additionally, Harvard Law School provides a list of off-campus apartments for students who prefer to live off-campus. Cornell Law School, on the other hand, offers on-campus apartments such as the Hughes Hall and the Maplewood Apartments, which are both located within the law school campus.
Career Opportunities and Alumni Network
Both Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School offer their graduates opportunities to pursue successful careers in the legal field. Harvard Law School has an extensive alumni network with alumni working in prominent positions in both the legal and non-legal industries. Cornell Law School has a similarly substantial alumni network, with graduates working in various industries as well. Additionally, both schools offer career counseling, job fairs, and internship opportunities to help students secure employment post-graduation.
Tuition Fees, Financial Aid, and Scholarships Available
Attending law school can be a significant financial undertaking, and both Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School have high tuition fees. However, both schools offer a comprehensive financial aid program and several scholarships to ensure that qualified applicants can afford to attend. The specific amounts and polices vary at each school, but both schools are committed to providing financial assistance to students in need.
Student Diversity: Demographics, Ethnicity, and Gender Ratio
Both law schools strive to maintain a diverse student body, with students coming from various socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and age groups. At Harvard Law School, the student body is approximately evenly split between male and female students, while at Cornell Law School, the ratio is slightly more skewed towards women, yet still near equal.
Bar Exam Pass Rates and Employment Statistics of Graduates
Harvard Law School has an impressive bar exam pass rate, with the majority of graduates passing on the first attempt. Cornell Law School also has a commendable bar exam pass rate, with a similar percentage of graduates passing on the first attempt as well. After graduation, both schools have high employment rates, with recent numbers indicating over 90% of graduates securing employment in the legal field or related industries.
Campus Safety Measures and Support Services Available to Students
Both schools prioritize ensuring the safety of their students and offer various resources to support student well-being. Harvard Law School has its police department, 24-hour security services, and numerous student health centers, counseling services, and wellness programs. Cornell Law School has security services and an on-campus health center and support center, offering counseling and well-being programs accordingly. Both schools have protocols prohibiting any form of harassment, hazing, and discrimination.
Notable Achievements of Faculty Members and Alumni of Both Schools
Both Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School have numerous successful alumni, including prominent figures in politics, law, business, and entertainment. Among many accolades of Harvard Law School alumni, we can find presidents such as Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and successful businesspeople such as Michael Bloomberg. Cornell Law School graduates also have a notable record of achievement, with alumni such as former US representative and presidential candidate, Elizabeth Holtzman, and influential legal experts like Richard Posner.
Final Verdict: Which School is the Best Fit for You?
Ultimately, determining whether Harvard Law School or Cornell Law School is the best fit for you depends on many factors, including location, curriculum, faculty, and career goals. When making this important decision, it is essential to consider your personal preferences, as well as the specific strengths of each law school.
If you are interested in theoretical, analytical approaches to law and desire to pursue a career in academia, public service, and high-end corporate law, Harvard Law School may be the right fit for you. If you are drawn towards smaller class sizes, fostering problem-solving skills, learning hands-on in clinic and externships while also specializing in specific areas of law, and looking to pursue a career in private practice or public interest law, Cornell Law School could be the way to go. Regardless of which school you choose, both Harvard Law School and Cornell Law School offer excellent legal education and academic rigor that can prepare you for a successful legal career.