Getting a degree in law school has long been seen as a stepping stone to a well paid and respected career. It’s a challenging course of study which requires four years’ undergraduate work and three years of law school. However, all that hard work leads to a well paid job that’s in demand in our society.
What Can You Do With a Law Degree?
Attorneys advise and represent their clients, defending their rights. Depending on the case and your specialization, you may:
- advise on property line disputes
- defend someone accused of DUI
- build a malpractice case against a medical supply company
- help a client apply for disability benefits
- write out contracts and wills
- create prenuptial contracts
- and more.
Some lawyers are general practitioners, with a moderate level of knowledge in a number of areas. Others specialize and spend the majority of their career focused on, say, corporate law.
How Do You Choose the Right Law School?
Once you get a Bachelor’s degree and pass the LSAT, you’ll need to choose the right institution for your law degree. Look for J.D. (Juris Doctor) programs from colleges that have been accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). The J.D. is typically earned after three years’ intensive study, or after up to six years for combined degrees.
You don’t necessarily need a degree from a prestigious and expensive institution to launch your career. The most successful lawyers have agile minds, a wealth of memorized information, and the drive for lifelong learning and bettering their skills. Students with these qualities can go far in any program. However, some schools may be worth the extra cost due to their networking opportunities or the concentrations they offer.
What is the Job Market Like for People With a Law Degree?
The occupational outlook handbook paints a relatively rosy picture for lawyers. Their median pay, as of 2019, is $122,960 per year. This job market is also stable. Job opportunities are expected to grow by 4% in the next ten years, which is the average national growth across all occupations.
We’ve created this list of the twelve best ABA-accredited law schools in NYC and the surrounding area. These were ranked by yearly tuition and the credit hours needed for the degree.
The 12 Best Law Schools in NYC
1. CUNY School of Law
The City University of New York School of Law, more commonly known as the CUNY School of Law, was established in 1983. It’s one of the 25 campuses in the expansive CUNY system. The Law School is considered one of the top in the nation for its clinical education program.
This school offers some of the most affordable tuition rates on our list alongside a solid education in the practice of law. In fact, the school’s founding dean is Charles Halpern, who has dedicated his career to advocating for the rights of low-income people. Students spend their days working towards a full time or part time J.D. or dual degree program. In their free time, many are highly active in nonprofit work.
Credit Hours: 86
2(tie): CUNY College of Criminal Justice
When it was founded in 1964, the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice was the first liberal arts college to focus on forensics and criminal justice. In the beginning, this college granted Police Science degrees. It soon widened scope across the field of Criminal Justice.
John Jay offers two dual degrees: an M.P.A./J.D. in Law and Public Accountability and an M.A./J.D. in Forensic Psychology and Law. These degrees are via collaboration with the CUNY School of Law. The Law and Public Accountability program requires 128 credit hours. However, due to multiple courses crediting toward both degrees, it can be completed in just 104 credits over 4 years.
Credit Hours: 104
2(tie): New York Law School
Don’t confuse New York Law School with the New York University School of Law; these are separate institutions. NYLS, located in Tribeca, was founded in 1890 after an acrimonious split with Columbia Law School. This institution closed in 1941, but reopened a few years later and has greatly expanded its curriculum and scope.
You can pursue a traditional 3 year, full time J.D. here, or a 4 year, part time degree through evening classes. NYLS offers three main pathways of study: Business and Financial Services, Intellectual Property and Privacy, and Government and Public Interest Law. Students may also choose among 250 upper level electives. This school offers combined J.D./M.B.A. and a J.D./M.A. degrees in conjunction with other NYC institutions.
Credit Hours: 86
4: Pace University
Haven’t heard about the Elisabeth Haub School of Law? It’s new, at least by name. Pace University renamed their law school after Elisabeth Haub in 2016. They felt that the German philanthropist’s longtime dedication to charity and environmental causes echoed their own competitive and highly regarded Environmental Law program.
Their flexible J.D. program offers both full and part time options as well as start dates in the fall or spring. You can concentrate on areas such as Real Estate & Land Use, earn advanced certificates in Environmental Law, take the Intellectual Property professional track, and more. Pace University also offers 10 different dual degree programs through agreements with other institutions.
Credit Hours: 88
5(tie): Brooklyn Law School
Brooklyn Law School is a private institution with a fairly small, close-knit student body of just over 1,000. This program’s rich learning experience and focus on international connections has produced a number of high-profile alumni including a US Senator, an NYC mayor, and real estate developers like Larry Silverstein (who designed the rebuilt World Trade Center complex).
You can pursue both full and part time J.D. degrees at BLS. The academic experience for students is enriched with multiple exchange and Summer Abroad programs and their 9 in-house legal clinics. Qualifying students may also be able to explore International Fellowships with concentrations in Business Law, Human Rights, and Public Interest Law.
Tuition: $61550 per year
Credit Hours: 85
5(tie): Touro College
Touro College, sometimes known as the Touro Law Center, is located on Long Island an easy walk away from where the New York Supreme Court sits. Students here can gain experience in one of Touro’s multiple legal clinics. These clinics handle a number of complaints including Disaster Relief and Bankruptcy & Mortgage Foreclosure.
The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center offers a number of options for degrees including a fast-track r J.D. program. This intensive course of study requires year-round classes including in the summer and winter sessions. However, motivated students can earn their degree in just 24 months. Touro also offers part time programs, January start options, and combined J.D./M.S.W. and J.D./M.B.A. degrees.
Credit Hours: 88
7: Hofstra University
Hofstra University is located in Hempstead on Long Island. It has a spacious and charming 244 acre campus. Since 2017, the university has been home to the Globe Stage. This is the most accurate replica of the Globe Theater in the US, and it hosts dance and dramatic productions.
The Maurice A. Deane School of Law’s J.D. program allows students to build a base of knowledge and then narrow their studies to one of eight areas of concentration. These include Alternative Dispute Resolution and International Law. Several four-year dual degrees can be pursued here as well. Students in all law programs can gain practical experience in one of the school’s 11 legal clinics, which offer services like counseling political asylum applicants and youth advocacy.
Credit Hours: 87
8: Fordham University
Fordham University is a private research university that was established in 1841. The institution got its name from its original location in Fordham in the Bronx, but it has since moved to a Manhattan location. Fordham has campuses scattered across the state as well as study centers and offices in Spain, South Africa, and the UK.
The J.D. program at the School of Law can be completed in 3 years of full time study or through 4 years of part time evening classes. Study concentrations range from Business and Financial Law to Public Interest. This school also offers three joint degrees and a 3+3 program.
Credit Hours: 83
9: Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University is a private research university with a dual curriculum that emphasizes secular education and study of the Torah. Despite this, there are a number of students (including in Yeshiva’s law school) who are not of the Jewish faith. This university has a relatively small student body, at just over 6000. However, the diverse student body hails from dozens of countries.
The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law provides several degrees including a J.D. and an online LL.M. in Intellectual Property. The J.D. program has a fixed core of 30 credits for the first year. However, students can spend the rest of their education exploring many legal subjects via a wide range of electives.
Credit Hours: 84
10: New York University
New York University is a venerable institution. It was established in 1835, making it the oldest law school in the city. This is also the largest private university in the United States, with over 50,000 students attending the NYC campus and more in their Abu Dhabi and Shanghai branches.
The School of Law has a three year J.D. program. Up to 19 of the 83 required credit hours can be earned through non-classroom activities such as externships, fieldwork, and research assistantships. Note that this school does not offer part time or accelerated programs. However, exceptions to the strict schedule may be made in extreme cases. NYU Law also offers a number of dual degrees various concentrations.
Credit Hours: 83
11: Columbia University
You’ve probably heard about this one. Columbia University was founded before the Declaration of Independence, making it the oldest such institution in New York. This prestigious and exclusive private Ivy League university has a strong research presence and a star-studded cast of alumni. These include Founding Fathers, U.S. Presidents, Nobel laureates, and Olympic medalists.
The J.D. you can pursue at Columbia has a particular emphasis on practical application and making connections around the world. Of the 83 credit hours required by this program, up to 30 can be earned through various externships, clinic work, and field placement programs. Multiple dual degrees are also available including an intensive a 3 year J.D./M.B.A.
Credit Hours: 83
12: St. John’s University
St. John’s University was originally founded in 1870 in Brooklyn, but the flagship campus moved to Queens in the 50s. This Roman Catholic institution’s school of law offers programs in a number of areas in the legal field.
Their 89 credit J.D. program can be completed with full time day classes in 3 years. St. John’s also offers a flex time, 4 year program. Along with building a solid core of legal knowledge, this university provides a range of externship opportunities. These can be an invaluable opportunity for students to network and gain real-world experience. The school also offers multiple joint degrees including a J.D./LL.M. in Bankruptcy, the only such program in the United States.
Credit Hours: 89
Do you need more information before choosing a law program in NYC? Our ranking guides can help!
Our Ranking Methodology
We gathered a list of colleges in New York City and the immediate area that offer J.D. programs. This information was drawn from .gov databases like the NCES and the American Bar Association. We drew information about tuition and the programs directly from each university’s website.
The 12 schools on this list were ranked according to two factors. Points were assigned based on yearly tuition (lowest is best) and the credit hours required (fewest is best). In-state tuition rates were used whenever possible. These points were weighted, with tuition making 66.7% of the final score.
Problems With Your Ranking?
If you work at one of these schools and you’ve noticed an error, please contact us. We’ll be happy to update the information listed here.