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Best SUNY Schools For Law

Last Updated on November 28, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

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If you’re considering a career in law, attending a prestigious law school is essential for passing the bar, finding a job, and for future success in your career. But as vital as it is to go to a good law school, choosing the right law school to apply to and attend can be a confusing process.

There are many options, all with different price points, locations, and reputations, and to add another element, you’ve got to be realistic as to which ones will let you in! Especially if you’re considering studying in New York state, you’re bound to feel a little overwhelmed. After all, the state has the second highest amount of law schools in the nation, behind California.

So, to assist you in finding the right school, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10 choices.

Best SUNY Schools For Law

  1. Columbia University School of Law

National Ranking: 4
Bar Passage Rates: 98 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $180,000
Acceptance Rate: 16.8 percent
LSAT: 170 — 174
Price: $69,916
Columbia has one of the best law programs in the country. Graduates from here move on to have some of the highest paying, most prestigious law jobs in the country. The small-sized private university has a class size of only 350 people.

With a bar exam pass rate approaching 98%, you’re also almost guaranteed to pass the bar if you study here and apply yourself. But of course, thanks to the school’s reputation, they can be picky about who they accept.

If you want a good chance of getting admitted, you’ll have to hit a minimum of 170 on your LSATs. Even if you do, it’s still difficult: the school’s acceptance rate is only 16.8 percent. So, do your best to get your application in early and study hard. The school will also consider extracurricular activities. Before applying you should try to gain relevant work experience, and explore volunteering possibilities as well. While it’s expensive, it’s one of the best law educations you can get nationwide.

2. New York University School of Law

National Ranking: 6
Bar Passage Rate: 97.5 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $180,000
Acceptance Rate: 23.6 percent
LSAT: 167 — 172
Price: $66,422
This private university is located in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. It is relatively large for a law school with a student body of around 1700. The school is quite tough to get into, but it’s a smidge easier by acceptance rate than admissions for Columbia or Cornell. Curriculum here is incredibly intensive, though and students here do need to work hard.

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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. With a fantastic bar passage rate and stellar post-grad salaries, the price is expensive but justifiable, although you’ll need to have your application well in order to be successful.

  1. Cornell Law School

National Ranking: 13
Bar Passage Rate: 95.9 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $64,228 to $180,000
Acceptance Rate: 21.1 percent
LSAT: 164 — 168
Price: $65,541
This selective private university is one of the top 15 in the country. They’re very particular when it comes to who enters the program. You have to perform well academically and demonstrate that you can maintain balance in your life.

Acceptance is difficult to achieve — only about 1 in 5 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 start for your law career. And more important than curriculum is the network that the school provides. Alumni are very active and usually happy to mentor new graduates. The college campus is beautiful, with historic buildings to inspire you.

With just over 600 JD students, Cornell University is considered small to mid-sized. The cost to attend the school is above average, but with a good LSAT score, financial aid is available to students.

  1. Fordham University School of Law

National Ranking: 27
Bar Passage Rate: 92.3 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $61,250 to $180,000
Acceptance Rate: 25.9 percent
LSAT: 161 — 166
Price: $60,406
This private Catholic school has offered outstanding education since 1841 and draws on traditional Jesuit values. These values emphasize respect, hard work, and morality. Graduates of Fordham can expect similar salaries to the top schools on this list.

But while the quality of the education you’ll get is top-tier, entrance is slightly more relaxed in terms of LSAT scores. That said, you’ll need to have a stellar academic background and application to gain entrance. There’s a fair amount of competition for the top spots here.

  1. Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

National Ranking: 53
Bar Passage Rate: 85.6 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $60,000 to $70,000
Acceptance Rate: 40.3 percent
LSAT: 157 — 162
Price: $60,610
The Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University is a private law school with a relatively large student body, featuring about 1000 students. The bar passage rate is a little lower than higher-tier options, probably correlated with the more relaxed admissions requirements.

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But as long as you achieve an LSAT score of 157 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 compared to schools in the top 50. Campus life is active, and the law school represents a significant part of the student body, but the focus is definitely on academics.

Although it’s officially a Jewish school, the student population isn’t particularly religious. While here isn’t any religious influence on curriculum, but there is strong support for the Jewish community here. While tuition is quite high for a school outside of the top 50, this school offers more financial assistance for students than any reviewed in this state so far.

  1. St. John’s University School of Law

National Ranking: 74
Bar Passage Rate: 88.6 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $62,500 to $79,000
Acceptance Rate: 41.9 percent
LSAT: 153 — 160
Price: $59,480
As the name suggests, this is a Catholic school. It’s privately run and has an excellent reputation, as it’s well in the top 100 law schools in America.

A significant advantage here is that it is relatively easy to get accepted. LSAT scores required are lower than is the case for most top institutions. There is relatively average competition for entry, but there’s a very small pool of applicants: only 247 students attend the institution, less than 100 per class year.

The school is in Queens, a borough of New York City. The school is expensively priced, a side effect of being in the Big Apple, but networking effects from being in the city can help with job projects post-graduation. Financial aid programs are available.

  1. SUNY Buffalo Law School
    Link: www.law.buffalo.edu

National Ranking: 99
Bar Passage Rate: 77.5 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $54,000 to $62,500
Acceptance Rate: 57.9 percent
LSAT: 150 — 156
Price: $27,964
This law school sneaks in the top 100 by rankings with a reputation that’s well above average. The campus is large, with a total of around 19,500 students, but the law school itself is small with under 500 Juris Doctor candidates. This helps with a high student to staff ratio of 5.5 students to one staff member.

Gaining entry is relatively simple because of the scores required. The bottom 25 percent of students admitted have a score under 150, which represents the 40th percentile of test scores. Just get your application in early because they still reject over approximately 500 candidates per year.

The average cost of education here is reasonable, well below average for a law school in the top 100. The school also offers need-based financial aid programs.

  1. Syracuse University College of Law
    Link: www.law.syr.edu

National Ranking: 111
Bar Passage Rate: 91.4 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $50,750 to $65,000
Acceptance Rate: 52.1 percent
LSAT: 152 — 156
Price: $51,422
Experts and graduates alike highly recommend this small private institution in Syracuse. It’s class size is miniscule: 230, meaning it’s still quite competitive to get into the school. That said, it’s easier than trying to get into Columbia or Cornell, but it’s definitely not a sure thing. A strong LSAT is still required to gain admission.

That the school has a high bar passage rate despite its lower admission requirements speaks volumes about the quality of education there. While the undergraduate program has a party reputation and an emphasis on sports, the law school is very different and those who don’t hit the books hard won’t find success here.

While tuition is above average for a school of this caliber, the school offers financial aid. Post-grad salaries speak to the competition for starting positions among graduates in New York, but diligent students can work their way up, although there are more abundant, less competitive positions in places like Albany and Buffalo than in New York City.

  1. Albany Law School of Union University
    Link: www.albanylaw.edu

Ranking: 118
Bar Passage Rates: 70.6 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $59,000 to $73,000
Acceptance Rate: 54.6 percent
LSAT Range: 151 — 156
Price: $47,450
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 and 372 in the law school. While the acceptance rate is just over 50%, admissions are competitive, so it’s important to take your application and test scores seriously if you hope to gain admission.

Albany is a private school with above-average tuition. Many students do qualify for student aid. Private sector salaries are relatively high for a school outside of the top 100, and public position placement is high as well with relatively strong salaries. That has more to do with the staff support network outside of academics: a career center helps place graduates.

  1. Hofstra University Maurice A. Dean School of Law
    Link: www.law.hofstra.edu

National Ranking: 160
Bar Passage Rate: 68.2 percent
Post-Graduation Salaries: $61,000 to $70,000
Acceptance Rate: 48.1 percent
LSAT: 148 — 155
Price: $59,214
At first glance, the bar passage rate for Hofstra University 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? Well, at the end of the day, it’s a pretty good school. It’s selective, admitting under 50% of applicants and post-graduation salaries are higher than many higher-ranked institutions.

The lower ranking 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, this emphasis on real-world experience is a significant advantage. It helps with career placement as well, with 81% of students employed within 10 months of graduation.

Is the school up to the standards of Columbia or Cornell? No, not really. But, at the same time, not everyone can get into those top schools. Overall, you’re getting a good education. The school is of a large size with around 820 students. Over 100 professors mean that the student to staff ratio is bar none.

The tuition is 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, and the bar passage rate, while not incredible, is about average for the state as a whole.

Final Thoughts
From this list, it’s clear what our top choices are. The entire top four all offer excellent academic opportunities. On the downside, though, they are high-pressure environments and difficult to gain entry to.

Lower tier schools can be equally academically rigorous, but offer advantages in terms of individualized attention, better career placement, and lower tuitions.

Acceptance Rate of Best SUNY Schools Of Law

There are 15 law schools in New York. Below are the admissions statistics for each of New York’s law schools.

School NameUS News RankingAcceptance RateMed.LSATMed.GPALSN Applications
Columbia University422%1713.716346
New York University634%1693.7815781
Cornell University1331%1673.7411826
Fordham University3536%1633.539183
Cardozo-Yeshiva University5353%1593.425898
St. John’s University7241%1583.542936
Brooklyn Law School8152%1553.365033
University at Buffalo9852%1543.441149
CUNY Queens College10245%1523.321224
Syracuse University10255%1543.332348
Albany Law School of Union University11662%1513.231579
Hofstra University11960%1533.393391
New York Law School11955%1523.243169
Pace University13964%1503.221693
Touro College14761%1473.03958

university of buffalo law school ranking

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University at Buffalo–SUNY is ranked No. 98 (tie) in Best Law Schools. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence. 

university at buffalo law school notable alumni

Wallace Thayer New York State Assemblyman (1914)
Michael A. Battle (1984) – director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys (2005–2007); United States Attorney for the Western District of New York (2002–2005)
Harry Bronson – New York State Assemblyman
Ronald Castorina Jr. – Former New York State Assemblyman (2016-2018); Former Commissioner NYC Board of Elections (2013-2015)
Sara Horowitz – Founder of Freelancers Union and Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Eugene M. Fahey – Associate judge of New York State Court of Appeals
Julio M. Fuentes (1975) – United States Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Newark, New Jersey duty station)
Paul L. Friedman (1968) – United States District Judge, United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Cynthia M. Rufe (1977) – United States District Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Kallos – lawyer and politician
Stephen Leary- lawyer, Jujitsuka
Nicole Lee, Executive Director of TransAfrica.
Henry J. Nowak – U.S. Representative (1975–1993)
John Lord O’Brian – United States Attorney for the Western District of New York (1909-1914), Special U.S. Assistant Attorney General, War Emergency Division (1917-1919), U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division (1929-1933), General Counsel of the War Production Board (1941-1944)
Denise O’Donnell – Former United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, New York State Attorney General Candidate, and Senior Adviser to New York Governor David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer.
Eugene F. Pigott Jr. – associate judge, New York Court of Appeals (2006-2016)
William J. Hochul Jr. (1984) – United States Attorney for the Western District of New York (2010–2016)
Jack Quinn III – Former New York State Assembly Member (2004–2010)
Hugh B. Scott – Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of New York; first African-American federal prosecutor
Virginia A. Seitz – prominent attorney, former law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan Jr., U.S. Supreme Court
Michael A. Telesca – United States District Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of New York
Dennis Vacco – New York State Attorney General (1994–1998)
Dale Volker – New York State Senator
Raymond Walter – New York State Assemblyman
Jeffrey White – Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Joseph S. Forma – Judge, New York Supreme Court

best pre law schools in new york

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private not-for-profit university based in Troy, New York. It is an institution with an enrollment of over 1,663 bachelor’s degree candidates. The admission criteria is somewhat competitive with the acceptance rate of 43%.

CUNY City College

CUNY City College is a public university based in New York, New York. It is an institution with an enrollment of over 1,705 bachelor’s degree candidates. The admission criteria is somewhat competitive with the acceptance rate of 46%.


Siena College

Siena College is a private not-for-profit university based in Loudonville, New York. It is an institution with an enrollment of over 776 bachelor’s degree candidates. The admission criteria is somewhat competitive with the acceptance rate of 77%.

The College of Saint Rose

The College of Saint Rose is a private not-for-profit university based in Albany, New York. It is an institution with an enrollment of over 577 bachelor’s degree candidates. The admission criteria is somewhat competitive with the acceptance rate of 82%.

CUNY Graduate School and University Center

CUNY Graduate School and University Center is a public university based in New York, New York.

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