Brooklyn Law School (BLS) is a private law school in New York City. Founded in 1901, it has approximately 1,100 students. Brooklyn Law School's faculty includes 60 full-time faculty, 15 emeriti faculty, and a number of adjunct faculty.
The origins of Brooklyn Law School can be traced back to the Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, when in the 1890s the school established its Department of Commerce. Because of its overwhelming popularity, the Department of Commerce broke off from the main Institute and formed its own school, under the guidance of Norman P. Heffley, personal secretary to Charles Pratt. The Heffley School of Commerce, formed from Pratt's Department of Commerce, originally shared facilities with Pratt.
In 1901, William Payson Richardson and Norman P. Heffley reorganized the Heffley School to become Brooklyn Law School, the first law school on Long Island. Using space provided by Heffley's business school, the law school opened on September 30, 1901, with five faculty members (including Richardson as dean and Heffley as president), and two special lecturers.
From its earliest days, Brooklyn Law School opened its door to minorities, women, and immigrants, and it offered night classes for those with full-time jobs. Dean Richardson also allowed students who had difficulty paying tuition to remain enrolled on credit. The school moved twice between 1901 and 1928, when it finally moved into the first building designed and built specifically for it at 375 Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn. Though the school lacked a campus, dormitories, and a cafeteria, students could engage in a wide range of extracurricular activities.
World War II struck Brooklyn Law School especially hard, and by 1943 enrollment was down to 174 students. St. Lawrence University, which until then operated Brooklyn Law School and conferred its degrees, decided to shut down the school. Prominent alumni were galvanized into action, and negotiated the repurchase of the school's assets, ensuring that Brooklyn Law School would operate as an independent institution.
The 2008 Leiter Report ranked Brooklyn Law School 25th, in the "Most 'Prestigious' Law Firm Placement" category.
The 2009 Leiter Report ranked Brooklyn Law School 39th nationwide in Student Quality, based on its 2008 entering class.
New York Law Journal ranked Brooklyn Law School as the #2 Best Overall Law School in 2017 and 2018.
New York Law Journal ranked Brooklyn Law School as the #2 General LL.M. Program in 2017 and 2018.
Business Insider ranked Brooklyn Law School as one of the “Best Law Schools in the Northeast” in 2016.
Billboard Magazine listed Brooklyn Law School in the Top Schools of the Top Music Lawyers in 2017.
Hollywood Reporter listed Brooklyn Law School in the Top 12 Entertainment Law Schools in 2017.
The 2016 Leiter Report ranked Brooklyn Law School's faculty 26th in the nation for having the highest percentage of most-cited tenured professors.
The 2017 Leiter Report ranked Brooklyn Law School's faculty 30th in the nation for “scholarly excellence.”
The 2019 edition of U.S. News ranked Brooklyn Law School 71st, in its list of top 201 law schools.
Bar passage rate and career prospects
In 2017, 78.6% of the law school's first-time test takers passed the bar exam, placing the law school as the 8th-highest among New York's 15 law schools. Of 369 graduates in 2016, nine months after graduation 323 were employed. Alumni live in 49 states and over 25 countries after graduation. The law school was ranked 46th of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2018 graduates to the largest 100 law firms in the US (9%).
In 2013, 94% of the law school's first-time test takers passed the New York bar exam, third-best among New York's 15 law schools.
Brooklyn Law School's main building, at 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York
In 2012, five Brooklyn Law School graduates filed a class action lawsuit, which was dismissed the following year, alleging consumer fraud and common law fraud. As part of a series of identical lawsuits against law schools nationwide, the complaint alleged that the law school administration incorrectly reported employment and salary information for the purpose of enticing students to attend the law school. Prior to the lawsuit, Brooklyn Law School had claimed that 95% or more of graduates found employment within 9 months of graduation, without always distinguishing between full-time, part-time, and non-JD-required employment (which breakdown ABA/NALP rules did not require at the time of the statistics at issue in the suit, but which breakdown has been required since 2012). In April 2013, NY State Supreme Court Justice David Schmidt dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the school's disclaimers on its employment and salary data warned graduates that their own post-grad earnings may not measure up to the data.
Of the law school's 368 graduates in 2017, nine months after graduation all were employed other than 26 who were seeking employment, and 4 who were not seeking employment (the employment status of 4 was unknown); 269 had secured jobs practicing law, and 40 had taken a J.D. advantage position. Brooklyn Law School's Law School Transparency under-employment score was 16.2%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2017 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Full-Time, Long-Term)
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Part-Time and/or Short-Term)
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Employed - Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 368 Graduates
The law school was ranked # 46 of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2018 graduates to the largest 100 law firms in the US (9%).
Location and facilities
Entrance to Feil Hall, 205 State Street
Brooklyn Law School's academic and administrative buildings and main student residence is located in Downtown Brooklyn, near many federal and state courts and corporate and public interest law offices. Brooklyn Law School's main academic building at 250 Joralemon Street houses classrooms, faculty offices, student journals, a conference center, dining hall, and a four-story law library with 586,000 volumes. The office building nearby at 111 Livingston Street houses many of the law school's clinics, legal writing center, and administrative offices.
Brooklyn Law School guarantees housing in its residences to all entering students. The largest residence is Feil Hall, a 22-story building at 205 State Street that opened in 2005. Designed by noted architect Robert A. M. Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, it accommodates about 360 students in 239 furnished apartments of varying sizes, and includes a conference center and café.
Brooklyn Law School students with Prof. Dean outside the main building
Brooklyn Law School's faculty includes 60 full-time professors, 15 emeriti faculty, and a number of adjunct faculty. The law school draws on a large body of practitioners, public officials, and judges as adjunct faculty to teach specialized courses in many areas of law, including international sales law, securities law, real estate development, trial advocacy, business crimes, corporate litigation, sports law, and border and homeland security law. In addition, in any given semester, visiting professors come from all over the world to teach at the school.
The law school publishes four student-edited law journals: the Brooklyn Law Review, Brooklyn Journal of International Law, the Journal of Law and Policy, and the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial, and Commercial Law. Over 290 second and third-year students have the opportunity to write for one of the journals.
All four student journals select new members based on writing ability and academic achievement. Each journal selects members by membership competition submissions and grades received during the first year of law school. Each journal requires that its members be in the top 75% of their class.
The law school has both trial and appellate advocacy moot court divisions. Each year it enters approximately 30 teams in national moot court competitions. These competitions span all areas of the law, including family law, criminal procedure, white-collar crime, and international law.
In 2011, Brooklyn Law School took home top international, national, and regional titles. Its teams won first place in the Irving R. Kaufman Memorial Moot Court Competition, and were first place Champions in the Domenick L. Gabrielli National Family Law Competition. They were also Semi-Finalists in the New York Region of the New York City Bar National Moot Court Competition, Semi-Finalists in the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition (students won Third Best Brief and Sixth Best Oralist), Semi-Finalists in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition (students won Best Oralists in the Preliminary Rounds), Semi-Finalists in the Evan A. Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition, Semi-Finalists for the Navy JAG Corps Moot Court Competition, and Semi-Finalists in the Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition.
Jerome Prince Evidence Competition
Each year Brooklyn Law School hosts the Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition, a national moot court competition. Named in honor of the late Brooklyn Law School Dean and renowned evidence scholar, the competition draws over 30 law school teams from across the country. Many students from the Moot Court Honor Society are involved in the coordination of the Prince Competition, and a few students have an opportunity to work with faculty members to research and write the problem – an issue at the forefront of evidentiary law – that is used in the Competition.
Brooklyn Law School offers students over 190 courses and seminars in the law.
Brooklyn Law School's main building at 250 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, New York. The 1994 new classicalFell Hall tower by architect Robert A. M. Stern to the right.
Each Brooklyn Law School center focuses on a specific area of the law and hosts lectures, symposia, forums, and round-table discussions that address emerging issues.
Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE): Explores legal issues surrounding entrepreneurship, and provides effective legal representation and support for new commercial and not-for-profit businesses, while also training business-oriented law students to advise and participate in these sectors.
Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation: Unites the law school's existing diverse business and commercial law programs by providing a forum for scholarship that offers new perspectives on and solutions to real world business law and regulatory issues.
Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law: Established by the law school to study and shape international business law and policy.
Center for Law Language and Cognition: Explores how developments in the cognitive sciences – including psychology, neuroscience and linguistics – have implications for the law at both theoretical and practical levels.
Center for Health, Science and Public Policy: Offers students substantive knowledge and practical skills related to health and science law.
Brooklyn Law School's administrative building located at One Boerum Place, near the Fulton Mall
In 2009, Brooklyn Law School clinical program was ranked 28th in the nation. In 2010, The National Jurist ranked BLS fourth in the country for its public service work, largely influenced by its clinical program. The clinics specialize in the areas of bankruptcy, securities arbitration, immigration, entrepreneurship, technology, criminal law, real estate practice, intellectual property, and mediation. Students represent individual clients, groups, and businesses and appear in state, federal, and administrative courts, on both the trial and appellate levels. Brooklyn Law School created a new mandate in 2014 that requires students to complete at least one clinic or externship course before graduation. Among the law school's clinics include:
The Advocates for Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disability (AAIDD) Clinic represents low-income New Yorkers and their families in a variety of civil matters that impact adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and provides the opportunity for students to advocate in diverse areas of law ranging from public benefits, guardianship, housing and access to government services.
The Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic, (BLIP), functions like a law firm that represents Internet, new media, communications, and other tech entrepreneurs and innovators on both business and policy advocacy. Students work with clients on transactional, litigation, policy, and other advocacy projects and interact and strategize with members of the entrepreneurial, technology and financial communities, as well as with legislators, regulators and other policymakers.
Capital Defender and Federal Habeas Clinic affords students the opportunity to represent death row inmates (post-conviction) in other states and defendants in New York who have filed federal habeas corpus petitions. The work consists of filing petitions in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Community Development Clinic provides opportunities for students to represent community development corporations, cultural institutions, affordable housing providers, and small businesses that serve under-represented communities.
Brooklyn Law School offers several paid fellowships for students seeking to further enrich their legal interests.
Public Interest/Public Service (PipS): Fellows work full-time in entry-level positions at nonprofit organizations or government agencies partnering with Brooklyn Law School, receiving appropriate training and supervision, as well as attend a classroom component in the evening at Brooklyn Law School. After nine months of work with one of Brooklyn Law School's partners, upon graduation, Fellows take a break to study for the bar exam before returning to their Fellowship placement for a full year.
International Human Rights Fellowship: Select students engage in a concentrated study in the field of international human rights and perform international human rights work abroad.
Center for Health Science and Public Policy Fellowship: Students who have demonstrated academic or professional achievement in the areas of health, public health, science, and biotechnology undertake a major research project on a legal or policy issue related to these fields.
International Business Law Fellowship: Students who plan to pursue careers in the field of international business law participate in programs hosted by the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, as well as a variety of mentoring and enrichment experiences.
Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship: Students chosen for this nationally recognized program are placed at public interest organizations across the United States and abroad.
Trade Secret Institute Fellowship: Fellows in this program are responsible for identifying key cases to include in the Trade Secrets Institute database through research on doctrinal issues related to trade secrets.
Students work with faculty and alumni who are Zaretsky committee members to develop program content and materials for the annual Zaretsky Roundtable, a discussion on cutting-edge commercial and bankruptcy law topics.
LL.M. degree program
Brooklyn Law School offers an LL.M. program for foreign-trained lawyers. The program facilitates specialized study in three subject areas: business law, intellectual property law, and refugee and immigration law.
Joint degree programs
Brooklyn Law School offers five joint degree programs:
J.D./Master in City and Regional Planning: Brooklyn Law School and Pratt Institute jointly sponsor a program leading to the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Science (M.S.) in City and Regional Planning.
J.D./Master in Urban Planning: Brooklyn Law School and Hunter College's Graduate Program in the Department of Urban Planning (Urban Affairs and Planning) jointly sponsor a program leading to the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Urban Planning (M.U.P.).
J.D./Master in Library and Information Science: Brooklyn Law School and the Graduate School of Information and Library Science of Pratt Institute jointly sponsor a program leading to the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Science in Library and Information Science (M.S.L.I.S.).
LL.M./Master in Library and Information Science: Brooklyn Law School and Pratt Institute jointly sponsor a dual degree program for those who have already earned a J.D. The program leads to a M.S.L.I.S. and LL.M. in Information Law and Society.
Brooklyn Law School offers five certificate programs:
Certificate in Business Law
Certificate in Criminal Law
Certificate in IP, Media, and Information Law
Certificate in International Law
Certificate in Real Estate
Public service programs
Brooklyn Law School has created one of the nation's leading public service programs.[non-primary source needed] It has a public service community that is championed by its Public Service Office. The Office provides individual counseling and information on summer and academic year externships, steering students toward pro bono opportunities, and helping students apply for postgraduate fellowships as well as employment opportunities.
Brooklyn Law School sponsors two summer abroad programs each year. Students study international and comparative law for two weeks in one of two locations: Beijing or Bologna.
The Beijing Program is hosted at China's University of International Business and Economics (UIBE). The program offers students the opportunity to study international bankruptcy and Chinese law. Courses are taught in English by faculty from BLS, with lectures by members of UBIE's Law Faculty. The program also allows time for visits to local cultural and legal institutions and for meeting Chinese law students.
The Bologna Program is hosted by the University of Bologna. Founded in the 11th century, it is the oldest university in Europe, and a center of law study since the Middle Ages. Courses in international business law and comparative topics are taught by faculty from American and European law schools.
Exchange Program with Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany
Each year, the law school selects two students to attend Bucerius Law School during the fall semester while two Bucerius students study at Brooklyn Law School. The Bucerius Law School Program in International and Comparative Business Law is designed to develop and expand students' understanding of the forces that shape international business law and offers a unique opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of German, European, and international law. Courses are taught in English by a combination of American law school professors and international professors of law.
Exchange Program with University of Essex in Colchester, England
The University of Essex exchange program allows two Brooklyn Law School students every semester to study at the University of Essex while two English students are chosen to study at the law school for a full academic year. The focus of the program is on international human rights and European Union law.
Exchange Program with University College Cork in Cork, Ireland
Brooklyn Law School's exchange program with University College Cork (UCC) gives two Brooklyn Law School students each semester the opportunity to study at UCC, a college founded in 1845 with a Law Faculty that is the largest department in the university. Two Cork students spend an academic year at the law school. Brooklyn Law School students have the ability to learn many legal subjects from an Irish law perspective, as well as many topics from an international and comparative stance.
Exchange Program with Hong Kong University in Hong Kong, China
Two Brooklyn Law School students have the option of studying in Hong Kong for a semester in exchange for two Hong Kong University students attending Brooklyn Law School for the year. Due to China's rapid social and economic development and Hong Kong's location in the Pacific Rim, the program courses focus mostly on Chinese commercial law, human-rights law and international corporate and financial law. Except for some courses offered in the LL.M. program (e.g., Chinese Law), the course instruction is in English.
Exchange Program with Universidad Torcuato Di Tello in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Brooklyn Law School recently added this program to allow students to study law in Spanish from a Civil Law system perspective. The program highlights courses in tax law, law and economics, business law, law and finance, criminal law, and law and public policy.
Exchange Program with Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel
Two Brooklyn Law School students in their second year also have the new opportunity to attend Tel Aviv University, home of the Cegla Center for Interdisciplinary Research of the Law, in the Spring semester. Students will be able to take a variety of courses touching upon international and comparative law, as well as the option to study Hebrew.
Brooklyn Law School has over 40 student-led organizations, which reflect the diversity of the student body. Student organizations include:
Herman Badillo, '54, Democratic Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from NY, 21st and 22nd Districts; BronxBorough President. First Puerto Rican elected to these posts (outside of Puerto Rico).
John Carro, ’56, Associate Justice of the NY Appellate Division, First Department, first Puerto Rican to be designated an Appellate Court Justice, and founding partner of the largest Latino-owned law firm in New York.
Rachel Freier, 2005, Civil Court judge for the Kings County 5th judicial district in NY State, first Hasidic Jewish woman to be elected as a civil court judge in NY State, and first Hasidic woman to serve in public office in US history.
Robert Rosenthal, '41, decorated Jewish USAF B-17 commander flew 53 missions, despite shot down twice; later assisted U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Brooklyn Law School for the 2013-14 academic year was $78,604. The total cost of attendance for the 2015-16 academic year will be $70,534 as a result of a 15% tuition reduction plan going into effect May 2015. The estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $204,197.