The Faculty of Law has established a system of academic honors to recognize outstanding academic achievement. These honors, which are noted on a student’s official transcript, are awarded at the end of each academic year based on a student’s performance during that year.
Beginning with the Fall 2022 semester (i.e., with the LL.M. Class of 2023 and the J.D. Class of 2025), the Law School will deploy an updated system of academic honors. A comparison of both systems appears below:
Honors system in place through J.D. Class of 2024/LL.M. Class of 2022
Honors system in place beginning with J.D. Class of 2025/LL.M. Class of 2023
|N/A||Highest Honors for students in the top 2% of their respective class based on GPA.|
|Kent Scholar status for students who earned a GPA of 3.8 or higher, or who received A+, A-, or A grades in all but one class (At least half of a student’s grades must be A+ or A, setting aside the lowest grade).||High Honors for students in the top 10% of their class based on GPA|
|Stone Scholar status for students who earned a GPA of 3.41 or higher and who received no grade lower than a B-||Honors for students in the top 40% of their respective class based on GPA|
|All: To be considered for any of the honors listed above, a student must earn at least 15 letter graded law credits toward their degree during an academic year.||All: To be considered for any of the honors listed above, a student must earn at least 15 letter graded law credits toward their degree during an academic year.|
Note that honors are calculated based on GPA as it compares to students in the same class year (i.e., a 1L student’s GPA is compared against the GPA distribution of the 1L class).
In both systems, only grades earned in Law School classes (i.e., not in other divisions of the University nor while enrolled in an exchange program at another school) are used in calculating honors. No student will receive honors for a year that includes a grade of "Incomplete."
To be considered for Highest Honors, High Honors, or Honors, a student must earn at least 15 letter graded law credits toward their degree during an academic year.
Special Honors for Outstanding Performance in a Class
Faculty may choose to recognize the single best student in a class with an enrollment of 30 or more. This designation—Special Honors for Outstanding Performance in a Class—is awarded at the instructor’s discretion, and the instructor is free to choose whether to award the prize in a given course or a given semester.
J.D. students who receive Kent Scholar status or High or Highest Honors in each of the academic years in which they are enrolled at Columbia Law School are awarded the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize at graduation. J.D. transfer students who enroll at Columbia Law School at the beginning of their 2L year are eligible to receive the Ginsburg Prize if they achieve Kent Scholar status or High or Highest Honors in both their 2L and 3L years.
The John Ordronaux Prize is awarded annually to the J.D. student who has achieved the highest GPA in the graduating class. The Walter Gellhorn Prize is awarded annually to the LL.M. student who has achieved the highest GPA in the graduating class.
Honors system in place through J.D. Class of 2024/LL.M. Class of 2022
James Kent Scholars
Established in 1923 by the Faculty of Law, in memory of James Kent who, in 1793, became the first Professor of Law at Columbia College, and was an inspiration for the establishment of legal education at Columbia. Awarded in recognition of outstanding academic achievement by students in each of the three classes.
A student shall be named a Kent scholar if during an academic year the student has earned at least 15 letter graded law credits toward their degree, and in that year either 1) has achieved a grade point average of 3.800, or 2) has received grades all or all but one of which are A+, A, or A- (the exception being no lower than B), and, if the lowest grade is put aside, at least half of which are A or A+. Only law credits are used to calculate honors. No one will receive honors for a year which includes a grade of “Incomplete.”
Harlan Fiske Stone Scholars
Established in 1946 by the Faculty of Law, in memory of Harlan Fiske Stone, Law 1898, Lecturer in Law 1899-1903, Adjunct Professor of Law 1903-1905, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law 1910-1924, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 1925-1941, and Chief Justice of the United States 1941-1946. Awarded in recognition of superior academic achievement by students in each of the three classes.
A student shall be named a Stone scholar if during an academic year the student has earned at least 15 letter graded law credits toward their degree, the student has received no grade lower than B-, and the student’s academic average for the year is at or above 3.410. Only law credits are used to calculate honors. No one will receive honors for a year which includes a grade of "Incomplete."
Established in 1899 under the will of Charles Bathgate Beck, Law 1879. Awarded annually to a first-year student submitting the best examination paper in the course relating to the law of real property.
Established in 1973 in memory of David M. Berger ’69. The Prize honors the memory of Wolfgang Friedmann, professor of international law from 1955 to 1972, and is awarded annually to a third-year student interested in international law and world peace.
Established in 1985 by family and friends of Harold Brown ’27, in his honor. Awarded annually, for the purchase of books, to two or more needy first-year students who attended Columbia College.
Established in 1937 as the 25th anniversary gift of the Class of 1912. The Prize, which consists of books selected by the winner with the Dean’s approval, is awarded annually to the first-year student most proficient in the subject of contracts.
Established in 1984 in honor of the Hon. Milton B. Conford ’31, by his clerks. The Prize, which consists of books in the field of jurisprudence to be selected by the winner, is awarded annually to the student who writes the best examination paper or essay on jurisprudence.
Established in 1906 by Alice and Clara B. Convers, in memory of their brother, E. B. Convers, Law 1866. Awarded annually to the member of the graduating class who writes the best original essay on a legal subject.
Established in 1965 in memory of the Hon. Archie O. Dawson ’23. Awarded annually for proficiency in advocacy. The recipient is afforded an opportunity to study for several weeks at various courts in the federal system, including the Supreme Court of the United States.
Established in 1997 in honor of Judge Feinberg '40 Columbia College, '43 Law, by his former clerks. Awarded annually to the law student who does the best work in an area related to the work of federal courts.
Established in 1986 in memory of Alfred S. Forsyth ’31. Awarded annually to an outstanding student in the field of environmental law who, in the judgment of the School, has demonstrated qualities of intellect and selfless dedication to the advancement of environmental law.
Established in memory of Andrew D. Fried ’84. Awarded annually for the best student essay on a subject in the field of intellectual property and related law published in the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts during the preceding year.
Established in 2011. Awarded annually to J.D. degree candidates who earned James Kent academic honors for outstanding academic achievement for all three years (1L, 2L, and 3L).
Established in 1994. Awarded annually to the LL.M. candidate graduating with the highest academic average.
Established in 1951 by family and friends, in memory of Lawrence S. Greenbaum ’12. Awarded annually to the student who has made the best oral presentation in the final argument of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court Competition.
Established in 1983, in memory of Carroll G. Harper ’52. Awarded annually to the member of the graduating class who has attained the highest standards of achievement in intellectual property studies and writing.
Established in 1983 by family, friends, and associates, in memory of Paul R. Hays ’33, member of the Faculty of Law from 1936 to 1971; United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit from 1961 to 1980. Awarded annually to an outstanding first-year student in civil procedure.
Established in 1995 as a gift of Harry Heller and family (’29C, ’33L) in memory of wife and mother Pauline Berman Heller (’34L). Income to support a prize awarded annually to the highest ranked graduating female law student.
Established in 2004 by Irell and Manella LLP. Awarded annually to a first-year law student who demonstrates outstanding leadership, academic excellence, and good citizenship within the community. In addition, the Prize equally funds a student organization at Columbia Law School, chosen by the Prize recipient, to support that organization's activities as well as the Dean's Discretionary Fund for purposes consistent with the objectives of the Prize, such as supporting special funding needs of student activities and organizations.
Established in 1962 and awarded to the first-year student who submits the best brief in Moot Court competition.
Awarded annually to one or more graduating students displaying excellence in and commitment to the field of conflict resolution, as demonstrated through outstanding achievement in coursework, fieldwork or in service to the community.
Established in 1998 under the will of Richard J. Lipson '73 in honor of Paul S. Lipson '38. Awarded annually to two, first-year law students showing the greatest proficiency in the subject of contracts.
Established in 2007 in memory of Allan Morrow, a successful entrepreneur who gave generously of his time and resources to secure justice and equality for gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people, and for people with HIV/AIDS. The prize is awarded annually upon graduation from the Law School to a student or students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the furtherance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.
Established in 1952, in memory of Jane Marks Murphy ’48. Awarded annually to a student who displays exceptional interest and proficiency in advocacy in clinical offerings.
Established in 1908 by the bequest of John Ordronaux, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence from 1860 to 1897. Awarded annually to a J.D. degree candidate of at least one year’s standing for general proficiency in legal study. The prize usually recognizes the student who has achieved the highest academic average in each graduating class.
The Clinical Legal Education Association presents the Outstanding Student Award to a student nominated by the faculty of Columbia Law School for excellence in clinical fieldwork based on the high quality of representation provided clients and for outstanding participation in an accompanying clinical seminar as determined by exemplary thoughtfulness and self-reflection in exploring pertinent legal and lawyering issues.
Established in 2011. Awarded annually to students who excelled in the study of international or comparative law, as nominated by members of the faculty and selected by the Columbia Law School professor who is director of the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law.
Established in 2021. Awarded annually to the student who writes the best paper on race and the law.
Established in 2012 as a gift by Cowan, Debaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP. Awarded annually and presented by the Kernochan Center to a graduating student whose activities and academic achievements demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the fields of arts and copyright law.
Established in 1996 as a gift by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in honor of one of the firm’s founding partners, Simon H. Rifkind ’25. Awarded for the best overall performance in the first year moot court program at Columbia Law School.
Established in 1978, in memory of Samuel I. Rosenman ’19, by his partners in the firm of Rosenman & Colin. Awarded annually to a student who has completed two years of study at the School of Law, during which they have demonstrated academic excellence in public law courses and outstanding qualities of citizenship and leadership in the Law School, or activities related to the Law School in the University community.
Established in 1975 by the Schlesinger family, in honor of Emil Schlesinger ’24. Awarded annually to the student most proficient in the subject of labor law.
Established in 1971 in honor of Whitney North Seymour ’23. Awarded annually to the student who shows greatest promise of becoming a distinguished trial advocate.
Established in 1953 by R. C. Leffingwell ’02, in honor of Young B. Smith ’12, Dean of the Faculty of Law from 1927 to 1952 and Chancellor Kent Professor of Law from 1930 to 1958. Awarded annually to the first-year student most proficient in the law of torts.
Established in 2011 by the Faculty of Law, the prize is awarded to recognize the single best student in a class with enrollment of 30 or more students. The prize is awarded at the instructor’s discretion, and the instructor is free to choose whether to award the prize in a given course or a given semester.
Established in 1878 by Robert Noxon Toppan, Law 1861. Awarded annually to the student in the School of Law who submits the best written examination to the professor of Constitutional law.
Established in 1980 by the family of Val Wertheimer ’50. Awarded annually to a Law School student whose work demonstrates the most creative, thoughtful approach to labor law, equal employment law, public or private sector collective bargaining, labor conflict resolution, or employment security.
Established in 2007 in memory of Jeffrey Williams (2002 College, 2005 Law). Awarded annually to the student who writes the best paper in critical theory.