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Dean's Certification

Cornell University Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts at Cornell University

Law School Dean’s Letter or Certification

A dean’s letter or certification is a form required by a small number of law schools, to be completed by the first year JD applicant’s undergraduate college or university (see lists below).  Many law schools also require a dean’s letter or certification for transfer law school applicants.  If you will need a dean’s letter, you must sign a release form to authorize Cornell to release your academic and disciplinary information to the law schools (see instructions below). Assistant Dean Heather Struck is responsible for law school dean’s letters in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Most law school applications also require the applicant to provide information about prior disciplinary, judicial, or academic history, whether or not a dean’s certification is required.  The law schools ask whether you  “have you ever been subject to disciplinary action for scholastic or other reasons...?”  This question is broader than the information provided in the dean’s letter, which is based upon university records.  Applicants are advised to answer such questions truthfully and completely, disclosing information even when records have been expunged or sealed.  Failure to disclose this information can trigger severe consequences in the admissions process and later in the bar admission process.  A law school application is considered to be a “continuing” application; it must be updated if anything occurs that makes the initial response inaccurate or incomplete.  If you have a history of academic or disciplinary misconduct, make an appointment to discuss your situation with Dean Struck (172 Goldwin Smith; 607-255-4833)

Schools Requiring Dean’s certification for all First Year JD applicants:

Brigham Young University
Howard University
University of Richmond (admission decision can be made prior to receipt of dean’s certification)
Stanford University

Schools Requiring Dean's certification/ letter for First Year JD applicants who answer "Yes" to academic/disciplinary action questions on the law school application:

Brooklyn Law School
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Columbia University
Cornell University
Duke University
University of Florida
New York University

Schools Requiring  Dean's certification for accepted First Year JD applicants who send a seat deposit:

Boston University
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Columbia (see also above)
Cornell University (see also above)
Georgetown University
Harvard University
New York University (see also above)
University of Pennsylvania
Stetson University
Suffolk University
University of Richmond (see also above)
Wake Forest
Yale University


  1. Fill out, sign, and return the release form four weeks before the dean’s certification is needed. This authorizes Assistant Dean Struck to check the files of the Office of the Judicial Administrator and the College Academic Integrity Board.
  2. Return the completed release form to:
    Robin Perry
    College of Arts and Sciences
    172 Goldwin Smith Hall
    Ithaca, NY 14853-3201
    Fax (607) 255-8297
  3. If no violation is on record, a letter is prepared and kept on file to be sent out with the law school forms.
  4. If you are responsible for a violation of the Campus Code of Conduct or College Academic Integrity Board, you are advised to make an appointment with Assistant Dean Struck. Proceed to Step III regardless.
  5. Submit the Dean's Certification form (a.k.a. College Questionnaire, College Certification) from the law school at least 4 weeks* before the law school’s application deadline for admissions. The form must be submitted with a stamped envelope addressed to the law school. The return address on the envelope should be the address as noted above. Dean’s certification forms received without stamped envelopes will not be mailed. We must also receive your signed release form (see above).
    *Materials received late or after the deadline will be processed, however we cannot guarantee the processing and receipt of the letter by the school’s application deadline.

Heather C. Struck
Assistant Dean and Pre-law Advisor
College of Arts and Sciences
172 Goldwin Smith