Law Schools

Biden will be first president since Taft to have a law degree outside T-14; his law prof saw 'presence'

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Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden in 2019. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.

President-elect Joe Biden will be the first U.S. president since William Howard Taft to graduate from a law school outside the nation’s top 14 ranked law schools.

Biden is a 1968 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, report, and the Daily Orange. Taft graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

According to, the other law schools with presidential alumni are Harvard Law School (Barack Obama, Rutherford B. Hayes), Yale Law School (Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford) and Duke University School of Law (Richard Nixon).

U.S. News & World Report ranks Syracuse University College of Law at No. 111 among U.S. law schools.

Biden was ranked 76th in his law school class of 85 students. He also weathered a plagiarism scandal that he attributed to an unintentional mistake in a paper that he wrote during law school. Biden has said he misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully.

One of Biden’s former law professors, Tom Maroney, was in his first year of teaching law school when Biden was a 3L. He told WSYR-TV that he isn’t surprised by Biden’s election, WSYR-TV reports.

“Even then, I remember coming home telling my wife I had a chat with a student of mine, and he had what I call presence,” Maroney said. “That’s the word that I used when I talked with her is presence. I thought he would go on to do something very important, and guess what? I was right!”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, is a 1989 graduate of the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. It is currently ranked at No. 59 by U.S. News & World Report.

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