If you are looking at going to college for a degree in law, you may want to check out some of the top law schools in the nation.
- Yale - U.S. News and World Report has always placed the Yale Law School on top of its rankings, ever since the magazine started rating the top law schools. The Yale Law School only admits a small amount of applicants; about 200 new law students a year. The small class size makes Yale one of the hardest schools to get into.
- Harvard - You need an impressive resume to get into school at this Ivy League college. In addition to producing more Supreme Court Justices that any other law school, Harvard Law also holds the largest academic law library in the world.
- Stanford - Stanford is one of the best colleges you can attend because of its very low student-to-faculty ratio and the diversity of its law school program. The average undergraduate at Stanford Law has a GPA of 3.9 and a median LSAT of 169.
- Columbia - Columbia is an Ivy League School located in New York City. The Columbia Law School has the second largest law library to Harvard and is also home to the Columbia Law Review, one of the top law journals in the nation.
- New York University - NYU Law is the oldest law school in New York, established in 1835. It has a very strong Tax Law program, one of the best in the country.
- University of Chicago - The University of Chicago was the first law to school offer a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Graduates of Chicago Law have historically been very successful.
- University of California–Berkeley - The Berkeley School of Law, or Boalt Hall, has one of the lowest acceptance rates of all the top law schools. What makes it different from other law school admissions is its focus on GPA rather than LSAT scores.
- University of Pennsylvania - Home to the oldest law review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the law school at the University of Pennsylvania can trace its roots back to 1790, during the George Washington era.
- University of Virginia - Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia School of Law has an acceptance rate of about 20%, one of the highest of the 10 best law schools. The Law School receives no public funding, and relies mostly on alumni gifts.
- University of Michigan - At the University of Michigan Law School the average accepted law applicant has a median LSAT score of 168 and a GPA of 3.67. Graduates of Michigan law go on to successful careers, as 98% of the graduating class of 2006 was employed by graduation day, earning a starting salary of about $125,000.
- Duke University
Top Law Schools based on Specialty
Back in 2012, US News ranked the top law schools by specialty.
Best Law School for Clinical Training: Georgetown University
Best Law School for Dispute Resolution: Pepperdine University
Best Law School for Environmental Law: Vermont Law School
Best Law School for Healthcare Law: St. Louis University
Best Law School for Intellectual Property Law: UC Berkeley
Best Law School for International Law: NYU
Best Law School for Legal Writing: Mercer University
Best Law School for Part-time Law: Georgetown
Best Law School for Tax Law: NYU
Best Law School for Trial Advocacy: Stetson University
Considering Law School?
With a tough job market and law school applications at an all-time high, one has to ask…Is going to law school worth it?
About 45,000 students graduate from law school every year, yet only 30,000 legal jobs are available.
It's numbers like these that are making some people question the whole law school thing. Like the Boston College law student who wants his money back, who believes a J.D. in today’s job market is "more of a liability than an asset".
What makes the degree such a liability is the huge amount of debt that typically comes with the degree.
Law School Debt
Law school debt is no joke. It is a burden that typically requires a four-figure monthly student loan payment. This financial burden can be so overwhelming that it can rip apart families and even prevent grads from practicing law.
The average indebtedness of law school graduates typically surpasses $100k. The US News survey also looked at the average debt of each school’s law grads.
A Few Notable Rankings:
|School||Avg. Debt||% with Debt|
|1. California Western School of Law||$145,621||88%|
|7. Northwestern University||$132,685||69%|
|11. University of Chicago||$127,997||84%|
|13. Columbia University||$126,945||77%|
|14. Cornell University||$126,000||80%|
See full list at US News.
Looking at salary numbers only, the best school if you want to get paid well is Stanford Law School, which topped the Forbes list with mid-career median pay of $236,000, followed by Duke University with $221,000. Yale Law School, which topped the US News best overall ranking, tied at #33 with pay of $159,000. Read more at Forbes or check out PayScale for additional salary numbers.
Other Law School Rankings
- US News also conducted a second ranking of law schools based on grading from law firm recruiters. According to law firm recruiters Harvard ranks number one, followed by Stanford and Yale.
- PreLaw magazine ranked the best value law schools as Georgia State University, BYU, and University of Louisville. See the top 20 best value law schools here.