In order to practice law, most jurisdictions require an aspiring to earn a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school. Currently, there are just under 200 law schools accredited by the American Bar Association which ensure the quality of the education, career placement for students, and bar exam passage rates. Choosing a law school is a challenging decision that requires students to balance admission standards with cost, education priorities, and the flexibility of the degree program. Law school rankings typically rank schools based on the quality of their academic program, career placement and median salaries, bar passage rate, tuition costs, and reputation.
[See our list of the top ABA-accredited hybrid online law degree programs for 2022]
Our 2022 ranking of the best law schools in the country is a consensus ranking, which combines data from four of the leading MBA ranking systems: U.S. News and World Report, Above the Law, Academic Rankings of World Universities, and Velocity Rankings. Each ranking was converted to a score on a 100-point scale, weighted equally, and averaged to reveal the program’s Consensus Score. In the event of a tie, the median salary for both private and public careers was used as the tie-breaking factor.
Yale Law has been the top-ranked law school in the country since the ranking system began over 30 years ago. With an acceptance rate below 7% and intense competition for one of its 200 seats each fall, Yale accepts only the top applicants in the country. Since its founding in the early 19th century, Yale Law School has produced a number of distinguished alumni including two U.S. presidents and four current members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Yale Law school also produces more academics than any other law school in the country with upwards of 10% of graduates pursuing careers in academia. A substantial portion of graduates also pursue careers in the judiciary. Despite the relatively low percentage of students pursuing traditional law firm careers (less than 50%), Yale Law still has a median starting salary in the top 5 of all law schools in the country. Due to the academic rigor of Yale Law’s program, the law school discarded the grade point average and students are measured on a simple pass or fail system.
The University of Chicago Law School has become one of the most influential law schools in the country in part due to the rise of the law and economics movement of the mid 20th century whose roots were connected to the law school. In its relatively short history, the school has produced a number of notable jurists including several Supreme Court justices. Former President Barack Obama served on the faculty prior to becoming a U.S. Senator. Two of its longtime faculty members–Cass Sunstein and Richard Epstein–are considered some of the important legal schools of the past century. The University of Chicago Law School excels at job placement and its graduates enjoy one of the highest median salary rates in the country. Along with its Juris Doctor program, the law school offers a number of additional degrees including a joint degree with the M.B.A. program.
As the oldest continuously operated law school in the United States, Harvard Law School is steeped in the history of legal education. Since its inception in the early 19th century, Harvard Law School has helped shape the methodology and curriculum of legal education. A substantial percentage of its graduates matriculate to full-time teaching positions (second only to Yale Law School). Harvard Law School has also produced more U.S. Supreme Court justices than any other school in the country. Unlike other top five programs, Harvard Law School admits significantly more students (over 550) each fall. Despite its large class size, admission is still extremely competitive. Harvard Law also boasts one of the largest and most distinguished law faculties in the country as well as the largest law library in the world. Situated on the main campus of Harvard University in picturesque Cambridge, Massachusetts, the law school building–Langdell Hall–is one of the most recognizable and storied buildings on the entire campus.
Founded by former President Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia School of Law is set in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia and is the second oldest law school in the country after Harvard Law School. Since the early part of the 19th century, UVA School of Law has become one of the premier law schools in the country. Along with its traditional Juris Doctor program, UVA School of Law also offers a renowned Master of Law program for students who earned their law degree from a foreign institution. The law school is noted for its quality of life as well as its outstanding faculty. The University of Virginia Law School also boasts a notably diverse student body with more female students than male and over one-third of the student body identifying as people of color. Like most law schools in the top ten, admission is extremely competitive but graduates enjoy one of the highest median salaries in the country.
Despite its relatively short history, Stanford Law School has become one of the most important and prestigious law schools in the country. One of the most competitive law schools in the country, Stanford Law School’s students boast the highest undergraduate grade point average in the country. Its graduates also have the second highest median salary in the nation. Located outside of Palo Alto, California, the law school has also been a critical player in the rise of the technological hubs located near campus. Starting in the 1960s, Stanford Law also began a campaign to diversify its student body. Today, the school is consistently ranked as one of the top schools for minority students. In 2009, Stanford Law School transitioned to a quarterly system–one of the first law schools in the country to do so. Stanford Law was also a pioneer in adding curriculum for emerging legal fields such as environmental law, law and technology, and intellectual property.
Since the mid 19th century, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School has established a reputation for educating practicing lawyers. Penn Law graduates are some of the most sought after by the nation’s largest law firms. With an employment rate over 99% and a median salary close to $200,000 per year, more than 75% of all Penn Law graduates joined large law firms after graduation. The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School also embraces the University’s larger mission of “One University” through strategic integration with other graduate programs. The law school’s joint program with the renowned Wharton School of Business is one of the most sought-after joint degrees in the country. Located on the main campus in Philadelphia, admission to Penn Law is notably competitive with less than 15% of applicants being admitted. The student body is also diverse with over 40% of students identifying as people of color.
With its unique location in the heart of New York City just minutes away from Central Park, Columbia University Law School is one of the nation’s top law schools especially for graduates who wish to pursue careers in large law firms. For nearly a decade, Columbia Law graduates have secured employment in the 100 largest law firms in the country more than any other law school. Since its founding, Columbia Law School has also been a key center for the development of legal education as well as American jurisprudence. The law school has produced nine Supreme Court Justices and two U.S. Presidents. The law school is one of many located in the Manhattan borough of New York City with a prime location adjacent to both Riverside and Morningside Parks. Columbia Law admits just over 15% of all applicants but scores remarkably on job placement and median salary.
Duke University Law School is located in Durham, North Carolina on the west campus of the University, minutes away from Cameron Indoor Stadium, the storied home of Duke’s basketball teams. Since opening in the early 20th century, Duke Law has established itself as one of the premier law schools in the country. Duke Law accepts just over 22% of all applicants and admits less than 300 students per year. In recent years, the law school has made a concerted effort to diversify its student body with minorities making up nearly a third of the admitted students as of 2019. In recent years, the law school has had one of the highest bar passage rates in the country as well as one of the highest median starting salary rates. Durham is located in North Carolina’s “Research Triangle”–one of the fastest growing areas in the country.
The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law is consistently the highest rated public law school in the country. With a job placement rate at nearly 98% as well as one of the most diverse student bodies in the country, Berkeley Law attracts one of the most competitive pool of applicants in the country. Although Berkeley admits close to 350 students each fall, the acceptance rate is still just 22%. The law school has developed a solid reputation for its commitment to progressive legal fields such as environmental law, public interest law, and critical race studies. Over a third of graduates accept positions in judicial clerkships, government offices, or in public interest roles after graduation. The student body is comprised of two-thirds female students as well as over 56% students who identify as people of color. The law school is located in the City of Berkeley, on east of San Francisco Bay in one of the most progressive cities in the country.
With its notable clinical program and focus on international legal studies, the University of Michigan Law School is one of the premier public law schools in the country. With a student body of almost 1,000 students, Michigan Law is also one of the largest law schools in the country. Despite its size, admission to the school is still extremely competitive with less than 6% of applicants enrolling at the school. MIchigan Law also has one of the most revered clinical programs in the nation. Law students participate in over 18 clinical programs that provide them with an array of practical experience to compliment their classroom studies. This practical training has garnered Michigan Law a reputation for graduating “practice-ready” attorneys as evidenced by their 98% employment rate. Michigan Law’s large student population shares a quad of four buildings on the University’s main campus including living, dining, and informal social spaces.
Situated in lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the New York University School of Law is the oldest law school in the city. The law school is spread across a half-dozen buildings in lower Manhattan including two residential halls. Given its location, NYU Law is also considered the top international law program in the country. Over 30% of its graduates opt for careers outside of large law firms in part due to the Root-Tilden-Kern scholarship which provides a full scholarship to twenty students each year who demonstrate a profound commitment to public service. NYU Law is also home to a range of unique institutes for the study of law including centers focused on international law, economics, as well as innovation. Admission to NYU Law is extremely competitive with the average LSAT topping 170 and a median GPA of 3.8.
The Cornell University Law School is one of only five Ivy League law schools in the country. With an admission rate of just over 20%, Cornell Law is also one of the most selective law schools in the country. The law school receives over 4,000 applications annually with less 200 available seats for its incoming class of first-year students. Cornell academics are grounded in one of the best student to faculty ratios in the country as well as a robust offering a joint programs that pair the law degree with additional professional programs from the University including an M.B.A., an M.P.A., and several programs with international law schools. The law school has consistently produced exceptionally high median salaries and is currently ranked third in the country for salary rates. The law school campus is located in Ithaca, New York in the Northwest corner of the state.
With its prime location in Chicago, the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law has developed a stellar reputation as a “feeder” school for the largest law firms in the country. This reputation was earned, in part, to the school’s highly regarded clinical program which dates back to the very beginnings of the school. The School of Law now houses over 20 legal clinics that function like practicing law firms staffed by students and managed by practicing experts. Only 20% of applicants are offered admission meaning that applicants must have a top level LSAT score and grade point average. In addition, Northwestern Law exhibits a strong preference for applicants with at least two years of professional experience. This combination of practical experience and academic rigor continue through the academic program at Northwestern. The end result is an employment rate over 90% and a median starting salary of $180,000. As the first law school in Chicago, Northwestern School of Law plays a critical role in the city’s legal community.
The Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. is one of the largest law schools in the nation. Despite receiving more applications than any other law school, the admission rate is less than 15%. The median grade point average was 3.78 with an average LSAT score of 168. Located in the nation’s capital, the Georgetown Law Center also plays a critical role in the Federal legal community. On average, nearly one-third of graduates opt for careers in the public sector and government offices. Georgetown Law Center’s alumni also make up a large portion of the partners in the country’s largest law firms (second only to Harvard Law School). The law center’s student body also reflects the school’s commitment to diversity with women making up over 55% of the school and minorities accounting for over one-quarter. Georgetown Law Center is also home to one of the nation’s top clinical programs where students learn trial and appellate skills while working on real cases.
The University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law is one of five law schools operated by the state’s university system. Located in the shadow of Hollywood, UCLA Law has built a reputation as one of the best entertainment law programs in the country. Receiving over 6,000 applications each year, less than 5% of applicants enter the school each fall. The student body is also one of the most diverse in the country with minority students comprising nearly half of the student body. While almost 60% of students reside in California, the school of law draws from a wide range of students from other places including over 30 states and seven foreign countries. UCLA Law School helped pioneer clinical legal education and today houses several unique programs including clinics for documentary film and the music industry. Locatec just 15 minutes from the famed Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, UCLA Law also offers one of the most unique locations for the study of law.
Located in Austin, Texas, the University of Texas School of Law is the highest ranked law school in the state and one of the most selective law schools in the country. Texas Law accepts less than 18% of all applicants. Selected applicants have an average grade point average over 3.7 and a median LSAT score nearing 170. Texas Law’s competitiveness is due, in part, to its stellar reputation for placing graduates in large law firms. With one of the highest median starting salaries in the country, over 90% of Texas Law graduates are employed within nine months of graduation. Since 2008, the School of Law has also played an active role in recruiting women into the legal profession with the founding of the Center for Women in Law. As a result, women now comprise nearly half of the student body at Texas Law. Located in Central Austin, the Texas Law campus is just minutes away from the heart of downtown Austin–a city consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States.
Boasting the highest starting salary rates in the country, the Vanderbilt University Law School is one of the top law schools in the region and one of the most competitive in terms of admissions. With an incoming class size of less than 175 students, Vanderbilt Law School accepts just over 20% of all applicants. In addition to its reputation for securing lucrative starting salaries, Vanderbilt Law School also is one of the top schools in the country for graduates seeking judicial clerkships in the federal court system. Along with a number of unique concentrations focusing on legal subjects such as energy policy and land use, Vanderbilt Law also houses a dedicated center for the practice of alternative dispute resolution. The law school’s academic prowess has created deep connections to both regional and national law firms where the majority of students find employment upon graduation. The campus is located in Nashville’s midtown. Tennessee famed “Music City”–the home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame–offers a unique experience for students.
As the oldest law school located west of the Mississippi river, the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law serves a vital role in the midwestern legal community. The School of Law has garnered a national reputation for its clinical training program, trial advocacy, and dispute resolution. Accepted applicants have a median grade point average of 3.88 as well as a median LSAT score nearing 170. In short, Washington School of Law accepts only top candidates to its rigorous academic program. The school’s clinical program affords students an opportunity to work in over ten different practice areas that function as working law firms supervised by practicing experts. In the late 1990s, the law school moved into Anheuser-Busch Hall, named for the famous beer brewer who has played a central role in the city’s development. Although the building’s architecture reflects the traditional campus setting, student’s enjoy a complete modern building in the heart of the city.
The University of Southern California Gould School of Law is a private law school located in Los Angeles, California. One of the first law schools in the state of California, USC Law is also the first law school in the Southwestern United States. Located in historic South Central Los Angeles, the school of law offers a strong clinical program including their unique program focused on international human rights. The school also plays a prominent role in the larger Southern California legal community which is home to many of the largest law firms in the country. Over one-third of graduates accept positions in the country’s largest law firms while another third opt for roles in smaller law firms. The majority of graduates–nearly 90%–remain in California to begin their professional careers. The law school campus is located in the heart of Los Angeles with access to all the region’s many attractions.
The University of Minnesota Law School is located on the university’s west bank campus in Minneapolis, just a few blocks from the upper Mississippi river and less than 15 minutes from the heart of the state’s legislative center. With its close proximity and ties to the state government, the law school plays a critical role in the broader legal community. Of the graduates who opt for work in traditional law firms, almost 70% remain in the state of Minnesota to practice law. Applicants to the law school average 164 on their LSAT and maintain an undergraduate grade point average of 3.76. The law school is one of the most competitive in the region due to its exceptional student-to-faculty ratio (9:1) as well as one of the highest bar passage rates in the country. Graduates also give the school excellent marks for the quality of its student life. For example, each year law students write, produce, and perform a new musical to a sold out theatre in downtown Minneapolis.
As the only public law school in the state of Alabama, the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa is one of the premier law schools in the southern United States. The law school has a notably small student body with less than 400 total students in its Juris Doctor program. This small student body also affords students one of the highest student-faculty ratios in the nation. Alabama Law is also one of the few law schools that guarantees every student the opportunity to participate in the school’s renowned clinical program. The school’s civil law clinic handles hundreds of cases each year to help serve the larger university and community with a variety of civil matters. As the Alabama School of Law’s ranking has risen sharply, admission has become increasingly more competitive with incoming students averaging almost 3.9 for their undergraduate grade point average and a median LSAT score of 164.
Remarkable for both its employment outcomes and its low cost, the University of Georgia School of Law is also one of the oldest law schools in the country and one of the most prominent in the southern United States. With an acceptance rate under 20%, admission to the school of law is extremely competitive with accepted students having a median grade point average above a 3.8 and an LSAT score above 165. In short, Georgia Law students are in the top 4% of all applicants to all law schools. Despite its stellar academic reputation, the University of Georgia is an exceptional value especially for in-state students who benefit from a generous tuition discount. Given the school’s excellent employment ranking, Georgia graduates also enjoy one of the best salary-to-debt ratios in the nation. The law school is located on University’s main campus in Athens, a quintessential college town just 90 minutes from the Atlanta metropolis.
The Notre Dame Law School is the highest ranked Catholic law school in the country. Located in Northern Indiana, the law school’s close proximity to the legal centers of Chicago as well as its historical reputation also make it one of the best law schools in the Great Lakes region. In the last decade, Notre Dame Law has also opened a satellite campus in Chicago as well as introduced a summer program in Washington, D.C. in order to offer students additional opportunities to build connections in two of the country’s most important legal centers. Admitted students have a median grade point average of 3.75 and a LSAT score of 167. Almost all graduates of Notre Dame Law secure employment within nine months of graduation. Nearly half of graduates opt for careers in law firms with firms based in Chicago, New York, or California accounting for nearly half of graduates. The law school campus is located on the main campus is South Bend.
Named for the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law is located in downtown Phoenix as part of the university’s downtown, satellite campus. One of the highest ranked public schools in the nation, ASU Law plays a critical role in the state’s legal community. Nearly 80% of graduates start their professional careers in Arizona. It is one of only two law schools in the entire state. With just over 200 spots in each fall class and a pool of applicants that numbers over 5,700, admission to the law school is extremely competitive. Incoming classes typically draw from all over the country. The student body is 49% women and over 30% minorities. Over 30 years ago, the school started the Indian Legal Program to increase the focus on Indian law and practitioners in tribal governments. The downtown campus opened in 2016 and is one of the newest law school buildings in the country.
Located in a town renowned for its law schools, the Boston University School of Law is the second highest rated law school in the city. Like its crosstown counterpart Harvard Law School, BU Law is also one of the oldest law schools in the country as well as a pioneer in admitting both women and minorities. BU Law admitted both women and minorities in the latter half of the 19th century. Early female alumni of BU Law became instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement. Both admission to BU Law and their employment outcomes are some of the most competitive of any law school. Their median starting salary is one of the top twelve in the country just behind the University of Michigan School of Law. Over 50% of graduates remain in Boston’s rich legal community to begin their professional careers. Boston University School of Law is located in the heart of Boston’s thriving downtown just minutes from famed Fenway Park.
One of two law schools founded–in part–by former President Thomas Jefferson, the College of William & Mary School of Law was the first law school established in the United States although the civil war forced its closure for over 50 years. It is the second highest ranked law school in the state of Virginia and one of the highest rank law schools in the mid-Atlantic region. The College of Law is highly ranked for its employment outcomes with over 95% of all graduates finding long-term employment within nine months of graduation. With strong ties to the local community, over 80% of graduates opt to begin their professional careers in either Virginia or Washington, D.C. The law school admits a higher percentage of applicants than most schools of its caliber (42%) but less than 10% of all applicants enroll into the fall class. The applicant pool is still quite competitive with a grade point average over 3.6 and a mean LSAT of 163. The law school is located on the main campus in historic Williamsburg, Virginia–one of the oldest cities in the nation.
The University of Washington School of Law is located in the bustling city of Seattle and is the highest ranked law school in the Pacific Northwest region. The law school receives over 2,500 applications for its notably small first class of 140 students. Only a quarter of all applicants are offered admission. Since the opening of its new facility in 2003, Washington Law has expanded almost all its academic programs and student support services. The school’s law library houses over 650,000 volumes and serves as a federal depository for government documents. Both the library and the law school serve a vital role in the region’s larger legal community. Over 70% of all employed graduates start their professional careers in the state of Washington. The law school has a notable program in Indian Law as well as a robust clinical program. Over 60% of all students participate in at least one clinical program. The law school is located in Seattle’s University District.
The second highest ranked law school in the state, the University of North Carolina School of Law is the oldest law school in the state. Through its long history in the State, Carolina Law has established itself as the preeminent law school in the rapidly growing state. Over 40% of all attorneys practicing in the state of North Carolina are Carolina Law alumni. The law school is also notably diverse with women comprising over 50% of its student body and over 45% of its faculty. The law school also ranks high in both employment outcomes as well as median starting salary. While its student body is made up of students from all over the country (25 or more states are typically represented), North Carolina is, by a substantial margin, the home of most of its applicants. In-state students also enjoy a substantial discount on tuition (over $15,000 per year). The law school campus is located on the main campus of the University of North Carolina adjacent to the school’s athletic facilities including the Dean Smith Center where Carolina Tarheel basketball teams play.
As the highest ranked law school in the state of Florida, the Florida State University College of Law has become an important component of the state’s legislative complex since opening its door in 1966. The law school is located directly across from the state’s Supreme Court and is a short walk from the legislature. The law school is noteworthy for its competitive acceptance rate (only 35%) as well as its remarkably low student-to-faculty ratio of 6 to 1. In the past several years, the student body has also diversified dramatically with female students now comprising almost 55% of the entire student population. Students of color now account for over 25% of the student body. The majority of students hail from the state of Florida as in-state tuition is nearly half the cost of out-of-state tuition. After graduation, over 70% of students remain in the state to begin their professional careers.
As the second highest ranked Catholic law school in the country, the Boston College Law School is highly regarded in the thriving Boston legal community. Its graduates have one of the top ten median starting salaries in the nation. The law school also maintains a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio–one of the best in the country. Academically, BC Law has one of the top tax programs in the country as well as strong curriculums in legal writing and environmental law. As a Catholic law school, BC Law also sustains a number of centers and programs focused on human rights and social justice. The law school also enjoys a strong reputation for graduating “practice-ready” attorneys as seen in their employment rate of 85%. Although the law school was originally located across from the state legislature, it moved to its current location in Newton in the 1970s.
The first law school established in the state of Florida, the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law is the second highest ranked law school in the state. As the other major public law school in the state, UF Law–as it is commonly called–also offers a deep discount to in-state students. With an acceptance rate just over 20%, UF Law is one of the most selective law schools in the region. Their accepted applicants maintain a 3.84 grade point average and a median LSAT of 165. Their student body is over 50% women. One-third of the student body identify as minorities. While in-state student do make up 75% of the law school, the student body does draw from all over the country as well as foreign students representing over 19 countries. UF Law also ranks highly for employment outcomes with over 90% of graduates securing employment within nine months of graduation. Additionally, almost a quarter of all graduates secure employment in large law firms of over 500 attorneys. The law school’s campus is located on the main campus of the university in Gainesville, Florida.
The University of Iowa College of Iowa is one of only two law schools in the entire state and is one of the most important law schools in the midwest region. Although the acceptance rate is particularly high (over 60%), just 15% of applicants enroll each fall. Enrolled applicants have a median LSAT score of over 160 as well as a grade point average of 3.64. The school is particularly attractive for Iowa residents who enjoy one of the lowest tuitions in the country. Iowa Law is noted for its low student-to-faculty ratio of 7 to 1 as well as high placement of its graduates to judicial clerkships (21%). In general, Iowa Law graduates have excellent employment outcomes–96% of all graduates are employed within nine months of graduation in legal positions. Although most graduates remain in the state to begin their legal careers, large portions of graduates also accept positions in surrounding jurisdictions including Illinois and Minnesota. The law school campus is located near the main campus is Iowa City, Iowa.
With its exceptional location in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Washington and Lee School of Law is the third highest ranked law school in the state of Virginia. The law school is one of the smallest in the country with a student body of just over 360 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 7 to 1. Given its small size, the admission process is particularly competitive with only 30% of applications being accepted and less than 7% accepting offers. In Lexington, enrolled students enjoy a city consistently ranked as offering a high quality of life and a low cost of living. Although tuition is over $51,000 per year, over 90% of students receive scholarships with the average scholarship paying for over 55% of the costs of tuition. In recent years, Washington and Lee graduates have exceeded the national averages for bar passage rates. Almost 85% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation.
The University of Illinois College of Law is the highest ranked public law school in the state. Located near the main campus of the university in Champaign, Illinois Law enrolls around 150 students into its Juris Doctor program each fall. Illinois residents generally make up roughly 60% of enrolled students although the most recent incoming classes included students from 23 different states. Graduates of Illinois Law enjoy some of the highest employment outcomes in the country with nearly 95% of all graduates obtaining employment within 10 months of graduation. Due to its close ties to the Illinois legal community, almost 75% of all graduates remain in the state to begin their professional careers. The Illinois Juris Doctor program is renowned for both its criminal and public interest law programs. This is reflected in graduates’ first career choice where the students opt for small law firm work at the same rate as large firms.
Featuring the largest course offering of any law school in the country, the George Washington University Law School is the oldest law school in the nation’s capital and the second highest ranked. In part due to its location, the student body at George Washington is one of the most diverse in the nation. Its most recent class of students included students from 19 different countries and 43 states. A substantial majority of the students identify as female (56%) and as a minority (37%). Nearly 80% of the student body receive financial aid from the university. This is particularly impressive as GW LAw is one of the largest law schools in the country with almost 1500 students enrolled in its Juris Doctor program. The law school’s proximity to the federal court systems affords students the opportunity to take advantage of GW Law’s renowned clinical program which allows students to work on actual cases through its numerous clinics and externships.
The University of California, Irvine School of Law was established in 2007 making it the fifth law in the state’s university system. Despite its short history, the law school has established a stellar reputation. This reputation, in part, is due to the generous scholarships offered to attract the best students in the country. For its inaugural class of students, all students received full scholarships. Of the nearly 2,700 applications it received, only 4% were accepted. UC Irvine Law continues to offer generous scholarships to subsequent classes and still attracts and applicant pool that rivals other top California law schools. The student body is considered one of the most diverse in the country with women making up over 60% of the school and minorities accounting for over half of all students. UC Irvine is also noteworthy for its substantial LGBTQIA population (19%) as well as first-generation law students (24%). Over 80% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. The law school campus is located in Irvine–a classic Southern California town nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Named for the late Supreme Court Justice, the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School is located in Arlington, Virginia just a short distance from the nation’s capital. The school’s namesake is an indication of its conservative ideology. Since its founding in the early 1970s, the law school has established itself as the most prominent conservative law school in the country. This ideology was cemented by a 2019 donation of $50 million to develop faculty positions that “promote the conservative . . . study of the United States Constitution.” The law school is the third highest ranked law school in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and has one of the highest bar passage rates in the country (95%). As a public law school, Virginia residents pay substantially less than non-residents. Based on the most recent employment outcomes, over 93% of graduates find employment in the legal field within 10 months of graduation.
The Emory University School of Law is the second highest rated law school in the state of Georgia. Emory Law is highly regarded for its clinical training program as well as its programs in civil rights and social justice. The law school’s application process is notably stringent with less than 7% of all applicants enrolling each fall. Enrolled students have a median LSAT of 166 and a median grade point average of 3.9–placing them on par with the top applicants in the country. Admitted students are drawn to Emory Law’s idyllic small campus as well as generous scholarship and financial aid offerings that help offset its private tuition costs which total over $61,000 per year. Over 80% of all graduates are typically employed within 10 months of graduation. Although Emory Law has strong ties to the larger Atlanta legal community, almost 60% of all graduates opt for employment in other states.
The Fordham University School of Law located in New York City. Of the eight accredited law schools in New York City, Fordham is third highest ranked. The law school is also home to one of the top part-time law programs in the country (currently ranked 2nd in the nation). Currently, nearly 20% of its Juris Doctor candidates are enrolled in the part-time program. With a generous admission rate compared to other top New York City schools (over 25% of all applications are accepted), Fordham still admits a highly ranked class of students each fall. This is in part due to its high ranking employment history. Currently, Fordham graduates have the 7th highest median starting salary in the nation. Fordham graduates also outperform the state average for the NY Bar exam (widely considered the hardest exam in the country). Over 75% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. The Fordham Law School campus is located in Midtown Manhattan just one block from Central Park.
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is the highest rated law school in the State of Ohio as well as one of the top 15 public law schools in the nation. The Moritz College of Law has one of the nation’s top dispute resolution programs and offers Ohio residents one of the most affordable legal educations in the country. Not surprisingly, the student body of the law school is 65% Ohio residents although Ohio State undergraduates account for less than a quarter of the student body. Over one quarter of the student body identify as minority students and more than half the student body identify as women. In the past decade, the law school’s reputation has increased substantially largely due to its exceptional employment outcomes. Over 91% of the most recent graduating class found jobs in the legal field within 10 months of graduation. As the most prominent law school in the state, most graduates unsurprisingly chose to remain in the state to begin their professional careers. The law school campus is set in Columbus, Ohio–one of the best college towns in the country.
The University of Wisconsin School of Law is one of only two law schools in the entire state. The law school plays a unique role in the state’s legal community as graduates may be licensed to practice law with passing the state bar examination as long as they complete precise practical requirements during their legal education. This unique “diploma privilege” shapes the education at Wisconsin Law which places a notable emphasis on practical skills through its award winning clinical program. This emphasis–known as “law in action”–attracts students from throughout the region and leads to remarkable employment outcomes. Over 90% of graduates are employed in the legal field within 10 months of graduation. An overwhelming majority of students (72%) remain in the state of Wisconsin. The law school is located on the main campus of the University in Madison on the shores of Lake Mendota and less than 90 minutes from the Milwaukee metro area.
Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest University Law School is the third highest rank law school in the state. Wake Forest Law receives roughly 2,000 applicants a year and enrolls less than 170 new law students each year. The student body draws from over 31 states and primarily contains students from other states (almost 70%). The student body is largely female with minorities making up nearly one-third of all students. Wake Forest Law also maintains a modest student-to-faculty ratio of 10 to 1. Graduates of Wake Forest Law mostly find employment in law firms with over 50% of graduates opting for traditional legal practices. The law school also graduates a substantial number of students who blend their legal education with a business focus. One of the state’s business courts holds sessions inside the law school campus and Wake Forest also offers a joint J.D./M.B.A. program with their business school.
The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is the top school in the state. The school’s top 50 ranking is due to its excellent employment outcomes especially in the area of judicial clerkships as well as its strong academic reputation with a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.. Located in the diverse city of Baltimore, the student body is one of the regions most diverse with students of color making up over one-third of the student body. Over 60% of the school’s deans have identified as women and or members of the LGBTQ community. In 2002, the Carey School of Law began a unique program to help increase women’s roles in legal leadership positions. The Carey School of Law is also one of the top part-time law schools in the country. Located in the 2nd largest legal market in the country, over 94% of graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation.
The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law is the only public law school in the state. It hosts one of the smallest student bodies in the country with just over 100 students enrolled each fall. Utah Law receives a relatively small number of applications each year but only 11% of all applicants matriculate. Of those that do enroll, close to 90% of students receive merit based financial aid which has helped the college of law garner its reputation as one of the best value law schools in the country. The school’s academic program is centered on practical experience. The school, located just five minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, also maintains a close relationship with the state’s legal community. Almost all graduates are employed within nine months of graduation (96%). Most accept positions in the many law firms located in Salt Lake City’s thriving legal community.
The only other law school in Utah aside from the University of Utah, the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School is a private law school affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The small student body hails from all over the United States and the world with over 40 states and 17 countries represented in its current student body. Over 80% of all students are bilingual. The school’s top 50 ranking stems from its excellent student-to-faculty ratio (5.3 to 1), its excellent bar passage rate of 90%, and the quality of its incoming students (median LSAT of 166 and a median grade point average of 3.82). Over 80% of BYU Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. Although most students remain in Utah, just under 40% of graduates do pursue careers in other states. BYU Law’s campus is located in Provo, a suburb of Salt Lake and the gateway to many of the regions best mountains.
The University of California, Davis School of Law is one of four public law schools in the state of California to earn a top 50 ranking. UC Davis School of Law is the smallest of all five public law schools in the state with a student body of less than 600 students. With an application pool of over 3,000 candidates, admission is extremely competitive. UC Davis School of Law–much like UC Hastings–emphasizes diversity in its admission process. Women make up over 70% of the student body and students of color account for 56% of the student body. While most students are from California (72%), international students make up 6% of all admitted students. The law school’s ranking is anchored by its excellent bar passage rate for the California Bar Examination which outpaces the state average by 13%. UC Davis Law also has outstanding employment outcomes with 89% of all graduates finding employment in the legal field after graduation. Most graduates–nearly 90%–remain in the region to begin their law practice.
The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law is the second public university in the state to garner a top 50 ranking. Located in Tuscon, Arizona Law is one of the smallest public law schools in the country with just over 115 students in each law school class. Incoming students have a median grade point average of 3.7 and an LSAT score of 161. Arizona Law also draws students from all over the country–over 68 undergraduate institutions are represented in their most recent class of students. The college of law also scores highly for its value with only a slight difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Over 87% of all graduates are employed in legal careers within 10 months of graduation.
The Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law is one of two Pennsylvania law schools to earn a top 50 ranking. It is also the highest ranked public law school in the state. Only 10% of all applicants enroll each fall with the median student averaging a 3.57 grade point average and scoring over a 160 on their LSAT. The student body draws students from all over the country with over 30 states represented in their class. The school’s ranking is rooted in its notable academic programs including highly specialties in Asian Law and estate planning. Temple Law also receives high marks for its above average employment outcomes (85% of all graduates find employment in the legal field). The law school is located in the heart of downtown Philadelphia allowing students an opportunity to live in one of the country’s most dynamic cities.
The Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law is the second Texas law school to earn a top-50 ranking. The private law school located in Dallas, Texas has become a legal center in the region with deep connections to Dallas’ large legal community. The law school maintains a relatively high acceptance rate (almost 50% of all applicants) but out performs similarly ranked schools in terms of employment outcomes and median starting salary. The school of law’s incoming students also have a high median grade point average of 3.7. The academic program at SMU Law is experientially focused with a strong clinical program that helps bolster its employment statistics. Its graduates enjoy a starting median salary of nearly $100,000.
The University of Colorado Law School is one of only two law schools in the state and the highest ranked law school in the mountain region. Due to its prime location in Boulder, admission to the law school is highly competitive. The school receives almost 3,800 applications per year and enrolls less than 175 students each fall. The student body is largely composed of students who hail from outside of Colorado. Women make up 55% of the class; minorities make up over 30%. Incoming students maintain a median grade point average of 3.6 and an LSAT score of 164. Despite being a public school, Colorado Law has some of the highest costs for a public school partly due to the cost of living in Boulder. Despite these costs, Boulder is one of the most desirable places to live in the country and has been ranked as the #1 city in America for several years.
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