5 Best Law Schools in the United States

A graduate from one of the top law schools in the United States is one of the most sought out graduates worldwide, securing many career options in public service, court, judiciary, law firms, and businesses. Law schools are ranked according to educational standing, bar exam ranking, and employer demand. There are five steps to follow to become a lawyer in the U.S.: Obtain a bachelor’s degree; ace the LSAT; complete a J.D. degree, pass the MPRE; and pass the bar exam.

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Top Law Schools in the United States

1. Yale University

  • Law School Link
  • Degrees offered: J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., M.S.L., Ph.D.
  • Language of Instruction: English

Yale University is one of the eight Ivy League universities which is located in Connecticut. Since the 19th century, Yale Law School has been hailed as one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States, boasting its excellence in education for its distinguished faculty members, student-centered classes, and solid connections. Students benefit from its premier facilities such as access to U.S. and international law books from its 15 libraries, including Lillian Goldman Law Library and Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

The Law School offers a joint degree in LL.M and J.D. or a doctorate and J.D. With its competitive application process, only 200 students are accepted in each class of J.D. and 25 in LL.M. They offer only one LL.M. program, a general course for a one-year, full-time program. Their J.S.D. program is highly selective and is only offered for their school’s LL.M. graduates. The Law School’s M.S.L. program is intended for non-legal professionals who do not desire a law career, with the sole intention of having basic legal knowledge concerning their field of study.

2. Stanford University

  • Law School Link
  • Degrees offered: J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., M.L.S, Ph.D.
  • Language of Instruction: English

For 125 years, Stanford University Law School is among the top law schools in the U.S. It was established in 1893 with their first two prominent law professors, Nathan Abbott and former U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. The Law School is all about interdisciplinary learning with its enriching programs such as the W.A. Franke Global Law Program, Mills Legal Clinic, Law and Policy Lab, and projects. A Stanford Law School degree will guarantee employment from 95 Am Law 100 firms.

There are three types of joint degree programs: J.D. and LL.M., J.D. and M.D., and J.D. and Ph.D. in 28 degree program options. For the J.D. program, there are only 30 students in a class, whereas the LL.M. program only has 15-20 students in each specialization class. Some examples of specialization courses are environmental law, business and policy, international economic law, and science and technology. For non-lawyer professionals with only a handful chosen per year, they have the option to take the M.L.S. degree, a graduate degree that teaches the fundamentals of the law.

3. Harvard University

  • Law School Link
  • Degrees offered: J.D., LL.M., S.J.D.
  • Language of Instruction: English

An Ivy League university established in 1817, Harvard University’s Law School is the oldest in the United States and has produced many well-known alumni. It takes pride in having the largest law library in the world and graduating several renowned alumni such as former President Barack Obama, who graduated in 1991 and Harvard Law Review’s first black president. Every year, Harvard Law School has about 1,990 students, including 1,750 J.D. students, 180 LL.M. students, and 60 S.J.D. students.

The J.D. is a three-year program, providing substantial knowledge on contracts, criminal law, civil law, constitutional law, property, and legislation and regulation. The LL.M. program is a one-year program admitting only 180 students from over 70 countries. The LL.M. and S.J.D. have programs called the Visiting Scholar/Visiting Researcher program for 30 to 35 visiting international law scholars and researchers who may use the law library for resources to conduct their research projects.

4. Columbia University

  • Law School Link
  • Degrees offered: J.D., LL.M., J.S.D.
  • Language of Instruction: English

Columbia University is also an Ivy League university in Manhattan which was founded in 1754. It was first known as King’s College, one of the oldest universities in the United States. The Law School was first established in 1858 as Columbia College of Law as one of the leaders in legal education, molding the law system since then. With its solid alumni connections of over 27,000 from 119 countries, students are backed up with a substantial network for career opportunities in Supreme Court justices, legal firms, and businesses.

As one of the top law schools in the United States, their J.D. program receives 7,060 applicants where only 16.5% are accepted in the program. Their three-year J.D. program guarantees students with a robust foundation in law concepts and mentorship from their highly skilled lecturers. The LL.M. program is one year of unlimited opportunities, starting with Introduction to American Law (IAL) and LL.M. Legal Research and Writing (LRW) courses in the first three weeks. The Law School also offers a shorter LL.M. program where it can be taken for six months (three months online and three months on campus), recommended for students who wish to lessen the time away from home or work.

5. University of Chicago

  • Law School Link
  • Degrees offered: J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., M.L.S.
  • Language of Instruction: English

WE end our list of best law schools in the United States with the University of Chicago Law School. After the establishment of the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago Law School (UChicago Law) opened its doors in 1902 and has since then become among the institutions shaping the legal education system in the United States. With William Rainey Harper, the first president of the university, he formed a different kind of legal education focused on the scientific understanding of the law.

The Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree is a one-year program for Ph.D. students who want to hone their law skills and knowledge for a shorter time. Another program offered is a three-year joint J.D. and M.B.A. from the university’s Booth School of Business and Law School, granting students both degrees upon completion. Students highly benefit from the school’s extensive programs and facilities such as the Innovation Clinic, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship, and Kirkland & Ellis Corporate Lab.


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