Pursuing a law degree is a noble ambition. As a lawyer, you would be charged with prosecuting or defending clients who require expert legal help. Preserving the law of the land isn't just in the hands of judges and juries. Lawyers heavily impact how a jury perceives a client and how a judge might feel about handing down a particular sentence. Whether you decide to become an important corporate lawyer or work pro bono cases for the needy, here are the top ten law schools in the United States that can set you off on the right path.
Nothing compares to Harvard Law School. No matter where you go, if say you went to Harvard, everyone understands the profundity of the statement. Harvard Law sends out the best lawyers in the United States, and those graduates command the highest salaries, too. If you are hardworking enough to be admitted, you would be joining the highest echelon of legal degree students in the world.
Acceptance Rate: 15.6% (2013)
Annual Tuition: $65,875 (2019-2020)
Of course, alumni of Yale can boast a superior education as well. Yale University is an Ivy League School with a student-faculty ratio of just over 4 to 1. The good news is that Yale students aren't graded for their first term. After that, they're graded by pass, fail, credit, or honors scores. Most of the classes are less than 20 students. If you want to study law in an environment where you receive an abundance of personal attendance, Yale is the place for you.
Acceptance Rate: 9.7% (2016)
Annual Tuition: $63,878 (2019-2020)
There's no denying that Stanford University is up there in the top ten law schools in the States. The intimate-learning environment is similar to Yale's own, with a student/faculty ratio of 4 to 1. Only about 550 students are enrolled full-time in Stanford University at any given time, and 88% of the graduating class is already employed at the time of the cap-and-gown ceremony. The starting salary for Stanford graduates is $180,000 in the private sector, which makes the years of hard work and dedication completely worth it.
Acceptance Rate: 9.1% (2014)
Annual Tuition: $60,072 (2018-2019)
Unsurprisingly, the University of Chicago ranks high among the top law schools in the nation. To get in, you'd need a median LSAT score of 170 and a median GPA of 3.9. At this institution, you'd be following in the footsteps of U.S. Senator John Ashcroft, Chairman of the SEC Jerome Frank, Hormel Foods founder John Hormel, and Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein.
Acceptance Rate: 15% (2010)
Annual Tuition: $64,089 (2018-2019)
The standards at Columbia are high, just you'd expect from one of the top-rated law schools in the country, if not the world. The median LSAT score for Columbia students is 171 and the median GPA is 3.7. With a faculty of just over 450, the faculty to student ratio is only 9 to 4. If admitted, you'd be joining a student body of about 1,200, which is almost equal between male and female students.
Acceptance Rate: 18.4% (2012)
Annual Tuition: $67,532 (2018-2019)
Starting to see a pattern between these prestigious institutions and the East Coast? Most of the top law schools in the United States are located in the East; New York University is no exception. The School of Law at New York University is a firmly established institution serving about 1,300 full-time enrolled students each year. There's a slight skew toward female enrollment over male, but nothing you'd notice on a day-to-day basis at a ratio of just 53:47. If you've got your heart set on this learning institution, you can look forward to an interactive first-year law experience. Second- and third-year students can take advantage of volunteer opportunities from 30 law clinics and 25 on-campus centers to really test their capabilities.
Acceptance Rate: 34% (Class of 2022)
Annual Tuition: $63,802 (2018-2019)
A truly personal legal education can be had at the University of Pennsylvania. With a full-time enrollment of just 755, this law school provides an extremely intimate learning environment. Tuition is in line with similar institutions. One interesting aspect of a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania is that students can earn certificates in specialty areas like gender studies or East Asian studies.
Acceptance Rate: 18.8% (Class of 2022)
Annual Tuition: $61,608 (2018-2019)
If you thought Duke was good just for its basketball team, think again. Duke University is well-respected as a leading law school. The School of Law at Duke enrolls just under 700 students each year, and the median LSAT score is 170 while the median GPA is 3.77. There's a slight imbalance of males to females at this prestigious law school: 56% are male and 44% are female. Total faculty numbers at 117. Notable alumni? President Richard Nixon and Kenneth Starr.
Acceptance Rate: 23.3% (Class of 2022)
Annual Tuition: $66,000 (2019-2020)
Pritzker, the School of Law at Northwestern University, commands a top place among the best places to study law in the United States. This is the only law school in the nation that highly encourages students to interview in person with the Admissions Committee on campus. Why? Because this school recognizes that all that a student is cannot always be surmised on a piece of paper or a virtual application. If you're looking for a personal law school experience where your personhood will be taken into consideration as well as your grades, this is the place for you.
Acceptance Rate: 22.6% (Class of 2022)
Annual Tuition: $64,102 (2018-2019)*
Last but not least on the list is Cornell University. Cornell has a full-time average enrollment of just 595 students per year. Tuition is in line with the other leading law schools in the nation. Total faculty is just 223, with a student/faculty ratio of the typical 9:4. At graduation, over 90% of Cornell students have already secured employment with a median annual starting salary of $180,000.
Acceptance Rate: 21% (2018)
Annual Tuition: $67,748 (2019-2020)
*For JD and Two-Year JD for International Lawyers Degree Programs, according to Northwestern Law's official website.
Tuition rates come from the respective schools' official websites. Rates may vary on several factors, including the specific degree chosen.