Intro: Finding the Best Law Schools in the US | Top US Law School Rankings


You’ve decided that you are going to law school, and you want to make sure you find the top law schools in the US. With countless options, finding the best law schools in the US can feel like an overwhelming search process.

Undoubtedly, many questions are running through your head:

  • How many US law schools are there?
  • What are the US law school rankings, and are they all the same?
  • How can I find top law schools in the US? Where do I even look?
  • What about subsections of law school like a business law school? How do you find the best business law schools?

We are here to help you answer all these questions. This article will be your guide to finding top law schools in the US and make the entire process much easier.



Are All US Law School Rankings the Same?

Law schools in the US are not all ranked the same. There is actually disagreement when it comes to US law school rankings. While many of the same law schools in the US appear on each list (with a few exceptions), they often appear at different numbers.

For each of our main resources for US law school rankings, we have provided their list of top 10 law schools in the USA. We have done this to show you that while you will find many similarities, no ranking system is exactly the same.

For example, the USC law school ranking comes in 8th, 9th, and 10th, respectively, in three resources listed below. The USC law school ranking is obviously accurate in the sense that it keeps appearing in the top 10 of US law school rankings. But some organizations have particular perspectives that adjust it slightly.

Understanding which schools are the top law schools in the US is somewhat a matter of opinion. This is why using each of these different tools to do your own research for finding the best law schools in the US for you is so important.

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How Many Law Schools Are in the US?

While there are many law schools in the US, only some of them are accredited. In order to be considered one of the best law schools in the US, they need to be approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Image Source: BigStock

Graduates from ABA-approved law schools in the USA allow their graduates to take the bar exam and subsequently practice law. All top law schools in the US will qualify.

Currently there are a total of 205 US law schools approved by the ABA. One of these, however, is the US Army Judge Advocate General’s School. 204 are regular law schools in the US that offer Juris Doctor degrees.



How to Find the Best Law Schools in the US

The best way to find the top law schools in the USA is to look at a large variety of resources. We now know that not every organization or resource ranks law schools in the USA in the same way. So researching why each resource feels certain law schools should be considered top US law schools is valuable.

Below, you will find some of the most respected and reliable resources available to you for finding the top law schools in the US. They each have their own version of US law school rankings.

Utilizing all of these lists and tools will give you a better picture of which law school you may want to apply to. You can use each of these to do your own research and come to your own conclusions of top law schools in the US.



US News: Top Law Schools in the US

US News is one of the most reputable spots to check out US law school rankings. US News looks to many factors to find the best law schools in the US. These include:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Full-time enrollment
  • LSAT scores
  • Acceptance rate
  • Employment after graduation
  • Assessment score by other lawyers and judges
  • Assessment score by peers
  • GPA percentile
  • Bar passage rate

All of this information is used to asses the US law school rankings, but not all of it is available to you for free. Their US News Law School Compass membership is $29.95 and allows you unlimited access to all this information. It could be a wise purchase for those on the search for the top law schools in US.

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US News: Top 10 Law Schools in USA

These are top law schools in the US according to US News. You can use this list to further your own research in finding the best law schools in the US that are perfect for your needs.

  • Yale University
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Chicago
  • New York University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of California—Berkeley (tied for 8th)
  • University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (tied for 8th)
  • University of Virginia (tied for 8th)


Above the Law: Top US Law Schools

Above the Law offers a yearly list of what they consider to be the best law schools in the US. The way they come to their conclusions is to focus on outcomes rather than inputs. For example, Above the Law focuses on obtaining law jobs, cost vs. debt, and satisfaction over GPA and LSAT scores.

On their website, they say that 41% of 2015 law graduates did not get a job in the law field. So they want to focus their energy on showcasing top US law schools that actually help their graduates land jobs.

Their US law school rankings reflect this idea. You can also see how each of the US law schools compares to the year before.



Above the Law: Top 10 Law Schools in USA

Here are the top law schools in the US according to Above the Law. You can use this list to further your own research in finding the best law schools in the US that are perfect for your needs.

  • Yale Law School
  • Stanford Law School
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Harvard Law School
  • University of Virginia Law School
  • Duke Law School
  • Northwestern University School of Law
  • Cornell University Law School
  • University of California—Berkeley School of Law

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SmartClass: Top Law Schools in US

SmartClass is one of the best resources online that offers comprehensive information on law schools in the USA. They offer a large variety of details on all of the top law schools in the US. Unlike US News, this information is free and always available.

You can see the following information for each of the US law schools on their website. You can also see all of this through a side-by-side comparison option to help you narrow down your choices of the best law schools in US.

  • All US law school rankings and historical US rankings
  • Admissions stats and acceptance rate
  • Historical acceptance rates
  • Percent yield
  • Median LSAT and historical LSAT
  • Median UGPA (undergraduate grade point average) and Historical UGPA
  • In-state tuition
  • Out-of-state tuition
  • Percent of students receiving grants
  • Grant types
  • Student body number
  • Full-time faculty
  • Percent women admitted
  • Ethnicities of students
  • Bar passage rates
  • Employment rates after graduation
  • Most common industries

Through this information, SmartClass has also created its own US law school rankings. They call this a “Smart Rank” number. The law schools in the US with the highest “Smart Rank” number will be in green, the average will be in yellow, and the worst will be in red.

SmartClass also allows you to narrow down your search to particular specializations. For example, if you want to go to a business law school, you can see their list of the best business law schools as well.

SmartClass: Top 10 Law Schools in USA

These are the top law schools in US according to SmartClass. You can use this list to further your own research and find the best law schools in the US perfect for each of your needs.

  • Stanford Law School
  • Yale Law School
  • Harvard Law Schools
  • University of Chicago Law School
  • Duke University School of Law
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Columbia University Law School
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • University of California—Berkeley School of Law
  • New York University School of Law

Business Insider: Top Law Schools in USA

The main focus of Business Insider’s US law schools rankings system is to focus on jobs. They asked the question: Which of the best law schools in US led to graduates actually landing great jobs? They looked at:

  • Those with full-time jobs after passing the bar
  • Those with long-term jobs after passing the bar
  • Those who are unemployed and seeking employment
  • The rate of graduates who pass the bar
  • Tuition costs
  • Average LSAT scores

Instead of looking at these US law schools and their reputation, they looked at the work opportunities offered to their graduates. The result was a list of 50 of the best law schools in the US.

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Business Insider: Top 10 Law Schools in USA

Here you will see the top law schools in the US for 2016 according to Business Insider. You can use this list to further your own research and find the top law schools in USA perfect for each of your needs.

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Chicago
  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • New York University
  • Duke University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Virginia
  • Yale University

Note: We have already used the USC law school ranking as an example of the changes in rankings. For Business Insider, USC comes in the 14th spot. Once again, this shows it is a top-ranked school overall, but the different factors Business Insider uses adjust its rankings on their list.

Other Resources for Finding Top Law Schools in US

Here are a few other resources that can help add some extra information in your search for the best law schools in the US.

  • Vault: Vault has been a highly regarded resource for listing the top law schools in the USA. They are currently a year behind in this process, but you can see their list of 2015 top US law schools on their website.
  • National Law Journal: This particular website requires a subscription in order to see their list of top 50 law schools in the USA. When you subscribe, you can have access to even more information on the best law schools in US.
  • Law School Numbers: While this is not a list that comes with comprehensive information on each school, you will find another list of US law school rankings to help you with your search.
 

Which of the Top US Law Schools Is for You?

Now that you have access to all of this information on the best law schools in the US as well as the commonly used US law school rankings, you can start the search process for finding the best law school in the US for you.

Image Source: Pixabay

Start by making a list of all your desired outcomes. Maybe you want to live in a particular area of the country and want to narrow your search by state. Maybe you have a particular specialization like business law school and want to narrow your search to the best business law schools. Maybe you are not even sure what you are exactly looking for.

No matter the case, these resources will help you start in your search to find not only some of the top US law schools to give you a wonderful education in the legal field, but also the best option for your particular dreams and goals.

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