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What law school is really worth it?

I have heard from many lawyers that sometimes it does matter where you go to law school. What law schools are the best and provide the best learning environment and/ or learning experience?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Doc’s Answer

If you seek to get the best career in law, it’s obvious that you need to find the best law schools that suit your academic and future goals. Despite the statistics showing an increase of 10% in growth over the years by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most students still find it hard to score that dream job! That’s why it’s important to invest time and expense into top law school rankings.

In 2024, Harvard University secured the top spot in our global law school rankings, climbing from sixth place in 2023. Stanford University dropped to second place from its previous leading position.

Columbia University and New York University shared fourth place, with Columbia rising from 12th and New York University dropping from second. The University of Chicago moved up one position to ninth place, while Yale University dropped to 10th from fifth last year.

The University of California, Berkeley jumped from ranking 13th in 2023 to sixth in 2024. The University of Pennsylvania moved up from sharing the ranking of 34th in 2023 to sharing 21st position in 2024.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so very much! Olivia
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Stefanie’s Answer

Hi Olivia -- you've gotten some great advice in terms of how law schools are ranked and which are the best law schools. Just offering another perspective-- not everyone is going to get into the best law schools, and a lot of folks just can't afford them, or have life circumstances that make going to a local school your best bet (maybe if you need to commute or work full time while in school, for example). So I would say, choose the best school that also works best for you and your situation -- and then, make the most of it! Study hard and get good grades. Be sure to get involved however you can so that you can build your resume and your network. Volunteer at law clinics, work on a law review/journal, get involved in moot court, become a teacher's assistant or legal research and writing assistant. Intern and work in the legal field whenever possible (I worked in law firms and a prosecutor's office for 5 years in between college and law school -- and then worked in law firms all during law school). And during the summers, look for opportunities to work/intern and get clerkships -- clerkships can be hard to get, but they are very rewarding and you'll build lifelong contacts with judges.

If you do all of that, you will have a competitive resume and good mentors and contacts to help you secure a great job! I did not go to one of the law schools listed in other responses as "the best" - but I have been successfully practicing for 25 years and work side by side with lawyers who graduated from Harvard and others on the list!
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Martha’s Answer

Hi Olivia - you have already gotten terrific advice for an excellent question. I would like to add a couple of points:
- If you want to live in a certain state or region, it may be worth considering law schools - maybe associated with public universities - there. It is likely that law school alumni settled in the area and might be more inclined to hire graduates of their alma mater
- Your reference to "best learning environment and/ or learning experience" was perceptive. From reading the law school websites, you could get a sense of what they value - if they talk about collaboration or community, you may be on the right track. You can also search for "culture" or "atmosphere" at various institutions to see what the learning environment is like. A certain degree of competitiveness is to be expected, but who wants to spend time in a primarily cutthroat place?
Good luck!
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Matt’s Answer

Hello Olivia! You've posed a fantastic question, and I'm thrilled to see you're putting thought into this. You've received many insightful responses to your query. My additional advice would be to think about your preferred work location. For instance, if Miami is your desired city, I'd suggest exploring the highly reputable local law schools there. Many South Florida employers have a preference for hiring students who've studied locally. This principle applies to other potential work locations as well.

Wishing you all the best on your journey through law school!
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Olivia,

Based on current data and input from various authoritative sources, the following law schools are widely regarded for their exceptional academic programs, reputable faculty, and promising career prospects:

Harvard Law School (Harvard University)
Stanford Law School (Stanford University)
Yale Law School (Yale University)
University of Chicago Law School (University of Chicago)
Columbia Law School (Columbia University)
University of Pennsylvania Law School (University of Pennsylvania)
New York University School of Law (New York University)
University of Virginia School of Law (University of Virginia)
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law (Northwestern University)
Duke University School of Law (Duke University)

These law schools consistently rank at the top in various national and international law school rankings, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report and QS World University Rankings. They offer rigorous academic programs, renowned faculty, extensive research opportunities, and strong connections to the legal profession through alumni networks and partnerships with major law firms and organizations. Graduates from these schools often secure high-paying jobs and prestigious clerkships upon graduation. However, it is important to note that attending a top-ranked law school does not guarantee success in the legal profession; individual dedication, hard work, and networking skills also play significant roles in achieving professional goals.**

Authoritative References Used:

U.S. News & World Report: Best Graduate Schools - Law 2023
QS World University Rankings: Law 2023
National Law Journal: Top 100 Law Schools 2023

God Bless,
JC.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, James Constantine for the advice. Olivia
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Miriam’s Answer

Hello Olivia, fantastic inquiry! It's true that we often focus on law school rankings, but remember, attending a top-tier law school isn't a prerequisite for becoming an exceptional attorney! Factors like location, reputation, and cost-effectiveness play a significant role in your decision. As a rule of thumb, aim for a law school in the region where you envision practicing law. For instance, if your goal is to practice in New York, choose a law school in New York. This strategy simplifies networking. Also, be aware of the financial implications as many lawyers graduate with significant student debt. I chose a public university for my law studies to lessen the financial burden, and I think it was a good move! Wishing you all the best on your journey!
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Bob’s Answer

Hi, Olivia. Thank you for a very insightful question. You have already received a sense of the rankings of law schools. Allow me to argue that said rankings are but a a data point in your analysis of your academic future. Consider them, but realize there is much more to the law school experience.

While the rankings are to some extent comprised of objective data (entering LSAT score of students, percentage of students accepted, etc.), much of the data are frankly subjective (accessibility of professors, variety of coursework offered, teaching ability of professors, types of jobs landed by grads and so on).

These data are usually derived from students at the schools completing a survey, and as you know survey results and analyses may be skewed by various factors.

Additionally, there exists in all of us a bias for past rankings. In other words, if Harvard was ranked first last year, thee will be a tendency in the raters to place Harvard uppermost in the list again.

Thus the top rankings are almost comprised of the same schools.

So what do you do?

First examine your own capabilities and background. Have you attended an undergrad school known for its academic rigor? What is your GPA? If you have taken it, what is your LSAT score?

As these are criteria utilized by admissions officers, they are data points that will help orient you towards the school in which you would be the best fit.

But then stretch yourself. What aspects of law interest you? Environmental? Criminal? Corporate? Trial work? Find those schools that offer a hefty curriculum in those fields, such that your academic time is spent honing yourself for the difference you wish to make in the world.

Finally, even if you possess only "average" grades, etc., if one of the so-called upper tier law schools intrigues you, then go for it. Explain in your admission material why you would be a good fit for that school, and see what develops.

In sum, of course there is a value in being part of what others view as the best, but also realize that much of law school is actually self-didactic.

You will teach yourself through your own insights and efforts and those of your classmates. So pay attention to the rankings, but pay attention also to the offerings--what does the school have for you that meets your goals, and seek the best match.

Good luck, Olivia, and enjoy the journey!!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Bob! Olivia
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