Going to Law school is a big deal and trying to figure out where you should apply can be an even bigger deal.
There are so many options available across the country, like state schools, universities, ivy league's like Yale and Stanford, and 50 states to choose from.
You have to pay attention to the type of school you want to go to, the city you'd like to live in if you'd like to be close to home if you can afford tuition and living expenses if you like the school's campus, and many other factors.
The decision can sound a little overwhelming.
Luckily, we have done some of the research for you on the top 10 Law schools in the country, how to apply to Law school in the United States, the types of law degrees you can pursue, and crucial information about the Bar Exam.
Deciding where to study is important because it can determine many aspects of your future. The faculty members and peers you meet in school will, later on, become the people who can give you job opportunities, recommendations, and support throughout your career (which is why we recommend you build significant relationships with faculty members).
That's why working hard to enter the best programs in the USA is important for you and your career as a lawyer.
If you're worried about the tuition and living expenses then you should work even harder to apply for financial aid or scholarships. Universities are always eager to help outstanding students get a fair shot at an education.
Law school can sound intimidating, but if it is something you've always dreamed of and you believe practicing law is your true passion in life, then nothing will stop you from entering the best schools and getting the best education.
So, continue reading and find out what schools and programs will take you to the next level in your career, write down absolutely everything that you'll be needing, and start working on it!
Learn about choosing Law as a career after high school.
Top 10 Law schools
There are many rankings and lists of the best schools and Law schools in the USA and sometimes it can be hard to determine one single list. These rankings are popular because they show us how schools are performing and creating a ranking helps us make a decision much faster.
The important thing is to find a reliable source or entity in charge of investigating a university's or college's performance.
Keep in mind that some rankings are designed for ranking the top universities around the world, others work on investigating universities —or every college— in the United States, and others are focused on ranking programs.
Below you will find a list of the best-ranked universities based on their law program or law school according to U.S. News:
- Yale University - application deadline: February 28
- Stanford University - application deadline: February 15
- Harvard University - application deadline: February 1
- Columbia University - application deadline: February 15
- University of Chicago - application deadline: March 1
- New York University - application deadline: February 15
- University of Pennsylvania - application deadline: March 1
- University of Virginia - application deadline: March 3
- University of California, Berkeley (UCB) - application deadline: February 15
- Duke University - application deadline: February 15
Keep in mind that all these universities have a beautiful campus but it is not because of their campus that they belong in the ranking of top schools in the USA, it's because of their academic curriculum.
Applying to the best Law schools in the United States
If you are interested in applying to any of the best law programs in the country you should start working on your application with enough time of anticipation. Many experts would recommend you prepare with over one year of anticipation.
You'll have to gather a lot of documentation, prepare essays, take the LSAT, and much more. Working on an application can take a long time and it can be stressful if you don't manage your time wisely.
That is why on the list above we gave you the application deadlines for every school so that you can plan accordingly.
Applying to Law school can be challenging, which is why you need to organize yourself and look for council in your current school or outside of school.
The first thing you should do if you're going to apply to Law school is create an account with The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) because it will help you track every step of the process, kind of like a checklist.
The next step is registering for the LSAT and preparing for it. Students usually take the test around November and December and reach the Spring deadlines for application, but you can also take it between June and October and have a chance to take it again if you didn't get your desired score the first time.
There are plenty of tutors on Superprof who can help you study for the LSAT.
As you study and prepare for the LSAT you should also work on researching Law schools. You want to look for schools approved by the American Bar Association (ABA).
Earning a law degree from an ABA-approved law school is the most straightforward path to becoming a lawyer in the United States.
Once you've figured out which school you want to go to and when you'll be taking the LSAT, you need to start gathering documents or certifications required for the school you're applying to.
You'll most likely have to present your undergraduate transcript and which usually takes between 3 to 5 five business days to be requested and your undergraduate grades.
You'll also need letters of recommendation from previous employers or professors. Some schools have "letter of recommendation" templates and others will only require a simple letter written freely by the person recommending you.
We'd advise you to go online directly to each school's website and find exactly what each college or university is expecting from a student.
Keep in mind that these are all recommendations for any student who wants to study in the country and at a national level. However, if you want to have an international experience and fulfill your studies abroad, you should look for information elsewhere.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is an examination required for admission to Law school in the United States, Canada, and some other international schools.
This test measures your skills and focuses on proving if you're a prime candidate and ready to surpass the demands and challenges you'll encounter year after year.
According to the LSAC you'll be tested on reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing, and the "test results help admission decision-makers and candidates alike gain valuable insight as to law school readiness."
Your score on this test can determine your admission to your dream school, which is why you need to take this examination seriously and prepare accordingly.
Your LSAT score can also help schools predict how well you'll do during the three years of school and in the Bar Exam. Typically, students with high LSAT scores pass the Bar easily, and students with low scores tend to fail the Bar.
Here is a list that shows the risk of bar failure (percentile) by LSAT score:
- LSAT score: 156-180 — percentile: ≥ 67.4 — minimal risk
- LSAT score: 153-155 — percentile: 55.6 - 63.9 — low risk
- LSAT score: 150-152 — percentile: 44.3 - 52.5 — moderate risk
- LSAT score: 147-149 — percentile: 147-149 33 - 40.3 — high risk
- LSAT score: 145-146 — percentile: 26.1 - 29.5 — very high risk
- LSAT score: 120-144 — percentile: ≤ 22.9 — extreme risk
Remember that it doesn't matter if you want to study in California, New York, or Washington, or where your school is located, the LSAT is a requirement across the country.
And, don't forget that the rate or percentage of acceptance is also important and something you should investigate about your school of interest. The rate of acceptance can help you determine if a school is worth your time.
Types of law degrees
Now that you know everything you need to get into Law school we figured you should also know what types of degrees you could pursue and the different areas of legal work you can go into after you graduate.
Many people mistakenly believe that there is one general curriculum and that after graduation you can choose which specialty to focus on. However, it works the other way around.
Through your years in Law school, you should figure out what field of legal work you want to go into and pick elective courses that will put you on that path.
Some of the fields of law are Admiralty Law, Business Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, First Amendment Law, Health Care Law, Intellectual Property Law, Joint Degree Programs, and Patent Law.
There are also 5 types of law degrees, and you can choose any one depending on the program and field you're interested in.
- Juris Doctor (JD) - the JD degree is one of the most popular and well-known degrees for lawyers in the United States. To be admitted to the program, the student must have a bachelor’s degree and must pass the Law School Admission Test. The law program required to earn the JD is a full-time program that takes three years to complete.
- Master of Laws (LLM) - the degree is a one-year (full-time) or a two-year (part-time) program for students who already have a law degree. This program may have more than one type of curriculum depending on the area of specialization the student wants to focus on.
- Doctor of Judicial Science (SJD) - considered as the highest level of a law degree, the SJD is a two-year program aimed at lawyers who have earned the JD or LLM and wish to advance their legal education.
- Master of Legal Studies - is for students who want knowledge of the law but do not aspire to become lawyers. Graduates may work in law enforcement, human resources, regulatory agencies, or business.
- Master of Dispute Resolution (MDR) - this degree is for individuals who want to work in organizations providing resolution and negotiation skills. This program usually takes up to two years to complete including classes like dispute resolution, mediation, negotiation, arbitration practice, identifying workplace issues, and public conflict management.
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