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How to Choose Schools with Litigation Programs

Schools with litigation programs teach civil law, criminal law, and courtroom litigation. Prior to choosing a litigation program or school to enroll in, there are several factors students must consider.

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Aspiring litigators may find that debate classes and clubs provide crucial training in research and argument presentation, but, according to the American Bar Association (ABA), undergraduate majors have little effect on law school preparedness (www.abanet.org). Some law schools have stringent application requirements and limited admissions policies, making undergraduate performance and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) scores vital for acceptance.

Top 10 Law Schools

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer Juris Doctor degrees.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Law School Tuition
(2016-17)*
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private Doctoral $57,615
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Doctoral $59,550
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Doctoral $56,079
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Doctoral $63,048
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Doctoral $59,541
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private Doctoral $59,558
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Doctoral $57,242
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private Doctoral $58,700
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Doctoral $54,913
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 4-year, Public Doctoral In-state $56,300; Out-of-state $59,300

Source: *School websites

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School Selection Criteria

There are several factors to consider when selecting a law school program.

  • Law school J.D. programs typically offer specialized studies to second- and third-year students interested in becoming courtroom litigators.
  • The ABA requires its members to be graduates of an accredited program or school.
  • Some law schools may have strict application requirements that should be considered before beginning postsecondary studies.
  • It may be beneficial to pursue undergraduate studies at the institution that offers the law degree program you want to attend.

Juris Doctor Degree

The J.D. is a 3-year program aimed at preparing graduates to pass the state bar exam and become practicing attorneys. Education typically begins with a full year of fundamental legal training in torts, constitutional law and legal writing.

Specialized studies usually start within the second or third year, and students can also participate in school-sponsored or off-campus internships or litigation-specific programs. Experience in litigation after earning a J.D. degree is dependent on a lawyer's postgraduate employer.

In order to pursue a career as a litigator it is necessary to have a law degree. Juris Doctor degrees are offered by many reputable institutions throughout the country, and a bachelor's degree is typically required for admittance to these programs.

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