After earning a bachelor's degree, aspiring lawyers can earn a Juris Doctor degree from a top law school. These programs also provide advanced degree programs for trained lawyers.
Top law schools in the United States include two Ivy League institutions, Harvard and Yale universities, both of which offer Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs. Students can also find programs at Stanford University and the University of Michigan. All four universities have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their law schools.
Yale University in New Haven, CT
|School Highlight: Famous alumni include former President Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.|
Yale Law School ranked first on the U.S. News & World Report list of top law schools for the 2020 rankings. In the same year, the school had a highly selective acceptance rate of just 7%, which made it the toughest law school to get into, according to The Princeton Review. Students can pursue a J.D., an LL.M. or a Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.), as well as several joint-degree programs leading to a J.D./Master of Arts (M.A.), J.D./Master of Business Administration (MBA) or J.D./Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The university also offers a number of services to law students, including the Lillian Goodman Law Library.
Harvard University in Cambridge, MA
|School Highlight: Famous alumni include former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.|
For its 2020 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Harvard Law School number three on its list of top law schools in the nation. Harvard Law School offers many joint degree programs, including one each with the Graduate School of Design and Harvard School of Public Health. Study abroad programs include a joint J.D./LL.M. program at Cambridge University in England, as well as opportunities in Argentina, Ghana and China.
Stanford University in Stanford, CA
|School Highlight: Famous alumni include former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Google Miriam Rivera and Robert Paul Cochran, the Emmy-winning co-creator of television series '24.'|
U.S. News & World Report ranked Stanford Law School as second in the nation for 2020. Additionally, The Princeton Review rated it as having the 'best classroom experience' for the same year. The school offers several degree programs, including a J.D., an LL.M., a Master of Science of Law (M.S.L.) and a J.S.D. Stanford's law program provides an intimate experience with a small student-to-faculty ratio.
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI
|School Highlight: The University of Michigan Law School was the first high-profile law school to require transnational law in its curriculum.|
Each year, the University of Michigan enrolls about three hundred new J.D. students from around the country and the globe. It also offers an LL.M. degree, an International Tax LL.M. a Master of Comparative Law (M.C.L.) and an S.J.D. The M.C.L. and LL.M. programs may be taken with a research focus, which allows students to take traditional coursework during their first term and conduct supervised research with top faculty members in their second term. Famous alumni include journalist Bob Woodruff, conservative commentator Ann Coulter and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama.
Top Law Schools
The following schools were also ranked highly for 2020:
- At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, the first lectures were delivered by James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
- The law school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.
- Columbia University in New York City, NY, was one of the first law schools in the United States.
- At Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, the Bluhm Legal Clinic offers more than 20 clinics to law students.
- Projects at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL, include policy-changing initiatives, public interest law, and professional ethics program.
- Duke University in Durham, NC, sponsors the publication of law reviews, as well as forums in biosciences, social change and gender law, among other topics.
At well-regarded law schools around the countries, aspiring lawyers can get the education they need to start their careers. There are also master's and doctoral level programs offered at many institutions.