Top Schools for Legal Research and Professional Studies

This article provides an overview of the educational opportunities at four of the top programs in legal research and professional studies. Users will also find a list of other institutions that offer well-regarded programs in the field.

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Those interested in the legal system may want to consider programs in legal research and professional studies. Education requirements vary depending on the specific legal career a student is interested in; both undergraduate and graduate-level programs are available.

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School Information

The four universities profiled below were ranked among the top 50 law schools and top 100 national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2017, and several were highly ranked among all national universities as well.

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

School Highlight: This university was ranked tied at #15 in national universities as reported by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.

Cornell University offers a number of various law degrees, such as the One Year Master of Laws program, in addition to joint degree programs and international dual degree programs. The prerequisite for entering into these law degree programs include a bachelor's degree or first degree in law from an accredited college in the U.S. or abroad. The law school was ranked #13 for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.

Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL

School Highlight: Founded in 1851, the school was ranked tied at #92 among national universities for 2017, and its law school was ranked tied at #50 by U.S. News & World Report.

FSU offers its own College of Law Research Center, with resources available online. Academic programs in FSU's College of Law include business law, environmental law and international law. Students can also acquired certificates in these areas. Joint degree programs and study abroad programs are offered, as well. A 1-year Juris Master degree program is another option for those looking to enter into the workforce of legal training.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, IL

School Highlight: This university was tied at 44th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and the law school was ranked tied at #40 for 2017.

The College of Law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign offers a study abroad program with countries like Argentina, Belgium, Germany, India, Japan and Korea. The school also offers clinical programs in the fields of Civil Litigation and Community Preservation. Joint degrees are also available in areas like Business Administration, Chemistry, Computer Science, Journalism, Medicine, and Political Science. Some professional skills courses are as follows: Advanced Legal Research, Advanced Legal Writing: Appellate Advocacy, Complex Litigation and Fundamentals of Trial Practice.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

School Highlight: Yale Law School was ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, and the university was tied at #3 among all national universities. Programs include studies in environmental law, human rights law and health law.

There are five degree-granting programs available at Yale Law School: Juris Doctor, LL.M., J.S.D., M.S.L. and Ph.D. Joint degrees are also available. For students who are particularly interested in legal research, the three-year Ph.D. in law program is ideal, as it gives students the chance to perform academic research and writing under the supervision of Yale faculty, culminating in a final dissertation. Students who are interested in becoming professional lawyers must earn a J.D., and they can advance their careers or specialize in a particular field by earning a higher-level degree.

Top Legal Research and Professional Studies Schools

Students who are interested in legal research or professional law careers can also find strong programs at these schools:

  • The goal of the law school at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL, is not only to train students to be certified as lawyers but also help them gain a basic understanding of the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, which will help them succeed in their careers
  • The Pritzker School of Law at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, is a growing program that already offers opportunities to study international law, stateside and abroad, business law, and legal studies related to public interests and technology
  • Not only is Georgetown University in the nation's capital of Washington, DC, but twenty-three of the professors in its law school were once U.S. supreme court clerks.
  • With its Empirical Research Group, the law school at the University of California in Los Angeles has been able to complete influential research and publications and form think tanks to allow students to actively debate policy and legal issues.
  • George Washington University Law is the oldest law school in the nation's capital of Washington, DC, and where ten State Supreme Court justices have graduated.
  • The University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa has an innovative program offering traditional law classes alongside classes in emerging areas of law including environmental law, intellectual property law and more.

There are many excellent law schools across the country at which students can pursue studies in legal research or prepare for professional law careers.

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