Best Law Schools in California

California is home to some of the best law schools in the country. The state has twenty law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association, and the ten schools listed below tend to top the state rankings based on criteria such as selectivity, bar passage rates, job placement, course offerings, and opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience. The California bar has an extremely low passage rate (frequently well below 50%), so attending a top school is a particularly important factor for professional success.

The list includes a mix of public and private institutions, although you will often find that the price difference is not significant. (Note that Whittier Law School ceased admitting students in 2017, so it was not considered for this list.)

01
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Stanford Law School

Hoover Tower, Stanford University - Palo Alto, CA
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Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 8.72%
Median LSAT Score 171
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.93
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Stanford Law School consistently ranks among the very best law schools in the nation, and U.S. News & World Report ranks the specialties in clinical training, intellectual property law, and tax law in the top 10. Students are also welcome to create their own specialties thanks to Stanford's emphasis on interdisciplinary education and numerous joint degree opportunities.

Stanford Law takes pride in its collegial environment with small classes, supportive faculty, and team-driven clinics. Academics are backed by an impressive 4 to 1 student to faculty ratio, and it's not unusual for students to participate in discussion groups at faculty homes. Stanford also emphasizes experiential learning, and students will find plenty of options for law clinics and simulation courses. Recent practicums include the "'Every Vote Counts' Voter Registration Project" and "What We Can Do to Mitigate Catastrophic Climate Change."

Not surprisingly, admission to Stanford Law School is extremely selective. The class size is roughly 180, and you will most likely need a solid "A" average in college and an LSAT score in the top one or two percentiles.

02
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UC Berkeley School of Law

University of California Berkeley
University of California Berkeley.

Geri Lavrov / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 19.69%
Median LSAT Score 168
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.8
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Berkeley Law frequently finds itself ranked among the top 10 law schools in the country, and U.S. News & World Report noted particular strength in clinical training, environmental law, international law, and intellectual property law. The law school enrolls a little over 300 new students each year, and the admissions standards are extremely high.

Like all top-ranked law programs, Berkeley Law provides wide-ranging opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience and the school takes pride in its real-world focus. The school's clinical program allows students to work with actual clients to build their skills as a lawyer. Berkeley has six law clinics in the law school and eight in the community. Options include the Death Penalty Clinic, Environmental Law Clinic, and the Eat Bay Community Law Center. Other experiential learning opportunities include Berkeley's Pro Bono Program, Professional Skills Program, Field Placement Program, and Veteran's Law Practicum.

03
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USC Gould School of Law

University of Southern California
University of Southern California.

 Jupiterimages / PHOTOS.com / Getty Images

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 19.24%
Median LSAT Score 166
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.78
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

The University of Southern California Gould School of Law frequently ranks among the top 20 law schools in the United States. Academics at the school are supported by a 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio, and the school's location just south of downtown Los Angeles gives students easy access to many opportunities in a major metropolitan area. Founded over 100 years ago, the school's long history means that graduates are part of an alumni network of more than 11,000 people around the globe.

Students interested in studying law abroad can take advantage of Gould's partnerships with universities in Hong Kong, France, Italy, Australia, and Brazil. And if you're interested in gaining in-depth knowledge in a secondary field, USC has 15 dual degree programs that bring together the study of law with fields such as business administration, public policy, gerontology, and international relations. The Gould School of Law also takes pride in its year-long clinics that offer a more comprehensive experience than the semester-long clinics at most law schools.

04
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UCLA School of Law

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Geri Lavrov / Getty Images
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 22.52%
Median LSAT Scor8 160
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.72
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

The UCLA School of Law takes full advantage of its Los Angeles location, and the school's Ziffren Center on Media, Entertainment Technology and Sports Law frequently ranks first in the country for entertainment law. The school is also home to the Critical Race Studies program, the only program in the country focused entirely on issues of race and justice.

Each new class has just over 300 students, and the UCLA Law alumni network includes 17,000 people across the United States and the world. Along with rigorous classroom work, students have plenty of opportunities for experiential learning. The school has clinics focused on the Supreme Court and First Amendment, and there are enough seats in simulation courses to accommodate everyone who is interested.

05
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UC Irvine School of Law

University of California Irvine School of Law
University of California Irvine School of Law.

Mathieu Marquer / Flickr /  CC BY-SA 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 24.76%
Median LSAT Score 163
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.57
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

The UC Irvine School of Law, which first opened its doors in 2008, made a name for itself as a forward-looking institution that embraces its identity as a visionary place for change. The school recently ranked among the top 25 in the country, and its clinical program is particularly strong, with 100% student participation. Specialties in tax law, legal writing, and intellectual property law also earn high marks.

UCI Law students begin gaining hands-on experience right from the start, and first-year students participate in a Lawyering Skills course in which students interview real clients. After the first year, students can choose from ten core clinics focused on issues such as domestic violence, immigrant rights, community development, and criminal justice. Other experiential learning opportunities include a robust externship program and the UCDC Law Program in which students can spend a semester in Washington, D.C.

06
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UC Davis School of Law

The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis
The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis. Steven Tyler PJs / Flickr
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 34.60%
Median LSAT Score 162
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.63
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

With about 200 students in each class, the University of California Davis School of Law is the smallest of the five law schools in the UC system. The small size makes for a more intimate law school experience than many schools on this list, and the school takes pride in how accessible and supportive its faculty are. Student life is active with over 40 student organizations and five law journals.

Students at UC Davis School of Law have the opportunity to represent real clients and solve real problems through the Immigration Law Clinic, Civil Rights Clinic, California Supreme Court Clinic, Prison Law Office, and Family Protection and Advocacy Clinic. The school also has a robust externship program so that students can gain real-world experience working in places such as the District Attorney Office, California Legislature, and both state and federal Judicial Chambers.

07
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Loyola Law School

Introduction-Loyola-Marymount.jpg
Loyola Marymount University. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin
Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 36.34%
Median LSAT Score 160
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.58
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Loyola Law School is located in downtown Los Angeles, about 16 miles from the main campus of Loyola Marymount University. The school wins high marks for its strong evening program, its trial advocacy program, and the high number of J.D.s awarded to minority students. The school is home to just under 1,000 students who can choose from 325 elective courses.

One feature of a Loyola legal education is the school's concentration program. Students choose a concentration in a specific field such as entrepreneurship, intellectual property law, public interest law, or immigrant advocacy. Along with coursework in the chosen area of study, students will complete a semester of simulation or live-client experience. The combination of a specialized area of study with hands-on experience helps Loyola students make a strong impression on the job market.

08
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Pepperdine University School of Law

Pepperdine University
Pepperdine University.

Edward Blake / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 36.28%
Median LSAT Score 160
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.63
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Located in Malibu, Pepperdine is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, and Christian principles are present in both the school's academic life and administrative policy. The school takes pride in the personal attention it offers its students, as evidenced by a 7 to 1 student / faculty ratio and the Parris Institute for Professional Formation, where students work with mentors to study legal analysis, ethics, and more.

All Pepperdine Law J.D. students must complete at least 15 unites of experiential learning courses to graduate. Part of this requirement can be fulfilled by participation in one of the school's many clinics including the Legal Aid Clinic, Community Justice Clinic, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, and Faith and Family Mediation Clinic. Other opportunities can be found in the school's Advocacy Program, Global Justice Program, and foreign exchange programs.

09
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University of San Diego School of Law

The School of Law at the University of San Diego
The School of Law at the University of San Diego.

 Ckbee / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 35.40%
Median LSAT Score 159
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.55
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

The USD School of Law enrolls about 240 J.D. students each year. The school is well known for fields including public interest law, intellectual property, constitutional law, business and corporate law, and taxation. The law school is located on the main campus of the University of San Diego, a private Roman Catholic university.

Students at the USD School of Law gain hands-on experience in their first year through the Experiential Advocacy Practicum, a class that simulates tasks like client interviews, negotiation, and drafting legal documents. Students also have opportunities to work with legal scholars at the school's ten centers and institutes including the Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics, the Children's Advocacy Institute, and the Institute for Law and Religion. Further experiential can be gained by serving on one of the school's four academic journals, conducting an externship, or participating in USD's extensive clinical education program. Clinics include the Veterans Clinic, Education and Disability Clinic, Energy Law and Policy Clinic, and Appellate Clinic.

10
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UC Hastings College of the Law

McAllister Tower at the UC Hastings College of Law
McAllister Tower at the UC Hastings College of Law.

 Ken Lund / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 44.90%
Median LSAT Score 158
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.44
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure

Part of the University of California system, the Hastings campus is dedicated entirely to the study of law. The U.C. Hastings College of the Law's San Francisco location places it a short walk from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, City Hall, and the California Supreme Court. The school is home to nine centers and programs including the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Center for Innovation, and East Asian Legal Studies Program. Hastings School of the Law is also the alma mater of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.

UC Hastings students can choose from one of ten concentrations including business law, criminal law, international law, and social justice lawyering. Classroom education is complemented by extensive hands-on experience through the school's 15 clinics.