Ivy League Law Schools

Of the eight Ivy League universities, five have law schools: Yale, Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell. All five Ivy League law schools consistently rank among the top 14 law schools in the country. 

These schools are among the most competitive in the nation in terms of acceptance rate, LSAT scores, and average GPAs. Most are also smaller than average, making admissions even more competitive. According to U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 rankings, the Ivy League law schools rank as follows: Yale (1), Harvard (3), Columbia (5), University of Pennsylvania (7), and Cornell (13).

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Yale Law School

Sterling Law School Building Yale University New Haven Connecticut
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Yale Law School, part of Yale University and located in New Haven, Connecticut, has been ranked the No. 1 law school by U.S. News and World Report since the magazine began its rankings. Yale Law's acceptance rate is 6.85%.

First-year law students at Yale Law take courses in Constitutional Law and Contracts, Procedure, and Torts. Every first-year student takes a small, seminar-style class, and during the first semester, no letter grades are given; students receive "Credit" or "Fail" only. 

Once they have complete required courses, Yale Law students are free to select electives in their areas of interest, including Administrative Law, Corporate and Commercial Law, Environmental Law, and Human Rights Law. Recent course offerings include Citizenship Law, Climate Change Policy and Perspectives, and Bioethics and Law. 

To encourage student and faculty engagement, Yale Law School is intentionally quite small, with a total student population of approximately 600. Yale Law allows students to participate in clinics as early as the second semester of their first year. This experience enables law students to represent real clients under the supervision of faculty members. 

There is no shortage of famous Yale Law alumni, including President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and several other Supreme Court Justices. 

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 6.85%
Median LSAT 173
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.92
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure
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Harvard Law School

Harvard University
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Harvard Law School (HLS) is part of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Home to the largest academic law library in the world, HLS is currently ranked No. 3 by the U.S. News and World Report. Harvard is also the oldest continuously operating law school in the U.S.

According to Harvard, HLS offers "more courses and seminars than any other law school in the world.” First-year law students at Harvard take foundation courses in Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, Property, and Torts. After their first semester, all first-year students begin to fulfill Harvard’s experiential requirement, which includes clinical seminars such as Animal Law and Policy, Child Advocacy, and Capital Punishment.

Each first-year class is divided into sections of 80 students led by senior faculty members. These groups are further split into smaller reading groups, which allow students to engage more deeply in the study of a topic of interest. In addition to coursework, all Harvard Law students have a 50-hour pro-bono graduation requirement.

Famous Harvard Law alumni include President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and several other Supreme Court Justices.

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 12.86%
Median LSAT 173
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.90
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure
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Columbia Law School

Library, Columbia University, New York City
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Located in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood, Columbia Law School is ranked No. 5 by the U.S. News and World Report. Columbia Law has a total of approximately 1,200 students.

The first-year curriculum focuses on how law works in society. Coursework includes Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Foundation-Year Moot Court, Legal Methods, Legal Practice Workshops, Property Law, Torts, and a first-year elective.

Columbia Law has a six-credit hour experiential requirement, which students can fulfill by participating in clinics, externships, and pro-bono work. In 2006, Columbia Law established the first clinic dedicated to sexuality and gender law. Columbia also offers a broad array of research centers and programs including The Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity and The Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts.

Notable Columbia Law School alumni include Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 16.79%
Median LSAT 172
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.75
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure
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University of Pennsylvania Law School

University of Pennsylvania Law School
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Located in the heart of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Law School (part of the University of Pennsylvania) is ranked ​No. 7 by U.S. News and World Report. Penn Law is a small law school with less than 800 students in total. In 1852, Penn Law established the American Law Register (later renamed the Law Review), the nation’s oldest continuously published legal periodical.

Penn offers a uniquely cross-disciplinary approach to law, as all of its law programs are fully integrated with Penn’s professional and graduate schools. In addition to the interdisciplinary coursework options, students may count up to four classes outside of the law school towards their law degree. In partnership with Penn Engineering, Penn Law offers a Law & Technology Program dedicated to preparing students for careers that combine law and technology.

Notable Penn Law alumni include Owen Roberts, Safra Katz, and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander.

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 14.58%
Median LSAT 170
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.89
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure
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Cornell Law School

Cornell University
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Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell Law School is part of Cornell University and is best known for its strong international law programs. It is currently ranked No. 13 by U.S. News and World Report and has an acceptance rate of 21%. Cornell Law is a small law school with about 600 students in total. 

First-year law students at Cornell take required coursework in Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Lawyering, Property, and Torts. During their second and third year, students at Cornell Law are free to take courses of their choice. If desired, third-year law students can select one of the following concentration areas: Advocacy, Business Law and Regulation, General Practice, or Public Law. All students at Cornell must take a course that satisfies the school’s writing requirement as well as a course related to professional responsibility.

Cornell Law offers clinical opportunities to students through several organizations, including The Low-Income Taxpayer Law and Accounting Practicum and The Cornell Center for Women, Justice, Economy, and Technology.

Notable Cornell Law alumni include Edmund Muskie, Myron Charles Taylor, and William P. Rogers.

Admissions Statistics (2018 Entering Class)
Acceptance Rate 21.13%
Mean LSAT 167
Median Undergraduate GPA 3.82
Source: American Bar Association Standard 509 Disclosure