The Top 14 Law Schools

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Fourteen law schools have consistently remained at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings since the rankings began in 1987, earning them the title of T14 schools. Although rankings among the T14 may shift slightly from year to year, these schools have historically been ranked among the best, and many graduates have the best opportunities to obtain high-paying jobs nationwide.

01
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Yale Law School

Yale Law in New Haven, Connecticut, has been ranked the best law school in the country since U.S. News & World Report began its rankings, and the 2018 list is no exception. The 2016 acceptance rate was a mere 9.5 percent, with 632 students enrolled full-time. 

  • Application deadline: Feb. 28
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Full-time tuition: $62,170
  • Student-faculty ratio is 4.2:1
  • Small classes, with often fewer than 20 students

Traditional grades no longer exist at Yale, and students do not earn any grades at all during their first term at Yale Law School. Following this initial period, students are graded only by honors, pass, low pass, credit or failure.  

At Yale, there are no concentrations of study either, but students can tailor course selections to suit their interests. Joint degrees are offered in conjunction with other professional and graduate schools at Yale, including the school of management. Students can take courses at other Yale schools without integrating a second major. However, students do have the opportunity to earn an accelerated joint J.D./MBA in three years, the same amount of time it takes to complete a traditional J.D.

02
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Stanford Law School

Stanford Law in Palo Alto, California, offers an excellent legal education on the West Coast. It rose to #2 on the 2018 list, nudging past Harvard. The 2016 acceptance rate was just 10.7 percent. 

  • Application deadline: Feb. 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $100
  • Part-time program application fee: $0
  • Full-time tuition: $60,270
  • Student-faculty ratio: 4:1
03
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Harvard University Law School

Harvard Law in Cambridge, Massachusetts is consistently one of the most selective law schools in the country. The 2016 acceptance rate was only 16.6 percent.

  • Application deadline: Feb. 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Full-time tuition: $62,792
  • Student-faculty ratio: 8.1:1

One unique aspect of Harvard Law School (HLS) is the opportunity for students to apply their studies to real world situations through the Student Practice Organizations, even in the first year of study. 

Like Yale, HLS is unique in its grading procedures and does not offer traditional letter grades; students instead receive a distinction of honors, pass, low pass or fail. Students looking for an international lens to their studies might consider the joint J.D./LL.M. program between HLS and the U.K.’s University of Cambridge. Students may also choose to study abroad for a three-week winter term or an entire semester.

04
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Law School at University of Chicago

Chicago Law along Lake Michigan is perhaps best known for its focus on theoretical law and its intellectual atmosphere.

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Part-time program application fee: $0
  • Full-time: $62,865
  • Student-faculty ratio: 4.8:1
05
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The Law School at Columbia University

Columbia Law offers lots of job and internship opportunities for students with its location in the heart of New York City. It dropped a bit on the 2018 list, but it's still among some very illustrious company in the top five law schools in the country. 

  • Application deadline:  Feb. 15
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Full-time tuition: $67,564
  • Student-faculty ratio: 5.4:1
06
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The School of Law at New York University

Like Columbia Law, NYU Law School offers an excellent education in what many consider to be the legal capital of the world.

  • Application deadline: Feb. 15
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Full-time tuition: $63,986
  • Student-faculty ratio is 6:1

First-year law students benefit from an interactive experience in practical legal skills through the school’s Lawyering Program. Second and third-year students can expand their knowledge in more than 30 legal clinics and about 25 on-campus centers. Students can also earn joint degrees through other schools at NYU, or dual degrees with several outside institutions.

07
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The Law School at University of Pennsylvania

Situated between two other major cities—New York City and Washington D.C.—Penn Law offers an excellent location for employment opportunities in the heart of Philadelphia. 

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $80
  • Part-time program application fee: $0
  • Full-time tuition: $63,364
  • Student-faculty ratio: 5:1
08
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The Law School at University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

Michigan Law in Ann Arbor is one of the oldest and finest law schools in the country. It moves up to #8 on the 2018 list. Students at this school can get a jump start on their studies, with classes offered in the summer.

  • Application deadline: Feb. 15
  • Full-time program application fee: $75
  • Full-time tuition: $57,262 (in-state) and $60,508 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 7.3:1
09
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The School of Law at University of California—Berkeley (tied for 9th place)

Housed in the gorgeous San Francisco Bay area, Berkeley School Law is one of the most selective law schools in the country.  

  • Application deadline: Feb. 1 
  • Full-time program application fee: $75
  • Full-time tuition: $49,364 (in-state) and $53,315 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 5.2:1

Like some of the other schools appearing on this list, Berkeley School of Law does not use letter grades or GPAs, which also means that its students are not ranked. The law school has lead the way with curriculums, offering courses in wine law, intellectual property law, and technology-related law, as well as specialized programs in areas like Energy and Clean Technology Law and Environmental Law.  

10
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The School of Law at University of Virginia

UVA Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers students one of the lowest costs of living among the major law schools. All academic departments at the University of Virginia, including the School of Law, operate on a strict, student-run honor system. Students pledge not to lie, cheat or steal, and anyone found guilty by a jury of their peers is expelled from the school. 

  • Application deadline: March 12
  • Full-time program application fee: $80
  • Full-time tuition: $58,300 (in-state); $61,300 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 6.2:1
11
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The School of Law at Duke University (tied for 11th place)

Duke Law in Durham, North Carolina offers one of the most beautiful campuses in the country along with a great legal education.  

  • Application deadline: Feb. 15
  • Full-time program application fee: $70
  • Full-time tuition: $62,247
  • Student-faculty ratio: 5.5:1
12
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The School of Law at Northwestern University (Pritzker) (tied for 11th place)

Northwestern Law in Chicago is unique among the top law schools in the country that it attempts to personally interview each applicant. Its website states this interview is strongly encouraged.

  • Application deadline: Feb. 15
  • Full-time program application fee: $75
  • Full-time tuition: $62,084
  • Student-faculty ratio: 3.9:1
13
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The Law School at Cornell University

Cornell Law in upstate New York is well-known for its international law programs.

  • Application deadline: Feb. 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $80
  • Full-time tuition: $63,327
  • Student-faculty ratio: 7:1
14
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The Law Center at Georgetown University

Georgetown Law in Washington D.C. offers students a great location for jumping into politics, among other endeavors. In addition to offering the traditional J.D., the Law Center provides joint degree programs. 

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • Full-time program application fee: $85
  • Part-time program application fee: $85
  • Full-time tuition: $59,850
  • Part-time tuition: $40,630
  • Student-faculty ratio: 5.1:1