Prospective law students who wish to study in the United States should not have to worry too much about choosing the right law school. For those looking for the best quality in legal education, the annual list of the top ten law schools published by the U.S. News & World Report is a good place to start.
The methodology utilized by the U.S. News & World Report is based on the perception of quality education by peers in the legal community, including prominent attorneys and judges. Other factors considered are the employment opportunities found by students upon graduation, acceptance rate, the ratio of faculty members to students, the success rate of graduates when it is their time to take the bar exam, and more.
The 2012 Top Ten Law Schools in the United States
1 – Yale University in New Haven, CT is probably the most prestigious law school in the world. One of its most interesting aspects is that first-year students do not have to worry about grades at all, thereby allowing them to fully concentrate on learning. The annual cost of tuition, over $50,000 per year, means that most students will need to look into financial aid. Notable alumni include former President Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
2 – Stanford University in California offers 25 specialized joint graduate degrees, which means that students can carefully tailor their specialized J.D. program. Tuition rates are lower than at Yale, and one of Stanford’s most notable graduates is former Chief Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.
3 – Harvard University in Massachusetts is an Ivy League school that traditionally rivals Yale. The focus at Harvard is real-life learning, and to this extent students can begin sharpening their legal skills in the community during their first year. President Barack Obama is just one of Harvard’s notable graduates.
4 – Columbia University in New York is a very popular law school that encourages students to complement their legal education with master’s degrees in other disciplines such as business, journalism and public health. Annual tuition is comparable to Yale University, and its most notable graduate is former President Theodore Roosevelt.
5 – The University of Chicago features a quarterly academic schedule instead of the traditional semester calendar. A typical academic year at this law school begins in September and finishes in June. Joint master degree programs include business and public policy. Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is a notable graduate.
6 – New York University has a very high employment rate for graduates, over 95 percent. Real-life learning at NYU begins in the first year, and continues with more than 30 legal clinics available in subsequent years. One of the most notable NYU alumni is the President of Conoco Phillips, John Carrig.
7 – The University of California – Berkeley does not grade students in the traditional Grade Point Average system. Some of UC Berkeley’s most interesting curriculums concentrate on the burgeoning disciplines of environmental law and intellectual property litigation. The top counsel at YouTube, David Estrada, is a notable graduate.
8 – The University of Pennsylvania encourages law students to specialize across different specialized certifications like bioethics, East Asian studies, city planning, gender studies, and others. There is a strong focus on community service, as students are required to complete 70 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation. The founder of Pepper Hamilton, one of the highest rated law firms in America, is a notable graduate.
9 – The University of Virginia offers three special programs: oceanic law, national security and animal law. Semester abroad programs are offered in both common and civil law jurisdictions: England, Israel, Germany, and New Zealand. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is one of UVA’s most notable alumni.
10 – At the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, classes begin in the summer semester. The school has a strong focus on international law, as Transnational Law is a required course for all students. To solidify their international learning, students can choose to specialize in Japanese studies and spend a semester abroad at the prestigious Waseda University Law School in Japan. The senior advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarret, is a notable graduate.
Deciding to go to law school is the first step, but choosing the right school will really get you started on your successful career path. Use this list to be inspired to make the choice!
Nicole Morgan is a Graduate Student and career counselor, she blogs for executivembaguides.org where you can find information about online executive mba programs.