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Best Law Schools in the United States

Top law school programs provide the advanced education required to earn a Juris Doctor (JD) professional degree and prepare you to take the state bar exam. Many offer specialized training in a particular area of law, such as environmental law or tax law. You can search the best law schools and universities to find the perfect top ranked legal degree for you.

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Are you ready to begin a law degree or certificate program now? U.S News University Directory can match you with law schools and programs that meet your criteria in a few simple steps. Learn more now.

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#1

Yale University

New Haven, CT

A private institution founded in 1701, Yale University resides on 315 urban acres in New Haven, Connecticut.  Yale Law School does not offer specific areas of concentration; instead, students simply tailor course selections to suit their interests.  Additionally, traditional grades do not exist at Yale Law.  No grades at all are given during students' first term, and afterward they are graded only by honors, pass or low pass.

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#2

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

A private institution founded in 1636, Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Harvard Law School (HLS) provides students with an exceptional legal education, as well as many opportunities to put their lessons to work through its Student Practice Organizations and legal clinics.  Notable HLS alumni include President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama.

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#3

Stanford University

Stanford, CA

Founded in 1885, Stanford University is a private institution residing on 8,180 suburban acres in Stanford, California.  Stanford Law School encourages students to chart their own course, allowing them to begin customizing their education as early as their second year.  There are also more than 25 joint degree options offered in conjunction with other schools at Stanford University.

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#4

Columbia University

New York, NY

Founded in 1754, Columbia University is a private institution residing on 36 urban acres in New York, New York.  Its law programs are part of the Law School at Columbia University, which allows students to begin specializing their legal education with electives in the spring of their first year.  Notable Columbia Law School alumni include Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former President Theodore Roosevelt.

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#4

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

A private institution founded in 1892, the University of Chicago resides on 215 urban acres in Chicago, Illinois.  Its law programs are part of the Law School at University of Chicago.  Second and third year students can get hands-on legal practice in the school's four legal clinics.  Notable Chicago Law School alumni include John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General.

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#6

New York University

New York, NY

Founded in 1831, New York University is a private institution located in New York, New York.  Its law programs are part of the School of Law at New York University, which offers students an interactive experience in practical legal skills through the school’s Lawyering Program.  Notable NYU Law School alumni include John Carrig, president and CEO of ConocoPhillips Co. and Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner of the NFL.

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#7

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania is a private institution residing on 279 urban acres in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  With a few additional courses, Penn Law students can create an area of specialization by earning a certificate in a particular subject.  Students must complete at least 70 hours of pro bono work before they can graduate.  Notable alumni of Penn Law School include George Wharton Pepper, founder of law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP.

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#8

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

A public institution founded in 1819, the University of Virginia resides on 1,683 suburban acres in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The School of Law at University of Virginia allows students to tailor their education at special school institutes like the Center for Oceans Law and Policy and the Center for National Security Law.  Notable alumni of UVA Law School include Janet Napolitano, U.S. secretary of homeland security.

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#9

University of California--Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

A public institution founded in 1868, the University of California - Berkeley resides on 1,232 urban acres in Berkeley, California.  The UC-Berkeley School of Law has pioneered curriculums like intellectual property law and offers specialized curricular programs in areas such as Clean Technology Law.  Notable alumni include David Estrada, YouTube managing counsel at Google Inc.

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#10

Duke University

Durham, NC

A private institution founded in 1838, Duke University resides on 8,709 suburban acres in Durham, North Carolina.  In addition to the traditional J.D. program, Duke Law School students can earn dual degrees in conjunction with other Duke graduate schools.  Notable alumni include former President Richard Nixon and Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.

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#10

University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (UM-Ann Arbor) is a public institution residing on 3,071 urban acres in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  UM-Ann Arbor law students can jump-start on their legal education by beginning in the summer, which gives them more flexibility with course selection later.  Notable alumni of Michigan Law School include Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior adviser and Bob Woodruff, ABC News journalist.

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#12

Northwestern University

Chicago, IL

A private institution founded in 1851, Northwestern University resides on 231 suburban acres in Evanston, Illinois.  Northwestern Law School offers traditional and accelerated J.D. programs, as well as joint degrees with other Northwestern graduate schools.  There are no part-time or evening classes for J.D. candidates.  Notable alumni of Northwestern Law School include Robert McCormick, cofounder of law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

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#13

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

A private institution founded in 1865, Cornell University resides on 745 rural acres in Ithaca, New York.  Cornell University Law School gives first-year students an early introduction to the profession through the Lawyering Program, which teaches skills used by practicing attorneys and wraps up with Moot Court arguments.  Notable Cornell Law School alumni include Philip Perry, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security General Counsel.

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#13

Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is a private institution residing on 104 urban acres in Washington, D.C.  The Georgetown Law Center offers joint degree programs (such as the J.D./Ph.D. in Government) in addition to the traditional J.D.  Notable Georgetown Law alumni include Greta Van Susteren, a FOX News Channel anchor, and Thomas Leavey, cofounder of Farmers Insurance Group.

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#15

University of Texas--Austin

Austin, TX

Founded in 1883, the University of Texas - Austin is a public institution residing on 431 urban acres in Austin, Texas.  The University of Texas—Austin School of Law offers an exception J.D. education and more than 15 clinics in which to get hands-on legal experience, from the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic to the Criminal Defense Clinic.  Notable alumni include Paul Begala, political consultant and former adviser during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

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#16

University of California--Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

A public institution founded in 1919, the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) resides on 419 urban acres in Los Angeles, California.  The UCLA School of Law allows students to tailor their legal education through specializations like Business Law and Entertainment and Media Law and Policy.  Notable UCLA Law alumni include Henry Waxman, a U.S. Representative from California.

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#16

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University is a private institution residing on 333 urban acres in Nashville, Tennessee.  The first year curriculum at Vanderbilt Law School is composed of mandatory courses; students can elect their own courses or take clinicals in their second and third years.  Notable alumni include Robert Hays, Jr., managing partner of international law firm King & Spalding and Fred Thompson, a former senator and Law & Order actor.

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#18

Washington University in St. Louis

St. Louis, MO

Founded in 1853, Washington University in St. Louis is a private institution residing on 169 suburban acres in St. Louis, Missouri.  Its school of law allows students to begin tailoring their legal education to their interests as early as their second year of school.  There are also more than 15 programs and clinics for students to get hands-on legal experience, including the American Indian Law Summer Program and the Government Lawyering Externship.

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#19

Emory University

Atlanta, GA

A private institution founded in 1836, Emory University resides on 630 suburban acres in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Emory University School of Law has a robust public interest law program, with student clinics ranging from juvenile defense to environmental law.  Larry Klayman, founder of watchdog organization Judicial Watch and political advocacy group Freedom Watch, is an Emory School of Law graduate.

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#20

George Washington University

Washington, DC

A private institution founded in 1821, George Washington University resides on 43 urban acres in Washington, D.C.  The George Washington University Law School is the oldest law school in the nation’s capital, and offers students joint degree programs, experiential learning opportunities, and work experience throughout the nation's capital.  Notable alumni include J. William Fulbright, a former senator and creator of the Fulbright Program.

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#20

University of Minnesota--Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN

Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is a public institution residing on 1,204 urban acres in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Minnesota law students in their first year take mandatory first-year courses and may take one elective in an area such as international law or civil procedure.  Notable alumni of the University of Minnesota Law School include Norris Darrell, former president of the American Law Institute.

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#20

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

A private institution founded in 1880, the University of Southern California resides on 226 urban acres in Los Angeles, California.  Its law programs are part of the Gould School of Law, which uses interdisciplinary coursework designed to introduce students both to the foundations of law and the real-life challenges of lawyers.  Larry Flax, cofounder of California Pizza Kitchen, and Charles Prince, former chairman and chief executive officer of Citigroup are notable USC Law alumni.

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#23

University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL

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#24

University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is a public institution residing on 703 urban acres in Seattle, Washington.  In addition to the traditional J.D., UW Law also offers students joint degree programs in conjunction with other UW academic departments.  Notable alumni of the University of Washington School of Law include William Gates, Sr., cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and father of Bill Gates.

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