America is a preferred education destination for many international students who aspire to become legal practitioners. The law programs offered by US law universities are highly rated for their rigorous academics, immersive experiences, and high-impact research works. Every year these law schools receive applications from students across all states in the USA as well as from nations in various parts of the world who want to experience a truly rewarding global education. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), there are a total of 202 ABA-approved law schools in the US. The top 3 American universities offering the best-ranked law programs are:
- Yale University
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
Choosing the Right Law School
When it comes to deciding on where to study law in the US, a number of factors should be considered by students. Law school rankings are an important parameter. The rankings are based on certain criteria like quality of academics, ratings by lawyers, selectivity, placement success, and bar passage rate. The higher the ranking of a school, the more in-demand are its graduates among employers. Most of the big law firms tend to hire law graduates from the top 12 law schools in the country.
The location of the law school also plays an important role. To practice in a particular state, students need to pass the state-specific bar exam. Laws in the USA vary from state to state. The law program being offered by a law school in a particular state will be tuned towards helping students pass the bar exam of the state. The other important factors to be considered for studying graduate-level law in US are:
- Campus life
- Peer reviews
- Staff to student ratio
- Academic areas in which programs are offered
- Employability ranking of graduates
- Hands-on learning opportunities
LLM or Master's in Law US, typically a one-year degree program, is popular among international students. The LLM serves as an introduction to the US Legal System and is most often requested of applicants to the bar who were educated outside the country in order to practice in any state of the USA, except for New York and California.
To get entry to the top-tier law schools, students have to face a tough screening process. Those considering applying to these schools should have high LSAT or GRE scores, excellent grades in undergraduate degrees, and experience in law firms as interns. Discussed below are some of the best law schools in the United States.
Yale Law School
Yale Law School is one of the best law schools in the world. It offers an unmatched educational experience to students spring to build a career in this disciple. Renowned faculty members, small classes, ample scope of clinical training, and a lot more make it the top-rated law school in the USA. The degree programs offered here include The Juris Doctor Program, Master of Laws (LLM), Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD), Master of Studies in Law (MSL), and Ph.D. in Law. The areas of interest in which the programs are offered are:
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Corporate Law
- Environmental Law
- Human Rights
- International Law
- IT and Media Law
- Law and Health
- Public Interest Law
Yale Law School boasts of high-profile alumni comprising distinguished deans and faculty members of law schools around the globe, founders of non-nonprofits, CEOs of business enterprises, entrepreneurs, government servants, and the members of the judiciary. Also among the school’s graduates are U.S. Presidents and Justices of the Supreme Court.
Independent research assignments, student-organized seminars, practical training by representing real clients in clinics help students to develop a professional outlook. The law school also has a Career Development Office (CDO) to provide a variety of resources to assist students in making informed career decisions. It also ensures students' well-being through a range of services, including health and wellness programs.
Stanford Law School
Stanford University introduced its law curriculum in 1893. The school ranks among the top colleges offering law in the US. The rich legacy of the school along with its excellent academic programs makes it a great place to study for students wanting to pursue the legal practice. SLS faculty remain up to date with current law practices and guide the academic programs to address emerging opportunities in the profession.
Small supervised classrooms, seminars, lectures, reading groups, and team-driven clinics make the learning experience intense and challenging. The programs offered here are:
- JD Program
- The Master of Laws (LLM) Program
- The Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS)
- The Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
- Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD)
- Joint degrees
At the law school's Mills Legal Clinic, students work full-time for 4 months or more, engaging in an immersive experience that reinforces what they have learned in the classroom. Students receive hands-on experience while providing critical legal services to underserved individuals and communities. Seminars and pro-bono work also add to the learning experience.
Keeping in view that lawyers are having to increasingly deal with transnational laws, the school has launched the new W. A. Franke Global Law Program. This innovative training model helps students to prepare for professional challenges. The benefits are:
- A global quarter comprising an intensive, 10-week immersion in international law and finance.
- A foundational course on global legal practice.
- Courses that combine rigorous classroom training with intensive overseas study trips.
- Greater integration of comparative law and international issues into existing core courses.
Harvard Law School
Founded in 1817, Harvard Law School is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. Entry requirements to the law schools are set at the highest standards. A degree in law from Harvard would ensure great career prospects for a graduate. The first African-American president, Barrack Obama, is an alumnus of this school.
The academic experience is unparalleled and students are taught by scholars who are leading experts in their subject areas. The degree programs at Harvard Law School include JD(Juris Doctor), LLM(Master of Laws), and SJD(Doctor of Juridical Science). The programs of study include:
- Criminal Law and Policy
- International and Comparative Law
- Law and Business
- Law and Government
- Law and History
- Law and Social Change
- Law, Science, and Technology
The law school offers programs designed to develop a global outlook in students through various international study opportunities. These give students the chance to explore foreign cultures, first-hand knowledge about the legal system of other countries, and the chance to expand their network of contacts around the world.
- The Harvard Law School and the University of Cambridge J.D./LL.M. Joint Degree Program enables Harvard JD candidates to earn a Cambridge LLM and a Harvard JD in a total of 3.5 years.
- The summer study abroad program offers Harvard Law School students the opportunity to acquire full-time, hands-on experience in public or private sector work in countries all over the world. Students get to become immersed in a foreign legal culture under the supervision of practicing attorneys from other countries.
- During their winter term, students can further explore international aspects of law and sometimes travel abroad to do so.
- The Semester Abroad Program offers Harvard Law School J.D. students the opportunity to study law and live in a foreign country while receiving a semester of ungraded credit towards their degree. Students can choose to study in partner universities in Asia, South Africa, Australia, Europe, South America.
Harvard Law School Clinics provide students hands-on legal experience under the supervision of licensed attorneys who are not only great practitioners but also trained in individually educating and mentoring students. HLS offers more clinical opportunities than any law school in the world. Added to this are experiences that students can acquire by volunteering for pro bono work through which they can make a positive impact in their communities.
The tough entry requirements for new students to the best law schools mean that only those who excel in academics will be accepted and offered a seat in their programs. While the law schools receive applications from meritorious students belonging to community colleges and other undergraduate institutes in America, they also receive a substantial number of applications from international students every year.
The best law schools in the US, Asia, Australia, UK, and Europe are known for their pursuit of academic excellence with a focus on global exposure which makes them sought-after education destinations for students aspiring to become lawyers. A degree from a top-ranking law school will ensure the launch of a successful and rewarding career.