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US Law School Rankings

Every year many thousands of domestic and international students with previous legal qualifications take up a LLM place at a university in the United States – they may already be practicing lawyers or recent law graduates. There are more than 100 different Master of Laws or LLM degree programs available in the USA, and each course covers an aspect of international or domestic law or both in depth. So, once students have considered which specialism to pursue, how can they go about selecting the best law school for their needs? Many choose to use the US law school rankings as a starting point – these tables are provided by a number of different organisations and encompass around 200 universities. Each set of rankings has different areas of emphasis and the results are reached used various criteria.

US LLM Law School Rankings

Do US law school rankings matter?

It is often said that law school rankings matter more than those of any other further educational establishment; they can ensure a student has a greater chance of a higher salary, better employment prospects and a more comfortable life on graduation. Gaining admission to one of the most well regarded US law schools is vitally important for ambitious young lawyers, so the statistical analysis of any law course is extremely significant. However it is important to be aware that the rankings don’t necessarily reflect all aspects of the law schools so don’t rule law schools out just because their rankings have dipped.

For most aspiring legal students, the bar exam pass rates and the postgraduate employment figures are of interest. However, the ranking figures will also give an idea of the schools tuition fees, acceptance rates and the standard of teaching. To find out if a particular program is right for them, it is important for students to consider their own grades to work out whether they’d be able to attain a place. Also its important to find out what the median Law School Admissions Test results were for entrants in the previous year at your chosen school, along with the grade point average, and then make a comparison with your own. In a highly competitive field, each metric is helpful for making a smart choice.

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Top US law school rankings figures

Three of the top sources of US law school rankings information are US News, Start Class and The National Law Journal’s Go-To Law Schools report. Each of these organisations uses a different methodology to collate their figures and they assign levels of importance to different aspects of an institution.

US News

The most established ranking scheme is US News, here the results are divided up into two sections; the top 145 performing universities and the remaining schools, which it lists alphabetically. US News uses a survey to poll the opinions of legal professionals, university staff and faculty members, in all their views on twelve areas of assessment are collated. These include placement success, faculty resources, bar passage rate and acceptance rate. In any given year, Yale, Harvard and Stanford universities are within the top three results, adding to their reputation for excellence. Similarly, the top 14 law schools in the US have not changed for the past quarter century either, although they may jostle for position from time to time. For students who will only be satisfied with a place at an elite academic institution, US News is probably the best place to search for the ideal program.

Start Class

Start Class is a younger educational research website which aims to help students make an informed choice about where to study law in the US. They include more detailed information in their rankings system, not only looking at end results, but factoring in issues like which law schools are most accepting of low LSAT scores, which are the hardest to get into and which offer the most value for money. On their site you can read in depth information on the findings, which are reached using data from various sources, these include reports from the American Bar Association, their own Smart Rank system that relies on statistical data, and research into current trends carried out by their employees. As they have crunched the figures on a number of elements, Start Class is an invaluable resource for students who have specific requirements for a prospective school. Graduates or undergraduates can save time and effort on hunting for a place, by targeting institutions where they can afford to study and are more likely to be accepted.

National Law Journal’s Go-To Law Schools Report

The National Law Journal’s Go-To Law Schools study focuses on the number of graduates from specific law schools who take up a role in one of their 250 affiliated law firms. If a student is primarily concerned with getting the best-paid position after graduating, rather than academic stature, this rankings list is undoubtedly the most useful. It offers a genuine alternative to the employment statistics of other rankings and can signpost successful law schools, which are, undervalued elsewhere.

In conclusion

US rankings tables are well researched, reliable and established, enabling students to find a law school, which is suited to their abilities, ambitions and budget, at a glance. They can reveal which programs offer the best postgraduate prospects and are a smart way to get a career off to a great start at an early stage. However it is important to make sure you properly research each US law school that you think may be suitable for you rather than simply rely on the rankings tables.


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