Suppose you want to enter a law school and become a lawyer; what better country to study law in than the United States. The United States is known for its top law schools, with students from countries worldwide flocking to its institutions to pursue the study of law. If you are eager to study law, you are probably interested to find out which are currently the top law schools in the country. Read on to learn more about this topic and the specialisations that exist in these schools, and the admission requirements. 

Top law schools in the U.S.

The ranking of top law schools in the United States has typically remained the same for as long as anyone can remember, with only shifts in the order between them. That means that if you choose any one of the schools that are considered from the top law schools, you will be attending an exceptional and high ranked school. 

Read more: Why are ivy league schools important?

top law schools
top law schools

Yale University

Founded in 1701, Yale University is home to a diverse student body. With a broad spectrum of undergraduate and graduate courses in liberal arts and sciences, students can find almost any major under the sun there. Yale law school is an excellent school with specialisations in constitutional law, corporate law, and international law. They also have a unique clinical learning program to take clinics and appear in court as early as their first year of law school. 

Stanford university

Founded in 1891, Stanford University is located in California’s infamous Silicon Valley. It houses seven schools, including one of the top law schools in the world. Stanford law school sells itself as being a highly creative law school, giving students the chance to follow a less traditional approach to studying law. This approach allows them to suggest their own products and even launch and study courses they have created themselves. Additionally, students from Stanford law school boast working on more than 260 U.S. Supreme Court cases since the year 2004. 

Harvard university

Harvard University is another of the top law schools in the U.S. Based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, and it is home to 20,000 degree candidates, both bachelors and masters students. Harvard law school, founded in 1817, is considered the oldest law school that has operated continuously since the time of its founding. It also houses the vastest academic law library worldwide. The school has an immense number of 100 full-time professors and 150 visiting ones. Its degrees contain more than 260 legal courses, covering law topics that are traditional and contemporary. 

Columbia university

Columbia University is considered one of the world’s top tier research centres. Located in New York, students from all over the world come to study many subjects, including law, in the metropolitan city. Columbia law school allows students of the major to work in their many research centres and research law topics that are of great concern today. They are also offered externships and clinics that allow them real-world training during the course of their studies. Students can pick from many specialisations with notable ones, including Family and Gender Law and Environmental Law. 

U.S. law school degree types

After finding out which are the top law schools in the United States, you might want to learn more about the different degree types offered at the schools. If you’re going to become a lawyer, you must achieve three main degrees. These degrees are achieved in order, with each one allowing you to advance more in the law field. 

Juris Doctor

The first law degree students pursuing legal degrees achieve is the Juris Doctor degree or J.D. degree. If you graduate from any law school across the United States, you will accomplish this degree. The J.D. degree typically takes three years to be completed by full-time students or four years for students pursuing a part-time degree. This qualification is necessary to be able to practice law in the country. Sorry, Mike Ross from Suits, but you’ll need an actual law degree!

Master of law

The next level of qualifications law students who have achieved J.D. degree status can receive is a master of law. Sometimes called an L.L.M., this masters degree is typically a one year program following the achievement of the J.D. certification. This degree is specialised for students who want to go more in-depth into a particular area of law. It can also be helpful for international students who have pursued law degrees in other countries but want to go on to work in the law field in the United States. The degree can help them understand the U.S. law system better to work with it. 

Doctorate of juridical science

The doctorate of juridical science is considered the highest qualification a lawyer in the United States can receive. It can be comparable to a PhD degree and takes three years to accomplish. Most lawyers don’t go on to receive this doctorate degree as it is a very advanced degree program that isn’t typically needed for practical work. This qualification is more targeted for those who want to become law professors; therefore, the program isn’t prevalent. Most law schools offer only a small number of students the doctorate of juridical science degree. 

U.S. Law Curriculum

A specific curriculum is typically followed when pursuing a law degree in the United States, no matter which school you join. For the duration of law school, students will get to study various courses in many fields, from law and legal theory to business law and ethics to civil rights. At the end of their academic studies, typically by the third year, they will also be able to choose a specialisation and take a deep dive into it, studying courses in their area of choice. When students reach the point between their second and third year, they are also required to join an internship to gain practical experience in the field. 

U.S. law schools typically follow the Socratic method as a teaching style. Following how Greek philosopher Socrates lived, challenging beliefs and asking questions, law professors typically challenge students and let them analyse law issues in new ways. This prepares them for when they will need to present arguments at court in their professional careers. This allows law students to become excellent critical thinkers and hasty at problem-solving. 

Read more: Want to Study in U.S.A.: Here’s 3 things you need to know

Specialisations

There are many specialisations a law student can choose when going into their third year of law school. Each student can find a specialisation tailored to their passions and convictions so they can pursue the law field of their dreams when they graduate. Because law covers all subjects and cases related to daily life, there are diverse options available for specialisations in the degree. 

International Law

One of the most popular specialisations studied at the top law schools all over the U.S. is international law. International law governs relationships between different nations and their governments, teaching students about each party’s rights. Courses of international law specialisations typically talk about other areas such as public international law, private international law and supranational law. 

Business Law

Another popular law specialisation studied at law schools is business law. In this specialisation, students learn about the legal problems that businesses face every day. They study law that oversees business transactions, taxes, litigation, non-profit law, embezzlement and many more. This study allows them to become experts on the laws that govern business organisations and any parties interacting internally or externally.

Criminal Law

An exciting specialisation for those who aren’t the faint of heart is the area of criminal law. Students focus on studying criminal offences and charging and trial of those suspected of crimes in this study area. They learn about penalities and how to treat convicted offenders, taking an in-depth look into the different types of criminal offences and their suitable punishments.

Gender Law 

Gender law is a popular specialisation that many students at the top law schools today choose to focus on. This is typically an area of law that many women are passionate about and want to pursue cases relating to it in their professional careers as lawyers. In this specialisation, students take courses that focus on topics such as discrimination in the workplace, domestic violence, human trafficking and reproductive rights.

Bar exam 

After completing law school, there is another requirement for those who desire to practice law in the united states. This requirement is passing the bar exam. The bar exam is a long exam that tests whether the candidate knows enough to practice law in the state. 

When taking the bar exam, you have to select the state you will practice law in because each one has its own requirements and rules to be admitted to the bar. Although there are a few exceptions, generally, once you have passed in one state, you can only practice law in that state.

top law schools
top law schools

 

In conclusion, becoming a lawyer is quite a feat, and this is all the more true when becoming a lawyer in the United States. However, if you can enter a school from the top law schools and specialise in the area of law you choose, you have a great chance of acquiring the J.D. title and going on to pursue more degrees if you want. You will also be a shoo-in for passing the bar exam!