In 2013, there were 54,000 applications submitted to American law schools. This number represents a nearly 50% decline from just 10 years earlier. Many factors may account for the dramatic dip, including the decreasing availability of scholarships and rising costs of tuition. Starting pay for new lawyers is also at an all-time low of $85,000 per year. Despite these depressing statistics for champions of the legal profession, going to law school remains the top choice of those fascinated by law and the naturally argumentative hoping for a career where they can get paid to debate. In the field of law, where you went to school matters more than in almost any other profession. A degree from a top American law school opens many doors, and places in elite programs are highly coveted. Below is a list of the top 10 U.S. law schools, ranked both in terms of selectivity and by national reputation among lawyers and law scholars.
10. George Washington University
Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Acceptance rate: 27.2%. 1,753 total law students. 97% of George Washington University students pass the bar exam on their first try.
George Washington University offers 12 concentrations and 6 options for joint-degree programs, including in Environmental Law, Business and Finance Law, International Environmental Law, Government Procurement and Environmental Law, Intellectual Property Law, International and Comparative Law, Government Procurement Law, and National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law. A doctoral degree is offered to a imited number of candidates.
Notable Alumni: Daniel Inouye (1953),United States Senator, Yasmine Pahlavi, Crown Princess of Iran, (1940), W. Mark Felt, former associate director of the FBI and Watergate scandal informant also known as “Deep Throat”
9. University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Acceptance rate: 21.4%. 1,149 total law students. 92% of University of Michigan students pass the bar exam on their first try.
The Princeton Review consistently ranks Michigan Law in the top three for best career prospects and 93% of graduates are employed within a year of graduation.
Notable alumni: Ann Coulter (1988) right-wing author, Clarence Darrow, (attended), famous trial lawyer; defense counsel in the Scopes Monkey trial
8. University of Virginia
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Acceptance rate: 9.3%. 1,093 total law students. 95% of University of Virginia students pass the bar exam on their first try.
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, Virginia ranks second after Harvard in the number of chief legal officers at the nation’s top 500 companies who are alumni.
Notable alumni: Ted Kennedy, (1959), U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 1980 Democratic Presidential Candidate, Woodrow Wilson, (1879), President of the United States, Robert Mueller (1973), Director of the FBI
7. University of Pennsylvania
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Acceptance rate: 17.4%. 806 total law students. 95% of University of Pennsylvania students pass the bar exam on their first try.
Located in the birthplace of the United States constitution, Penn Law is still tops in constitutional law programs. The first African-American woman to earn a law degree went here, and it was the first law school in the world to offer a joint J.D./M.B.A. Degree.
Notable alumni: John Heisman, (1892) namesake of the Heisman Trophy, Michael Smerconish, (1987) American radio and television personality
6. New York University
Location: New York, New York
Acceptance rate: 24.2%. 1,464 total law students. 96% of New York University students pass the bar exam on their first try.
Located in the most cosmopolitan city in the United States, NYU Law offers study abroad programs in Buenos Aires, Paris and Shanghai. Many of its graduates go straight to Wall Street jobs and NYU Law School’s LL.M. in Taxation program is considered the best taxation program in the United States.
Notable alumni: Louis Freeh, (1984), FBI Director, Rudy Giuliani, (1968) mayor of New York City and former presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy jr, (1989) journalist and son of President John F. Kennedy
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