The Best Law Schools in Kentucky

The legal profession has been around for as long as recorded human history has been around. Lawyers help clients in various ways, from representing them in court to assisting them in navigating the seemingly labyrinthine legal system. With that said, it is not a surprise that the legal profession will continue to see a steady job growth rate over the next ten years, around 4%. Lawyers will be on demand for the foreseeable future in a broad range of fields.

Unlike California or Massachusetts, Kentucky does not seem synonymous with higher education institutions, let alone law school. It is more widely known as “Horse Country” and as the home of the Derby, among other things. It turns out that the state is home to some of the oldest and most established law schools in the country, and it is about time that they are put in the spotlight.

Because of their exceptional programs, all rank in the top 100 law schools in the nation, according to US News & World Report. While national and regional rankings are an important factor, these schools are more than just a rank. They are known for world-class faculty, laudable employment prospects, and the many opportunities they offer their students. These schools have and continue to open the door for thousands of aspiring lawyers.

Let’s take a look at these amazing schools.

3. Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law (Highland Heights, KY)

Northern Kentucky University
Samvscat, NKU lake, CC BY-SA 3.0

Chase College of Law may not be a household name, like Harvard Law or Yale Law, but it earns its place among the best law schools in Kentucky, and it is a nationally reputable one at that. Its part-time law students receive as excellent an education as their full-time counterparts receive; it was ranked within the top 100 in the nation by the US News & World Report. 

Since its founding in 1893, Chase College has been a staple for full-time and part-time students embarking on a legal career. At that time, it was the third night law school in the nation. It continues its legacy of providing a top-notch education for students of a variety of backgrounds.

Community service and involvement are at the heart of Chase Law’s curriculum and research profile. The school has debuted plans for the new Center on Addiction Law & Policy, where policymakers, lawyers, activists, and researchers will exchange ideas for addressing the dire opioid crisis in the region and nationwide. The Center for Excellence in Advocacy prepares students to become competent and compassionate representatives of clients in court. Chase Law’s commitment to community service and the public interest is underscored by its Pro Bono Service program; all students are required to complete 50 hours of pro bono service work in the capacity of community legal education, client intake, research and writing, and more.

Chase Law students gain the practical experience they need to succeed in the legal profession by participating in one of the five unique clinics. Students who have completed 28 credit hours of coursework and are enrolled in the Professional Responsibility course can work with judges, lawyers, and clients in the United States Court of Appeals, through the Sixth Circuit Clinic.  Chase Law also offers a unique opportunity for students to help small businesses, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs navigate the regulatory issues involved in starting and running a business or organization.

While clinics are a vital component in experiential education, externships are often the gateways into the professional world. Because of the school’s proximity to Cincinnati, students have access to myriad professional opportunities. Cincinnati is home to over 100 law firms. In the past, Chase Law students have landed externships at high-profile organizations and institutions, such as the City of Cincinnati Law Department, General Electric, and the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

The law school also boasts a fantastic location. It is located within the metro area of Cincinnati, Ohio, amidst the rolling hills of Kentucky. Highland Heights has also been noted as one of the safest college towns in the country, which is a plus for anyone looking for a tranquil environment. The school’s proximity to metro areas makes it an ideal choice for students looking for professional opportunities to complement and round out their education.

Most Chase Law graduates find employment within ten months of graduation, which attests to the school’s overall quality.

2. University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law (Louisville, KY)

University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law
Nolanwebb, Brandeis Law, CC BY-SA 4.0

Like many well-established law schools, the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, or Brandeis School of Law, has a long-standing, salient commitment to public service and the public good. Established in 1846, it was one of the first law schools requiring students to complete public service before graduation.

The school continues to exemplify this commitment to public service through the Samuel L. Greenbaum Public Service Program. This unique program offers first-year students the opportunity to complete 30 hours of public service after the first semester, placing students with various impactful community organizations. The program also offers competitive paid summer fellowships at legal aid agencies throughout the state and country. It also hosts an exciting, annual fundraising event, Lawlapalooza, to benefit the Judge Ellen B. Ewing Foundation, which provides funding for some of these summer fellowships.

In sum, Brandeis Law students have ample opportunities to serve the community and have an excellent track record of doing so. The Class of 2018 alone performed 4,700 hours of pro bono work. Aspiring lawyers who are passionate about the public good will find a place at Brandeis School of Law and continue the tradition of outstanding public service.

Since day one, Brandeis School of law has demonstrated its willingness to embrace innovative approaches to educating the next generation of lawyers, keeping pace with the social and technological changes of the time. According to Wikipedia, Brandeis Law faculty eschewed the casebook method of training, popularized by Harvard Law, in favor of a practical, hands-on approach to education. Students are encouraged to visit local courts and actively participate in moot court sessions.

The school’s strong emphasis on practical education does not mean that it ditches classroom education. The opposite is true; full-time and part-time students in the J.D. program receive a solid grounding in the fundamentals of law theory and practice, including lawyering skills, contracts, torts, Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, and Criminal Law. Students are taught and mentored by world-class faculty who are experts in a variety of fields, appearing on national news programs, presenting briefs before the Supreme Court, publishing books on relevant topics.

Upper-level coursework provides students with the opportunity to delve more deeply into a broad range of legal disciplines, areas of concentration, and even interdisciplinary study. Upper-level coursework is interspersed with experiential learning opportunities, which include clinic work and externships. The school has a close relationship with the city of Louisville’s bar and bench, which provides students access to the city’s judges and attorneys.

The rigorous training, in and outside of the classroom, certainly pays off. Approximately 91% of graduates of the Class of 2019 were gainfully employed within a year of graduation. The class of 2019 also boasts a bar passage of 92%, well above the state average. With such an impressive public service and academic profile, it is no wonder that the Brandeis School of Law is on the list of the top 100 “Best Law Schools” in the US.

1. University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law (Lexington, KY)

University of Kentucky
Seicer, Main Bldg (UK), CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law has the distinction of being #81 among all public and private schools on US News & World Report’s list of “Best Law Schools” and top 5 among “Best Value” law schools. Furthermore, almost 90% of recent graduates land full-time jobs within a year of graduation and outperform the state’s bar passage average by 8.4 points. The school gets better every year and with stats and rankings like these, it is not a surprise that the acceptance rate went from 60% in 2017 to 48% in 2020. Future lawyers with stellar academic records and well-rounded profiles are clamoring to get into this school. Now that the stats and rankings are out of the way, it is time to extoll the merits of the UK College of Law and find out why it tops this list and is becoming an increasingly popular choice among those looking to start a career in law.

Courses at the UK College of Law are taught by internationally renowned scholars who publish their trailblazing work in top, peer-reviewed journals, such as the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and through top academic publishers, such as Cambridge University Press. 

Assistant Professor of Law, Jonathan Shaub, exemplifies the winning combination of excellent scholarship and robust experience in the legal profession. He has worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel and as an editor for the Northwestern University Law review. Shaub’s work focuses on congressional oversight and the constitutional separation of powers. Working closely with such impressive faculty, UK College of Law students are guaranteed to graduate with excellent legal education and training.

Like any excellent law school, the UK College of Law melds rigorous classroom education with extensive, practical experience outside of the classroom. Course offerings include Contracts, Torts, Legal Research and Writing, Criminal law, and many more. The upper-level courses are focused on different areas of law, which can pique a student’s interest in one of the many specialties available.Students hone their lawyering skills and gain valuable experience through externships and the school’s legal clinic, where they file pleadings, draft documents, and interview clients. They can incorporate community service into their experiential education through the Pro Bono Project. Overall, KU College of Law students enter the real world as expertly trained, experienced, and compassionate lawyers, looking to make a difference in the world.