As the second-largest city in the United States by population and the single largest by landmass, Los Angeles is home to a large and diverse population, including many immigrants, due to its proximity to the Mexican border.
Beyond its vibrant cultural and social atmosphere, the so-called City of Angels is a bustling hub for entertainment, technology, and financial industry affairs.
Many Fortune 500 companies and massive technology companies like Google, YouTube, and Facebook have offices in downtown LA, offering law students a vast array of professional opportunities within a short distance of their school of choice.
As many lawyers eventually establish careers in the area in which they attended law school, attending a law school in Los Angeles is the wise decision for students who wish to practice in the Southern California region.
There is no shortage of law schools to choose from, but not all J.D. programs are created equally. Thus, when deliberating about which law school in LA is the best option, students need to carefully consider what each school has to offer them.
The following law schools are ranked according to where each school ranks in the US News & World Report’s 2022 list of the best law schools in the country.
4. Southwestern Law School
Southwestern Law School offers students more options for degree programs leading to a J.D. than any other American Bar Association-approved law school, with four different programs of study, all featuring different schedules and instructional approaches.
In addition to a conventional full-time, daytime degree program, the school has a part-time night program. Southwestern’s other two J.D. programs are more unconventional.
One of these is the PLEAS program, which stands for Part-time Legal Education Alternative at Southwestern. This four-year, part-time program is designed to suit the needs of law students who have child- or elder-care responsibilities. It is one of the first programs of its kind in the country.
Students who take part in the PLEAS program have the opportunity to be a part of a special mentorship program under the supervision of Professor Jenny R. Fee, the program’s designated faculty advisor.
Over the course of the program, PLEAS students meet with Professor Fee as a group, with many chances to arrange individual meetings as well. Under the professor’s guidance, students receive assistance with planning out future courses with an eye on their career aspirations.
The SCALE, or Southwestern’s Conceptual Approach to Legal Education, the program is an accelerated J.D. program with an alternative approach to legal education. The very first ABA-approved program of its kind, SCALE allows students to earn a J.D. degree in only two years.
Established in 1975, the accelerated SCALE curriculum is very flexible beyond the first year, allowing students to choose from among a number of summer session electives, second-year elective courses, and honors programs participation options.
SCALE students are guaranteed full-time externship placements with practicing legal professionals in order to develop the practical skills and knowledge lawyers need.
The school also offers concurrent J.D./M.B.A. degree programs through a partnership with Southwestern’s Drucker Graduate School of Management.
3. Loyola Law School
Loyola Law School has been ranked #1 for best evening programs outside of the east coast.
The school is also tied for the #8 spot on the US News and World Report’s 2022 rankings for best part-time law schools in the country.
The first American Bar Association-approved school in California to require students carry out a minimum amount of pro bono legal service prior to graduation, the school boasts a strong commitment to ethics and the public interest.
Further, Loyola students are often known to surpass the required minimum of 40 hours of pro bono work.
In fact, in alignment with the school’s purported dedication to pursuing social justice, Loyola students have helped save five wrongfully convicted people from death row and long-term incarceration.
Each year, Loyola Law students complete over 40,000 hours of free legal work for nonprofit organizations.
The school’s robust Public Interest Department offers students support for pro bono student work in a number of ways, including public interest scholarships, summer public interest grants, and post-graduate public interest fellowships.
Additionally, the college is home to a number of different programs, clinics, and centers for those who are interested in studying public interest law, such as the Public Interest Law Concentration.
Upon graduation from the program, participating students receive a certificate acknowledging their distinction.
According to the legal magazine the American Lawyer, Loyola is the third best law school in the country in terms of preparing its graduates for careers as attorneys for Big Law Practice.
Loyola’s graduating class of 2020 has an employment rate of 86.71%, with the majority of graduates securing employment in the state of California shortly after graduation.
Loyola’s experiential learning opportunities include field placements and practica, clinics, externships, and multiple concentrations that combine academic rigor with hands-on practical training.
2. University of Southern California Gould School of Law
Founded in 1900, the University of Southern California Gould School of Law was the first law school in the Southern California area.
Over the school’s 120-year history, USC’s Gould School of Law has established a tradition of enrolling one of the country’s most diverse law student populations, including more international students than any other law school.
In 1911, before the success of the women’s suffrage movement, a dozen female students graduated from USC Gould.
Shortly after, they launched Phi Delta Delta, the first women’s law student organization in the US.
Today, USC Gould has maintained its commitment to innovating legal education, becoming an elite legal institution ranking among the top 20 law schools in the country.
The school’s alumni network has grown to include over 10,000 legal professionals across the world.
With a median undergraduate GPA of 3.84 and a median LSAT score of 168, the school’s incoming class of 2024 is no exception to its longstanding tradition of accepting only the highest caliber applicants.
As of 2020, the acceptance rate for USC Gould is only 19.2%, making admission to the school highly selective. The high standards held by the USC Gould admissions office are warranted, however, given the school’s prestigious reputation.
Over 500 USC Gould alumni have gone on to become state or federal judges after graduating from the school.
Emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary studies to develop a robust and comprehensive understanding of legal theory and practice, USC Gould offers 15 different dual degree programs.
The college has, in fact, pioneered the concepts of interdisciplinary legal education and clinical training, becoming one of the first schools to recognize the significance of cross-disciplinary studies in 1965.
1. University of California – Los Angeles School of Law
The University of California Los Angeles School of Law is consistently ranked as one of the premier law schools in the United States, coming in #14 in the US News and World Report’s annual ranked list of best American law schools.
Founded in 1949, UCLA is among the youngest of top-rated law schools. Over the course of its history, the school has become internationally renowned for the exceptionally high-quality education they provide.
As of today, UCLA Law’s alumni network has swelled to include more than 18,000 graduates who are leaders in the legal field and in the areas of government, industry, and social justice. The school regularly hosts reunions and other events that allow current students to form network connections and receive mentorship from alumni.
The college offers a rigorous academic environment that is on the forefront of the most cutting-edge innovations in the legal field.
With over 60 full-time faculty members who are widely recognized as some of the most influential legal scholars in the world, UCLA students get the opportunity to learn from some of the most knowledgeable professionals there are.
In addition to a stellar faculty, UCLA offers an extensive array of resources, including a number of well-funded centers, programs, and institutes on campus.
UCLA Law is consistently ranked as one of the best law schools for entertainment and media law. Additionally, many of their other programs, including the business/corporate law, tax law, constitutional law, and environmental law programs, are ranked within the top 10 in the US.
As of 2021, UCLA Law has graduated a greater number of highly-cited critical theorists than any other school, making UCLA a leader in terms of scholarly impact.
With over 400 law firms and legal employers who visit the campus every year, UCLA offers almost unparalleled employment opportunities.
An astounding 96% of students in UCLA’s graduating class of 2018 were employed in the legal field within ten months after graduation.