As the only state to be based on civil law jurisdiction as opposed to common law, practicing law in Louisiana is challenging and rewarding. Around 60% of the world uses civil law, meaning that practicing or studying law in the state prepares you for a global career. These differences are reflected in the challenging essay-format bar exam. It is essential to go to a top law school to learn the intricacies of being a lawyer in Louisiana or even worldwide.
With four law schools available, it can be challenging to decide which university is right for you. Law school is intense and competitive, known for its rigorous curriculum. Luckily at the top schools, professors will be knowledgeable in their fields and provide plenty of opportunities to use the information learned in the classroom. Law schools typically offer experiential learning through externships, clinics, and pro bono community service. Students can also participate in activities from moot court competitions to editing well-regarded law journals.
Many lawyers congregate in Louisiana with the highest populations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Louisiana has more lawyers per capita than all but eight states, with 4.4 lawyers per 1,000 people. The average attorney in the state earns a salary of $90,500 annually.
It is essential to go to a good law school to earn a JD degree, pass the bar exam, and have enough practical experience to land your dream job in the legal field. Here are the best law schools in Louisiana based on their placement in the US News list.
4. Southern University Law Center (Baton Rouge, LA)
The student body at SULC is the most diverse in Louisiana and one of the most varied in the nation. Thanks to the school’s devotion to recruiting underrepresented candidates, it was ranked as the #2 best law school for African Americans by preLaw magazine in 2019. This also extends to the faculty teaching at the Law Center, consistently landing it as the #1 most diverse faculty according to the Princeton Review. SULC proudly provides high-quality legal education to students from different backgrounds.
Once admitted to the Law Center, students have the opportunity to earn academic credit while working in law offices, judicial chambers, and state agencies through the externship program. Law students can explore legal work in the Baton Rouge area and learn critical thinking skills highly sought after by hiring managers. SULC draws from partnerships with workplaces throughout the state and nationwide to best support their students. In addition, law students participate in seminars to reflect on their experiences in the field.
SULC graduates join a network of over 4,500 alumni who are committed to community service and giving back. They become leading civil rights attorneys, political leaders, judges, and educators that impact the world today. The quality education and opportunities for hands-on experience provided at SULC shape the legal careers of graduates. Many alumni stay connected with the school and encourage students to follow in their footsteps through mentoring prospective lawyers. Others spread throughout the nation as trailblazers in the legal profession, inspiring the next generation of lawyers.
The Continuing Legal Education program at SULC advances knowledge for a wide variety of people from diverse backgrounds. As an institution of access and opportunity, the Law Center uses their professional development and collaborative partnerships to educate legal scholars. This takes place through talks by highly regarded speakers and other community events.
3. Loyola University New Orleans College of Law (New Orleans, LA)
Loyola is one of the few law schools nationwide to offer both civil and common law curricula. This gives law students the opportunity to apply their legal training in Louisiana, nationwide, or around the world. They gain a unique comparative perspective from the first semester and are supported by individualized attention and support from their professors.
Law students also develop their understanding of international law through Loyola’s Summer Legal Studies Programs. Boasting one of the most extensive catalog of study abroad programs, students can choose to be immersed in the legal system and culture of a variety of host countries such as Budapest, Moscow, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, Spetses, and Vienna. This gives students a more international appreciation and understanding of the law.
Outside of studying, students can participate in extracurricular activities such as national and international moot court competitions. In 2019, Loyola sent 19 teams to 17 competitions and advanced or placed in over half. The student-led groups range from the First Amendment Moot Team to the All Star Bracket Challenge Team. Through competing in moot court competitions, students gain written, oral, and negotiating advocacy skills. In addition, this enhances the law school experience of participants by providing networking opportunities and a practical application of skills.
The Loyola Law Review is a student-produced journal that was first established in 1920. The group publishes three issues annually that contain articles by professors, judges, and practitioners. The issues also include student-written case notes on written court opinions that allow them to develop their legal writing abilities. The final articles are selected through a rigorous process that ultimately seeks to guide legal discourse.
85% of graduates from Loyola’s College of Law are employed within the first 10 months of graduation. Lawyers from Loyola work in law firms ranging from solo practices to firms with hundreds of attorneys. Other graduates go on to work in business, government, public interest, and clerkships.
2. Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center (Baton Rouge, LA)
LSU is the only law school nationwide to offer a combined Juris Doctor and Diploma in Comparative Law (DCL) degree program. The optional DCL recognizes that the student was trained in both common and civil law, requiring the most courses out of any law school in the US. The constant presence of two law systems in the surrounding state provides a comparative environment and diverse opportunities for education. Additionally, they solidify LSU’s position as a leader in globalized education.
Law students learn from 35 full-time faculty members who are dedicated teachers and nationally regarded scholars. Professors have published 34 book contributions, 27 articles, and 13 online works in 2019 alone. Despite their contributions to the legal field, faculty members also make time to meet one-on-one with students because they care about their education and well-being.
The top-notch professors help students succeed in their future careers as attorneys. LSU holds the #1 ranking for the LA bar exam, with an impressive 85.6% pass rate on the 2019 exam.
LSU is also home to six law clinics including Civil Mediation, Immigration, Juvenile Defense, Parole Assistance and Re-entry, and Prosecution. The school also houses the first Wrongful Conviction Clinic in Louisiana. Students assist by investigating and litigating applications for post-conviction testing. While being supervised by faculty, law students study causes of wrongful convictions that include mistaken identity, false confessions, racial bias, and misconduct. They also learn essential lawyering skills from legal research to interviewing clients.
LSU students are also participating members of their communities performing hundreds of hours of community service. One hundred fifty students participate in the LSU Law Public Interest Law Society’s days of service each semester. The competition challenges students to do 10 hours of pro bono service each with the goal of investing at least 1,000 hours of service to their community annually. Students typically exceed or even double this goal.
1. Tulane University School of Law (New Orleans, LA)
As the 12th oldest law school in the United States, Tulane has been a place of innovation in the study of law since its founding in 1847. The school’s broad curriculum supports any interests but also allows for further specialization. Students have the opportunity to learn from professors at the forefront of the legal field. The areas of concentration include international & comparative, admiralty & maritime, energy & environment, and sports. Each program has its own centers and institutions and extracurricular activities to enrich learning.
Another opportunity for specialization is the Tulane Corporate Law Institute, which hosts the premier mergers & acquisitions, corporate, and securities law conferences in the country. The institute delivers unparalleled educational and networking experience while also drawing in the best practitioners, judges, and investment bankers from around the country. Students are exposed to M&A experts and can learn how to apply their legal knowledge in a business setting.
Tulane also has one of the oldest moot court programs in the nation for mock trial, appellate, alternative dispute resolution, and other interschool disciplines. The teams are open to all 2L and 3L law students, allowing them to sharpen their oral advocacy skills. The program finds success in national and international competitions due to the school’s rigid curriculum. Alumni of the program include judges, members of Congress, US Ambassadors, and state governors.
Law students from Tulane and across the nation participate in Tulane’s summer abroad programs. The university was one of the first five schools in the US to offer a foreign summer law program and has continued to run for 45 years. Summer faculty members in the past have included Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.