When thinking about law schools, states like California or Massachusetts come to mind. After all, they are home to some of the most prestigious schools in the nation and the world. And when one thinks of top-notch schools, Harvard, Yale (in Connecticut), and even Stanford are household names.
However, law schools in North Carolina have several characteristics that are unique to them. Some are historically significant; they were founded in an earlier era when many populations were barred from taking advantage of educational and career opportunities.
In response, the founders of these law schools wanted to make opportunities available to the marginalized and underserved, developing comparable curriculum and training. Those same colleges continue that legacy to this day, imbuing academic excellence and training with a sense of justice and interest in the public good.
Others are rooted in specific cultural and spiritual values that create a unique campus atmosphere and culture.
Students at these schools enjoy great employment prospects, inspired by the notable alumni who preceded them. Resident and visiting faculty are world-renowned scholars, many with years of practical experience in their field. The curricula of these schools are equally devoted to rigorous, in-depth classroom learning, as well as relevant, experiential education.
Indeed, theory meeting practice is a recurring theme. One school places explicitly a very high premium on practical education, though not at the exclusion of stellar education in the classroom.
This article’s ranking is based on each school’s placement in the US News Law School list. We gladly present the Best Law Schools in North Carolina.
6. North Carolina Central University School of Law (Durham, NC)
The North Carolina Central University School of Law has produced several distinguished alumni, including the first African American to serve as US Attorney in the Southern region, Mickey Michaux, and the first African American and youngest mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson.
The law school has been poised to make history with an impressive list of historical firsts.” It was founded as the only in-state law school choice for African Americans before the Civil Rights era and continues to serve as a premier institution for North Carolina’s African American community and other underrepresented groups in the field of law.
Over the years, NCCU Law has garnered praise and recognition for its diverse student body and faculty. Its bar preparation program, clinical opportunities, and focus on public interest law have consistently featured on top 20 lists. The Intellectual Property Law Institute (IPLI) is one of the school’s recent efforts to boost minority representation in different areas of law.
Additionally, many of the faculty have years of practical experience in various areas of law, including family law as well as patent and trade law. NCCU Law students receive comprehensive training and guidance under these accomplished and experienced faculty members, many of whom direct the school’s robust clinical education program.
From the beginning, its core mission has been to train the next generation of competent and socially responsible lawyers and lawmakers who prioritize public service. Due to its historical legacy, combined with its good curriculum and commitment to the public good, the NCCU Law will hold on to its spot among North Carolina’s respected law schools.
5. Elon University School of Law (Elon, NC)
Any student looking to begin their law career should look at schools that produce the most desirable outcomes in employment and real-world preparation. The Elon University School of Law has received the top national award for “Legal Professionalism Education” from the American Bar Association. Its stellar profile is rounded out by its appearance on the most recent US News and World Report lists for top Trial Advocacy and Legal Writing programs.
The most salient aspect of the school’s curriculum is its “learning by doing” approach to legal education and training. As part of its innovative 2.5-year program, first-year students are required to spend one full term in legal practice under an Elon Law faculty member’s guidance. Students are placed in judicial clerkships, public and private law offices, or one of the school’s in-house legal clinics, such as the Humanitarian Immigration Law Clinic.
Boosting its legal professionalism profile, Elon Law houses the North Carolina Business Court, making it one of the very few law schools in the country to house a working court. This allows students to witness and learn about the inner workings of a professional court on site.
To attract the most promising students, Elon Law offers a handful of competitive fellowships to those interested in trial advocacy, business law, public policy, and public interest law. The fellowships cover tuition and some even offer summer stipends to facilitate training and education all year round.
The school has an overall post-graduation employment rate of 85%, proving that it delivers on its mission to provide the most intensive, hands-on training for aspiring lawyers.
4. Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law (Raleigh, NC)
The 2020 Campbell University Norman Wiggins School of Law bar passage rate was an impressive 97.86 % (overall), making it one of the top-performing schools not only in North Carolina, but throughout the country. In recent years, around 75% of graduates obtain employment in law within a year of graduating.
Additionally, Campbell Law’s Trial Advocacy program made it into the Top 21 on the recent US News and World Report List.
These are the kind of stats and facts that impress any prospective student. However, they do not tell the whole story; other factors make Campbell Law an excellent choice for future lawyers.
Campbell is the only law school located in the state’s capital, Raleigh. The state Supreme Court, legislative offices, city hall, county courthouse, and many other legal offices and organizations are within a short distance from the campus. Students have access to ample opportunities for clerkships and externships, in conjunction with taking foundational courses in one of the many practice areas available. In 2018, 85% of graduates completed externships with a variety of public and private employers in Raleigh.
A school’s culture can be one of its most unique assets. Campbell Law has been featured on preLaw’s list of “Most Devout Law Schools.” The school offers courses on Christian perspectives on legal thought and Christian conceptions of justice, among others. Here, legal education and training is intertwined with Christian values; prospective students looking to flourish professionally and spiritually will find a home at Campbell Law.
Campbell Law also has a place for students looking to juggle their education, life, and work. Campbell FLEX is a pathway for working professionals who want to advance their careers or continue their education without committing to their studies full time.