The Best Law Schools in North Carolina

3. Wake Forest University School of Law (Winston-Salem, NC)

Wake Forest University School of Law
Boltlm17, Worrell, Wake Forest University, CC BY-SA 4.0

According to the latest US News and World Report, Wake Forest University School of Law is one of the top 50 law schools in the country. It is the most competitive law school on this list so far, with an acceptance rate hovering around 34% and a high-ranking legal writing program. Many of the resident faculty are world-renowned scholars in a variety of fields. One such faculty member, Christine Coughlin, has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and is a prolific scholar in bioethics and biotech law.

Wake Forest Law students have opportunities to advise or represent real clients through the school’s six legal clinics. The Veterans Legal Clinic, for example, provides pro bono representation to veterans who were discharged because of PTSD or mental illness. North Carolina has the eighth-largest population of veterans in the country, indicating a dire need for legal and mental health services. 

Students can simultaneously hone their skills and bring value to the local community by doing pro bono work for the Veterans Legal Clinic. Students also enhance their experiential learning through simulation courses and field placements throughout the county.

The school is also home to the North Carolina Business Court. Through this unique facility, students can see a working court in action, right on their campus. Wake Forest alumni have served as clerks for all four business courts in the state.

Employment stats for Wake Forest Law grads are very favorable, with more than 80% obtaining full-time employment each year.

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law (Chapel Hill, NC)

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law – Carolina Law for short – is one the oldest and most established law schools in the country. It ranks #24 for “Best Law Schools,” producing nearly half of North Carolina’s practicing attorneys. Notable alumni include the 2004 Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards and three of the state’s Supreme Court justices. 

Of the class of 2018, a whopping 92% were employed full-time within ten months of graduation. From the classes of 2019 and 2020, 46 obtained judicial clerkships with federal, state, and local judges. Things bode well for novice lawyers with degrees from Carolina Law.

Carolina Law prides itself in delivering a “rigorous blend of academic and practical skills.” Students have access to clinic programs, over 100 externships every year, and many mock trial and trial advocacy programs that will enable them to develop strong lawyering skills.

The clinics handle over 100 cases each year, serving marginalized and underserved clients in the area. Over 90 Carolina Law students participate in these clinics each year and are given a great deal of autonomy when handling cases, though a faculty-supervisor maintains decision-making authority. 

The school boasts a vast and active network of over 11,000 alumni practicing in all 50 states and many foreign countries. Alumni networks are invaluable for recent grads looking for career and social connections globally.

1. Duke University School of Law (Durham, NC)

Duke University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Duke University School of Law is the most outstanding law school in North Carolina and one of the top schools in the country. It consistently finds itself among the top 15 on the US News and World Report’s annual rankings; it is currently ranked #10. Additionally, Duke is known as one of the “T14” law schools, a select group of schools dominating law school rankings.

Duke Law is always on the cutting-edge of legal research, education, and service. Duke faculty are often at the forefront of debates on the most pressing legal issues of the day, as evidenced by Professor Blocher’s work, published in the Atlantic, and Professor Fletcher’s testimony on “meme stocks.”

Students receive some of the most dynamic, experiential education any school has to offer. The school’s clinical and experiential learning offerings are comprehensive, including a Wrongful Conviction Clinic and a Startup Ventures Clinic; these two opportunities are for students who want to grapple with legal issues faced by startup companies. 

The sheer breadth of individual externship opportunities is impressive. In previous years, students have worked at the ACLU of North Carolina, the Environmental Defense Fund, the US Army Corps of Engineers, to name just a few. Duke Law has one of the highest post-graduation employment rates in the country, rivaling that of the Ivies, and one of the highest bar passage rates. Given its world-class faculty, stats, and the quality of its students and alumni, it is no wonder that Duke is often confused as an Ivy. As this list proves, one does not need a degree from an Ivy to receive the best training, education, and experience the world has to offer.

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