Here Are the Best Law Schools in the Southeast

Deciding where to attend law school involves a vast array of considerations, one of which is location. Starting a career in the law field begins with selecting a school that best fits you.

Although there are law practices in many different areas of the country, law schools are not evenly distributed across the United States, with most states having only three or fewer law schools. 

There is nothing preventing aspiring lawyers from moving away to start their careers in a state other than the one where they attended law school, but it can be challenging to find job openings and clerkships for those who did not graduate from a highly-ranked, well-known law school. 

Additionally, the law school you attend will likely offer clinics, internships, and local network connections that can help you get started in the area. 

Some law school classes may even be tailored to the state-specific guidelines and subject areas that will be tested on the state’s bar exam. 

For these reasons, it makes the most sense to study law in the state where you plan to start your career as a lawyer. 

Law school location is also essential when considering what industries are nearby, varying levels of demand for different markets, and any local cultural differences. 

Thus, location is an essential factor in determining what opportunities will be available to you if you decide to attend law school in one area versus another. 

The following list offers some information about great schools for those who are interested in practicing law in the southeastern United States.

We define the Southeast as including these states listed in the southeast region according to Wikipedia

Here are the best law schools in the southeast United States. These schools were chosen as they are the 12 highest-rated law schools in the region as ranked on the US News best law schools list.

University of Virginia School of Law (Charlottesville, VA)

University of Virginia School of Law
Mmw3v at English Wikipedia, University of Virginia School of Law, front, CC BY 3.0

Widely considered among the top law schools worldwide, the University of Virginia School of Law had an amazing bar passage rate of near 100% in 2020.

Additionally, the Princeton Review names UVA as having the #1 quality of life of all law schools in the entire nation.

There is even a designation for the top law schools in the nation called “T14” – names on the list include places like Columbia, Harvard, and Stanford. 

UVA is, in fact, one of these T14 schools.

One of the amazing things about UVA’s program is the study abroad opportunities the school affords its students. A number of international exchange programs exist, including those with law schools in countries such as Israel, Australia, and Japan.

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

With only about 40 law students in each first-year section, Wake Forest University offers an intimate learning environment and a tight-knit campus community. 

Current first-year enrollment at Wake Forest Law is 167, and the student-faculty ratio at the school is 7.4:1.

The school provides students with a traditional classroom experience, paired with an emphasis on service-based education. 

The first-year curriculum includes the customary course offerings and a required professional development course intended to help students develop an understanding of the connection between legal theory and legal practice. 

After completing the first year, Wake Forest law students have the opportunity to work with a faculty advisor to create their own upper-level course plan tailored to their professional goals.  

George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School (Arlington, VA)

Located in close proximity to Washington DC, the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School sits at the heart of one of the nation’s most important political and legal centers.

The school offers its students an almost unparalleled array of employment opportunities in many areas of government and federal agencies and the area’s numerous private law firms.

The college has 16 different clinical programs, through which students can gain invaluable hands-on experience with representing clients, legal writing, preparing cases, and more.   

Emphasizing the intersection of law and economics, Scalia Law prepares its graduates exceedingly well for careers in the business sector. Over half of Scalia Law graduates are employed at the time of graduating from the school. 

Additionally, Scalia Law students have a history of landing stellar clerkship positions after graduation. 

William & Mary Law School (Williamsburg, VA)

Only an hour from Richmond and Virginia Beach and three hours from Washington, DC, William & Mary Law School is a suburban public university located in Williamsburg, VA. 

One of the oldest law schools in the United States, W&M Law has a long-standing commitment to training citizen lawyers, or lawyers who work first and foremost to pursue the public good.

Affectionately referred to by students as “the ‘Burg,” Williamsburg boasts its deep sense of reverence for its historical roots, as well as its vibrant, dynamic collegiate atmosphere. The town’s suburban environment 

W&M Law students have access to all the amenities and opportunities that come with living in a city, but in a place small enough to maintain the intimate, close-knit community atmosphere of living in a small town.  

Washington & Lee University School of Law (Lexington, VA)

The School of Law at Washington & Lee University is a small private school located in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, only about 3 hours away from Washington, DC. 

The student-to-faculty ratio is 7.3:1, so students can expect small class sizes. 

At W&L Law, students do not have to select a particular concentration, but rather have the opportunity to personalize their education through selecting elective courses. 

The school offers a handful of options for clinical programs, including one in which students help coal miners who developed black lung disease with getting federal benefits. 

Another clinic allows students to work with attorneys who are representing defendants facing the death penalty. 

Around 20% of those who graduate from W&L Law go on to practice law in Washington. 

Emory University School of Law (Atlanta, GA)

Emory University School of Law
Daniel Mayer, Emory University School of Law, CC BY-SA 3.0

Emory University School of Law is currently tied for the #29 rank among law schools in the country, according to the US News and World Report’s annual list

The school is located in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the most affordable metropolitan areas in the United States. The city is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, as well as the world’s busiest airport. 

Emory students are thus able to benefit from close proximity to this hub for all the business, travel, and legal activity that have earned the city the nickname “the gateway to the world.” 

With over 60 student organizations to choose from, students at Emory have many opportunities to get involved on campus, build their resumes, and establish network connections.   

University of Georgia School of Law (Athens, GA)

The University of Georgia School of Law is a public institution located in Athens, GA. 

The average enrollment at the school is around 600, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7.7:1. 

An impressive 80% of all students at Georgia Law receive scholarship aid, while an even greater 100% of first-generation graduate students and military veterans get financial aid scholarships.

Georgia Law offers many concurrent enrollment programs in which students can earn an additional degree during their second and third years of law school. Concurrent enrollment programs can be taken through any of the university’s 17 other schools and colleges. 

The School of Law emphasizes global opportunities, offering students a variety of study abroad programs, work abroad programs, and other global experiences. 

University of Alabama School of Law (Tuscaloosa, AB)

Founded in 1872, the University of Alabama School of Law was the first law school in the state of Alabama. Today, it is the only public law school in the state.

The school is located in Tuscaloosa, or “T-Town,” along the Black Warrior River in West Alabama. 

The city is within a few hours of major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Beyond its advantageous location, the University of Alabama School of Law has a tradition of producing highly successful students. 

Within ten months of graduation, an astounding 96.1% of the Alabama Law graduating class of 2020 was either employed or pursuing another degree. 

The school also boasts a 93.6% bar passage rate for first-time test takers. 

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

Founded in 1789, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first public university in the country. According to the Wall Street Journal’s 2022 college rankings, UNC is the best public university in the entire southern United States. 

Although UNC Law was established 56 years later in 1845, it has come to earn itself prominent distinction as an elite law school, ranking #20 in reputation among lawyers and judges. 

The school has a long-standing tradition of producing top lawyers, providing high-quality legal education through a number of rigorous, hands-on, interdisciplinary academic programs.  

The city of Chapel Hill is known to offer numerous social and professional opportunities and a vibrant music scene, historic architecture, and all the city amenities students at UNC Law could ever need. 

University of Florida Levin College of Law (Gainesville, FL)

University of Florida Levin College of Law
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the sunny city of Gainesville, within a two-hour drive of Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa, the University of Florida Levin College of Law is the oldest operating law school in the state of Florida.

The college is known for its robust alumni network, called the UF Law “Gator Nation.” 

This network consists of over 21,500 graduates from all over the world, many of whom remain involved with the school through offering mentorship, connections, and professional opportunities to current UF Law students. 

For those who are interested in practicing tax law, UF Law is a great choice, as their tax law program is currently ranked second in the nation. In fact, the school is in the top 25 law schools in the country in general, so UF Law evidently has a lot to offer all of its students.  

Vanderbilt University Law School (Nashville, TN)

Founded in 1874, Vanderbilt University Law School is an elite law school located just over a mile from the heart of downtown Nashville. 

Named America’s “friendliest city” by the Travel + Leisure magazine, Nashville is known as a hub for a number of industries, including music, research, and business. 

The Vanderbilt campus is home to over 300 species of trees and shrubs, earning it designation as a national arboretum since 1988. 

The weather is mild year-round, allowing students to enjoy outdoor activities no matter the time of year. 

Vanderbilt’s first-year curriculum consists primarily of required courses, while the second- and third-year curricula allow students great freedom in selecting elective courses that align with their passions. 

Duke University School of Law (Durham, NC)

Duke University School of Law is ranked #10 among the top law schools in the country, according to the 2022 list by the US News and World Report. 

With an acceptance rate of only 20.2%, Duke Law is the eleventh most selective law school in the country. 

However, this selectivity is not unwarranted, as the school has a highly prestigious reputation for its high-quality academics and extensive resources, including its professors.   

With a 5.2:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Duke law students have the opportunity to receive ample guidance and direct attention from the school’s highly respected, expert faculty. 

Duke’s location is also known for being stellar — Durham has been named the second-best place to live among the 150 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States.