Stemming probably from the significant life changes many people saw during the pandemic and the country’s increased concern for social justice, law school applications skyrocketed during the 2021 application cycle.
LSAT scores jumped as well, due to quarantine test prep time, making that growing pool of applicants an even more competitive one.
While some schools increased class size to accommodate the rise in applications and maintain roughly the same acceptance rate, the sheer number of applicants meant that many qualified students could not find a place to start school last year.
The 2022 cycle saw a slight drop in applicants, but its high number still reflects a 31.5% increase over the number of applicants in for the 2020 cycle of two years ago.
Candidates planning a law career must consider multiple factors when choosing a school. In the past, name recognition and national prestige might have governed applicants. But a practical approach makes more sense in the current climate.
Today, any law school candidate must find the right fit financially, professionally, and academically. Looking at acceptance rates becomes a necessary part of the selection process in a time when acceptance rates have dropped dramatically in law schools across the country.
Great options for law study exist all over the country. Many schools can provide a solid legal background and excellent real-client experiences through clinics and externships, paving the way for a post-graduate career with connections and confidence.
Specializations differ from one campus to another. Having an additional degree or focus area makes a graduate marketable within their chosen professional context.
The following schools are the 10 law schools with the highest acceptance rate as of 2021. The most up-to-date information on the selectivity index of law schools can be found at accepted.com.
10. Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (Columbus, OH)
The Moritz School of Law at Ohio State University offers a broad-based curriculum in its JD, LLM, and MSL degree programs, along with dual degrees, including public health, public affairs, and business. Numerous specialty areas give Moritz students many ways to focus their legal education.
Moritz students can apply to join the Mentoring and More at Moritz program, in which current Moritz students are matched with practicing lawyers, meeting in small groups throughout the year for advice and professional networking.
Summer externships place Moritz students in settings like the FCC Office of the General Counsel, the Federal Election Commission, Legal Aid of Ohio, and Homeland Security, providing exceptional professional experiences.
Graduates of Moritz have gone on to positions on the state Supreme Court, federal and district courts, in the U.S. Congress, as corporate CEOs and law professors, and as leaders in private practice.
The acceptance rate at Moritz is 35.2%. Admissions officers look for a diverse array of skills and experiences in candidates, rather than a single set of attributes. Median GPA for the incoming 2021 class was 3.79, and the median LSAT score was 163.
9. University of Washington School of Law (Seattle, WA)
Ten concurrent degree programs, nine concentration areas, and seven LLM programs allow students at the University of Washington’s School of Law to customize a program to suit any kind of legal career. From local advocacy to international law, UW Law’s JD degree can take many forms.
Clinics and externships provide all University of Washington Law students with actual client experience during the program. Students working through the school’s pro bono program can benefit from additional training and graduate with special recognition for their time and effort.
The respected Washington Law Review, Washington International Law Journal, and other specialized publications give students the chance to serve on the editorial staff and even to publish while still completing their degrees.
Washington Law’s acceptance rate is 34.5%, with an average LSAT among successful candidates at 162. In application essays, candidates should demonstrate commitment to public service and evidence of professional promise.
8. University of Colorado Law School (Boulder, CO)
Colorado Law at the University of Colorado Boulder maintains a robust social justice component to their mission and curriculum. Seven dual degree programs and an accelerated JD option make Colorado Law a practical choice for many kinds of law students.
Ranking at #10 nationally for Environmental Law, Colorado Law has a solid national profile while offering a focus on less common areas like natural resource law and American Indian law.
Small class sizes, experiential learning, and externship opportunities ensure that graduates will have the training and confidence to succeed in their chosen legal fields.
The acceptance rate for Colorado Law is 36.5%. The application provides two opportunities to address the committee through personal statements. These crucial components of the application demonstrate the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, a key indicator of law school success.
The Boulder campus also offers a beautiful Rocky Mountain location for students who enjoy outdoor activity.
7. Washington and Lee University School of Law (Lexington, VA)
The Washington and Lee University School of Law endeavors to promote collaborative learning communities rooted in respectful intellectual discourse. Its 9 to 1 student-faculty ratio and sequenced-experience curriculum make a law W&L Law JD program an innovative, dynamic place to study.
Experiential learning and practice-based coursework characterize the program’s second and third years. Three journals and two legal study and research centers provide environments for students to interact with visiting scholars, get real-world experience, and publish on legal issues.
W&L Law has an acceptance rate of 36.7% and a rate of almost 93% passage of state and national bar exams for graduates in 2020. Over 90% of students receive scholarships to help offset tuition costs at this private institution.
Ranked as the #35 law program nationally by U.S. News, W&L Law’s campus is situated in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a few hours outside Washington, D.C. Many W&L graduates go on to careers in Washington, either in legal practices or in political contexts.
6. Indiana University Maurer School of Law (Bloomington, IN)
The Maurer School of Law at Indiana University was the first public law school in the Midwest, opening in 1842. Since then, the school has earned a national and international reputation extending far beyond its idyllic college town of Bloomington.
Known predominantly for intellectual property, environmental, and international law, Maurer’s experiential component includes international programs as well as Washington, D.C. externships.
Alumni practice in every state in a range of roles that demonstrate the breadth and flexibility of this versatile program. The school’s Career Service Office connects graduates with opportunities and helps with long-range career planning.
Using the school’s recommended living expense budget, in-state annual attendance cost comes to just under $51k. Tuition freezes for accepted students at the year of enrollment, and several scholarships are available based on need and merit.
Although cost of attendance increases by another $20k for out-of-state students, Maurer’s class of 2024 included 52% nonresident students. With an acceptance rate of 43.4%, Maurer makes a good choice for prospective law students without options close to home.
5. William & Mary Law School (Williamsburg, VA)
William & Mary Law School is part of a historic, public university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, a town that dates back to colonial America. The university has been called a “public Ivy” and is known for its exceptional graduate and professional programs.
William & Mary Law coined the term “citizen lawyer” to describe its goal of graduating practitioners with insight, values, and a sense of community, considering technical knowledge alone insufficient for today’s best legal minds.
Over 50 organizations and hands-on experience through competition teams connect the law student cohorts at William & Mary. Multiple campus law journals offer editorial and publishing opportunities.
The class profile shows a diverse incoming class, with students from around the country, many with full-time work experience, and several active-duty military personnel. The 2019 rate of bar passage overall for William & Mary Law graduates was over 90%.
4. University of Wisconsin Law School (Madison, WI)
The sizeable program at University of Wisconsin Madison Law ranks at #29 nationally according to U.S. News. Its extensive clinical program provides hands-on training in a more extensive way than most law schools can.
Students at UW Law perform research and investigations, draft letters, write briefs, and interview clients in actual cases under the supervision of professors or other attorneys.
The school operates numerous clinics to serve the public interest, from eviction defense and neighborhood law to the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
Median LSAT score for the 2021 entering class is 164; median GPA is 3.65. The entering class splits almost evenly between in-state and out-of-state students.
For students interested in the reasoning behind legal structures and in practicing the roles lawyers can choose in order to shape government or corporate interaction, UW Law’s Law-in-Action curriculum provides a dynamic alternative to traditional approaches.
3. University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign, IL)
The University of Illinois at Champaign’s College of Law offers a venerable program with a 42.5% acceptance rate, along with a tuition rate freeze for the three years of the program. Merit and need-based scholarships are available, some covering full tuition.
A unique component to Illinois’ College of Law is the Chicago program, a third-year semester spent studying in Chicago with Illinois faculty and leading attorneys in the city. Many students work part-time for Chicago firms during the semester, getting a start on post-graduation employment.
The school’s multi-discipline curriculum stands out in the areas of business law, criminal law, environmental law, and public interest law.
Median LSAT scores for the Class of 2023 were 162, and the median GPA was 3.64. Enrolled students come from around the country with a wide range of undergraduate majors.
This program provides a strong option for students looking for a big-city experience and the potential for a career in a center for business like Chicago.
2. University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA)
Another campus offering a big-city experience, but on the west coast, is the University of California Hastings Law in San Francisco. The oldest law school west of the Rockies, Hastings recently completed physical renovations to campus alongside a reorganizing of priorities after the national crises of 2020.
The JD program at Hastings furnishes a comprehensive set of concentration areas for students to focus their education toward a specific career path. With 398 students joining the program in a typical first-year cohort, Hastings Law has one of the most diverse student bodies in interest and experience.
The large cohort size contributes to Hastings’ 38.7% acceptance rate. The school’s Legal Education Opportunity Program, available during the application process, helps law school candidates from underserved or disadvantaged backgrounds gain admission to and pay for law school.
Hastings graduates occupy many judgeships in the California court system and other significant roles in government. Vice-President Kamala Harris is a noteworthy graduate of Hastings.
1. University of Iowa College of Law (Iowa City, IA)
The University of Iowa’s College of Law ranks among the top ten public law schools, but it has a generous 60.4% rate of admission. It also has one of the lowest total attendance costs, coming in well under $50k for in-state students.
Core legal competencies structure the curriculum, starting with a base of writing and legal thinking education in the first year. Prestigious law journals and moot court teams provide students with ways to enhance their professional skills.
Community law and pro bono work also take a large role in the professional development of Iowa lawyers. Students can employ their classroom knowledge from the school’s own law firm on campus to community organizations while still finishing their degrees.
Iowa’s Citizen Lawyer Program cultivates the sense of community and professional responsibility in their law school students. Public service as a mission extends from the school through its graduates.
Iowa graduates go on to private practice, judicial clerkships, the corporate world, and research. The career services program gives Iowa one of the best records in the country for post-graduate job placement.