Here Are the Ivy League Law Schools, Ranked

The “Ivy League” is associated with the highest academic prestige, selectivity, and robust and proud alumni networks. 

There are only eight institutions that are officially Ivy: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, UPenn, and Cornell. 

While all of these schools are consistently found among the top 20 on esteemed publications and rankings, only five of these universities have associated law schools.

There are numerous factors to weigh when choosing a law school. Among them are post-graduation outcomes, faculty accomplishments, alumni networks, curriculum, and experiential education offerings. These schools excel in all of these categories.

This ranking for the best Ivy League law schools is based on each school’s position in the 2022 law school rankings from US News and World Report. 

5. Cornell Law School (Ithaca, NY)

Cornell Law School
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Hughes Hall Cornell University Law School, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Ivies are already noted for their world-class academics and scholarship. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Cornell Law School is one of the best in the country, ranking #13 on the latest US News & World Report

In recent years, Cornell Law graduates have passed the bar exam at impressively high rates, as high as 99%, which surpasses the NY state average by 20 percentage points. 

Cornell also boasts one of the highest job placement rates among law schools in the country; approximately 91% of graduates of the class of 2020 were gainfully employed within ten months of graduation.

Faculty have internationally renowned expertise in a variety of fields, including property law and theory, gender and law, and immigration law

Alumni and current students do not fall behind in terms of prestige and accomplishments. 

Recently, three students participating in a Law School clinic successfully helped a Guatemalan farmworker secure Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Famous (law school) Cornellians include politicians, lawyers, academics, journalists, and even Olympians.

Cornell Law is noted for its leading institutes and research centers as well as its contributions in numerous areas of law. 

The school’s experiential learning curriculum is robust in its clinical and practicum course offerings. The more than 20 clinics and practicum courses cover topics such as Entrepreneurship Law, Securities Law, LGBT advocacy, and more. 

Cornell Law has a reported acceptance rate of 21%, down from 30% in 2017. 

Among those who were admitted in fall 2020, the median GPA was 3.86, and the median LSAT score was 164

Almost half of the matriculated students were women, almost half identified as members of underrepresented minority groups, and a handful represented many different countries. 

This data suggests that Cornell Law students are academically strong, diverse, and bring something unique to the student body.

4. University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School (Philadelphia, PA)

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Jeffrey M. Vinocur, University of Pennsylvania Law School-angled, CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, also known as Penn Law for short, certainly stands up to its reputation as a prestigious Ivy. 

According to Public Legal, Penn Law graduates have some of the highest employment rates (at 98%), bar pass rates, and earn some of the top salaries in the private and public sectors.

Penn Law students are diverse, academically talented, and have a passion for making a difference in the world. 

Around 50% of the entering class of 2021 is comprised of women, 43% identified as students of color, approximately 52% are first-generation college graduates or are the first in their family to attend a professional school, and a significant percentage are part of the LGBTQ community.  

The acceptance rate for Penn Law hovers around 18%, and admission is becoming increasingly competitive; Public Legal reports that the acceptance rate for the 2020 cycle was 14% which is quite a drop compared to recent years. 

The average GPA for the incoming class in 2021 was a competitive 3.89, and the median LSAT score of this cohort was 170, one of the highest in the nation.

While these numbers attest to the academic excellence that typifies an applicant, the admissions committee prides itself in the holistic evaluation of applicants

Personal statements, essays, and letters of recommendation give an applicant a fuller picture than numbers alone. With that said, applicants should look at these components as a chance to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.

3. Columbia Law School (New York, NY)

Columbia Law School
Beyond My Ken, Columbia Law School from 116th Street, CC BY-SA 4.0

Each year, Columbia Law receives hundreds of applications. 

As is the case with the top law schools, the applicant pool is very competitive and dynamic. The average GPA among accepted students is typically around 3.82, and the average LSAT 172

With that said, it should come as no surprise that the admissions process at Columbia Law is highly competitive, with the acceptance rate hovering around 17%.

Columbia Law faculty are excellent teachers and are some of the most widely cited scholars in the field of law. 

Kimberle Crenshaw, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, is a leading scholar in feminism and law. Another notable person is Jagdish Bhagwati, a top scholar in international and comparative law

The world-renowned scholarship and teaching of faculty is just one component that makes Columbia Law one of the top schools in the country.

Students receive world-class instruction and training. Through a broad range of externships, clinics, simulation labs, and policy labs, students integrate classroom learning into real-world experience. 

2. Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA)

Harvard Law School
Bostonian13, Wasserstein Hall, CC BY-SA 3.0

Despite its prestige and selectivity, Harvard Law boasts some of the largest class sizes among the top law schools in the country. Over 1,700 students are enrolled at Harvard Law.

Ranked as the #3 law school nationally on the latest US News & World Report, Harvard is home to some of the nation’s top specialty law programs.

Unsurprisingly, Harvard Law has one of the lowest acceptance rates among the top law schools. 

In fall 2021, the school received 7,505 applications from all over the country and the world. Only 13% of these applicants were admitted, coming in with undergraduate GPAs between 3.78 and 3.95 and a median LSAT score of 170.

Personal statements, resumes, and interviews are as important as the academic profile when it comes to admissions. The key is to stand out among other applicants by highlighting unique experiences, ideas, and accomplishments.

Harvard Law has no shortage of notable alumni and faculty, many of whom have become household names, including the 44th President of the US, Barrack Obama, and numerous presidential candidates and senators. 

Other alumni are trailblazers in the worlds of business, legal scholarship, activism, and the arts.

The Harvard Law Library is the largest academic library in the world, housing over 2 million volumes and a vast range of historical and current documents. 

Librarians are top-notch professionals who are highly specialized in a variety of areas and multi-lingual, facilitating a key component in the world-famous Harvard Law education.

The school itself has become a celebrity, serving as the setting or subject of numerous movies and books, most notably Legally Blonde and Goodwill Hunting. These films continue to put Harvard in the limelight, piquing the interest of future Harvard Law grads for many generations to come.

1. Yale Law School (New Haven, CT)

Yale Law School
Nick Allen, Yale Law School courtyard, CC BY-SA 3.0

While Harvard Law has been the “star” of certain high-grossing films and books and has become a household name, it is sometimes considered second to another outstanding Ivy, Yale Law School. 

Yale law has been dominating the ranks of top law schools for over 30 years. It is the top-ranking law school on the latest US News & World Report ranking. 

In terms of alumni and faculty accomplishments, Yale Law has something of a sibling rivalry with Harvard. Yale alumni have become leading figures in politics, law, academic scholarship, writing, film, and more. 

Each year, over 95% of students pass the bar exam, and over 80% are gainfully employed within ten months of graduation. There’s no denying that Yale Law alumni have excellent prospects and significantly impact the world around them.

There are a few attributes that make Yale stand out from the other schools on this list. Yale Law has one of the lowest student-faculty ratios among the top law schools, at 4.4:1

Yale Law provides an abundance of opportunities for professional experience and growth both in and out of the classroom. Law students can choose from nearly 200 courses and more than 30 law clinics, making Yale’s clinical education programs among the most powerful and dynamic in the country.

With such an impressive profile, it is no wonder that so many of the brightest students are vying for a spot at Yale Law. The 2020 acceptance rate was a mere 6.9%!

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