A part of the University of California Berkeley, the Berkeley School of Law is one of the best law schools in the United States.
The history of UC Berkeley’s law school begins back in 1894 when the university created the Department of Jurisprudence.
At first consisting of just seven courses taught by a single professor, the Department of Jurisprudence has since blossomed into an extremely prominent institution for legal education with a robust, diverse array of degree programs, course offerings, and other academic opportunities.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Berkeley School of Law experience that sets it apart from most other law schools is that at Berkeley, students are not given letter grades or GPAs, nor are they ranked amongst one another.
Enrollment for the University of California Berkeley as a whole — including all 14 constituent schools and colleges — is over 45,000 students, of which 31,800 are undergraduates and 13,200 are graduate students.
The School of Law makes up just a tiny portion of the university’s student body, with its enrollment being around 850 students.
More likely than not, students considering pursuing a legal degree have heard a lot about the prestigious Berkeley School of Law — or at the very least, of UC Berkeley in general.
When deciding which law school to attend, however, there are some especially crucial pieces of information that students should know about each school they are considering applying to.
In this article, we have compiled those crucial facts, plus lots of other relevant information such as how the school ranks.
Read on to learn more about the UC Berkeley School of Law.
UC Berkeley School of Law Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into UC Berkeley School of Law is 14%, as of the close of the 2022 application cycle.
This year, the Berkeley School of Law received 6,825 applications for the first-year class of 2025.
Although the school has not publicly released the number of students from this pool of applicants to whom they offered admission, it is known that 279 students accepted the offer and enrolled in Berkeley’s 1L program.
Looking at these figures, one can see that Berkeley Law is a highly selective law school.
For comparison, the average law school in the United States admits about 44% of all applicants, as of the fall of 2020.
In other words, the ratio of accepted students to rejected students in the average Berkeley Law applicant pool is a third of that of the average.
Although UC Berkeley and its law school have always been highly sought-after, the School of Law’s acceptance rate has only recently dipped to where it is now.
In fact, since 2020, the school’s acceptance rate has fallen about 6% from 20.2%.
The year prior to that, Berkeley Law’s acceptance rate was even higher at 22%.
Although its acceptance rates have steadily been decreasing over the past several years, one cannot necessarily assume that Berkeley has become more stringent in their admission standards.
For example, a national increase in the number of applications law schools are receiving is one potential cause for decreasing acceptance rates.
UC Berkeley School of Law GPA & LSAT Requirements
To be considered for admission to the UC Berkeley School of Law, students are required to earn an undergraduate GPA of no lower than a 3.0.
Of course, given the prestigious nature of the school and their selectivity in the admissions process, the average accepted Berkeley Law student earned a much higher GPA than that.
Looking at the first-year class of 2025, the average undergraduate GPA is a 3.83 on an unweighted 4.0 scale.
The bottom 25% of students had a 3.74, with the top 25% of the class earning a near-perfect 3.9.
According to the school’s website, for the past several years, the median LSAT score of accepted students has hovered around the high 160s — from 166 to 169, to be more precise.
On the other hand, for the 1L class of 2025, the median LSAT score is an impressive 170 of the 180 possible points, with the bottom 25% of students receiving a 167 and the top 25% of students getting a 172.
UC Berkeley School of Law Notable Alumni
Over the hundred-plus years since the school was established, the UC Berkeley School of Law has graduated many very successful alumni.
The school’s alumni network includes 4,662 currently practicing lawyers in all corners of the United States, not to mention numerous federal judges, politicians, Nobel Prize winners, and many other highly successful, celebrated professionals in the field of law.
One of the Berkeley School of Law’s many notable alumni is Walton J. Wood, a jurist and lawyer who, in 1914, became the first public defender in the history of the United States.
Early UC Berkeley alumni also include Richard M. Leonard, a well-known environmentalist who, after completing his legal studies in 1932, went on to serve as president of the Sierra Club, as well as the Save the Redwoods League.
There is also Doris “Dobby” Walker, a 1942 graduate of Berkeley Law. Walker was the first woman to become president of the National Lawyer Guild.
Berkeley Law graduates have found success in the world of business, as well. For example, there is Paula Boggs, former executive vice president of Starbucks and vice president of Dell.
Boggs also served as a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions and former President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Howard Lincoln, former chairman of Nintendo of America, and Larry Hillblom, co-founder of the German shipping and logistics company DHL Express, are two other Berkeley alumni in the business world. There is also Terdema Ussery, who served as the president of Nike Sports Management, as well as president and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks.
UC Berkeley School of Law Ranking
According to the 2023 edition of US News and World Report’s annual list of the best law schools in the United States, the UC Berkeley School of Law is ranked #9 in the country.
UC Berkeley — as well as the University of California system as a whole — is perhaps best known for its excellence in the area of research.
In fact, according to the National Research Council, Berkeley is the single best university in the United States for graduate research.
Berkeley also has a longstanding reputation for being a leading institution for the study of intellectual property law, ranking first among American law schools in this area.
Another specialty area of Berkeley Law is environmental law, tying for #1 in the country in terms of program offerings in this field.
The Berkeley School of Law is also ranked #1 among law schools nationwide in terms of best business/corporate law programs.
When it comes to criminal law programs, Berkeley is ranked second nationwide.
Berkeley Law’s faculty are an exceptionally well-educated, highly-esteemed group of professionals whose contributions to the university’s academics have amassed significant acknowledgment.
In fact, UC Berkeley ranks in the top six universities in the entire world in terms of the number of Nobel Prizes that faculty have received.
The school has also produced more Guggenheim Fellows than any other college in the US at 135, many of whom are law faculty.
Should You Apply to Berkeley Law?
When it comes time to decide which of the many amazing law schools out there you want to apply to, there are so many things to consider, it can become a bit overwhelming.
Each school varies from all of the others in terms of program offerings, acceptance rates, faculty members, facilities, student life, and all of the other things that make a university unique.
Furthermore, there is no definitive guide to determining which law schools a given student will be most content at, since student satisfaction depends not only on the particular characteristics of the school, but also the individual student’s preferences, interests, professional aspirations, and so on.
That being said, there are many unconventional aspects of the Berkeley Law experience that make it one of the most highly sought-after law schools in the nation, and it is worthwhile to consider these when deciding if this school is right for you.
In addition to their unconventional approach to academic evaluation, one of the many ways in which Berkeley Law differs from more traditional law schools is that Berkeley Law offers students significant freedom in terms of course selection and other academic decisions.
Upon completing their first semester at the school, students are able to craft a unique plan of study that enables them to explore their personal interests, career goals, and preferences.
As if letting students design their own degree plans does not already create nearly infinite possibilities, UC Berkeley also gives students the option to start new elective courses.
Students who are looking for a flexible, self-directed law degree program may be challenged to find a better choice of school than Berkeley Law.
UC Berkeley’s School of Law is a stellar institution with numerous accomplished faculty, widely-acclaimed research centers and programs, and just about everything else that an aspiring law student could possibly desire.