- Yale, Columbia, UChicago, and Harvard are some of the most prestigious law schools in the world.
- Each school values high test scores, letters of recommendation, and an honest personal statement.
- Insider regularly interviews experts on how to get into your ideal law program. You can read it all by subscribing to Insider.
Attending law school is time-consuming and expensive, but if you end up in the right program, it could lead to a fulfilling and successful career.
For example, according to Yale Law School’s website, over 13,000 YLS alumni are leaders in their organizations – and a decade after graduating they almost unanimously express job satisfaction.
But to get into a top school, you’ll need more than just high test scores. Here are some tips and best strategies on how to get accepted into one of the best law schools in the country, according to people who’ve done it.
Yale Law School
Yale Law School is the No. 1 law school in the US, according to US News & World Report, while the 2023 acceptance rate was a slim 7.3%.
Yale places high emphasis on obtaining letters of recommendation from professors who know you well and can personally evaluate aspects of your academic work. Something unique about the YLS admissions process is their faculty is heavily involved in selecting each class, so they might especially value strong academic letters.
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School is currently recognized as the fourth best law school in the US, trailing only Yale, Stanford, and Harvard (and tied with the University of Chicago). Of the more than 7,000 students who applied for the class of 2020, only about 16% were accepted.
Applicants to Columbia Law should pay extra attention to their personal statements. Use this as an opportunity to reveal who you really are and what you’re passionate about. Having strong reasons to be in New York City helps as well since it’s an integral part of the school, Timothy Knox, a law school admissions counselor, told Insider.
UChicago Law School
UChicago Law School consistently ranks among the most prestigious graduate law programs in the world, with an acceptance rate of 18%. Unlike some of the other top schools, UChicago Law has an especially small class size, at just over 600 full-time students. (Columbia, which shares its No. 4 ranking, has double the number.)
The community prioritizes close faculty engagement and “the life of the mind.” Once you’ve taken your LSAT and applied, prepare for your interview by nailing your answer to the question, “Why UChicago?”
Harvard Law School
In 2018, Harvard Law School – currently third in the rankings – offered admission to just 12% of applicants. In 2019, it made the shift to rounds of admission.
Per law school admissions coaching consultant Anna Ivey, “HLS admissions officers are very conscientious about recruiting minorities of various kinds: They want a diversity of people and geographic areas,” including veterans and older applicants. This means there’s no standard profile for an HLS student. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t fit what you think to be their ideal type of candidate.
New York University School of Law
US News and World Report ranks New York University (NYU) School of Law sixth in the nation in terms of best law programs. According to public database Law School Numbers, NYU accepts only about 34% of applicants.
NYU Law has a reputation for three specialties: an international focus, law and business offerings, and public-service opportunities.
Admissions consultant and former LSAT instructor Joseph Vijay Ingam suggests leveraging the fact that NYU uses rolling notification – in other words, applications are sent to admissions in the order in which they’re completed. Ingam has seen that it can be advantageous to apply early.
Stanford Law School
US News & World Report ranks Stanford Law School (SLS) second in the nation, making it a prime target for aspiring attorneys. Katie Spielman, class of 2007, advised emphasizing your motivation for attending law school – and what you hope to do with a law degree in your personal statement.
“SLS has always, I think, favored admissions candidates who have a strong sense of purpose and a very clear vision of what they hope to do with their law degree and in their legal career,” Spielman told Insider.