2023 Best Law Schools – US News


How to Prepare for and Apply to Law School

Are you considering a legal career? Determining whether you should apply for law school is a big decision, but U.S. News is here to help.

We use data – assessment scores by legal professionals, median GRE and LSAT scores, and more – to rank the Best Law Schools. We also have a profile on each school that features information such as the student-faculty ratio and the application deadline.

As an unbiased resource, we provide advice based on data and expert interviews to help prospective law school students make an informed decision about their education.

Explore U.S. News’ library of resources, which covers what to ask law school admissions officers, the pros and cons of attending an unaccredited law school, and what to do should you receive a dreaded rejection letter.

Create a free U.S. News account and use our My Schools tool, where you can save schools and track your application status.

How Long Is Law School?

A full-time Juris Doctor program usually lasts three years, while part-time programs stretch into four years or more. Accelerated programs can be completed in as little as two years.

How To Get Into Law School

Admission to the programs that top U.S. News’ Best Law Schools tends to be competitive.

There are some things you can do to help yourself stand out in the applicant pool, however. Academic performance is crucial to determining whether you are admitted into law school. So regardless of any extracurricular activities, make sure to study so you can earn good grades and a good LSAT score.

Compelling extracurriculars and academic projects can set you apart from other law school hopefuls, as can strong letters of recommendation, work experience, and a clear argument in your personal statement for why you want to pursue a J.D.

What Do You Learn in Law School and Why Enroll?

Law students learn how to think like lawyers. They can expect to study complex cases that involve gray areas of the law, allowing arguments to be made for both sides.

Students who have a knack for thinking logically and an interest in analyzing and solving complicated problems may be good J.D. candidates.

Before you apply for and enroll in law school, decide whether you really want a career in law – and not just for the potential salary or because you made good grades during undergrad.

If you are serious about entering the legal profession, research different types of law and have a clear picture of what you want to do. Having a focused professional goal may help you determine which school might best prepare you.

Is Law School Worth it?

Law school may be worth it for you if you can’t imagine doing anything other than practicing law in some form. But other factors at play include the perceived value of a legal education: How well does law school prepare you for your career, and what’s your financial investment in a J.D.?

Consider weighing the cost of the law schools you are applying to – and the amount of debt you’d accrue to attend – against the typical starting salaries of recent graduates from those programs.

How Much Does Law School Cost?

Like with other higher education programs, the cost of law school can vary depending on whether a school is private or public and whether you’d be paying in-state or out-of-state tuition.

According to the U.S. News annual survey of full-time law school programs in the 2019-2020 academic year, tuition ranged from $72,465 at the private Columbia University to $13,134 in-state at the public University of the District of Columbia (Clarke). In this survey, the average tuition for a full-time law program was $49,548 at a private university, $28,264 for in-state students at a public university and $41,726 for out-of-state students at a public university.

Law school hopefuls shouldn’t overlook potential scholarship opportunities, grants and other tuition help that could be available to help offset expenses.

When Should I Apply to Law School?

Law school application deadlines vary from school to school but usually come during the early weeks of the spring semester. This doesn’t mean you should wait until the new year to apply, though; applying before winter break could give you a better chance of being accepted.

Applying for law school is a process that involves studying for and taking the LSAT, requesting transcripts from schools you attended and uploading them to the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service, writing a personal statement and a resume, and securing letters of recommendation.

Following a month-by-month plan can help you stay on top of deadlines and ensure you’re not scrambling to get everything done at the last minute.

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