5 Top Law Schools Just As Great As Harvard, Yale, and Stanford

While law school applications have decreased in recent years, pursuing a legal degree is still one of the most popular post-graduate pursuits in America – and while everyone has heard of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia when it comes to law school, those who only consider the Ivy League miss a number of fantastic, often over-looked, schools.

Fact: you don’t have to be expensive and located in the Northeast to be considered a good law school (though there are certainly plenty of those, too). Here are the five great law schools that aren’t in the Ivy Leagues or the coveted “Top 14” (the “Top 14” law schools are called that because, while they may trade places within the Top 14 spots in the US News and World Report rankings, none of them ever drop outside of the Top 14).

[Data and methodology compiled from Above the Law]

1. University of Texas at Austin School of Law – Austin, Texas


Charging $33,162 tuition while simultaneously sitting right on the fringe of the coveted “Top 14” identification makes UT Law the cheapest elite law school in the country. Coupled with a 27% big firm employment rate and an 8% federal clerkship rate, it’s no wonder that Texas is one of the most respected law schools in the country. UT Law students also rate student life among the highest in the country and its easy to believe when you realize that the law school sits smack in the middle of UT’s undergrad campus. It’s a lot easier cramming for exams when you know you have the UT social and athletic scene as a release waiting just next door.

Also, how do you compete with a law school whose Dean is named Ward Farnsworth? Answer: you don’t.

US News Ranking: 15th

Above The Law Ranking: 14th

Post-Graduation Employment (requiring bar passage): 75%

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Full-Time Enrollment: 1,154

LSAT (25%/75%): 164/169

GPA (25%/75%): 3.57/3.84

Annual Cost: $33,162 (in-state) / $49,244 (out-of-state) 

2. University of Alabama School of Law – Tuscaloosa, Alabama


The proud alma mater of former Alabama Senator and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Alabama Law enjoys a long tradition of prestige as a law school of choice in the South. Featuring one of the lowest in-state and out-of-state tuitions in the country ($18,030 and $30,950, respectively), Alabama also boasts a high 9.3% federal clerkship rate and overall 93% employment rate.

Unsurprisingly, the home of back-to-back BCS Football champion Crimson Tide also gets stellar reviews for the social scene and campus life from current law students. I guess watching your school’s team stomp the competition really is a nice break from studying.

US News Ranking: 21st

Above The Law Ranking: 27th

Post-Graduation Employment (requiring bar passage): 71%

Acceptance Rate: 25%

Full-Time Enrollment: 509

LSAT (25%/75%): 159/167

GPA (25%/75%): 3.50/3.92

Annual Cost: $18,030 (in-state) / $30,950 (out-of-state)

3. BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School – Provo, Utah


With the untouched lowest cost of any elite law school in the country, BYU Law makes a strong case for getting the most bang for your buck. With annual tuition clocking in at just $21,200 ($10,950 for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), BYU Law is cheaper than many undergraduate universities and blows comparably ranked law schools out of the water. The average cost of law school tuition is roughly double what BYU charges, so the ability to attend an elite law school for effectively 50% off is hard to argue with.

On top of that, BYU Law boasts a 94% employment rate with 12% going to big firms or federal clerkships.

US News Ranking: 44th

Above The Law Ranking: 28th

Post-Graduation Employment (requiring bar passage): 63%

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Full-Time Enrollment: 420

LSAT (25%/75%): 161/167

GPA (25%/75%): 3.45/3.86

Annual Cost: $21,200

4. Fordham Law School – New York, New York


Fordham Law School is one of New York City’s poorly guarded legal secrets. While hardly a national name as a university, Fordham Law enjoys huge benefits from being so closely located with the center of the Big Law world right in Manhattan. Nearly a third of Fordham graduates enter the Big Law world every year and the Fordham Law professional network runs throughout New York. It’s central location also allows Fordham to offer one of the best clinical programs in the country, with students able to get hands on experience in New York City courts throughout law school.

And did I mention the campus is just a block away from Central Park?

US News Ranking: 38th

Above The Law Ranking: 48th

Post-Graduation Employment (requiring bar passage): 63%

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Full-Time Enrollment: 1,481

LSAT (25%/75%): 163/168

GPA (25%/75%): 3.38/3.77

Annual Cost: $48,900

5. UCLA Law – Los Angeles, California


Located in sunny Los Angeles, UCLA Law boasts both a decorated faculty and fantastic employment numbers. With 92% overall employment and over a third of the class entering Big Law jobs, UCLA Law promises and delivers big. Top 10 program rankings in Tax Law and International Law help provide a plethora of choices for aspiring law students.

US News Ranking: 17th

Above The Law Ranking: 17th

Post-Graduation Employment (requiring bar passage): 72%

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Full-Time Enrollment: 999

LSAT (25%/75%): 165/170

GPA (25%/75%): 3.56/3.87

Annual Cost: $47,464 (in-state) / $53,958 (out-of-state)

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Mark Kogan

Mark is a lawyer and Mic contributor living in Washington, D.C.

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