Stanford's acceptance rate of 9.7% makes it the second most selective law school in the U.S. behind only Yale. Small classes and a relatively low enrollment make for a close-knit community on a beautiful and sprawling campus.
Ever since U.S. News & World Report began ranking law schools, Yale has been number one—a position it held on to through every list. The most selective law school in the country, accepting only 8.3% of its applicants, it also is tied with Harvard Law School for the highest median LSAT scores: 173.
With its competitiveness bolstered in pop culture in films such as "Legally Blonde" and "The Paper Chase," Harvard Law School attempts to portray itself as a more cozy, idyllic environment to study law. Much larger than Stanford or Yale, the class of 2016 boasts 560 students with median LSATs of 173 and a median GPA of 3.88.
University of Pennsylvania
True to Benjamin Franklin's ideals, the University of Pennsylvania Law School offers many cross-disciplinary programs and courses with Penn's business, medical, and other schools and departments. Students rave about the faculty of "nothing but pure geniuses" who "genuinely care about the students and take the time to mentor them."
With a staggering breadth of course offerings and a New York location, Columbia has a faculty of young rising superstars and practiced and accomplished veterans. Though the school has a reputation as a "corporate law firm factory," public interest law is still a strong suit.
J.D. candidates praise the intimate atmosphere and emphasis on teaching that distinguishes Duke's law school from other top-ranked players. Professors maintain an open door policy, play softball with students, and invite them to their homes for outdoor picnics.
Located in the heart of Chicago, Northwestern University School of Law has a reputation for developing practical skills and offering clinics that give students plenty of opportunities to work on real legal cases.
Talk about diversity. The class of 2016 includes nine students with doctorates, three Fulbright scholars, a professional baseball player, and a mime from Argentina. And among the 118 undergraduate institutions represented, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, UCLA, and UC Berkeley appear most.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia School of Law has a solid academic reputation, but another factor convinces many prospective students to enroll: current students don't want to leave. "They all typically wish they could be here forever, which is unheard of among people who go to law school," says Anne Richard, senior assistant dean for admissions. In fact, UVA has the highest rate of alumni giving among law schools—a sign of happy graduates, if there ever was one.
University of Michigan
Students are drawn to the University of Michigan Law School for its collegial atmosphere, approachable faculty, and challenging curriculum. Students say an appropriate slogan here is, "Ivy league brains, Midwest heart."