Best universities in the US for law degrees 2024 – Times Higher Education

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Find the best universities in the United States for law degrees through Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings data
In this article we look at which universities in the US rank the highest for law degrees.
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Scroll down for the full list of best universities in the US for law degrees
There are a number of world-renowned law schools in the US, making the country one of the top places to go to if you wish to study for a law degree.
Students who complete a course of study at a law school in the US will graduate with a juris doctor (JD) degree. The JD programme normally lasts three years for full-time students and four years for part-time students. Teaching is based on the British system of common law, which is not used in every country, so international students might not necessarily be able to practise in their home country without taking further courses or exams.
The US legal system consists of judicial, regulatory and governmental authorities that work together to enforce laws across federal, state and local levels. Every state has its own government, which holds legal and administrative jurisdiction within its limits.
Every year, THE releases 13 subject rankings, including law. The rankings are put together using the same methodology as the World University Rankings, covering teaching quality, research output, international diversity and industry collaboration. While these indicators are consistent across all subjects, their weightings are adjusted for each subject to reflect its specific requirements. 
In the law ranking, teaching quality holds the most weight at 32.2 per cent, followed by research environment weighted at 29.8 per cent, research quality at 25 per cent, international outlook at 9 per cent, and industry collaboration at 4 per cent. You can read the methodology in more detail here.
To find the best law schools in the US, we filtered the global law ranking by country to find the list of US universities. 
In 2024, Harvard University secured the top spot in our global law school rankings, climbing from sixth place in 2023. Stanford University dropped to second place from its previous leading position.
Columbia University and New York University shared fourth place, with Columbia rising from 12th and New York University dropping from second. The University of Chicago moved up one position to ninth place, while Yale University dropped to 10th from fifth last year.
The University of California, Berkeley jumped from ranking 13th in 2023 to sixth in 2024. The University of Pennsylvania moved up from sharing the ranking of 34th in 2023 to sharing 21st position in 2024.
Among other institutions, the University of Virginia stayed at 36th, Duke University moved up four places to 24th this year, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor dropped one position to rank 26th. Northwestern University made it into the top 100, moving into 62nd position, while Cornell University fell to 35th, and the University of California, Los Angeles moved down seven places to rank at 28 this year.
Many of the universities mentioned above are known as top 14 or T14 law schools. These are the law schools that consistently rank in the top 14 in global law rankings. 
Best universities in the world for law degrees
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Best universities for law degrees in the UK
Duke University School of Law is situated in Durham, North Carolina. Established in 1868 as Trinity College School of Law, it adopted the name Duke University School of Law in 1924.
Duke Law offers joint degree programmes with various graduate schools within Duke University, allowing students to pursue interdisciplinary studies. Approximately 25 per cent of students participate in joint degree programmes.
Facilities at Duke Law include state-of-the-art classrooms, community areas and library facilities.
Duke Law publishes several academic journals, including the Duke Law Journal and Law and Contemporary Problems, providing a platform for scholarly discourse and research.
The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, also known as Penn Carey Law or Penn Law, offers various degrees including juris doctor (JD), master of laws (LLM), master of comparative laws (LLCM), master in law (ML) and doctor of the science of law (SJD).
Penn Carey Law is located on the University of Pennsylvania campus in West Philadelphia. The law school offers a multidisciplinary approach to legal education, with over 20 joint and dual degree programmes, emphasising practical skills through clinics, externships and public interest initiatives. It has several academic centres and institutes and its law library holds over 1 million volumes.
Georgetown University Law Center, located in Washington DC, was established in 1870, and has grown to become the largest law school in the United States by enrolment, with more than 2,000 students.
The Law Center offers a range of programmes, including JD, LLM and master of studies in law (MSL) degrees, catering to various career aspirations. 
Georgetown Law also has an array of clinics, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in diverse areas of law. These clinics, such as the Appellate Litigation Clinic and the Center for Applied Legal Studies, provide practical training while serving the community.
The school has been separate from the main Georgetown campus since 1890, situated near what is now Chinatown. Over the years, the Law Center has expanded its facilities and offerings, with notable additions including the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library in 1989 and the Gewirz Student Center in 1993.
The Law Library is one of the largest in the United States. 
Yale Law School, part of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, was founded in 1824.
The three-year JD programme typically enrols about 200 students per class. Yale Law School operates on a unique grading system where students are not judged by their academic grade. Its curriculum focuses heavily on government service, and extensive clinical programmes allow students to engage with real-world legal problems.
Some 9 per cent of graduates pursue academic careers within five years of graduation. Additionally, more than 80 per cent of degree candidates participate in clinical activities before graduation.
The University of Chicago Law School, part of The University of Chicago, Illinois, was established in 1902. It offers JD programmes, master of laws (LLM), master of studies in law, and doctor of juridical science degrees. 
The law school offers a diverse range of programmes, including the legal history programme, law and economics, international and comparative law, and law and philosophy. 
The school’s admissions are highly competitive, with a low acceptance rate and high LSAT and GPA percentiles for admitted students.
The law school’s judicial clerkship placements are notable, with alumni comprising a significant percentage of federal judicial clerks. Its publications include seven professional journals, including The University of Chicago Law Review and The Chicago Journal of International Law.
There are approximately 60 student-run organisations under the Law Students Association umbrella, including chapters of the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
Notable faculty include former US president Barack Obama, and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens and Elena Kagan.
What can you do with a law degree?
The University of California, Berkeley’s law school offers the JD programme, the LLM programme and a range of doctoral programmes. 
The main areas of study taught within the school include social justice and public interest, business and start-ups, law and technology, environmental law, criminal justice, international and cooperative law, constitutional and regulatory and law and economics. 
The university’s curriculum usually allows students to study one of the topics above in more depth and at a more advanced level. JD students usually study in this way in the first two years of this course, then taking more specialised courses in their third year alongside a research project. 
LLM students are able to choose elective units in a broader range of topic areas. 
New York University’s School of Law was established in 1835.
The School of Law offers the JD for undergraduate students. Also offered are dual JD degrees in various fields such as taxation, international law, economics, history, philosophy or politics and French studies. There are a number of graduate programmes available, as well as LLM dual degrees with other schools including the National University of Singapore.
There are more than 40 clinics and externships at NYU such as the Centre for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging and the Centre for Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law, which give students the opportunity to gain real-life legal experience.
Students also have the opportunity to study abroad as part of NYU Law Abroad in Buenos Aires and Paris.
The law school at Columbia University offers the JD programme, the JSD programme, the LLM programme and the executive LLM programme.
There are also a range of dual and joint degrees that can be taken across other schools at the university including the schools of public health, journalism, social work and business. 
The university also offers international programmes where students have the opportunity to study abroad in countries such as Paris and the Netherlands. 
Stanford Law School was established in 1893 and has since become one of the world’s leading law schools.
There are three types of joint degree programmes available at Stanford Law School: JD/master’s; JD/MD and JD/PhD. These degrees are offered across 21 different subject areas.
The school also offers four advanced degree programmes: master of laws, the Stanford programme in international legal studies, master of legal studies and the doctor of the science of law degree.
Stanford Law School works closely with the Mills Legal Clinic. Within this are 11 clinics where students complete work experience on real cases in areas including criminal defence, environmental law, immigrants’ rights and religious liberty. All the clinics are directed by faculty members.
Stanford Law School set up the law and policy lab to encourage students to engage in public policy. Under the guidance of staff, students advise clients on a range of areas including energy and the environment, education, and copyright and patent reform.
Harvard University Law School offers a JD Programme, an LLM programme and an SJD programme. 
Students are also able to study for a joint law degree with other subjects including public health, business and urban planning. 
There are more than 400 courses, seminars and reading groups available. Many of these courses have fewer than 25 students enrolled, meaning that students will benefit from working in smaller groups. Some of the courses available include advertising law, animal law, criminal law, critical race theory, cyberlaw and many more. 
There are also a range of clinical and pro bono programmes which allow students to gain practical legal experience under the supervision of licensed lawyers. 
Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2024 profile
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