Top 5 Private Law Schools in the Country

By Gwendolen Akard , last updated January 22, 2012

It is a complicated process to rank private law schools, and especially to name the top five. It depends on the criteria with which you are concerned and how the data is gathered. As several New York Times articles note, the rankings are often misrepresentative. However, the top 14 law schools are consistently the same institutions and the top 5 private schools rarely vary from year to year, though once in a while they may shuffle amongst each other. Here are the top 5 private law schools in the United States, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

Yale Law School

Yale has been consistently ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report for the last four years. The GPA of the 25th percentile here is 3.81 and of the 75th percentile is 3.96. This range also achieves LSAT scores of between 171 and 176. They are also ranked first in education quality. Eighty-three percent of accepted students choose to attend this institution, located in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale also offers generous financial packages, providing need-based aid to 80 percent of the student body.

Harvard Law School

Ranked second for the last four years behind Yale, Harvard has long been gunning for the top spot, but still boasts impressive student statistics. With GPAs between 3.78 and 3.96 and LSAT scores between 171 and 176, Harvard draws from the same pool of candidates as Yale. They are tied for the second spot for education quality with the University of Chicago. Interestingly, the Gourman Report ranks Harvard first over Yale. Harvard Law School is located on the main campus, in the bustling Harvard Square of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Stanford Law School

Located in sunny California, Stanford Law School has been ranked third for the last four years behind its Ivy League counterparts. As far as LSAT scores, Stanford’s statistics are lower than both its “betters” and the number 4 school, Columbia. Its GPA range is 3.74-3.94 and its LSAT range is 167-173. Stanford offers 27 joint degree programs, for those students interested in concurrently pursuing a J.D. and a Master’s or Doctoral degree. Their programs include dual degrees in psychology, electrical engineering, health research and policy, computer science and philosophy.

Columbia Law School

Columbia University’s Law School is located in the bustling metropolis of New York City. This prestigious school lists a GPA range of 3.61-3.82 and an LSAT range of 170-175. It is ranked fifth for education quality. Columbia boasts wide diversity in their student body, as well as the advantages of studying in a city, with its opportunities to see the law at work.

University of Chicago Law School

Though ranked sixth in 2009, Chicago has retained its top 5 spot for the last three years. It is tied for second place for education quality and is ranked fourth by the Gourman Report. Its GPA range is 3.59 to 3.87 and its LSAT range is 168-172. In the heart of the windy city, Chicago takes very good care of its students. Even the buildings are beautiful. The Law School’s expansion building was designed by the renowned architect Eero Saarinen.

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