If you are considering a career in law, you have a long road ahead of you. The education is long, the cost is high, and the road is arduous, to say the least. So in order to be successful, you want to make sure you are making the best choices that will put you on the path to practicing law in your area of focus, as the competition will be enormous.
You will want to start by finding the best schools that have strong academic advising for students, a proven track record for placing their graduates in the top law schools, and a scrupulous undergraduate curriculum that will help you develop the necessary skills that will help prepare you for the LSAT and lead you on the path to becoming an aspiring attorney in high demand. Let’s take a look at some high-ranking universities known for their excellence in pre-law.
The 13 Best Universities for Pre-Law
Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is one of the greatest legal schools in the country and has carried a high-ranking placement position among the top law schools. The school also offers pre-law tutors for those desiring to pursue a legal career and provides workshops and information about the process of applying to law school.
Tuition for the 2022-23 school year at Harvard University is $70,430. An approximate total cost, which includes rent, utilities, mandatory health insurance, books, and other school-related expenses for the year, is $107,000.
Prominent Alumni of Harvard University
Though he didn’t pursue his undergraduate degree at Harvard, Barak Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1991.
Another prominent graduate of Harvard Law School is Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. His famous father is poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. Nicknamed “The Great Dissenter,” Holmes established the “clear and present danger” test, which gauges whether the government can restrict speech without violating the First Amendment. He states that the only time the government can limit speech is when there would be a forthcoming danger to the public.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #3 in Best Law Schools
Georgetown, located in Washington, D.C., is a tough school to excel in, having only a 12% acceptance rate. If you manage to get into this university, you will most likely already be familiar with challenging coursework and the demands that studying law will require.
Georgetown offers one-on-one counseling, application assistance, and its location allows for many opportunities to obtain internships and networking in the legal and political arena. They also have a Pre-Law Society, a group to help form relationships and partnerships to assist in learning about the legal profession and prepare for law school as a community.
Tuition for the 2021-22 school year is $57,384. The total cost, which includes room and board, books and supplies, and other fees, is $78,754.
Prominent Alumni of Georgetown University
Former president Bill Clinton received a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University and went on to attend and graduate from Yale Law School.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #15 in Best Law Schools
Located in New Haven, Connecticut, this prominent Ivy League school has many opportunities for students to explore all aspects of the law. It does not have a specific pre-law program, but it does provide an interdisciplinary track where students outline their own major that will best prepare them for law school. Also, the Yale Law School Admission Council offers pre-law counseling to undergraduates all year round.
Tuition for the 2022-23 school year is $62,250. The total cost, including room and board, books, and other expenses, is $84,525.
Prominent Alumni of Yale University
Yale Law School has a list of many prominent graduates. Both Bill and Hilary Clinton graduated from Yale University. Also, Ben Stein, who is also a well-known actor who played the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dr. Arthur Neuman in The Mask and Son of the Mask. He was also the speechwriter for U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. And speaking of Gerald Ford, former President Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. also graduated from Yale Law School.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #1 in Best Law Schools
Northwestern University, located in Chicago, Illinois, is a large university with many resources for those studying pre-law. It has a different approach to its pre-law program with an interdisciplinary focus where students focus on critical thinking concerning the law and society. Students can be studying anything from psychology, literature, or even religious studies. Two more benefits are its location, which offers many internship opportunities, and its own law school.
In 2021 the cost of tuition at Northwestern University was $60,276 per year. With fees, housing, books, and other expenses, a student can expect to pay about $83,838 per year in undergraduate studies.
Prominent Alumni of Northwestern University
Ada Harriet Miser Kepley was the first American woman to graduate from Northwestern University School of Law in 1870. Though she received her law degree at Northwestern, she was disallowed from practicing by the state court that did not allow women to take the bar. Finally, in 1881, she was allowed to take the bar exam but did not practice. Having a strong interest in social reform, she went on to advocate for women’s suffrage.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #12 in Best Law Schools
Columbia University is located in New York City, New York. This prestigious university has a pre-law society group, The Undergraduate Law Society, that helps students with the application process for law school as well as legal career counseling.
The tuition to attend the 2021-22 school year at Columbia University is $63,530. With additional expenses such as housing, food, health insurance, and books, a student can expect to pay about $82,584 for the school year.
Prominent Alumni of Columbia Law School
Former presidents of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt, attended Columbia Law School. Another famous graduate of Columbia University is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg was co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU and was counsel for the establishment before going on to serve on the supreme court.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #4 in Best Law Schools
The University of Texas at Austin
One thing that makes the University of Texas at Austin stand out for students desiring to go into law is its yearly Law Fair, where students can interact with over 100 law school admissions professionals. They also have a career center that hosts panels, workshops, application coaching, and other services to help students get a good start on the path to becoming a lawyer.
To attend the University of Texas at Austin for an undergraduate degree, the tuition cost for an instate resident is $11,448 for the 2021-22 school year. For an out-of-state resident to attend, the tuition cost is $40,032. The totals, including housing, food, books, and supplies, are $28,928 and $57,512, respectively.
Prominent Alumni of the University of Texas at Austin
Former United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is an attorney who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin as well as the Univerity of Texas at Austin School of Law.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #16 in Best Law Schools (tied with Vanderbilt University)
New York University
Located in the heart of New York City, NYU offers students a well-rounded education enabling them to be the best they can be in whichever legal field they choose to pursue. The NYU Preprofessional Advising Center helps students make the most of their pre-law experience as the school is known to be academically challenging. Advisors can help students decide if law school is the best option, assist through the application process, and analyze the student’s prospects of acceptance into their selected schools.
The cost of tuition to attend New York University for the 2021-22 school year is $52,204. The total cost, including books, room and board, and other daily expenses, is $77,632.
Prominent Alumni of New York University School of Law
The only son of former President John F. Kennedy, JFK Jr. was a graduate of NYU Law. It took him three tries to pass the bar, but he succeeded and worked for a time defending minors accused of felonies in Brooklyn Family Court.
Another prominent alumnus of New York University School of Law is Keith Harper. Harper was the first Native American who was appointed to serve as a U.S. ambassador. He is currently chair of the Native American law practice at Jenner & Block LLP and has a fantastic track record of winning lawsuits for Native Americans. He won the largest settlement against the federal government in U.S. history when he represented Native Americans in a class action, trust fund lawsuit topping at $3.4 billion.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #6 in Best Law Schools (tied with University of Pennsylvania – Carey)
University of Maryland
The University of Maryland in College Park has a Pre-Law Professions Advising Office that assists students interested in law school and legal careers by helping students navigate the academic and administrative processes involved in achieving their objectives.
Students are encouraged to learn via community service, pre-professional experience, and campus groups. Advisors help them become self-directed learners who take an active part in their pre-professional education. Maryland also has a three-year arts/law program whereby students can apply to law school during their third year of undergrad studies and, if accepted, receive their baccalaureate degree during their first year of law school. Another advantage to this school is its location. College Park is only a metro stop from Washington, D.C., which provides many internship opportunities.
The cost of tuition to attend the University of Maryland for the 2021-22 school year is $10,954 for residents and $38,636 for non-residents. The total cost for the school year, including room and board and supplies, is $28,074 and $55,756, respectively.
Prominent Alumni of University Maryland
Benjamin Civiletti, former Attorney General of the United States who served during the Carter administration, was a graduate of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #50 in Best Law Schools (tied with Southern Methodist University – Dedman)
Florida State University
Florida State University in Tallahassee has one of the top criminal justice programs in the United States. They also have a pre-law advising center to help you plan for your LSAT and apply to law schools. The university also has the Donald J. Weidner Summer Program for Legal studies. This four-week program taught by law professors brings pre-law undergraduates from all over the country together for a month of immersion into legal study. The program’s principal objective is to familiarize students with the study of law and to aid them in obtaining skills that will enhance their undergraduate and future law school studies. It is the largest and oldest of its type.
Tuition for in-state residents at FSU is $5,656. For out-of-state residents it’s $18,786. Tuition plus room and board and other expenses can come to about $23,476 for in-state residents and $36,606 for out-of-state residents.
Prominent Alumni of Florida State University
Former professional baseball player and coach for the Chicago White Sox, Anthony La Russa Jr., received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Florida State University College of Law. He is associated with a law firm in Sarasota but does not currently practice law.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #48 in Best Law Schools (tied with University of Colorado – Boulder)
George Washington University
At George Washington University, you will want to establish yourself as pre-law from the beginning to take advantage of all of the groups, societies, and panels geared to the purpose. University advisers will assist you in determining which law schools are the most excellent fit for your experience and ambitions and will help guide your undergraduate studies to meet the goals of those schools. Located in Washington D.C., there is ample opportunity available for students to apply for internships when the time comes.
Tuition for the 2021-22 school year at George Washington University is $58,550. The total cost to attend for a year, including room, board, supplies, and other fees, is $76,276.
Prominent Alumni of George Washington University
Former U.S. attorney general William Pelham Barr earned his law degree at George Washington University. He served as attorney general during the Trump Administration and during the presidency of George H. W. Bush.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #27 in Best Law Schools (tied with University of Georgia)
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is known as a powerhouse when it comes to getting students ready for law school. They have a Law Scholars Program that gives students an early admissions decision and a chance to earn merit grants. They also provide a lot of experiential learning by taking career trips to notable law first, public defenders’ offices, government offices, and nonprofits.
Tuition for the 2021-22 school year at the University of Chicago is $59,256. The total cost to attend for a year, including room, board, supplies, and other fees, is $82,848.00.
Prominent Alumni of the University of Chicago
The first female African-American Senator, Carol Moseley Braun, is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School. She is an American diplomat, politician, and lawyer and represented the state of Illinois in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1999. She also served as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand from 1999 to 2001.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #4 in Best Law Schools
Nova Southeastern University
Unlike most universities, Nova Southeastern University has a comprehensive pre-law major, which leads to an undergraduate law degree. Most schools emphasize traditional studies and don’t specifically have a pre-professional major. Located in scenic Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern is steadfast in assisting students with their preparation for law school by providing a rigorous curriculum and a strong interest in the humanities.
Tuition for the 2021-22 school year at Nova Southeastern University is $34,570. The full cost to attend for a year, including room, board, supplies, and other fees, is $55,936.
Prominent Alumni of Nova Southeastern University
Kristine Lefebvre graduated from Nova Southeastern University and was a contestant on the reality show The Apprentice. She made it to the final group of six members before she was fired. However, this did not falter her success as Lefebvre later represented celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal and Dan Marino, as well as the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. She also posed nude in the June 2007 issue of Playboy and provided legal advice and written contracts for other women who have posed for the magazine, including Pamela Anderson and Debbie Gibson.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #147 – 193 in Best Law Schools
Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, provides mentorship programs such as the Bench and Bar undergraduate pre-law society that pairs students desiring to join the program with a Duke Law School alumni. This popular program allows students to receive one-on-one time with someone familiar with the pre-law procedure. Duke also has a pre-law advising office that sponsors several programs, including a mock admission panel, workshops to help prepare for the LSAT, and sessions where students can obtain information concerning law school applications.
The cost of tuition for Duke University is $55,880 for the 2021-22 school year. With the extra expenses such as room and board, books, and other fees, it comes to a total of $77,069.
Prominent Alumni of Duke University
Notable graduates of Duke University School of Law include former president Richard Nixon, father and billionaire of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, and television journalist and talk show host Charles Peete Rose Jr.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #10 in Best law Schools (tied with the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor)
Based in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University has a 6-week NYC summer pre-law program for sophomores and up, whereby they get an introduction to the legal system and a variety of internships to choose from. The university offers pre-law counseling services, and they have pre-law events. There is an alumni shadowing option during school breaks in the Extern and FRESH program and placement support in Career Services.
The cost for tuition for the 2021-22 school year is $60,286. The total cost for the year, including room and board, books and supplies, and other fees, is $80,287.
Prominent Alumni of Cornell University
United States Attorney General from 1993-to 2001, Janet Reno majored in chemistry at Cornell University before attending Harvard Law School. She was the first woman to hold the post of Attorney General. She was 55 when she was appointed for the position during bill Clinton’s presidential tenure.
U.S. News Rank # of the Top Law Schools: #13 in Best in Law Schools
If studying law is your career choice and you’re wondering how you will be able to pay for law school, check out this article, How to Afford Law School – 7+ ways.
And once you have been accepted, read 10 Ways You Can Make Money While in Law School for ideas on how you can support yourself on your journey to becoming an attorney.
Alexandra Christensen is a freelance writer and editor. When she is not working on an assignment, she can be found hanging around with other writers on Medium.com/@alexandra_creates where she writes mostly about raising foster and adopted kids and those with invisible disabilities.