Top Law Universities in the World

by Joanne Green

Pursuing a law degree is no easy feat. Deciding which of the world's top law schools to attend is almost as tricky. Internationally respected school ranking systems rate some law schools above the competition. The country in which one earns a law degree might severely limit the geographical region in which the graduate may ultimately practice.

Yale Law School

Since "U.S. News and World Report" first published its annual law school rankings in 1987, Yale University's law school has monopolized the top spot. According to "Top Law Schools"--a free, online tool dedicated to helping students research law schools--Yale is "one of the preeminent centers of legal studies in the world." Founded in 1824, Yale (YLS) offers law students several degree options, including the three-year J.D. program, the LL.M., the doctoral J.S.D. and the M.S.L. YLS receives in excess of 3,000 applications annually competing for 200 coveted spots. The median grade point average of applicants is 3.9, and 75 percent record a median LSAT score of 177. Less than 7 percent of applicants are accepted into the J.D. program. The student body at YLS comprises 659 students who hail from more than 45 states and 30 countries. Classes boast fewer students than many other law schools, with an average of 20 students who enjoy a student to teacher ratio of 6.8 to 1. The YLS campus is located in New Haven, Connecticut. More than 200 courses are offered; and students, though required to complete some prerequisite classes during their first year, decide their own course of study during years 2 and 3. YLS does not issue grades. Annual tuition is $46,000. Yale Law School Admissions Office 133 Wall Street, Ruttenberg Hall New Haven, CT 06520 203-432-4995 law.yale.edu

University of Cambridge Faculty of Law

The teaching of law at the University of Cambridge dates back to the thirteenth century. Indeed, Cambridge, as it's commonly known, is England's second oldest university and today is considered Europe's finest. The 2009 Times Higher Education--QS World University Rankings rated Cambridge the second best university in the world, surpassed only by Harvard. The Faculty of Law offers intellectually gifted students the opportunity to learn the many facets of English common law from revered professors in a picturesque environment. Situated just outside Cambridge's town center, the Faculty of Law offers students five law-related degree options, namely a B.A. (undergraduate law degree), LL.M. (advanced law degree), M.Litt (master of letters degree), Ph.D. and LL.D. (doctorate-level law degrees). (A bachelor's or four-year degree is not a prerequisite to enroll at Cambridge's law school). Cambridge offers a summer school program for approximately 100 participants from various countries eager to gain a comprehensive overview of the English legal system. During academic years, Cambridge's law school serves an average of 700 students, all of whom must take the Cambridge Law Test. An applicant completes the test during the interview phase of the admission process. Applications for admission are due on or before October 15 of the year prior to your proposed start date. Faculty of Law University of Cambridge 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ 011-44-1223-330-033 law.cam.ac.uk

University of Toronto Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto describes itself as "one of the world's great law schools," an assertion supported by its number one spot on Maclean's annual ranking of Canadian law schools. Founded in the late 1800s, the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto is located in the downtown area of its namesake city. Law students number in excess of 500 and enjoy a student to teacher ratio of 10 to 1, one of the lowest in North America. Competition for a coveted spot is tough. According to the "Official Guide to Canadian Law Schools," students boast a median grade point average of 3.8 and a median LSAT score of 167, which represents the 95th percentile. Among graduate students, more than 50 percent received an undergraduate degree from a non-Canadian institution. The University of Toronto offers a Juris Doctor (J.D.) program, in addition to master's, doctoral and combined degrees. Students may focus in any of the following areas: aboriginal law, constitutional law, environmental law, health law and policy, international law and policy, law and literature, law and philosophy, public interest and diversity and women, law and social change. University of Toronto Faculty of Law graduates are eligible to sit for the New York State or Massachusetts bar. November 1 of each calendar year marks the application deadline, though prospective students wishing to submit a late application might also be considered and should consult directly with a university administrator. Faculty of Law University of Toronto 84 Queen's Park Crescent Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 2C5 416-978-0210 law.utoronto.ca

About the Author

Educated in England, award-winning writer Joanne Green holds a master's in journalism from the University of Miami. Since beginning her career in 2002, Ms. Green has worked for television and print news media, including CNN, FOX affiliate WSVN, Village Voice Media, Ocean Drive and McClatchy Company-owned Bradenton Herald. Ms. Green speaks French, Spanish and Italian.

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