The 50 Best Law Schools in America

Harvard Law School

[credit provider=”Flickr/Abi Skipp” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3075348638/”]

In an oversaturated market where countless lawyers are unemployed or underemployed, choosing the right law school makes all the difference.The right school puts you on track to a competitive corporate or public sector job. The wrong school may be a waste of three years and $250,000.

Click here to go straight to the ranking of schools >

We held a survey to determine what real professionals consider the best law schools. They have determined that this school is Harvard Law School.

More than 650 of our readers responded, of which 60 per cent had J.D.s. and 69 per cent had hiring experience. 30-six per cent of the respondents work in legal fields, 23 per cent work in finance, 10 per cent work in technology, 6 per cent are current law students, and 6 per cent work in consulting.

A full 40 per cent of the respondents said that law school is NOT worth attending if you don’t get into a top-tier school, while 32.9 per cent said that it depends on factors like your financial background, the cost of attending, the school’s alumni network and connections, the type of law you want to practice and the specialty of the school, whether you intend to practice in the state you attend school, and personal connections.

“If you want to work at a large firm or company in a large city, then a top tier school is more important,” one respondent wrote. “If you want to be a lawyer in a mid-size city or smaller, then attending a top tier school is not as important.”

Survey takers stressed that it’s important to consider where you plan to practice when deciding which law school to attend, as some of the state schools can have very strong networks in their region. “Someone practicing in Portland, Maine is better off going to UMaine Law as opposed to Harvard for the very fact that that network is more beneficial in Maine,” one respondent wrote.

Other respondents wrote that attending a second-tier law school can still be beneficial and can even land you a gig at a BigLaw firm—if you graduate in the top of your class.

Ultimately, though, if you dream of being a lawyer, the fact remains that you must attend law school and pass a state bar exam in order to do so.

“If you have a very specific reason for wanting to become a lawyer, then law school can be worth attending even if you don’t get into a top-tier school,” a respondent wrote. “Also, a legal education has inherent value, so law school can be worth attending if you don’t overpay.”

View as one page >

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Here are 12 faces behind the law school underemployment crisis >

See more related features on the top law schools >

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[slide
permalink=”50-loyola-marymount-university-1″
title=”#50 Loyola Marymount University”
content=”Loyola Marymount scored a 1.97 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #51

Notable alumni: Gloria Allred, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.



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[slide
permalink=”49-southern-methodist-university-dedman-2″
title=”#49 Southern Methodist University (Dedman)”
content=”Dedman scored a 2.00 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #51

Notable alumni: Robert H. Dedman, Sr. (Founder and CEO of ClubCorp), U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña
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[slide
permalink=”48-baylor-university-3″
title=”#48 Baylor University”
content=”Baylor scored a 2.02 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #51

Notable alumni: Former Texas Governor Mark Wells White, U.S Congressman Louie Gohmert”
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[slide
permalink=”47-university-of-georgia-4″
title=”#47 University of Georgia”
content=”Georgia scored a 2.06 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #34

Notable alumni: Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks

Comments: ‘Geography matters. You can’t go to U of Georgia and get a job in DC, NY or SF. Many of these schools are very limiting. Some have national relevance. It’s not necessarily a straight rankings issue. Some degrees and alumni bases just travel better.’

Tiebreaker: Three schools scored a 2.06. UF (Levin) had a 3.3% ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 14 votes, the University of Maryland had a 3.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes, and the University of Georgia had a 3.2 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes.
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[slide
permalink=”46-university-of-maryland-carey-5″
title=”#46 University of Maryland (Carey)”
content=”Maryland scored a 2.06 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #39

Notable alumni: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Edgar Allen Poe

Tiebreaker: Three schools scored a 2.06. UF (Levin) had a 3.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 14 votes, the University of Maryland had a 3.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes, and the University of Georgia had a 3.2 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes.
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[slide
permalink=”45-university-of-florida-levin-6″
title=”#45 University of Florida (Levin)”
content=”Levin scored a 2.06 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #48

Notable alumni: Former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, U.S. Representative Ander Crenshaw

Tiebreaker: Three schools scored a 2.06. UF (Levin) had a 3.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 14 votes, the University of Maryland had a 3.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes, and the University of Georgia had a 3.2 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 13 votes.
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[slide
permalink=”44-university-of-iowa-7″
title=”#44 University of Iowa”
content=”Iowa scored a 2.07 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #29

Notable alumni: Former U.S. Senator William S. Kenyon, Paul P. Harris (founder of Rotary International)”
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[slide
permalink=”43-university-of-coloradoboulder-8″
title=”#43 University of Colorado—Boulder”
content=”Colorado scored a 2.09 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #44

Notable alumni: U.S. federal judge Robert E. Blackburn, Chief Justice on the Colorado Supreme Court Michael L. Bender



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[slide
permalink=”42-american-university-washington-9″
title=”#42 American University (Washington)”
content=”American scored a 2.10 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #49

Notable alumni: John Dean (Counsel to former President Nixon and key Watergate scandal figure), Judith Sheindlin (aka ‘Judge Judy’ but she later transferred to the New York Law School)”
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[slide
permalink=”41-university-of-illinoisurbanachampaign-10″
title=”#41 University of Illinois—Urbana—Champaign”
content=”Illinois scored a 2.12 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #35

Notable alumni: Former Illinois Governor Samuel H. Shapiro, U.S. Representative for Illinois Jesse Jackson, Jr.”
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[slide
permalink=”40-pepperdine-university-11″
title=”#40 Pepperdine University”
content=”Pepperdine scored a 2.12 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #49

Comments: ‘Pepperdine University School of Law focuses not just on shaping good lawyers, but it’s emphasis on service and justice help shape good people. Working in developing nations all around the world in areas of rule of law, global justice, and peacemaking, no other law school in the U.S. affords more opportunity to apply a J.D. internationally in a meaningful way and to serve people, countries, and institutions working to see access to justice for those that would not have it otherwise.’

Notable alumni: Rod Blagojevich, former Mayor of L.A. James Hahn

Tiebreaker: Pepperdine had a 4.8 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 22 votes, while Illinois had a 3.0 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 12.
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[slide
permalink=”39-george-mason-university-12″
title=”#39 George Mason University”
content=”George Mason scored a 2.16 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #39

Notable alumni: Kathleen L. Casey (Commissioner of the SEC from 2006-2011), Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli”
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[slide
permalink=”38-university-of-minnesotatwin-cities-13″
title=”#38 University of Minnesota—Twin Cities”
content=”Minnesota scored a 2.18 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #19

Notable alumni: Tim Pawlenty, Walter Mondale”
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[slide
permalink=”37-ohio-state-university-moritz-14″
title=”#37 Ohio State University (Moritz)”
content=”Moritz scored a 2.25 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #39

Notable alumni: Erin Moriarty, former U.S. Attorney General William B. Saxbe

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[slide
permalink=”36-university-of-washington-15″
title=”#36 University of Washington”
content=”Washington scored a 2.26 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #20

Notable alumni: former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Foley, William H. Gates, Sr., (father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates)

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[slide
permalink=”35-indiana-universitybloomington-maurer-16″
title=”#35 Indiana University—Bloomington (Maurer)”
content=”Maurer scored a 2.28 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #26

Notable alumni: Former Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon, Stanford Law Professor J. Keith Mann”
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[slide
permalink=”34-brigham-young-university-clark-17″
title=”#34 Brigham Young University (Clark)”
content=”Clark scored a 2.28 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #39

Notable alumni: Monte Stewart (president of the nonprofit Marriage Law Foundation), Steve Young (former NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers)

Tiebreaker: Clark had a 4.7 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 22 votes, while Maurer had a 4.7 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 20 votes–a difference of two votes.
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[slide
permalink=”33-wake-forest-university-18″
title=”#33 Wake Forest University”
content=”Wake Forest scored a 2.29 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #44

Notable alumni: Christopher Barron (cofounder of GOProud, an organisation that represents gay conservatives), Reid Hunter (music lawyer who has represented John Mayer and The Fray)

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[slide
permalink=”32-tulane-university-19″
title=”#32 Tulane University”
content=”Tulane scored a 2.34 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #51

Notable alumni: CEO of Broadwebasia Peter Schloss, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Edward White



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[slide
permalink=”31-washington-and-lee-university-20″
title=”#31 Washington and Lee University”
content=”Washington & Lee scored a 2.35 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #24

Notable alumni: Sports lawyer Stokely Caldwell, Jr., Christopher Wolf (director of the Privacy and Information Management practice group at Hogan Lovells)”
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[slide
permalink=”30-university-of-wisconsinmadison-21″
title=”#30 University of Wisconsin—Madison”
content=”Wisconsin scored a 2.35 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #35

Notable alumni: Former U.S. Representative from Wisconsin Tom Barrett, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin (the first openly gay woman in Congress)

Tiebreaker: Wisconsin had a 4.7 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 19 votes, while Washington & Lee had a 5.6 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 22 votes.
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[slide
permalink=”29-university-of-californiadavis-22″
title=”#29 University of California—Davis”
content=”UC Davis scored a 2.37 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #29

Notable alumni: Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye, writer Gus Lee



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[slide
permalink=”28-university-of-californiahastings-23″
title=”#28 University of California—Hastings”
content=”UC Hastings scored a 2.44 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #44

Comments: ‘UC Hastings Career Services teaches students how to get jobs beyond big firms.’

Notable alumni: Richard Thalheimer (founder and CEO of The Sharper Image), celebrity lawyer Thomas Mesereau”
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[slide
permalink=”27-fordham-university-24″
title=”#27 Fordham University”
content=”Fordham scored a 2.54 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #29

Comments: ‘Fordham, Penn, and Northwestern have been our best law recruits. MD at a F100 bank’

Notable alumni: Geraldine Ferraro, General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles Howie Roseman



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[slide
permalink=”26-college-of-william-and-mary-marshall-wythe-25″
title=”#26 College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe)”
content=”William & Mary scored a 2.54 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #35

Notable alumni: Michele Bachmann, Eric Cantor

Tiebreaker: William & Mary had a 5.7 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 27 votes, while Fordham had a 7.4 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 35 votes.



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[slide
permalink=”25-washington-university-in-st-louis-26″
title=”#25 Washington University in St. Louis”
content=”Wash U scored a 2.55 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #23

Notable alumni: Former Governor of Missouri Henry S. Caulfield, Phyllis Schlafly (author, lawyer, and antifeminist activist)

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[slide
permalink=”24-boston-university-27″
title=”#24 Boston University”
content=”BU scored a 2.59 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #26

Notable alumni: Michael Fricklas (general counsel at Viacom Inc.), John Ward (founder of Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders)



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[slide
permalink=”23-boston-college-28″
title=”#23 Boston College”
content=”BC scored a 2.72 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #29

Notable alumni: U.S. Senator John Kerry, U.S. Senator Scott Brown”
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[slide
permalink=”22-university-of-north-carolinachapel-hill-29″
title=”#22 University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill”
content=”UNC scored a 2.76 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #38

Notable alumni: John Edwards, Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt”
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[slide
permalink=”21-emory-university-30″
title=”#21 Emory University”
content=”Emory scored a 2.77 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #24

Notable alumni: fashion designer Kenneth Cole, current Attorney General of Georgia Thurbert Baker”
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[slide
permalink=”20-vanderbilt-university-31″
title=”#20 Vanderbilt University”
content=”Vanderbilt scored a 2.79 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #16

Notable alumni: Al Gore, Fred Thompson (former U.S. Senator and actor on Law & Order)



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[slide
permalink=”19-george-washington-university-32″
title=”#19 George Washington University”
content=”GW scored a 2.82 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #20

Notable alumni: U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Allen Dulles (longest-serving director of the CIA)



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[slide
permalink=”18-university-of-southern-california-gould-33″
title=”#18 University of Southern California (Gould)”
content=”Gould scored a 2.83 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #18

Notable alumni: celebrity lawyer George Hedges, Charles Prince (former chairman and CEO of Citigroup)

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[slide
permalink=”17-university-of-notre-dame-34″
title=”#17 University of Notre Dame”
content=”Notre Dame scored a 2.96 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #22

Notable alumni: CEO of Bank of America Brian Moynihan, owner of the Cleveland Indians Larry Dolan”
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[slide
permalink=”16-university-of-texasaustin-35″
title=”#16 University of Texas—Austin”
content=”U Texas scored a 3.08 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #16

Comments: ‘Other than the top national schools and a handful of others, not worth the $$$. A school like Texas Austin, which is the only law school of a quality academic calibre, owns the Texas market. So even though its not a H/S/Y, it can make up for that because it’s the big boy in its region. For the students who remain in Texas, they have great opportunities there, provided that they finish in the top 1/3 of their classes.’

‘I attended the University of Texas. They place very well in the state, even in this bad economy. You can work a big law job in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio with a UT degree. I now work as a consultant to an investment firm here in Houston. Going to UT allowed me to make these connections and be where I am today. The best advice I can give to future students: know WHY you want to attend law school. If you can’t articulate the reasons, law school is not for you, and you will end up miserable.’

Notable alumni: Paul Begala (political consultant, commentator and former advisor to President Bill Clinton), U.S. Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison”
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[slide
permalink=”15-university-of-californialos-angeles-36″
title=”#15 University of California—Los Angeles”
content=”UCLA scored a 3.10 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #15

Comments: ‘UCLA has a great career services office.’

Notable alumni: U.S. Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman from California Henry A. Waxman”
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[slide
permalink=”14-university-of-michiganann-arbor-37″
title=”#14 University of Michigan—Ann Arbor”
content=”U Michigan scored a 3.50 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #10

Notable alumni: Valerie Jarrett (senior advisor to President Barack Obama), U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar”
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[slide
permalink=”13-cornell-university-38″
title=”#13 Cornell University”
content=”Cornell scored a 3.54 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #14

Comments: ‘Fordham, Penn, and Northwestern have been our best law recruits. MD at a F100 bank’

Notable alumni: former Maine Governor and U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie, Xerox Chairman Sol Linowitz”
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permalink=”12-university-of-virginia-39″
title=”#12 University of Virginia”
content=”UVA scored a 3.57 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #7

Notable alumni: Ted Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy”
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[slide
permalink=”11-northwestern-university-40″
title=”#11 Northwestern University”
content=”Northwestern scored a 3.59 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #12

Comments: ‘Fordham, Penn, and Northwestern have been our best law recruits. MD at a F100 bank’

Notable alumni: former U.S. Secretary of State and democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, T.V. talk show host Jerry Springer”
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permalink=”10-georgetown-university-41″
title=”#10 Georgetown University”
content=”Georgetown scored a 3.62 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #13

Notable alumni: Jack Abramoff, current White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew”
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permalink=”9-university-of-californiaberkeley-42″
title=”#9 University of California—Berkeley”
content=”UC Berkeley scored a 3.66 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #7

Comments: ‘Price and rankings point to Berkeley as the number [one] law school in US’

Notable alumni: former California Governor and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Earl Warren, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III”
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permalink=”8-duke-university-43″
title=”#8 Duke University”
content=”Duke scored a 3.71 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #11

Notable alumni: Richard Nixon, Charlie Rose
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permalink=”7-new-york-university-44″
title=”#7 New York University”
content=”NYU scored a 3.76 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #6

Comments: ‘NYU Law is doing some serious work to increase their clerkship opportunities, which coupled with their current employment, salary, and faculty numbers should allow them to get ahead of both Chicago and Columbia in future rankings.’

Notable alumni: former New York City mayors Fiorello La Guardia, Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani”
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permalink=”6-university-of-pennsylvania-45″
title=”#6 University of Pennsylvania”
content=”U Penn scored a 3.78 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #7

Comments: ‘Penn Law is very generous with funding…and there is no shortage of jobs for graduates–Current student.’

‘Fordham, Penn, and Northwestern have been our best law recruits. MD at a F100 bank.’

Notable alumni: former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, Mark Yudof (President of the University of California system)”
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[slide
permalink=”5-university-of-chicago-46″
title=”#5 University of Chicago”
content=”Chicago scored a 3.99 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #5

Comments: ‘Chicago or Stanford should be #1 on the list. Harvard is overrated.’

Notable alumni: Judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Robert Bork, founder of TMZ Harvey Levin”
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[slide
permalink=”4-columbia-university-47″
title=”#4 Columbia University”
content=”Columbia scored a 4.02 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #4

Notable alumni: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4b82e45700000000002144d0″
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]
[slide
permalink=”3-stanford-university-48″
title=”#3 Stanford University”
content=”Stanford scored a 4.35 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #2

Comments: ‘Stanford’s fantastic clinical program is the best training ground for students and the future of legal education.’

‘If you cannot attend a top tier school (and I mean Harvard, Stanford, Yale), then you should attend a school in a region where you want to live and practice.’

Notable alumni: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5060a1e6eab8ea6b69000008″
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[slide
permalink=”2-yale-university-49″
title=”#2 Yale University”
content=”Yale scored a 4.35 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

Tiebreaker: Yale had a 69.3 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 388 votes, while Stanford had a 67.9 per cent ‘Extremely Worth It’ rating with 379 votes.

US News & World Report: #1

Comments: ‘None of them are worth it except for Harvard, Yale or Stanford. There simply are not enough jobs available to justify $150,000+ in student loans to attend.’

Notable alumni: Former U.S. Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton”
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/5065c3036bb3f77b38000002″
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[slide
permalink=”1-harvard-university-50″
title=”#1 Harvard University”
content=”Harvard scored a 4.38 out of 5 on Business Insider’s rating.

US News & World Report: #3

Comments: ‘From time to time, magazines try to seek publicity by rating some law school other than Harvard as No. 1. Take a look at the Supreme Court. Regardless of all the noise, Harvard Law School is the gold standard. All the rest is fluff. There are many very good law schools. Among the best are Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Michigan, Virginia, Stanford – not necessarily in that order but after Harvard, who cares about order?’

Notable alumni: U.S. President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney”
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]
[slide
permalink=”want-more-on-the-top-law-schools-51″
title=”Want more on the top law schools?”
content=”These are 8 law schools you shouldn’t waste your money on >
Here are the REAL most expensive law schools >
Click here for all of our features on the top law schools >
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[/slideshow]