Rankings by U.S. News and World Report

Law school ranking

The Law school rankings are organized into three most important sections: The first is a "Top 100" that lists the top hundred schools in order from highest ranked to lowest ranked. After that, US News groups the remaining 80 accredited law schools into two roughly unranked groups called "Third Tier" and "Fourth Tier" (The Top 100 includes both the first and second "tier").

The annual issue also includes special rankings of particular programs, including Clinical Training and Dispute Resolution. These are based more on opinion surveys.


Each school is assigned an overall rank, which is normalized so that it is out of 100. This rank takes into account:
  • Quality Evaluation: measured by opinion surveys,
  • Student Selectivity: measured by incoming student profiles and the acceptance rate,
  • Placement Success: this variable is a combination of the percentage of students who were employed by the time they graduated, the percent employed nine months later, and bar examination passage rate.
  • Faculty Resources: This variable is a combination of direct expenditures per student, financial aid and indirect expenditures per student, library resources, and student-to-faculty ratio.
The data for: selectivity, placement success and faculty resources are obtained from a questionnaire that is completed by each school.
The magazine gives 40 percent to reputation, 25 percent to selectivity, 20 percent to placement success and 15 percent to faculty resources, thus blending these factors into an overall score.

Consistency at the top of the U.S. News Rankings

Although the US News has published an annual version of the rankings since 1989, there has been considerable consistency at the top of the US News Rankings. Yale has been ranked first every single year. Additionally, Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia have always appeared in the top five.

These schools, have seen their ranking within the top fourteen spots shift frequently, but have not placed outside of the top fourteen since the initiation of the annual rankings. Because of their variable placement within the top ten, but considerable consistency of these fourteen schools at the top of all 180 schools, they are irregularly related to collectively as the "Top Fourteen" in published books on Law School Admissions, undergraduate university pre-law advisers, professional law school consultants, and newspaper articles on the subject. Facetiously, they are also referred to as the "Top Ten".

Schools that consistently rank in the top 14

The "Top Fourteen" schools according to US News and World Report Rankings, in alphabetical order, are:
  1. Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, in Berkeley, CA.
  2. Columbia Law School, Columbia University, in New York, NY.
  3. Cornell Law School, Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY.
  4. Duke University School of Law, Duke University, in Durham, NC.
  5. Georgetown University Law Center, Georgetown University, in Washington, DC.
  6. Harvard Law School, Harvard University, in Cambridge, MA.
  7. New York University School of Law, New York University, in New York, NY.
  8. Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern University, in Chicago, IL.
  9. Stanford Law School, Stanford University, in Stanford, CA.
  10. University of Chicago Law School, University of Chicago, in Chicago, IL.
  11. University of Michigan Law School, University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, MI.
  12. University of Pennsylvania Law School, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA.
  13. University of Virginia School of Law, University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, VA.
  14. Yale Law School, Yale University, in New Haven, CT.

Characteristics of the top schools in the U.S. News Rankings

There exist common characteristics across these top schools. All actual members serving on the Supreme Court graduated from one of these top schools, and every Ivy League law school (Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Penn, and Yale) is represented here.