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Top Law Schools in 2021

By Chloe Lane

Updated May 5, 2021 Updated May 5, 2021
  • Harvard University is the best law school in the world this year
  • The United States contains the highest number of law schools in this year's ranking, with 50 law programs on offer
  • This is closely followed by the United Kingdom with 37 law schools

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 features 320 of the top higher education institutions to study law.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on four indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper and the H-index (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.

Read on to learn more about the best law schools in each region. If you would like to explore the schools in further detail, click here to view the full table.

Top 10 Law Schools in the World

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021

Rank Name of Institution Location
1 Harvard University United States
2 University of Oxford United Kingdom
3 University of Cambridge United Kingdom
4 Yale University United States
5 Stanford University United States
6 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) United Kingdom
7 Columbia University United States
8 New York University (NYU) United States
9 University of California, Berkeley (UCB) United States
10 National University of Singapore (NUS) Singapore
See the full ranking for law schools here

Top law schools in the US and Canada

With 50 of the world’s top law schools located in the US and 12 in Canada, an impressive 18 North American universities make it into the global top 50 for law this year.

The best university in the world for law is Harvard University in the US, retaining the title for the sixth consecutive year and scoring particularly highly in the employer reputation indicator. Harvard Law’s graduates are highly sought after by employers in law firms, businesses, government and non-profit organisations. The university awards several Public Service Fellowships each year to help graduates pursue careers in public services.

Canada’s highest ranked law school, the University of Toronto (joint 17th) rises three places this year and earns its highest score in the academic reputation indicator. The University of Toronto’s law school professors are leading experts in their field and the school’s law programs are incredibly diverse, allowing students to tailor their study to meet their individual needs and ambitions.

Top law schools in Europe

Europe is the most well-represented region globally for law schools, with 148 ranked programs, including 13 in the global top 50 and three in the global top 10.

The United Kingdom has an impressive 37 law schools in the ranking, the most of any country in Europe, with eight of these featuring in the global top 50. Amongst them is University of Oxford, the top law school in Europe, ranking 2nd globally. The University of Oxford states its aim is to help law students analyse complex information, construct arguments and write with precision and clarity. This is reflected in its high score for academic reputation.

KU Leuven’s law school in Belgium ranks at joint 35th globally this year, placing amongst the six universities offering law courses in Belgium. Founded in 1425, KU Levin’s Faculty of Law is the largest in Belgium, emphasising an international and comparative approach to law.

France’s Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne enters the top 20 worldwide this year, rising five places. The law school boasts a growing international presence, with links to universities around the world and is largely recognised as one of the most distinguished centres of education and research in Europe. It places amongst the nine French law schools in the rankings.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany features two law schools in the global top 50: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (39th) and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (41st).

The Netherlands is also home to two universities in the top 50, with Leiden University in 24th place, and the University of Amsterdam in joint 35th.

Top law schools in Asia

There are 52 Asian law schools in the rankings this year, with seven schools making it into the global top 50.

Mainland China is the most well-represented region in Asia in the law school rankings, with 15 programs featured. Two of these programs are in the world top 50, with Tsinghua University in 27th and Peking University in 28th place. Both of these universities are incredibly research intensive and have produced many prominent legal scholars, judges and lawyers .

Asia’s highest ranked law school is the  National University of Singapore (NUS) rising two places to 10th this year. The school’s law program earns a high score across the indicators which perhaps can be credited to its broad curriculum, which, in addition to the core areas of law, allows students to choose electives ranging from Asian legal studies to banking and finance. NUS ranks amongst two other law schools in Singapore.

Japan has one school in the global top 50 with The University of Tokyo in joint 21st place. At the University of Tokyo, law is taught together with political science, with students studying the administrative, legislative and judicial branches of the government from a range of angles. A further eight Japanese schools feature in the overall rankings.

South Korea has six programs in the law rankings, with one entrant in the global top 50 - Seoul National University (SNU) in 33rd place. Hong Kong has three programs in the law rankings, with two making it into the top 50: The University of Hong Kong (HKU) in joint 21st place and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 48th place.

Top law schools in Australia and New Zealand

A total of 24 law programs in  Australia (20) and  New Zealand (four) feature in the subject rankings, with six Australian programs making it into the global top 50.

Australia’s highest-ranked law program can be found at  The University of Melbourne, in joint 11th place. Over the past year this law school has been focusing on the legal, ethical and policy challenges of COVID-19 and now offers teaching about the relevant strands of law used during the pandemic and the public health strategies that are employed during a global health crisis.

Other notable Australian universities include: The University of New South Wales (UNSW) (13th), The University of Sydney  (14th), the  Australian National University (ANU) (joint 17th), Monash University (40th) and The University of Queensland (UQ) (43rd).

New Zealand’s highest entrant this year is The University of Auckland, in 54th place. New Zealand’s second best law school, Victoria University of Wellington (joint 65th) performs particularly well for the research citations per paper indicator, reflecting the high quality of the research done at the university.

Top law schools in Latin America

Latin America has a significant presence in the law rankings this year, with 25 programs included. Four Latin American programs are in the top 50 globally.

Mexico’s Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is the highest ranked university in Latin America this year in 34th after rising seven places. UNAM’s law school produces high-level legal research aimed at solving current national and international problems and is home to one of the largest law libraries in Latin America. It is one of two Mexican universities featured in the law school rankings in 2021.

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is the second highest-ranked in the region, and one of six of Chile’s universities featured this year. The university’s law school has been teaching students for 125 years and challenges its students to learn and develop abilities from a comprehensive standpoint, encouraging reflection, critical analysis and active participation in the legal and social debate on a global scale.

Argentina and Brazil each have one entry in this year’s top 50, including Argentina’s Universidad de Buenos Aires, which rises three places this year to rank 44th and Brazil’s Universidade de São Paulo (USP) (joint 46th). Colombia’s six law programs featured this year include Universidad de Los Andes Colombia, ranked 45th in the world.

Top law schools in Africa and the Middle East

Five African schools are featured in the law rankings, with four of these in South Africa  and one in Egypt. The highest ranked school is the University of Cape Town, at 101-150. Also worth a mention is Egypt’s Cairo University (251-250) which earns the highest score for employer reputation in the region.

Only two countries in the Middle East are represented in the law school rankings – Israel  and Saudi Arabia, with the  Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv University performing the highest, both placing at 101-150.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem has taught the majority of the recipients of the prestigious Israel Prize in Law and Criminology and many of Israel’s past and present Supreme Court Justices attended the law school.

This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in May 2021

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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