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Which US University Should I Study at to Be a Judge?

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 22, 2021 Updated April 22, 2021
  • The US has 48 law schools in the recent QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021
  • Discover which of these will give you the best chance of becoming a judge

If you dream of a career as a judge in the United States, be prepared to work hard. It takes a lot of perseverance and training, as well as a minimum of seven years’ post-qualification experience. 

First, you must get a law degree, pass your Bar exam, work as an attorney, obtain a judgeship and then complete your training. Many graduates also choose to undertake a clerkship after graduation. Clerkships offer additional training, experience and professional connections, which will be highly valued – and sometimes even required – to gain top attorney positions.   

If you’re looking to start this process, you might be wondering which US law school you should attend. Read on to find out which of the US’ 48 ranked universities will give you the best chance of becoming a judge. 

Top 10 Schools for the Law Subject Area in the US 

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 

US Ranking 

World Ranking 

Institution 

Location 

1  

Harvard University 

Cambridge (MA) 

4  

Yale University 

New Haven (CT) 

5  

Stanford University 

Stanford (CA) 

7  

Columbia University 

New York City (NY) 

8  

New York University (NYU) 

New York City (NY) 

University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

Berkley (CA) 

11= 

University of Chicago 

Chicago (IL) 

19 

Georgetown University 

Washington DC 

 

26 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

Los Angeles (CA) 

10 

30 

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 

Michigan (MI) 

10. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor In 10th place in the US is the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, ranking 30th in the world for law. Michigan Law School is a partner in the Overseas-Trained LLM Student Interview Program in New York, where employers from around the world are invited to interview students for foreign associates and six to 18-month internship positions.  

Michigan Law also helps students individually to develop a professional resume and cover letter. The university then then compiles and distributes a set of these resumes to American legal employers. Since 1991 36 Michigan Law graduates have completed the prestigious United States Supreme Court Clerkship. 

9. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

UCLA

Placing ninth in the US and 26th globally is the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA’s courses boast exceptional depth and breadth, taught by leading academic researchers on topics from constitutional law to Critical Race Studies. Students are encouraged to explore their areas of interest as well as understand other facets of the law.  

In their spare time law students can contribute to the UCLA Law magazine, attend one of the many events put on by the law school, or take part in the National Trial competition, which last year was won by a UCLA law team.  

8. Georgetown University 

Georgetown uni

Law students at Georgetown University get to study in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Between 2019 and 2020, every Supreme Court case was conducted in Georgetown, meaning that Georgetown University law students could fully immerse themselves in the practice of law. The university itself places eighth in the US and 19th in the world for law this year. 

Georgetown University has a fully immersive teaching style, with in-house legal simulations, externships and clinical courses. Clinical courses enable students to represent real clients facing real legal challenges with students responsible for all aspects of their case, while collaborating closely with clinical faculty. These practical ways of teaching prepare students for real-world work in a law firm. 

7.University of Chicago 

University of Chicago

Seventh in the US and joint 11th in the world for law, according to the most recent subject rankings, is the University of Chicago. The school has excellent employment prospects, with 99 percent of the class of 2020 employed or in further study 10 months after graduation.  

The University of Chicago’s students are encouraged to pursue a judicial clerkship after graduation. Over the past few years, approximately 32 to 38 percent of each graduating class obtained a judicial clerkship, with 22 alumni placed in Supreme Court clerkships between October 2010 and October 2020. 

6. University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 

Berkley

The University of California, Berkley (UCB) ranks ninth in the world and sixth in the US for its law programme this year. UCB’s law school has some extremely successful alumni, including California Supreme Court Justice, Cruz Reynoso. 

Students can gain experience, academic credit and key connections in the school’s Field Placement Program, where they act as judicial externs or assist supervising lawyers in public interest organisations and government agencies. 

Berkley Law’s employment centre offers a range of services, including individual appointments, professional development programmes, job fair preparation, resume review and mock interviews. As a result, 98 percent of the class of 2020 found employment nine months after graduation, with 65 percent of these working at law firms. 

5. New York University (NYU) 

nyu

Eighth in the world for law and fifth in the US is New York University (NYU). NYU’s law school is often regarded as a leader in international law, home to the Hauser Global Law School Program and the Guarini Institute for Global Leaders Studies. NYU students can study abroad in Buenos Aires and Paris, helping graduates stand out to future employers. 

The school’s Office of Career Services, together with the Public Interest Law Centre, organise recruiting programmes, panels, workshops and practice interview programmes to help students boost their employment prospects. NYU Law School offers more than 40 clinics and guarantees summer funding for first year and second year students working in government and non-profit organisations. 

4. Columbia University 

Columbia uni

Seventh in the world for law and fourth in the US is Columbia University in New York City, where Columbia Law School has been teaching students for more than 160 years. The institution has a hands-on approach to education, with students regularly participating in clinics, externships, simulations, and moot court programmes, enabling them to work with real clients on real cases. 

The school has longstanding relationships with top employers around the world, and the career centre offers a range of resources to boost students’ career options, including counselling, peer mentoring and mock interview programmes. In 2020, 94 percent of Columbia’s graduates were employed in a role that required a passage of the Bar exam 10 months after graduation. 

3.Stanford University 

Stanford

Fifth in the world and third in the US is Stanford University. The law school has an exceptionally high graduate success rate: 96 percent of law students had found employment within nine months of graduation, with a median salary of US$185,000. 

Stanford Law’s Office of Career Services helps students with career planning skills and job search strategies, as well as providing employment information and offering career-related resources and services. On-campus interviews are also held during the fall and winter terms.  

2. Yale University 

yale

Yale Law School benefits students with the knowledge of its world-renowned faculty, small classes, opportunities for clinical training and a strong encouragement of public service. Placing fourth in the world for law, Yale University counts 11 supreme court justices and 44 federal court judges amongst their successful alumni. 

Of the 204 Yale Law graduates of 2020, 170 are now working in full-time employment which requires passage of the bar exam, and 15 are working in a university-funded position. Yale Law offers one-on-one counselling, resources and programmes on career paths, as well as the chance to network with employers through on-campus recruiting events. 

1. Harvard University  

harvard law

Harvard Law School (HLS) is the top university in the world to study law according to the recently released subject rankings. Founded in 1817, HLS is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and contains the largest academic law library in the world. 

Over 500 employers recruit on campus every year. After graduation, around 60 to 65 percent of graduates enter private practice, 20 percent enter judicial clerkships and 10 to 15 percent enter public interest or government work or other pursuits. 

According to Harvard Law School’s website, one-quarter of all Supreme Court clerks over the last decade were HLS graduates. 

This article was originally published in May 2020 . It was last updated in April 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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