The ever-influential US News and World Report’s ranking of top US law schools are out!

Here is a full list of the 2021 rankings compared to the 2020 rankings:

Law School2021+/-2020
Yale University11
Stanford Law22
Harvard Law33
UChicago Law School44
Columbia Law School4-15
NYU School of Law66
University of Pennsylvania77
University of Virginia88
Michigan Law99
Northwestern Law9-110
Berkeley Law9-110
Duke Law12+210
Cornell Law1313
Georgetown Law1414
UCLA School of Law1515
University of Texas-Austin1616
Washington University at St. Louis17-118
University of Southern California (Gould)18+117
Vanderbilt University1818
Boston University Law20-323
University of Minnesota Law School21+120
Notre Dame Law School22+121
George Washington University Law School23+122
Emory University School of Law24-226
ASU College of Law24-327
University of Florida Levin College of Law24-731
UC Irvine School of Law27+423
Iowa Law2727
University of North Carolina School of Law27-734
Fordham University School of Law27-1239
University of Alabama Law School31+625
Boston College Law31+427
University of Georgia Law School31+427
Washington and Lee University31-334
University of Illinois Law School31-839
College of William and Mary (Marshall-​Wythe)31-839
Brigham Young University (Clark)37-239
UC Davis School of Law38+731
Indiana University Maurer School of Law38+434
Ohio State University (Moritz)38+434
University of Wisconsin—​Madison38+434
Wake Forest University42+1131
University of Washington42-244
Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University42-345
University of Utah (Quinney)45-247
Colorado Law46+145
Univ. of Arizona Law47+839
Pepperdine University47-451
Maryland Carey Law47-552
Baylor Law School50+248
FSU College of Law50+248
UConn Law50-252
Cardozo School of Law53+152
Tulane University54+252
University of Richmond (Williams)54+252
Temple University (Beasley)56+848
Southern Methodist University (Dedman)56+452
University of Houston Law Center56-359
University of California (Hastings)59-362
Pennsylvania State University60-464
Texas A&M University60-2383
UNLV Boyd School of Law62+458
Seton Hall University62+359
Loyola Marymount Law School6262
Villanova University62-971
Northeastern University School of Law67+364
Mizzou Law67+364
Miami Law6767
University of Tennessee—​Knoxville70+1159
KU School of Law70+367
UK College of Law70-171
Loyola University Chicago School of Law70-777
DU Strum College of Law74+767
St. John’s University74-377
Georgia State College of Law76+967
Case Western Reserve University76+571
University of Oklahoma76+571
AU Washington College of Law76-177
Nebraska Law76-177
University of Pittsburgh76-177
Brooklyn Law School83+1271
Cincinnati Law8383
University of San Diego83-386
Chicago-Kent College of Law83-487
Wayne State University83-891
University of Oregon88+583
University of New Hampshire School of Law88+187
St. Louis University9090
Florida International Law School90-191
University of Arkansas—​Fayetteville90-191
Michigan State University College of Law93+291
Drexel University Kline School of Law93-7100
Lewis & Clark Law School93-11104
University of Hawaii at Manoa Law School (Richardson)96+591
University of South Carolina96+591
LSU Law School96-4100
University of New Mexico School of Law99+891
SUNY Buffalo Law School99-5104
Louisville Law99-9108
Marquette Law School102+1191
Hofstra Law102+2100
CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law102-24126
Stetson University105+1104
Drake Law School105-17122
Santa Clara University107+3104
CUNY School of Law107-1108
Howard University School of Law107-1108
Washburn University107-25132
University of Tulsa111+2487
Syracuse University College of Law111+2091
West Virginia University111+11100
Catholic Law111+3108
University of Mississippi School of Law111+3108
Texas Tech University111-6117
Chapman University School of Law111-21132
Albany Law School118+3115
Gonzaga Law118+1117
University of St. Thomas118+1117
DePaul University College of Law118-14132
Indiana University McKinney School of Law122+14108
University of Montana Law School122+7115
Quinnipiac University122-4126
University of Maine School of Law122-4126
University of Baltimore Law126126
Loyola University New Orleans126-12138
Mercer Law School129+12117
Duquesne Law129+7122
Seattle University129+7122
Belmont Law129-9138
UMKC School of Law133+25108
Creighton School of Law133+16117
University of Wyoming133+1132
Pace University136+14122
University of Toledo136+10126
University of Idaho Law School136+10126
Suffolk University Law School136-7143
UIC John Marshall Law School140-11151
Vermont Law School141+5136
University of Memphis141+3138
University of South Dakota141+3138
University of Akron Law141-2143
Dayton Law School141-10151
Willamette University (Collins)141-10151
Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law151+15136
University of Arkansas—​Little Rock (Bowen)151+8143
Appalachian School of Law151151
Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School151151
Ave Maria School of Law151151
Barry University Law151151
California Western School of Law151151
Campbell Law School151151
Capital Law School151151
Charleston School of Law151151
Elon Law151151
Faulkner Law151151
FAMU Law School151151
Florida Coastal School of Law151151
Golden Gate University151151
Inter American University151151
Liberty University School of Law151151
Lincoln Memorial Duncan School of Law151151
Pacific McGeorge School of Law151151
Mississippi College School of Law151151
Mitchell Hamline School of Law151151
New England Law | Boston151151
New York Law School151151
North Carolina Central University151151
Northern Illinois University College of Law151151
Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law151151
Nova Southeastern Law School151151
Oklahoma City University151151
Pontifical Catholic (Puerto Rico)151151
Regent University School of Law151151
Roger Williams University School of Law151151
Rutgers Law School151151
Samford University (Cumberland)151151
South Texas College of Law151151
Southern Illinois University Carbondale151151
Southern University Law Center151151
Southwestern Law School151151
St. Mary’s University151151
St. Thomas University School of Law151151
Thurgood Marshall School of Law151151
Penn State151151
Touro College151151
Detroit Mercy Law151151
University of Massachusetts Law School151151
University of North Dakota School of Law151151
UNT Dallas151151
University of Puerto Rico School of Law151151
University of San Francisco151151
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law151151
Western New England University151151
Western State College of Law at Argosy University151151
Widener University (Commonwealth)151151
Widener University Delaware151151

Here are our answers to some FAQs about the Best Law Schools Rankings for those trying to sort out what this all means.

What do the USNWR rankings measure?

The bulk of the weight (40%) in these rankings comes from “peer-assessment scores,” evaluations from professors, judges, firm hiring partners, and other eminent members of the legal field. These peer-assessment scores are a relatively good measure of a school’s prestige and the perception of the quality of its graduates.

The next most significant component is the school’s selectivity (25%), as measured predominately by incoming students’ median LSAT and GPA scores. A tiny bit of this part of ranking comes from a school’s acceptance rate, although this has been deemphasized, perhaps because it is easy for schools to game. Measuring median LSAT and GPA scores is a good proxy for determining which schools can attract the most desirable applicants.

The next part (20%) is placement success, which measures a school’s ability to place students into desirable full-time legal positions. Luckily, more data has become available on this for the USNWR to measure, and rankings changes in recent years likely reflect that. In addition to job placement numbers, a small portion of placement success is determined by the school’s bar passage rates.

Faculty Resources (weighted at 15%) includes data such as how much a school spends per student and that school’s student-to-faculty ratio. Many have been critical of these criteria for helping to drive the rising cost of legal education.

Despite criticisms, the USNWR rankings do a reasonably good job of measuring the broader perception in the legal world regarding the relative prestige of law schools. Given the importance of prestige in this profession, it is kind of a big deal. All things being equal, schools that rank higher on this list tend to provide better opportunities overall.

But How Much Do The Rankings Really Matter?

A lot, frankly, but there are limitations. Closely-ranked schools tend not to be significantly different in terms of objective measures, so small changes in ranking year-to-year don’t necessarily tell you anything about the underlying quality of a school.

It is also worth noting that the further you get outside of the T14, schools have more of a regional reputation than a national one, so it gets harder to compare schools. Peer assessment scores, in particular, might tell us less and less about schools as you move down the rankings ladder. Whereas there is a huge difference between Yale and Georgetown, there may not be, for example, too much of a difference between the quality of a school ranked 65 and one ranked 80.

What is the T14?

The Top 14 Law Schools (commonly known as the T14) are the fourteen schools, each with a solid national reputation, that have historically held the top fourteen spots in nearly every year since the US News began making these rankings.

While Georgetown Law was edged out of the T14 last year, it regained its position as the historical gatekeeper of the T14. While there are small shifts within the T14 from year to year, six schools have consistently held the top six spots for most of the last several decades: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, University of Chicago, Columbia University, and New York University.

Once you leave the top fourteen, you tend to get more regarded as regional powerhouses, although some still have significant national pull.

How Should I Use The Rankings?

If you are a prospective student, you should always use the rankings as a baseline in your evaluations. They help introduce students to the hierarchy in the legal world, which for better or for worse, is very real. However, they do not give you much granular information as to what kind of jobs you can obtain from various schools. We recommend Law School Transparency as a great place to start your closer analysis of the kinds of job placement schools can provide.


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