Stanford Law School (SLS) is one of the nation’s premier law schools whose esteemed alumni include Supreme Court Chief Justice William R. Rehnquist and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The institution strives to inspire its students to be intellectually curious and forward thinking.
Notably selective, SLS focuses on an intensive, intellectually stimulating, interdisciplinary legal education that is both inclusive and diverse. The student body is comprised of students of varying backgrounds from every state in the country and all over the world. Though highly focused on academics, Stanford is intent on fostering collaboration and collegiality through small class sizes and a nontraditional grading system. In fact, the smallest of its peer schools, SLS is able to offer a rare level of accessibility between students and faculty with small group discussions often taking place in faculty homes.
SLS is also committed to public interest, touting “the most generous loan repayment assistance program of any law school in the country,” “the most generous financial aid,” and the “lowest average debt burden” of graduates from similar law programs. While at Stanford, students are encouraged to give back not only through clinics and experiential learning, but also through volunteer student-led programs that can earn them Pro Bono Distinctions upon graduation.
SLS is located in Palo Alto at the heart of Silicon Valley, 45 minutes away from San Francisco by bus or train and 3½ hours from Tahoe. Stanford offers the best of the Bay Area. Nestled between the foothills and the bay, this sprawling campus has plenty of places to study, network, run or bike, and, of course, caffeinate. Palo Alto is just a mile down picturesque Palm Drive where you can enjoy falafels at Oren’s Hummus, Cajun food at NOLA, trivia at the Dutch Goose, or dance the night away at the Patio.
SLS is well known for one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios in the country (7:1). The entering class each year is approximately 180 students which is then broken down into six 30 student sections.
Stanford places a strong emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach offering 21 formal dual degree programs and limitless opportunities for upper-level students to take courses in other graduate schools on campus. Underlying this commitment is the belief that students should not only understand the law but also the clients that they will ultimately represent.
Along with a number of its peer schools, SLS does not use a traditional grading system. Students instead receive either honors, pass, restricted credit or no credit grades in each class. The honors of Order of the Coif and Graduation with Distinction have also been eliminated.
Unlike most schools, Stanford is on a quarter system which shifts its schedule about a month later than most other programs and adds a third final exam period per year.
Clinical and Experiential Learning
SLS offers second and third year students the opportunity to gain full-time hands-on experience in one of its 11 faculty led clinics in a wide range of areas from Environmental Law to Criminal Legal Defense. In keeping with its pioneering focus, SLS’s Supreme Court Litigation clinic – where students work on current Supreme Court cases – was the first of its kind and remains incredibly active. Stanford’s full-time clinics enable students to completely immerse in the work of representing clients without the distraction of additional classes or exams. In fact, with the exception of one clinic, all clinics are housed under one roof and function as a single “law firm” to maximize collaboration and interaction. Ever focused on the academics of law, SLS admonishes students from approaching SLS’s clinics as job training. “Instead, every clinic teaches the habits of mind, pride in craft, and, most importantly, the exercise of professional judgment that every legally trained person needs.”
Stanford’s Center for Public Research and Leadership enables second and third years to partake in faculty-supervised practicums where they can conduct research and policy analysis on real-life issues. The Center’s current focus is on public K-12 education and improving the lives of underserved children.
In addition, The Levin Center helps enable students to lead and participate in over 16 student-led pro bono projects in the areas of criminal justice, environmental issues, immigration/refugees and poverty. Many of its students earn a Pro Bono Distinction upon graduation by volunteering over 50 hours of service during their time at SLS.
Finally, Stanford is committed to offering opportunities to study law internationally whether through exchange programs, foreign externships or their international human rights clinic.
Class Size: 180
Average Age: N/A; 83% of students have been out of college one or more years
Students of color: 38.9%
Median LSAT: 171 (low 168, high 173)
Median GPA: 3.87 (low 3.75, high 3.95)
- Law Firms: 54.44%
- Judicial Clerkships: 27.84%
- Public Interest: 6.82%
- Government: 5.68%
- Business & Industry: 5.11%
- Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 34.09%
- Central: 3.41%
- South Atlantic/Central: 7.95%
- Mountain/Pacific: 52.84%
- U.S. Territories/Foreign: 1.7%