Yale Law School Program Overview
The most selective law school in the country, Yale Law School is known for its scholarly culture and emphasis on public service. Its alumni are illustrious. Power couple Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton met in the school’s library. Three sitting Supreme Court justices—Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor—earned their JDs at Yale. Governors Jerry Brown (California) and Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) are also graduates.
Yale Law School typically attracts brainy applicants with notable accomplishments. The school seeks the elusive “it” factor that makes an applicant particularly unique. “Quirky intellectuals” will find themselves at home there. Aspiring Yale JDs are well advised to consider how to leverage each component of their application to highlight what makes them well rounded with solid interests.
Located in New Haven, Connecticut—a city “large enough to be interesting, yet small enough to be friendly,” as the school’s website notes—Yale Law School offers its students plenty to keep occupied outside of the library stacks. Only a 1.5-hour drive from New York City, the school offers easy access to big city life.
Although the school offers on-campus housing in Baker Hall, most Yale Law School students live in off-campus apartments in New Haven.
“Intimate” comes to mind when defining Yale Law School’s unique academic programing. First-year students benefit from taking classes in small groups of only 16–18 classmates. An average class size of 200 and a 4.4:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensure that students have the opportunity to study closely with some of the brightest legal minds in the world.
Yale Law School is also one of the most academically focused JD programs. Students are required to work with renowned faculty on not one, but two major research papers. The Supervised Analytic Writing requirement aims to increase students’ legal research, analytical reasoning, and writing skills. Students also are required to produce a “Substantial Paper,” which must be approved by a faculty member.
Although applicants can select from a diverse range of courses, Yale Law School also offers 12 targeted areas of study, including Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law, IT & Media Law, and Public Interest Law.
The opportunities to study abroad at Yale Law School are almost too numerous to mention. The school maintains separate programs for specific countries and regions alike, including the Yale Africa Initiative, European Union Studies Program, and Yale Himalaya Initiative.
Another noteworthy aspect of studying law at Yale is that first-term classes are ungraded. De-emphasizing grades allows students to focus on learning how to read and discuss case law. After their first term, students are subject to evaluation on an Honors/Pass/Low Pass basis. The school’s admissions guide notes: “Class rank is never calculated; knowledge, not numbers, is the primary focus.”
Clinical and Experiential Learning
Yale Law School permits students to participate in its more than 30 clinics as early as the spring semester of their first year. The school’s diverse and extensive clinical programs give students hands-on experience in legal advocacy on such issues as mass incarceration, community and economic development, and worker and immigration rights. Approximately 90% of students take part in these programs, with some electing to participate in more than one clinic.
Centers and workshops also expose students to cutting-edge legal scholarship. Yale Law School’s centers are extensive and prestigious, exploring topics ranging from law, technology, and society (Information Society Project), to Islam (Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization), to China’s legal reform and US–China relations (Paul Tsai China Center), and many more. Without a doubt, rich intellectualism abounds at Yale Law School.
Yale Law School Statistics
Class Profile (Class of 2024)
Number of Applications: 5,296
Class Size: 201
Average Age: 25
Students of Color: 54%
Median LSAT: 174
Median GPA: 3.94
Career Placement (Class of 2020)
- Law Firms: 42.64%
- Judicial Clerkships: 29.44%
- Public Interest: 17.26%
- Government: 5.08%
- Business and Industry: 4.06%
- Education: 1.52%
According to U.S. News & World Report, Yale Law School is the number one ranked law school in the country. It is also tied for number one in Constitutional Law, ranked number three in International Law, and ranked number four in Clinical Training, Contracts/Commercial Law, and Criminal Law.
Yale Law School Application FAQs
How difficult is it to get into Yale Law School?
With an acceptance rate of about 7%, median GPA of 3.94, and median LSAT score of 174, Yale Law School is one of hardest law schools to get into.
What LSAT score do you need to be accepted to Yale Law School?
As noted above, Yale Law School class of 2024 students have a median LSAT score of 174. Of course, that means half have higher scores and half have lower scores, so you don’t need to get a 174 to get in, however that is the number you should be aiming for. Yale Law School does not have an LSAT score cut off, so you do not need to get a certain score in order to be considered. However, if your test score is lower, you will need to balance that out with stronger other factors.
What is the Yale Law School application process?
Every year, Yale Law School opens its law school application in September and applications can be submitted starting in October. The Class of 2025 deadline is February 15, 2022. Applicants must submit their law school applications through the LSAC electronic application service. They will need to submit a non-refundable $85 application fee (unless they have received an LSAC fee waiver), undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement and 250-word essay, at least two letters of recommendation (preferably from professors who can speak to your academic performance personally), a statement of activities, and your LSAT or GRE score. Additionally, you have the option to submit a diversity statement and addenda.
Once you submit your complete law school application, at least one member of the law school admissions committee will read your complete file, looking for a baseline of academic excellence and the ability to contribute to the Yale Law School community. About 1% of applicants are admitted after this first review, whereas 20% are reviewed further by three faculty readers who score applicants, and around 80% are simply denied.