A law degree is the first step to a number of careers including a solicitor, barrister or judge. Many universities around the world provide law degrees so it can be difficult to know which is the best one for you.
For the first time, Times Higher Education has ranked the top 100 universities for law degrees. Duke University in the US takes first place followed by Stanford University and Yale University, both also in the US. In fact nearly a third of the universities in the law ranking are located in the US.
The University of Melbourne is the only Australian university to enter the top 10, taking eighth position. Eight more Australian universities feature in the rest of the ranking.
Best universities worldwide
Times Higher Education subject tables are based on the same 13 performance indicators used in the overall World University Rankings 2018. However, the methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields. The full methodology can be found here.
Scroll down for a more comprehensive guide to what you can do with a law degree and the top 100 universities.
Top 5 universities for law degrees
The Duke University School of Law is one of 10 schools at Duke University. It is consistently ranked highly and has a competitive admissions process, accepting only about 20 per cent of applicants a year.
The school publishes eight academic journals or law reviews. Law and Contemporary Problems is the university’s oldest law journal. The Duke Law Journal was the first of the law journals to be edited by students and publishes articles from scholars on topics of general interest about the legal system and the study of law.
The school also offers a number of joint degree programmes with a number of the other schools such as the graduate school, the business school and the medical school. About a quarter of students are enrolled in joint degree courses.
The Stanford Law School is known for having one of the lowest student-to-staff ratios in the country at 7.3:1.
The law courses are varied and diverse, beginning with an overview in the first year covering criminal law, contracts, tort, and legal research and writing. After the first year, students can choose from some 280 different course titles in order to specialise in the area that interests them.
The Robert Crown law library at Stanford holds about 500,000 books.
As well as studying, there are more than 50 student organisations run by Stanford law students including the Stanford law and wine society, Stanford law students against gendered violence, women in politics and the black law students association. There are also 12 legal journals affiliated with the law school.
Student experience studying law
The admissions process to the Yale University School of Law is one of the most selective in the country with less than 10 per cent of applicants accepted each year.
The school hosts a number of clinics that allow students to represent clients in real-world problems. Up to 80 per cent of Yale law students take part in these clinics before they graduate. The clinics cover a wide range of legal areas and new ones are added all the time.
Alumni of the law school include presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former US presidents Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford.
The University of Chicago Law School produces six professional journals, three of which are run by students: University of Chicago Law Review, Chicago Journal of International Law and University of Chicago Legal Forum. If students are interested in membership of any of these journals, they have to take part in a writing competition at the end of the first year. A group of students will then be selected based on their grade point average and the quality of their submissions to the writing competition, depending on which journal they have applied for.
There are also about 60 student organisations associated with the law school including the criminal law society, the education and child advocacy society, the law school musical and the Muslim law society.
The Squire Law Library at the University of Cambridge is one of the three largest legal collections in the UK with almost 180,000 volumes. The collection is strongest in UK law, but contains collections on legal systems across the world including the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. There are also smaller collections for many other countries.
The Faculty of Law offers six different degrees as well as an MPhil in criminology, an MPhil in criminological research, a diploma in legal studies and the diploma in international law.
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Top universities for law degrees 2018
Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2018 profile