Top 10 Law Schools in California

As one of the top tourist, business, professional, and scholarly destinations in the world, California has long been the land of hopes and visions. The world knows the state for its beautiful beaches, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and pulsating metropolitan centers. It is an ideal destination for those seeking to fulfill their American dream.

Who wouldn’t want to study law in such a place? Besides its natural, cultural, and economic affluence, California is also home to many good law schools. Many of these schools are American Bar Association-accredited and offer word-class LL.M. programs. Here’s a look at the top 10 law schools in California.

1. Stanford Law School (SLS)

World Report and U.S. News consistently ranks Stanford Law School (SLS) as one of the top three law schools in the United States. The school’s admission process is competitive, and its programs are small and intimate.

It enrolls only between 15 and 20 students, or 8.7 percent of applicants, every year in each of the specializations. Your application for a place in SLS needs to stand out from the rest.

The specializations include:

  • Environmental Law & Policy
  • Corporate Governance & Practice
  • International Economic Law
  • Business & Policy
  • Science & Technology

If you’re lucky to get a slot at Stanford, you’ll have access to world-class professors. The school has a 4:1 student-faculty ratio. Additionally, the school hosts the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies (SPILS).

This program results in the Master of Science in Law (JSM) degree. Once you graduate, you become part of an influential alumni network. It’s also worth noting that at least 90 percent of Stanford graduates get jobs within 10 months.

If you’re looking to join Stanford Law School, these numbers may be of help:

  • LSAT 25th-75th percentile: 169-174
  • GPA 25th-75th percentile: 3.82-3.99

2. University of California – Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

U.S. News ranks U.C. Berkeley’s Law School, founded in 1894, as the second-best law school in California after Stanford. In 2019, experts deemed the school the 10th best law school in the country. Hence, its competitive admissions.

The school accepts only about 20 percent of applicants every year. It also has a low student-faculty ratio of 5:8:1. U.C. Berkeley law school offers both a traditional LL.M program and a Professional Track LL.M.

Professional Track LL.M candidates study over two consecutive summers. This schedule gives you the chance to work or spend time with family during the year. LL.M. specializations in the school include:

  • Business Law
  • Law & Technology
  • Energy & Clean Technology

If you go to U.C. Berkeley Law School, you have a 90 percent chance of getting a job within one year of your graduation. Many Cal graduates work in government and public interest.

If you’re looking to join U.C. Berkeley Law School, these numbers may be of help:

  • LSAT 25th-75th percentile: 165-170
  • GPA 25th-75th percentile: 3.64-3.90

3. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Founded in 1949, UCLA Law School takes pride in being the first public law school in Southern California. The school has a strategic location in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood. The school offers an LL.M. program, with various specializations including:

  • Business Law
  • Tax Law
  • Law and Sexuality
  • Sports Law
  • Entertainment Law

The school’s Entertainment Law, offered at the school’s Ziffren Center, has often been the best entertainment law program in the States. The UCLA school of law also has a Critical Race Studies program, the only law program in the country that focuses on matters of race and justice.

The school has an excellent reputation for its comprehensive classroom work. Additionally, students have access to endless opportunities for experiential learning. One of the things that set the school apart from its competitors is that it plays host to clinics focused on the First Amendment and Supreme Court.

The school’s admission is quite competitive, with an acceptance rate of about 22.5 percent. The school also boasts a powerful alumni network, with more than 17,000 members across the globe.  If you’re looking to join the UCLA school of law, here are some numbers to keep in mind:

  • Median LSAT Score: 160
  • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.72

4. University of Southern California Gould School of Law (USC Law School)

USC Law School is the oldest law school in the Southwestern United States. While it dates back to 1896, the Gould School of Law officially launched as a USC school in 1900. The school often ranks among the top 20 law schools in the country.

It has a strategic location in the south of downtown Los Angeles. The site gives students easy access to a wide range of opportunities in a major metropolitan area.

The school offers a standard one-year LL.M. program and a two-year LL.M. program.

It boasts a student/faculty ratio of 5.9:1, despite the fact it enrolls about 600 students. Don’t let the large student body fool you. Getting into USC Gould School is not easy. The school admits only about 19 percent of applicants every year.

Fortunately, you have a higher chance of acceptance if you apply early. Very few law schools in the world offer such an opportunity. USC Gould School has partnerships with universities in various parts of the world, including Brazil, France, Australia, Italy, and Hong Kong.

You can take advantage of these partnerships if you’re looking to study law abroad. The school also offers 15 dual-degree programs that integrate the law with other fields, such as:

  • Public policy
  • Business administration
  • International relations
  • Gerontology

These programs can be a great option if you want to sharpen your knowledge in a secondary area. Also worthy of note is the school’s year-long clinics, which offer a more comprehensive experience compared to the semester-long clinics in most law schools.

Most graduates of Gould School of Law get employed in government and law firms. Here are numbers to keep in mind if you’re interested in joining this school:

  • LSAT 25th-75th percentile: 163-167
  • GPA 25th-75th percentile: 3.61-3.89

5. University of California (U.C.) Irvine School of Law

U.C. Irvine School of Law hasn’t been around for long, but it manages to be among the most progressive law schools in the United States. It has been one of the top 25 in the country. The school has about 500 students, with a student/faculty ratio of 5:8:1.

The ratio ensures that students get personalized attention from professors throughout their course. U.C. Irvine is also quite competitive, with only about 25 percent of applicants getting accepted. If you’re lucky to get a spot in the school, you start gaining hands-on experience right away.

First-year students undergo a Lawyering Skills course, where they get to interview real clients.  In your second year, you’ll need to choose from 10 core clinics. The clinics focus on a wide range of issues, including domestic violence, community development, criminal justice, and immigrant rights.

Other practical learning opportunities include a rigorous externship program and the UCDC Law program, where you get to spend a semester in Washington, DC.

Here are critical numbers to keep in mind if you wish to join the school:

  • LSAT 25th-75th percentile: 161-165
  • GPA 25th-75th percentile: 3.4-3.73

6. Chapman University – Fowler School of Law

Chapman University Law School was founded in 1995. The Orange County-based school gained provisional American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation in 1998 and acquired full ABA accreditation in 2002.

It offers a range of a variety of programs, including several LL.M degree specializations and the Juris Doctor degree. LL.M specialization options include:

  • Business Law
  • Entertainment & Media Law
  • International Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Taxation
  • Trial Advocacy

It also offers combined programs such as J.D./MBA and J.D./MFA in Film and Television Production. The school is known for its diverse and vastly accomplished faculty members. Students get a blend of personalized instruction and hands-on clinical and courtroom experience.

Chapman Law School has an acceptance rate of 48 percent. According to the school, 78 percent of 2018 graduates got employed with 10 months of graduation. At least 60 percent got jobs in law firms.

Keep these numbers in mind if you’re interested in joining Chapman Law School:

  • LSAT 25th-75th percentile: 154-158
  • GPA 25th-75th percentile: 3.17-3.56

7. University of California (U.C.) Davis School of Law

U.S. News ranks U.C. Davis School of Law among the top 10 California law schools. The university founded the school of law in 1965. The school’s location is between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the state’s capital. The site allows students to network with a variety of professionals and government representatives.

The school’s admission is competitive, accepting a little more than 34 percent of applicants. It has about 200 students in every class, making it the smallest of five law schools in the University of California system.

Thanks to the small size, students receive a more intimate law school experience compared to most law schools in the state. The school offers a range of LL.M. specialization options, including:

  • Business Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Public International Law
  • Private International Law

Moreover, the U.C. Davis School of Law allows students to work with real clients and solve real-world problems through various clinics such as:

  • Immigration Law Clinic
  • Family Protection & Advocacy Clinic
  • California Supreme Court Clinic
  • Civil Rights Clinic
  • Prison Law Office

The school also has a comprehensive externship program. The program helps students gain hands-on experience working in areas such as the California Legislature, the district attorney’s offices, as well as state and federal judicial chambers.

These admission statistics of the 2018 entering class may be of help if you wish to join the school:

  • Median LSAT Score: 162
  • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.63

8. Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Established in 1920, Loyola Law School Los Angeles is popular for its active evening program and trial advocacy program. Loyola offers a range of robust LL.M. programs. LL.M specialization options include:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Civil Litigation
  • Entertainment & Media Law
  • Cybersecurity
  • Taxation

According to LLM GUIDE, Loyola’s LL.M. in Taxation program is among the top 10 LL.M.s for U.S. Tax Law. Loyola Law School is also known for the high number of Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees awarded to minority students.

One of the things that set Loyola apart from its competitors is its concentration program. Students are allowed to choose a concentration in a particular field. Options include public interest law, entrepreneurship, intellectually property law, and immigrant advocacy.

In addition to the coursework in the preferred field, you’ll also undergo a semester of simulation or real client experience. This combination of a specialized area of study with experiential learning helps you have the upper hand in the job market.

The school has a student population of about 1,000. However, that doesn’t mean getting accepted is easy. It admits only 36 percent of applicants.

These numbers from the 2018 entering class may give you some insight if you wish to join Loyola Law School:

  • Median LSAT Score: 160
  • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.58

9. Pepperdine University School of Law

Located in Malibu, Pepperdine University School of Law espouses strong Christian principles. It is an affiliate of the Churches of Christ. The school has a 7:1 student/faculty ratio, which allows it to offer personal attention to its students.

Another remarkable feature of the school is its Paris Institute for Professional Formation. Students have the opportunity to work with mentors in studying various issues such as legal analysis and ethics. Pepperdine is also known for its Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.

This institute positions the school as a thought leader in the world of alternative dispute resolution. In fact, Pepperdine’s LL.M in Dispute Resolution ranks among the world’s top 10 LL.M.s for alternative dispute resolution.

Other LL.M. programs offered in the school include:

  • United States Law
  • International Commercial Law & Arbitration
  • Sports, Entertainment, & Media Law

The school’s admission is quite competitive, with an acceptance rate of about 36.2 percent. These numbers from 2018 entering class may be of help if you’re looking to join Pepperdine University School of Law:

  • Median LSAT Score: 160
  • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.63

10. University of California (U.C.) Hastings College of Law

The San Francisco-based U.C. Hastings opened its doors in 1878. It takes pride in being the first law school in the U.C. system. Thanks to its San Francisco location, the school is just a few minutes’ walk from the California Supreme Court, City Hall, the Attorney’s Office, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Students may network with major players in the legal industry. The school allows students to choose from 10 specializations, which include:

  • Criminal Law
  • Business Law
  • International Law
  • Social Justice Lawyering
  • Environmental Law
  • Intellectual Property Law

U.C. Hastings also boasts nine centers and programs, offering specialized studies. These include the Center for Innovation, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, as well as the East Asian Legal Studies Program. It is much easier to get into U.C. Hastings compare to most law schools in this list, thanks to its 44.9 percent acceptance rate.

These numbers from the 2018 entering class may be of help if you’re looking to join UC Hastings College of Law:

  • Median LSAT Score: 158
  • Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.44


California is home to at least 60 different law programs. However, not all of them are made equal. Some are accredited by ABA or the state Committee of Bar Examiners, while others are unaccredited. The 10 schools listed above all have the accreditation and approval of the ABA. ABA-accredited law schools have a better reputation.