Law studies are timeless: indeed, the earliest international universities, called stadia generale, made law studies a cornerstone of their charter.
Not just the law; those institutes could teach medicine and/or theology, and had to include art studies in their curriculum in order to qualify as a stadium generale. Other criteria were that only masters of the discipline in question could teach those courses and schools should welcome international students.
From that perspective, the best schools have not varied substantially from medieval times.
Today, all over the world, the top schools for learning law all have stellar instructors – often alumni who have returned to their alma mater to train the next generation of lawyers. Those schools welcome students from every country and teach a variety of subjects.
What if you wish to pursue a dual degree? Many of the schools featured in this article offer an interdisciplinary course of study; anything from Law and Languages to Law and Economics.
We now search the globe for the best legal education to be had. How do we come by our specialised knowledge?
We know you could refer to QS World University Rankings and other such reports to educate yourself on the best law schools for your purpose. Or you could follow the advice of friends and family or an academic advisor, should you have one to consult.
Reputation and word of mouth are powerful advertising media. For instance: everyone in the world has at least heard of Oxford... right?
But not everyone knows that the National University of Singapore also has an excellent law programme and its inception predates some of the world’s better-known teaching facilities!
That is the true purpose of this exposé: to shine a light on educational opportunities worth considering.
Gone are the days where law students must aspire to their own country’s (often more expensive!) law schools; the world is your oyster and you get to pick the pearl: the Faculty of Law that suits you best, no matter where in the world it is!
Superprof now presents them, continent by continent, figuratively heaped on a silver platter, for your review and selection.
The Best Law Schools UK
Naturally, we have to start at home, not just because our country is home to two of the world’s oldest universities but because you surely know that our schools are accredited.
Oxbridge, a familiar moniker that conjures up a bunch of bovine on a narrow viaduct, is a melding of Oxford and Cambridge, both renown the world over for their long history and high educational standards.
In national and global rankings, both of these facilities stand tall!
However, our attention turns to the far less famous University of Glasgow’s Faculty of Law – which outranks Cambridge in national university league tables.
Naturally, you may strive toward your Juris Doctor or LLB as you would at any school of law, but what makes this facility outstanding is its student-driven moot programme.
They run both an internal moot court and also make a debate competition of the exercise, inviting every university with an LLB programme in their curriculum to participate.
And, speaking of curriculum...
In spite of Glasgow’s long tradition – or perhaps because of it, you may choose to specialise in areas of law that were unheard of at the time of the school’s founding, in 1451: Environmental Law, for instance, or Corporate Law.
The University of Glasgow ranks #2 on our national university league tables and #69 on the QS ranking.
From this fine institution, we take you to one that is perhaps more obscure – and what a pity that is!
Durham University was founded in 1832; one of the first universities to open in the UK since Cambridge became officially recognised, some 600 years earlier.
What makes Durham so remarkable is its embrace of every international student, from anywhere in the world: from the annual International Welcome party to the week-long initiation event, law students from other lands are made to feel most welcome.
How does that help the native law student?
Let’s say you intended to go abroad to study: wouldn’t it be helpful to immerse yourself into a campus of varied cultures?
Besides, your undergraduate degree could cost substantially less earned at Durham than at, say, the London School of Economics!
Durham University ranks 7th on the national league tables and 74th on the QS world list.
The Best Law Schools in Europe
Here, we arrive at an amusing yet revealing statistic.
Setting a filter on the QS ranking site for European laws schools, eight of the top ten listed schools are in the UK!
Fortunately, we have several other websites to consult, such as the Master of Laws ranking, which puts Leiden University – the oldest in the Netherlands, at the top of their list.
There, you may earn your LLB degree in:
International Human Rights Law
and many others...
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If your aim was to further your legal studies in an international setting, you could hardly do better: Leiden’s student body comprises mostly of international students!
On the other hand, if Intellectual Property Law or Criminal Law is your chosen field, you may fare better at Humboldt University in Berlin, otherwise known as the Mother of the Modern University.
What do you know of the Humboldtian Model?
Humboldt comes in at #6 on the European rankings list and #121 on the QS list.
See how crucial it is for the prospective student to shop around a bit; get a fuller picture of the opportunities available to earn a degree in law?
Many postgraduate law school students worry about the language barrier: if they study overseas, won’t they have to speak that country’s native language?
Not necessarily, we’re proud to report. Humboldt’s programmes are taught in English, as are these next featured degree programs.
The Best Law Schools in Asia
Besides the aforementioned National University of Singapore, which tops the LLM degree guide list for law studies in that continent (that school comes in at #11 on the QS tables), there are so many great schools where you can pick up the knowledge and skills for your career in law!
India has seven law schools in the top ten, with the National Law School if India taking 2nd place, after Singapore.
You may select their one-year full-time Business Law program or opt for distance learning; a two-year scholarship.
In either case, the courses are held in English and, especially if you go to Bangalore for your classes, you will be a part of a small but exclusive club of attendees at India’s premier law university.
On the other hand, if China has always called to you, you might investigate Xiamen University (#14 on LLM Review; #476 on QS)
Their law courses require a three-year commitment and cover Taxation, Civil and Commercial law.
The entire course is conducted in English... but why not study Mandarin while you’re there?
Best Law Courses in Australia
Whether you’re after your JD degree or going all the way to PhD, the consensus is that the Australian National University is the place to do it – but it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the University of New South Wales, while we’re at it.
In fact, these two geographical neighbours are locked in friendly competition, tossing the best ranking back and forth at each other.
One main difference between the two is that NSW requires anyone applying to sit an entrance exam designed to measure your potential as a law scholar.
Once admitted to their law faculty, you may choose their combined law curriculum, in which you would simultaneously work toward your Bachelor of Laws and a bachelor in whichever discipline that interests you.
Or that might put you further on your career path...
Finally, of all the great schools to earn your law degree in Australia, consider the University of New England: every year, it awards millions of dollars in scholarships, and more than that in bursaries to research!
The Best US Law Schools
Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Princeton: are there any better names to bandy about when it comes to law degrees?
Of course, there are Oxford and Cambridge!
Still, these four American universities lead the legal training pack; sometimes unfairly so.
Compare the cost of one year at Harvard - $63,800 just for tuition; not including books or living expenses, with one year’s tuition at the University of Chicago: $48,000 – again, no other fees or expenses included.
For that reason, we acknowledge the Ivy League campuses as those with the superior study programmes but turn our focus on one that does not require you to mortgage your entire future.
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The University of Michigan Law School is one of the best-regarded in the United States and consistently ranks within the top 20 schools in the country. (It currently stands at #20 on the QS ranking).
What makes this programme outstanding is the diversity of their law clinic and how much pro bono work they do, and the publication of their law journal.
And, best of all, your overall cost for a 4-year degree is about half the cost of an undergraduate degree at Harvard!
Lots of factors drive educational choices; unfortunately, one of them is the desire fora degree from a renown institute of higher learning.
But, if we could overlook that criterion in favour of what is all around the best for our own situation...
You may just find that your best law course can be found in a place you might never have thought to apply to.
Remember: the world is your oyster; so grab the pearl you really want!