Due to the best law schools for civil rights, attorneys are instrumental in helping people navigate the complex legal system and ensure they receive the justice they deserve.
Whether driven by a passion for understanding the intricacies of the law or a desire to specialize in a particular area, such as environmental or civil rights law, pursuing a law degree at the best law schools for civil rights offers a wealth of opportunities.
7 Best Law Schools for Civil Rights: How Will This Benefit You?
To practice civil rights law in the US, individuals must obtain a juris doctor (JD) from one of the best law schools for civil rights and pass the state bar examination. With a JD, graduates can pursue a career path as a civil rights attorney.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a JD holder is $118,160, with job availability expected to increase in the coming years. With so many potential career paths, pursuing a JD offers a rewarding and financially stable career.
Yale University Law School
Yale University Law School, located in New Haven, Connecticut, boasts an impressive title of being one of the best law schools for civil rights, with ample resources for individuals interested in this legal specialty.
The Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights immerses law students in local and global human rights initiatives. At the same time, the Human Rights Law Clinic provides practical experience in this area of law guided by knowledgeable professor attorneys.
Yale Law also publishes the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, offering students the opportunity to publish research on issues relevant to human rights law.
Yale Law’s human rights coursework emphasizes advocacy. Students participating in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Law Clinic complete projects each term on behalf of human rights organizations and individual victims of human rights abuse.
To be considered for admission, applicants must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) within the past five years, with admitted students typically scoring between 156 and 180 for the Fall 2017 class at Yale Law.
Additionally, applicants must submit their undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, résumé, and other relevant information. Admission status will be communicated via email.
To be eligible for graduation, students must complete 83 units, including Substantial Paper and Supervised Analytic Writing (SAW) writing requirements.
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is a top-tier institution or one of the best law schools for civil rights that offers a prestigious Human Rights program to students, alumni, scholars, and advocates.
The program provides invaluable fellowships that offer hands-on experience, work placements, and research opportunities in human rights. At Harvard Law, students can expect a well-rounded education with professional, personal, and intellectual learning opportunities.
In addition to the Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School collaborates with various student organizations to actively discuss pressing human rights issues. The school’s student groups provide students with opportunities for training, research, writing, and project work in human rights.
Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School is recognized for its challenging coursework and immersive programs, offering a highly regarded law degree focusing on civil rights.
Students at Columbia Law benefit from the Human Rights Institute, a community dedicated to preparing future legal professionals with an emphasis on human rights. Established in 1998, the Human Rights Institute offers courses on critical topics like immigration law and genocide law and seminars exploring minority group rights.
Students also gain hands-on experience through legal clinics like the Human Rights Clinic and the Child Advocacy Clinic. Additionally, Columbia Law students can earn academic credit for contributing to the school’s Human Rights Law Review.
To apply for admission, prospective students must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) within the past five years, with scores for admitted students ranging from 169 to 173 for the Fall 2017 class at Columbia Law.
With a valid LSAT score, applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a dean’s letter (if applicable), a personal statement, a résumé, and other relevant materials. While an in-person interview may be requested, it is not required.
To be eligible for graduation, students must complete 83 academic points, including satisfying applicable ABA writing requirements. To demonstrate their commitment to human rights law, all students must complete a professional responsibility course and 40 hours of mandatory pro bono service following their first academic year.
University of Michigan Law School
The University of Michigan Law School, located in Ann Arbor, offers a wealth of opportunities for those interested in pursuing civil rights law at one of the best law schools for civil rights.
With a diverse range of courses, students have the ability to specialize in areas such as women’s rights, reducing global poverty through law, and the law of armed conflict. Faculty and staff work closely with students to help define career objectives and tailor coursework to meet those goals.
Applicants must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) within the past five years, and the scores of admitted students for the Fall 2017 class ranged from 164 to 170.
Along with a valid LSAT score, applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, one to three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a résumé, and other relevant information.
The admissions process evaluates applicants holistically, considering all aspects of their application. Students must maintain a cumulative 2.3 GPA and complete 83 credits, including upper-level writing requirements as defined by the ABA, to be eligible for graduation.
Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland
Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, offers a unique Public Interest Law program for students passionate about social justice and public interest issues.
Through this program, students can engage with these issues academically and through practical experiences like clinics, externships, and pro-bono programs.
The program also provides several funding options to support students in their work. Additionally, the Social Justice Tour at Lewis and Clark Law School showcases the history of student activism and social justice efforts at the college, inspiring new students to pursue their social justice goals.
City University of New York School of Law
The City University of New York School of Law, one of the best law schools for civil rights, provides students with ample opportunities to engage in pro-bono work through student organizations or the Career Planning Office.
These initiatives promote social justice and empower historically underserved communities by supporting programs that aid immigrants, workers (both citizen and non-citizen), and other marginalized groups.
The Economic Justice Project and the Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN) are two organizations that carry out these initiatives, with the participation of students, graduates, and faculty.
The University of Virginia Law
At the University of Virginia Law, students interested in pursuing a career in human rights can enroll in a comprehensive program designed to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge.
The human rights curriculum includes courses such as Civil Rights Litigation, Racial Justice and the Law, Advanced Topics in Public Service, and a Human Rights Study Project.
To be considered for admission at one of the best law schools for civil rights, applicants must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) within the past five years, with scores ranging from 169 to 170 for the Fall 2017 class at UVA Law.
In addition, applicants must submit their undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, a résumé, two letters of recommendation, and any other relevant information.
The admission process takes a holistic approach, considering all aspects of the applicant’s profile. To be eligible for graduation, students must earn 86-semester credits and maintain a minimum 2.7 GPA throughout their academic years.
They must also complete upper-level writing requirements as defined by the ABA.
Who accredits a JD with a civil rights concentration program?
Accreditation is crucial when choosing a law school, whether in-person or online. Accrediting agencies, such as state, regional, or national bodies, evaluate schools to ensure they provide quality education.
The American Bar Association (ABA) is the primary accrediting agency for law schools in the United States. You need a JD from an ABA-accredited institution to take the bar exam, except in California.
In addition to ABA accreditation, many online or correspondence programs seek voluntary accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission to demonstrate that they offer a comprehensive curriculum and prepare students for the future.
While the top schools featured in this article offer in-person programs, it is important to consider accreditation when choosing a school to ensure you receive a quality education that will help you succeed in your legal career.
How long does it typically take to get a JD?
While most law schools in the US offer three or four-year programs to obtain a juris doctor degree, it’s important to note that the top law schools for civil rights law typically do not offer part-time programs.
However, some law schools may allow students to take additional time to complete their degree, depending on the course schedule and enrollment date.
If you’re considering pursuing a juris doctor degree, it’s important to consider what career options are available to you. To give you an idea of what the job market might look like, research some of the most popular career paths that JD holders choose.
Remember that these predictions are based on US Department of Labor data and are projected from 2016 to 2026. If you’re looking for the best law schools in Illinois, click here.