In the United States, many lawyers earn over $180,000 a year, which makes it among the highest-paying jobs in the country. Some pay much more. Michelman & Robinson, one of the most successful U.S. law firms, pays its high-level associates (who are not even partners) an average of $450,000.
Compared to most jobs, the road to becoming a lawyer is a long one. Most go to a four-year college and then three years of law school. People who want to become practicing attorneys usually have to pass the bar in each state where they practice. Those who join large law firms start as associates. The wait to become a partner can be over five years, and some never make that level.
The barrier to getting into the best law schools, which is where the most successful lawyers generally go, is a high one. To determine the hardest law school to get into, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on three measures of selectivity from the American Bar Association:
- Acceptance rate, or the number of offer letters a school sent in fall 2021 as a share of the number of applications
- Median LSAT score of newly enrolled students in fall 2021
- Median undergraduate GPA of newly enrolled students
We also reviewed the share of students in the class of 2018 who took the bar exam within two years of graduation and passed.
Law-school graduates are among the most powerful people in society. Twenty-six of our 46 presidents have been lawyers. Of the current nine Supreme Court justices, only Amy Coney Barrett did not attend an Ivy League law school.
Those Ivy League institutions are well represented among the best law schools. Of the 10 law schools with the lowest acceptance rates, in fact, eight are private. The two public ones are the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan.
The hardest law school to get into is Yale Law School. Here are the details:
- Acceptance rate: 4.1%
- Applications for fall 2021: 5,194
- Median undergrad GPA of new enrollees: 3.94
- Median LSAT score of new enrollees: 174 out of 180
- Bar exam passage rate: 99%
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