Yale Law School (often referred to as Yale Law or YLS) is the law school of Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. The school's small size and prestige makes its admissions process the most selective of any law school in the United States. Established in 1824, Yale Law offers the J.D., LL.M., J.S.D., M.S.L., and Ph.D. degrees in law. Yale Law has been ranked the number one law school in the country by U.S. News and World Report every year since the magazine began publishing law school rankings.

Yale Law has produced a large number of luminaries in law and politics, including United States Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton. The law school's Lillian Goldman Law Library has been memorialized as the meeting place of Bill Clinton and fellow student Hillary Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State. Former President William Howard Taft was a professor of constitutional law at Yale Law School from 1913 until he resigned to become Chief Justice of the United States in 1921. Alumni also include current United States Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, as well as a number of former Justices, including Abe Fortas, Potter Stewart and Byron White; several heads of state around the world, including Karl Carstens, the fifth President of Germany, and Jose P. Laurel, the president of the Republic of the Philippines; and the current deans of six of the ten top-ranked law schools in the United States: Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, Virginia, and Penn.

Each class in Yale Law's three-year J.D. program enrolls approximately 200 students. The school's law library, the Lillian Goldman Law Library, is one of the largest law libraries in the world. Yale's flagship law review is the Yale Law Journal.

According to Yale Law School's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 78.8% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.


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The institution is known for its scholarly orientation; a relatively large number of its graduates (13%) choose careers in academia within five years of graduation, while a relatively low number (48%) choose to work in law firms five years after graduation. Another feature of Yale Law's culture since the 1930s, among both faculty and student graduates, has been an emphasis on the importance of spending at least a few years in government service. A similar emphasis has long been placed on service as a judicial law clerk upon graduation. Its 7.5 student-to-faculty ratio is the lowest among U.S. law schools.

Yale Law does not have a traditional grading system, a consequence of student unrest in the late 1960s. Instead, it grades first-semester first-year students on a simple Credit/No Credit system. For their remaining two-and-a-half years, students are graded on an Honors/Pass/Low Pass/Fail system. Similarly, the school does not officially rank its students. It is also notable for having only a single semester of required classes, instead of the full year most U.S. schools require. Unusually, and as a result of unique Connecticut State court rules, Yale Law allows first-year students to represent clients through one of its numerous clinics; other law schools typically offer this opportunity only to second- and third-year students.

Students publish nine law journals that, unlike those at most other schools, mostly accept student editors without a competition. The only exception is YLS's flagship journal, the Yale Law Journal, which holds a two-part admissions competition each spring, consisting of a four or five-hour "bluebooking exam," followed by a traditional writing competition. Although the Journal identifies a target maximum number of members to accept each year, it is not a firm number. Other leading student-edited publications include the Yale Law and Policy Review, the Yale Journal on Regulation, and the Yale Journal of International Law.

In November 2013, it was announced that a $25 million donation would bring student dormitory living back onto campus, with renovations to begin in 2018.

Rankings and reputation

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Yale Law has been ranked the number one law school in the country by U.S. News and World Report in every year in which the magazine has published law school rankings. The school also saw a greater percentage of its students go on to become Supreme Court clerks between the 2000 and 2010 terms than any other law school. Additionally, a 2010 survey of "scholarly impact," measured by per capita citations to faculty scholarship, found Yale's faculty to be the most cited law school faculty in the United States.


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Legal Realism movement

Beginning in this period, a special relationship or connection developed between YLS and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Professors Clark and Frank, among others, became judges on that court. Some of the faculty members who became Second Circuit judges continued to teach courses at YLS and chose their clerks from student graduates. These judges influenced thinking in general at YLS and particularly reinforced student interest in public service, a characteristic tradition at YLS since the New Deal.

Early 21st century

The law school's 15th Dean, Harold Koh (2004-2009), made human rights a focus of the law school's work, building on a tradition that had developed over the previous two decades. On March 23, 2009, the White House announced the appointment of Koh to the United States Department of State as the Legal Adviser of the Department of State. Robert C. Post was selected to replace him as Dean of the Law School.


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Yale Law School enrolls about 200 new students a year, one of the smallest numbers among U.S. law schools. Its small class size and prestige combine to make its admissions process the most competitive in the United States. Half of the class that entered in 2006 had a GPA above 3.91 and/or an LSAT score above 173 (on a possible scale of 120 to 180) or 99th percentile.

After an initial round of screening by the admissions department, approximately 25% of applications are independently evaluated by three different faculty members. Each application is scored from 2â€"4 at the discretion of the reader. All applicants with a perfect 12 (i.e., a 4 from all three faculty members) are admitted, upon which they are immediately notified by the school. There are also 50â€"80 outstanding students admitted each year without going through this review process.

The LL.M. Program and the Visiting Researchers Program at Yale Law are amongst the smallest and most selective graduate law programs in the United States. Yale Law admits around 25 LL.M. students and around 10 visiting researchers every year. These programs are usually limited to those students who intend to pursue a career in legal academia.

Yale Law admitted only men until 1918.


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According to Yale Law School's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 78.8% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners. Yale Law School's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 8.4%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Yale Law School for the 2014-2015 academic year is $76,402. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $284,387.

Deans of Yale Law School

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  1. 1873â€"1903 Francis Wayland III
  2. 1903â€"1916 Henry Wade Rogers
  3. 1916â€"1927 Thomas Walter Swan
  4. 1927â€"1929 Robert Maynard Hutchins
  5. 1929â€"1939 Charles Edward Clark
  6. 1940â€"1946 Ashbel Green Gulliver
  7. 1946â€"1954 Wesley Alba Sturges
  8. 1954â€"1955 Harry Shulman
  9. 1955â€"1965 Eugene Victor Rostow
  10. 1965â€"1970 Louis Heilprin Pollak
  11. 1970â€"1975 Abraham Samuel Goldstein
  12. 1975â€"1985 Harry Hillel Wellington
  13. 1985â€"1994 Guido Calabresi
  14. 1994â€"2004 Anthony Townsend Kronman
  15. 2004â€"2009 Harold Hongju Koh
  16. 2009â€"present Robert C. Post

Current prominent faculty

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  • Bruce Ackerman, constitutional and political science scholar and op-ed writer.
  • Akhil Amar, constitutional scholar, writer and consultant to the television show The West Wing.
  • Ian Ayres, author of Why Not? and frequent commentator on NPR's Marketplace program.
  • Jack Balkin, First Amendment scholar, legal blogger, founder and director of the Yale Information Society Project.
  • Aharon Barak, former president of the Israeli Supreme Court from 1995 to 2006.
  • Lea Brilmayer, expert in international law, conflict of laws, and personal jurisdiction.
  • Guido Calabresi, judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and former Dean, Yale Law School.
  • Stephen L. Carter, author of a number of books, including the novel The Emperor of Ocean Park.
  • Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.
  • Drew S. Days, III, former United States Solicitor General.
  • Owen M. Fiss, liberalism and free speech scholar.
  • Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer prize winning author, and New York Times correspondent covering the Supreme Court of the United States for more than 30 years.
  • Dan M. Kahan, criminal law and evidence scholar, director of the Yale Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic.
  • Harold Hongju Koh, former dean of the law school (2004â€"2009) and former Legal Adviser of the Department of State (2009â€"2013).
  • John Langbein, legal historian and trust and estates scholar.
  • Jonathan R. Macey, corporate/banking law scholar.
  • Jed Rubenfeld, constitutional theorist and criminal law scholar.
  • Kate Stith, constitutional law and criminal procedure expert.
  • Ralph K. Winter, Jr., senior circuit judge and former chief judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  • Michael Wishnie, clinical professor, expert on immigration.

Notable alumni

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List of centers and programs

  • The China Center,
  • Cultural Cognition Project,
  • Global Health Justice Partnership,
  • Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights,
  • Information Society Project,
  • Knight Law & Media Program,
  • The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program,
  • Middle East Legal Studies Seminar,
  • John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Public Policy,
  • Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice,
  • Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellowship Initiative,
  • The Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund,
  • Yale Center for Law and Philosophy,
  • Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges,
  • Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law.


Further reading

  • Kronman, Anthony T. (2004). History of the Yale Law School: The Tercentennial Lectures. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 257. 

External links

  • Official website

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