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How does Yale Law School compare to Harvard Law School?1) Yale is the number one ranked law school in the United States and its reputation as a legal institution generally has superseded that of Harvard Law for at least several decades. Harvard is almost universally regarded as the second-best law school in America. Most Harvard Law professors are Yale Law alumni, which suggests that Harvard itself views Yale as a superior institution at least with regards to legal academia and scholarship.2) Both Yale and Harvard, however, stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack of law schools in America. The number of Supreme Court justices from these two schools dwarfs the number from all other schools. And you will readily see alumni from these two schools represented in other high-ranking judicial positions. Yale and Harvard also generate the majority of relevant and widely read legal scholarship in the country.3) Yale is much smaller than Harvard, and it has about one-third the class size (less than 200 compared to over 600). As a result Yale is more selective in terms of its admissions process, while Harvard is a little more generous in terms of who it admits. As an example, I was rejected from Yale almost immediately after I applied, but I was admitted to Harvard. Of course both schools are among the most selective in the whole country. But Yale is generally regarded as the most selective school by far.4) Harvard is more represented in the ranks of corporate lawyers in New York, probably because it is much bigger than Yale and because Yale alums tend to gravitate towards more academic careers or in public policy.5) The Clintons went to Yale Law, while the Obamas, Ted Cruz, and Mitt Romney went to Harvard. Along with Elle Woods.6) Yale is in New Haven, which is a college town, while Harvard is in Cambridge, which at least is connected to a relatively big city in Boston. So the environment is quite different in these two schools. Yale is comparatively isolated while Harvard (and Harvard Law) is quite well integrated in the Boston and Cambridge community. Many Harvard alumni work in Boston after graduating while I doubt that Yale Law grads stay in New Haven.7) Internationally, due to the reputation of Harvard’s undergrad and its superior size, Harvard Law is regarded as the best law school in America, not Yale. Many famous foreign politicians have studied in Harvard, for instance by obtaining an LLM degree, while comparatively less have studied at Yale. Thus, outside of America, most lawyers would probably think of Harvard as being better than Yale, for whatever that is worth.
How do you get into Yale Law School?I've written a blog post on this, or, more correctly, copied a story: Serendipity! by Loretta B DeLoggio on Law School AdmissionsThe only thing I have to add to that is a quote from my first conversation with their then Dean of admissions (now deceased), Jim Thomas. He said that the job of the admissions staff was to reject about 3/4 of the applicants and to send the remaining quarter to the faculty for review. He told me that he did that by looking primarily at the required 250 word essay, and that what he was looking for was someone with "a vision, or a seed of a vision, that leads [him] to believe that the applicant will be a mover and shaker in tomorrow's world."
How competitive is Yale Law School?It is very competitive to get in, but once you are in, students are signNowly less competitive with others than I have heard with regard to students at other schools. The first semester has no grades at all--everyone passes. This is commonly known by students as a suicide prevention technique, as everyone who is admitted is very, very smart, and the transition to law school is tough enough even without grades.After that, most students get "Pass" or "Honors" grades, and they are not curved. Admittedly, it can be competitive to get a strong relationship with a specific popular professor or to be a research assistant for a specific professor who might be well-connected on the clerkship circuit. However, different students have different goals and there are few enough students that everyone who wants to have a relationship with a professor/ be a research assistant should be able to develop one/ be one.Yale is a fantastic place. If you get in, it's worth it, even if you have opportunities to attend somewhere else for free. The opportunity to engage closely with professors and brilliant classmates in small classes is unmatched. Further, the COAP program allows for flexibility in your future options, so that low-paying public interest positions are actually possible without having a high-earning spouse.Source: I graduated from YLS in 2012, worked in public interest for 2 years, and am now in academia.
How might have Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham each turned out if they hadn't met at Yale Law School?Bill Clinton would've found another woman to marry, and had still become the most successful and popular figure in Democratic politics today. Or he would've just been only the second bachelor president in the US and become the most successful and popular figure in Democratic politics today. Hillary Rodham would either still be a professor somewhere, retired to a farm with her husband somewhere, an Arkansas state politician, or a moderately successful US (D) congresswoman. Running for president? It may have happened. I just don't think she'd have found the level of success at it that we have seen her have. By level of success, I mean being in the final two party primary contenders in two election periods.
What is it like to attend Yale Law School?I've had several clients attend Yale law school over the years, but only one who remained in touch pretty regularly. I've spoken to a few others once or twice.What all of them seem to value is the level of individual attention, willingness to accommodate the student's needs, and the understanding that the University exists for the benefit of the students, not the reverse.I recall one story of the student's getting a phone call from the Dean of the law school on Thanksgiving day, at his home in North Carolina. The Dean apologized for interrupting his holiday, apologized for not having answered his correspondence before the holiday, and then went on to grant the request the student had made.I recall another time when I had a student who seemed to be having a difficult adjustment period in his first semester. I saw the Dean of Admissions at a conference, and mentioned this to him. The next time I talked to that student, he mentioned that the Dean of admissions "happened" to run into him as he was leaving one of his classes, invited him for coffee, and spent an hour chatting about that long road from North Carolina to New Haven.In the legal world, Yale is praised for or accused of producing people who are not practicing lawyers, but are advisors to heads of government and the corporate world. Classes tend to focus more on the philosophy behind a policy and what affects changes will have on society than on the most recent case interpreting the felony-murder law.I hope someone who is actually attended Yale law school will join this conversation; there's a topic category on lawyers; you might want to see if you can find any Yale alumni who are members of that group.
How can I get a 100% scholarship for JD admission to Harvard or Yale Law School?Prayer would probably be a good start:First off, as a general rule, law schools don't give out many scholarships, as law schools are profit centers for most universities. The expectation is that because you are preparing for what hopefully will be a lucrative career as a professional, you will finance your education through loans and pay for it over time.Second, scholarships only become common the farther you go down the general prestige rankings. The USNews & World Report rankings matter a great deal, and so lower-ranked schools will often give full or partial scholarships to highly-qualified students who otherwise would be unlikely to attend. A few students with really high LSATs or GPAs can raise the school's numbers for the purposes of rankings (or more cynically, allow a school to admit more students of questionable ability, and thereby take in more money, without being penalized in the rankings). The scenario described by the anonymous poster is typical, i.e., a student who gains admission to a top 5 program being offered scholarship money from a school in the top 25 range, or a student with admission to a top 25 school receiving a scholarship offer from a top 75 school. But Harvard and Yale (and I'd include Stanford, as well) don't have those problems. In order to even be competitive for admission, you have to be the "best of the best," with LSAT scores in the 98th percentile or higher, top class rank, and achievement/leadership in other fields. In other words, even a "below average" admit is the kind of student that is in short supply at the vast majority of law schools.This creates a few issues: first, it would be very difficult to offer merit scholarships in an environment where almost everyone could make a case that they qualify. And second, to go back to my original point, degrees from the "big three" law schools have huge value; whether deserved or not, these degrees have the ability to open up doors in the legal profession that even other excellent schools do not, meaning that yield is high. That doesn't mean that admitted students don't sometimes choose to attend another top 10 law school, or take a generous scholarship from somewhere else, but they don't turn down admission in numbers that give those schools any heartburn. If merely offering admission (with little or no aid) is enough to get people to sign on the dotted line, why would any rational school offer free money? The top schools will sometimes offer money to people based on financial need, but Harvard disclaims offering merit-based scholarships, and Yale doesn't appear to offer them, either. There are outside scholarships that might cover some or all of the costs associated with attending, but those are not affiliated with the universities themselves.In sum, if you have what it takes to get admitted to a top 3 law school, there's a good chance that you'll have the opportunity to attend school at a signNowly reduced cost, but not at the top 3 school itself.
How does Yale Law School function without giving out grades?The first semester, there are no grades at all. All students Pass.After that, it is possible to receive Honors, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail, as the other answer indicated. However, the previous answer is incorrect in stating that only 1/3 of the class can get Honors in each course. Professors have total autonomy to give out no Honors grades or all Honors grades, or any combination of grades at all. I know no one whom I know to have received anything lower than Pass, but I have heard that it has happened a few times.Some students attempt to game the system by taking classes with professors known to give out many Honors grades, but most students think it isn’t worth it and that you should spend your time taking classes that interest you without regard to grades. That’s my camp. Few employers seem to care what your YLS transcript looks like; it is enough that you have one. Further, there is no class ranking. Your relationships with professors who can serve as recommenders is much more important than how many Honors are on your transcript.
Yale Law School: What's it like to be in a class taught by Amy Chua?General caveat: These are my memories from many years ago. As old memories, they may contain unintentional errors of fact or impression and other inaccuracies. (Sorry, lawyer habits are hard to shake.)It's been many years since I took Amy's class (something to do with international corporate law) at YLS, so her teaching style might have changed signNowly since then. Also, I was a terribly negligent student and skipped a bunch of classes, so if you are looking for a detailed, granular, or academically insightful response --my fuzzy memories won't be very helpful.That said, I do recall that as a professor, Amy was not at all a strict "tiger mother" figure. She smiled and laughed easily and explained things in accessible, plain-English. Hers wasn't the most cerebral class one could take at YLS and that was fine with me. She often drew upon her experiences as a corporate attorney at Cleary, which was quite refreshing since the other law professors had more academic backgrounds.From what I recall, she did not use the Socratic method (or a modified version) and she didn't have a schedule of people that she'd call on for each class the way some of the other profs did. Basically, you could go to class without doing any of the assigned reading, and never have to fear being called on. I thought she was one of the most approachable, least intimidating professors at YLS.
Why is Yale Law School more closed to visitors than Harvard Law School?It isn't necessarily closed to visitors... this a popular perception due to the fact that Yale is a small school training elite lawyers for mainly legal academia - hence its Ivory tower /reclusive scholar's cove reputation that fosters and actively feeds into this kind of myth, whereas Harvard has the big hitter reputation - the guy whose into all the cool things and amazing at his work... the girl that everyone wants to take to prom... Harvard is the more commercial (that's not to say less elite) brand - but at the end of the day these are just manifestations of popular perceptions - none of which are necessarily representative. Both are excellent schools with many of the same strengths and either will prime you well for success in life.