Best Law Schools for Corporate Law

Last Updated on May 25, 2024 by Team College Learners

Corporate law is a highly sought-after field of study in the United States, with numerous law schools offering specialized programs in the subject. Among these schools are prestigious institutions such as Stanford University, Columbia University, Harvard University, and New York University. These universities provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the complex world of corporate law.

Admission to a program in corporate law at one of these top-tier universities typically requires a strong academic background, including a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. In addition, prospective students may need to submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and standardized test scores, such as the LSAT. Some schools may also require applicants to have relevant work experience or demonstrate a commitment to the field of corporate law.

The admission process for these universities can be highly competitive, with many qualified applicants vying for a limited number of spots in the program. In addition to meeting academic requirements, applicants are often evaluated based on their personal statement, letters of recommendation, and work experience. Admissions committees look for candidates who demonstrate a strong interest in corporate law and have the potential to succeed in a rigorous academic environment.

Best Law Schools for Corporate Law

Many firms base hirings off of the law schools that their candidates attended. The law school you choose really does matter, especially nowadays, when there are more law graduates than jobs.

There are two very important things you’ll want to consider when choosing a law school: the specialty you’re interested in, and how much hands-on experience you want. Once you have these two decisions made, you can narrow your choices down. The law school application timeline is an important one, so you’ll want to get your shortlist together as soon as possible.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the top ten law schools in every category, compiled from the U.S. News best law school rankings. 

The Top 10 Law Schools in the US

There’s a reason certain schools are on high-achievers’ short lists. A degree from one of these top 10 law schools in the U.S. will open a lot of doors, setting you up for a career in higher or lower courts and partnerships at prestigious firms. 

Here’s more info on each.

Yale University

Yale University is located in New Haven, CT. It enrolls about 630 students a year. It is a well-known Ivy League school with small class sizes (less than 20 students). Tuition is currently $66,128.

Application deadline: February 28

Stanford University

Stanford University is located in Stanford, CT. It enrolls about 567 students a year. It is also a familiar American institution and Ivy League school. Stanford has a 4:1 student-faculty ratio and tuition is currently $64,554.

Application deadline: February 1

Harvard University

Harvard University is located in Cambridge, MA. It enrolls about 1,740 and is regularly ranked as a top 3 law school. An Ivy League School, Harvard is renowned for turning out top politicians and legal minds. The tuition is currently $67,081.

Application deadline: February 3

Columbia University

Columbia University is located in New York, NY. It enrolls about 1,244 students a year. It sits comfortably (and competitively) with the rest of the Ivy League schools from the NE, listed above. It ties with University of Chicago for the fourth best law school in the United States. The tuition is currently $72,465.

Application deadline: February 15

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is located in Chicago, IL. Ranked the same as Columbia (#4), U of C enrolls about 614 students a year. It is strategically situated in one of the largest northeastern metropolitan areas and has an outstanding reputation. The tuition is currently $66,651.

Application deadline: March 1

New York University

New York University is located in New York, NY. It enrolls about 1,379 students a year. NYU law has a Lawyering program, which helps students acclimate to the academically rigorous program while also making practical application. The tuition is currently $68,934.

Application deadline: February 15

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (Carey) is located in Philadelphia, PA. The Carey Law School has an enrollment of about 772. Its unique offering is a cross-disciplinary legal education, which gives reciprocal access to law classes for students in different programs. The tuition is currently $67,998.

Application deadline: March 1

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville Virginia. It enrolls about 964 students. Similar to the University of Pennsylvania, students can earn joint degrees between the School of Law and Darden School of Business. The tuition is currently $66,200.

Application deadline: March 3

Northwestern University

Northwestern University (Pritzker) is located in Chicago, IL. It enrolls about 747 students, making it the smallest among the top 10 law schools. The School of Law offers an accelerated J.D. program and a joint program with the Kellogg School of Management. The tuition is currently $66,806.

Application deadline: February 15

University of California – Berkeley

University of California – Berkeley is located in Berkeley, CA. It enrolls about 986 students. The school doesn’t use GPAs or letter grades. It is known for pioneering the fields of intellectual property law, Environmental Law and Energy and Clean Technology Law. The tuition is currently $55,346.

Application deadline: February 15

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 

The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is located in Ann Arbor, MI. It tied with University of California – Berkeley for 9th place on this list. It enrolls about 1,024 students. There are some unique joint degree programs and numerous study abroad legal tracks. The tuition is currently $64,944.

Application deadline: February 15

Top 10 Business & Corporate Law Schools

Business and corporate law programs mainly concentrate on different aspects of business management. Students studying business law may take classes on corporate taxation, real estate, commercial litigation, or accounting. Business lawyers may work in private firms, corporate offices, non-profits, or banking institutions. 

Here are the top 10 business/corporate law schools as ranked by U.S. News:

  1. Columbia University
  2. Harvard University
  3. New York University
  4. University of California – Berkeley 
  5. Stanford University
  6. University of Pennsylvania
  7. University of Chicago
  8. Georgetown University
  9. University of California – Los Angeles 
  10. University of Virginia

Top 10 Clinical Training Schools

As a law student in any school, you want to get as much experience as possible. Many law schools offer law clinics to their students in exchange for credits. These clinics are typically offered through professors who are providing pro-bono work to the general public. 

Essentially an internship, law clinics provide the hands-on real-life experience that firms look for on a résumé. 

U.S. News has ranked the top 10 law clinical training programs: 

  1. Georgetown University
  2. American University
  3. CUNY
  4. New York University
  5. Yale University
  6. Northwestern University
  7. University of Maryland
  8. Stanford University
  9. University of California – Berkeley 
  10. University of California – Irvine 

Top 10 Constitutional Law Schools

Constitutional lawyers are people who study constitutional law work to interpret and define the laws and powers listed in the Constitution. Attorneys who practice constitutional law may later become members of the judiciary, work for non-profits, or work for the government. 

A constitutional law student may take classes on important Supreme Court rulings, judicial review, and allocated federal and state powers. Take a look at the top ten constitutional law schools as ranked by U.S. News:

  1. Yale University
  2. Harvard University
  3. Stanford University
  4. University of Chicago
  5. Columbia University
  6. New York University 
  7. University of California – Berkeley 
  8. University of Virginia
  9. Duke University
  10. Georgetown University

Top 10 Contract & Commercial Law Schools 

Commercial law focuses on monetary exchanges, trades, purchases, and sales of products or services. Contract law—a subdivision of commercial law—typically looks at employment contracts, franchises, and labor laws. Contract and commercial lawyers typically work for private firms or corporations. U.S. News has ranked the top ten contract and commercial law schools, here they are:

  1. Columbia University
  2. University of Chicago
  3. Harvard University
  4. New York University
  5. University of California – Berkeley 
  6. Stanford University
  7. University of Pennsylvania
  8. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  9. University of Texas – Austin
  10. Yale University

Top 10 Criminal Law Schools

Criminal lawyers have been dramatized (a lot) in the media. Criminal law may not be as exciting in real life as it is on screen, but it does deal with all types of crime.

There is a wide variety of types and degrees of criminal acts. Because of this, criminal justice lawyers tend to specialize or focus in only a few areas. 

Criminal lawyers may work in a private firm, as an appointed attorney, or with a non-profit. Students who pursue criminal law will typically take classes examining federal and state laws. 

Here are the top ten criminal law programs as defined and ranked by U.S. News:

  1. New York University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of California – Berkeley
  5. Georgetown University
  6. Columbia University
  7. University of Pennsylvania
  8. University of Virginia
  9. Yale University
  10. Duke University

best university for corporate law in the world

Do you want to study a Law degree abroad? Do you want to study at one of the best law schools in the world? Granted you can afford it, or that you can land a scholarship, you’ll still have to consider your options. And that’s what international university rankings are for!

We’ve included top 10 lists from QS Rankings by TopUniversities, World University Rankings by Times Higher Education and Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai University. You can also check out Academic Influence Real-Time Ranking and student reviews from graduates who studied in the universities of law mentioned in the top 10s.

Don’t forget that even if you don’t necessarily want to study in top-tier schools, there are still plenty of good international study options. So, check the extended law school lists included in the official website links after each top 10.

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021: Law

  • Harvard University, US
  • University of Oxford, UK
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • Yale University, US
  • Stanford University, US
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), UK
  • Columbia University, US
  • New York University (NYU), US
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB), US
  • National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore

World University Rankings 2022 by subject: Law

  • Stanford University, US
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • New York University, US
  • University of Oxford, UK
  • University of Melbourne, Australia
  • University College London, UK
  • Harvard University, US
  • National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • Yale University, US
  • KU Leuven, Belgium
Friendly lawyer offering advice to young couple

ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021 – Law

  • Yale University, US
  • Harvard University, US
  • University of Chicago, US
  • Columbia University, US
  • New York University, US
  • University of Pennsylvania, US
  • Stanford University, US
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB), US
  • University of Virginia, US
  • Duke University, US

Academic Influence Real-Time Rankings – Law schools November 2021

  • Harvard University, US
  • Yale University, US
  • Columbia University, US
  • University of London, UK
  • Stanford University, US
  • Georgetown University, US
  • New York University, US
  • University of Chicago, US
  • University of Michigan, US
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB), US

Here are other law schools we recommend:

  • Northeastern University, the US
  • University of Leeds, the UK
  • The University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • University of Wroclaw, Poland

business law school requirements

Do you remember Facebook’s initial public offering, selling its stock in one of the largest IPOs in technology history? Or how about the company’s subsequent purchase of Instagram? Or AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner Inc.?

These economy-shaking business transactions have a few things in common…

First, astonishing amounts of money. Second, far-reaching implications. But another critical element in these transactions and others like them—including those much smaller in scope—is that business lawyers were immersed in almost every single aspect and detail.

Business lawyers help keep companies running and growing by overseeing their legal ins and outs. They’re not your typical fight-it-out-in-court kind of lawyer (though they’re often paid as well as the best of them).

Sound like the kind of role you’d like to play? Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to become a business lawyer.

Benefits of Becoming a Business Lawyer

In short, business law is incredibly financially and intellectually rewarding. You will likely earn a high salary, and you will work with your clients to help them achieve their business goals (some of which can be as newsworthy as Facebook’s).  

Another practical benefit is that the skills you acquire can also be transferred to an in-house position with a business or government agency. Some business lawyers end up as entrepreneurs themselves, starting companies where they leave the practice of law behind but still draw on their legal knowledge.

Looking at the bigger picture, your work can have a significant impact on keeping economic engines running. (As one business lawyer I know once said while working on a transaction, “I really like going to work each day. I feel like I am a fish in the stream of commerce.”)

Business law is also much less combative than many other legal areas. The work does not involve disputes over something that has gone wrong, nor efforts to assign blame and responsibility for the wrong. It is important that there be lawyers to handle such matters, but the business lawyer is typically dealing with parties who all want the same thing. The bank lawyer’s client wants to lend money, for example, because it is financially advantageous to do so, and the borrower wants to borrow the money because it will have a positive impact on the borrower’s business. Each side will try to get the best deal it can, and while negotiations can sometimes become contentious, in the end, both sides are working toward a common goal.

Types of Business Law

Business law covers a wide range of legal areas and applies to many different types of business activities. The legal issues that a business lawyer faces may involve corporate law, partnership law, banking law, sales law, securities law, or some combination of the above.

The business lawyer plays a very important role at the point where the business and legal worlds intersect, adding value and performing a valuable service for the client.

What Business Lawyers Do

Business lawyers anticipate problems that may arise for their clients down the road and work accordingly to help avoid such problems. The business lawyer may accomplish this in a variety of ways. For example, a business lawyer representing a bank in a lending transaction must draft the necessary documents, such as the loan agreement, promissory note, and security agreement, with an eye toward protecting the bank and ensuring that the borrower is obligated to pay the loan back in the manner requested by the bank. The business lawyer must also anticipate the scenario where the borrower defaults on the loan and must provide remedies for the lender if that scenario arises.  

A business lawyer representing a company engaged in an IPO like Facebook’s must ensure that the necessary documents are filed with the appropriate governmental authorities and that the documents contain all the information and disclosures required by law.

The business lawyer plays a very important role at the point where the business and legal worlds intersect.

The business lawyer is also required to understand not only the law but also the fundamentals of their client’s work and their business goals. A business lawyer who works in the in-house legal department of a company will provide daily advice to the people running and working in the business. This work involves the interpretation of laws and regulations, and communicating advice.

If a matter is beyond the scope of the in-house legal department, the in-house lawyer will then consult with business lawyers at a law firm to determine the appropriate course of action. In that way, the business lawyer is simultaneously lawyer and client, acting as the liaison between any external law firm and their company.

Most business lawyers do not get involved in litigation or argue cases in court. Some litigators and trial lawyers specialize in business law, but the typical business lawyer does the bulk of the work at the office or in a conference room meeting with other lawyers and business people. Most of the business lawyer’s time will be spent on negotiation, legal analysis, contract drafting, advising, and writing.

Studying Business Law in Law School

Of course, successfully completing law school and obtaining a JD degree is a fundamental requirement for becoming a lawyer, regardless of the area of specialty. Students also do not need an extensive business background in their undergraduate program of study to become a business lawyer.

That being said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to gain some familiarity with basic business concepts and terminology—you’ll impress your law school classmates when you know the difference between a balance sheet and an income statement. But even that is not a requirement. In fact, no specific undergraduate major is required. Rather, courses that will develop and strengthen your reading, writing, and analytical skills are most helpful.

Once you arrive at law school, your first-year Contracts course will provide the foundation for many of the upper-level business law courses you might take. One of those courses is Business Organizations, which you’ll definitely want to take. It will provide you with an understanding of the various forms of business entities, the advantages and disadvantages associated with each one, and how each one functions in the business world.

Moving through law school, a course in Securities Regulation will introduce you to the regulatory environment in which securities are bought and sold. On the commercial law side, a Sales course covers statutes that govern the purchase and sale of goods, while Secured Transactions covers statutes that govern the taking of collateral as security for a loan. You should also take a course in Contract Drafting, which teaches a vitally important skill for the business lawyer.

Last but certainly not least, the American Bar Association advises anyone interested in a legal career, regardless of the chosen specialty, to pursue educational, extracurricular, and life experiences that will foster the strengths and abilities needed for success in the legal world. Among them are analytical thinking, problem-solving, critical reading, writing and editing, oral communication, listening skills, and research.

Experiences that might be of particular interest to students interested in business law might include taking a business law clinic, getting involved with a business law academic center, or conducting some business-related pro bono/volunteer work, like helping with the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

If this type of law practice appeals to you, a career as a business lawyer should be something you strongly consider.

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