How to Get into Yale Law School

Yale Law School

Program Overview

As the most selective law school in the country, Yale is known for its scholarly culture and emphasis on public service. Alumni are illustrious. Power couple Bill and Hillary Clinton met in Yale’s law library. Three sitting Supreme Court Justices—Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Sonia Sotomayor—earned their J.D.s at Yale. Governors Jerry Brown (California) and Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) are also graduates.

Yale attracts brainy applicants with notable accomplishments. It seeks that elusive “it” factor that makes an applicant particularly unique. “Quirky intellectuals” will find themselves at home. Aspiring J.D.s are well advised to think about how to leverage each component of the application to highlight what makes you a well-rounded person with solid interests, as opposed to a “One-Trick Pony.”

Located in New Haven, a big town “large enough to be interesting, yet small enough to be friendly,” students have plenty, outside of the library stacks, to keep occupied. Only 1.5 hours from New York City, Yale is within easy access to big city life.


“Intimate” comes to mind when defining Yale Law School’s unique academic programing. 1L students benefit from taking classes in “small group” seminars of only 16-18 classmates. An average class size of only 200, and an 8:1 student to faculty ratio assure students have the opportunity to study closely with some of the brightest legal minds in the world.

Yale Law School is also one of the most academically focused J.D. programs. Students are required to work with renown faculty on not one, but two major research papers. The Supervised Analytic Writing (SAW), “is designed to increase the student’s proficiency in legal research, analytic reasoning, and writing in a single field of concentration.” Students also are required to produce a “Substantial Paper,” subject to approval by a faculty member.

Another noteworthy aspect of studying law at Yale is that first-term classes are ungraded. The de-emphasis on grades allows students to focus on learning how to read and discuss case law. Students are subject to evaluation on an honors/pass/low pass basis after their first term. According to the YLS website, “Class rank is never calculated; knowledge, not numbers, is the primary focus.”

While applicants can select from a diverse range of courses, Yale also offers targeted areas of study, including Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Corporate & Commercial Law, Criminal Justice, Environmental Law, Human Rights Law, International Law, IT & Media Law, Law & Health, Law Teaching, Legal History, and Public Interest Law.

Clinical and Experiential Learning

Yale permits students to participate in clinics as early as the spring semester of 1L year. Yale’s diverse and extensive clinical programs give students hands-on experience in legal advocacy on issues, such as Challenging Mass Incarceration, Mortgage Foreclosure Litigation, Children and Youth, Community & Economic Development, and Worker and Immigration Rights. With over 30 programs to choose from, there’s something for everyone. 80 percent of students participate, some electing to take more than one clinic.

Centers & Workshops also expose students to cutting edge legal scholarship. Yale’s Centers are extensive and prestigious, exploring topics range from law, technology and society (The Information Society Project) to Islam (Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization) to China’s legal reform and U.S.-China relations (The Paul Tsai China Center) and so much more. Without a doubt, rich intellectualism abounds at YLS.


Class Profile

Class Size: 203

Average Age: 25 (38% 1-2 years out, 46% 3+ years out, 16% directly from undergrad)

Average Work Experience: 5-6 years

Women: 53%

Students of color: 48%

Median LSAT: 173 (low 156, high 180)

Median GPA: 3.91 (low 3.42, high 4.21)

Career Placement

  • Law Firms: 42.78%
  • Judicial Clerkships: 37.11%
  • Business & Industry: 4.12%%
  • Government/Public Interest: 13.4%
  • Education: 2.58%


  • Northeast / Mid-Atlantic: 40.21%
  • Central: 7.73%
  • South Atlantic / Central: 32.48%
  • Mountain / Pacific: 15.47%
  • U.S. Territories / Foreign: 0%