Best law schools for practical training: 2015

As practical training moves from a buzzword into actual practice, more law schools are delivering on their promise to prepare graduates to hit the ground running.

The National Jurist will honor 86 law schools in its March issue for earning a B grade or higher, as rated by the number of full-time students who take simulation courses, externships, clinics, or who participate in interschool skills competitions.

Nine new law schools moved into the magazine’s top 20 this year, including University of Denver, Washington and Lee University and Yale Law School. Fifteen schools made the honor roll for the first time, including University of California Irvine, Touro College and Campbell University.

The National Jurist found that a higher percent of law students participated in experiential offerings last year. However, the overall numbers were slightly down, given the drop in enrollment nationwide.

“Practical training is a buzzword for most schools and many are turning it into practice,” said Jack Crittenden, Editor In Chief of The National Jurist. “Schools like New York Law School, Elon University and Penn State Dickinson should be commended for their efforts.”

The ranking of the top 20 will appear in the March issue of The National Jurist, due out in early March.

Below are the grades:

A+ or A (in alphabetical order)

Baylor University

Brigham Young University

Brooklyn Law School

Florida Coastal School of Law

Golden Gate University

New York Law School

Northeastern University

Pepperdine University

Temple University

UMKC School of Law

University of Arizona

University of Colorado

University of Denver

University of Hawaii

University of St. Thomas  -  Mn.

University of Utah

University of Wisconsin

Washington and Lee University

William and Mary Law School

Yale Law School



Arizona State University

Capital University

Case Western University

Gonzaga University

John Marshall

Lewis & Clark Law School

Liberty University

Michigan State University

Northwestern University

UC - Irvine

University of Connecticut

University of Idaho

University of Maryland

University of New Hampshire

University of New Mexico

University of Wyoming

William Mitchell College of Law



Campbell Law School

Cardozo School of Law

Chapman Fowler School of Law

Chicago-Kent College of Law

CUNY School of Law

Drake University

Emory University

Hamline University

Loyola University Chicago

Ohio Northern University

Saint Louis University

Santa Clara University

Southern Illinois University

Southwestern Law School

Touro Law Center

University of Cincinnati

University of Georgia

University of Illinois

University of Mississippi

University of Oregon

University of Washington

Washington University

Wayne State University



Catholic University

Duke University

Elon University

Faulkner Law

Pace University

Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Quinnipiac University

Regent University

Rutgers — Camden

Seton Hall University

Syracuse University

UC Hastings

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

University of Kansas

University of Massachusetts

University of Minnesota

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

University of Pittsburgh

University of San Diego

University of San Francisco

University of Tennessee

University of the District of Columbia

Valparaiso University

Wake Forest University

Washburn University

Western New England University


How we did the rankings

The American Bar Association now releases ample data on how many students participate in clinics, externships and simulation courses. The National Jurist used this data to measure which law schools are delivering when it comes to practical training.

As we did last year, we looked at the percent of full-time students in clinics, externships and simulation courses. This year, we also looked at student participation in interscholastic skills competitions, such as moot court tournaments.

We again placed the most weight on clinical experience, at 30 percent. Experts say it is a particularly effective practical training tool. Students, under faculty direction, work with clients in a number of legal areas. However, clinics are the most costly for schools to incorporate.

Externships — at 25 percent — were given second highest weight. Students get experience by working in prosecutor officers, government agencies and nonprofits, to name but a few. They get hands-on training from working with attorneys and judges.

Simulations accounted for 20 percent. This method seems to be growing more popular as schools seek to promote lawyering skills in classroom settings. It's effective and less expensive, experts say. School competitions were given a weight of 5 percent.

We then asked schools to provide additional information about their unique offerings that are not reflected in these numbers, and this accounted for the final 20 percent of the study. For example, schools requiring pro bono work were awarded points for those efforts.