Law Students

Forbes Ranks America’s Most Expensive Law Schools
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

The Cathey Learning Center of Harper Memorial Library Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, on the University of Chicago campus. (Robert Kozloff/The University of Chicago)

The University of Chicago campus. Photo courtesy of U.S. New and World Report.

Summary: These ten schools will cost its students almost $250,000 to attend. 

Unless you come from money, the one guarantee you’ll have after law school is a massive pile of debt. No job guarantee. No bar passage guarantee. Maybe a drinking problem. But definitely debt, debt, debt.


Earlier this year, The New York Times profiled a graduate from Valparaiso University Law School. The graduate, John Acosta, finished in the top third of his class, passed the bar on his first try, and formed a law practice with a longtime prosecutor. Despite his impressive record, the Times said that Acosta was in for financial hardship.

“There is almost no way for Mr. Acosta to climb out of the crater he dug for himself in law school, when he borrowed over $200,000. The government will eventually forgive the loan — in 20 years — if he’s unable to repay it, as is likely on his small-town lawyer’s salary. But the Internal Revenue Service will probably treat the forgiven amount as income, leaving him what could easily be a $70,000 tax bill on the eve of retirement, and possibly much higher,” The New York Times stated.

The Times included Valparaiso’s bleak graduate job statistics, which are not much different from other non-first tier law schools. Less than 70 percent of the school’s 2016 graduates were employed after graduation, and less than half of that number were working in law jobs that required a license. Only three out of the 131 landed high-paying law firm jobs, which are usually the only means that law school graduates can pay back their six-figure loans.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!

“People are not being helped by going to these schools,” Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, said of low-tier law schools. “The debt is really high, bar passage rates are horrendous, employment is horrendous.”

Law School Transparency is an advocacy group that monitors law schools. They provided data to Forbes, who released a list this year of the top 10 most expensive law schools. And let’s just say this. The cost of attendance of these ten are eye-opening. According to Forbes, each school will cost a student almost $250,000 after three years. In some parts of the country that could be a decent house or a nice condo, but for some unlucky students, that amount of debt will amount to decades of burden.

Forbes top 10 most expensive law schools

1. University of Chicago (Cost: $262,021)
2. Columbia University (Cost: $260,485)
3. New York University (Cost: $253,364)
4. University of California–Hastings (Out-of-state cost: $253,249. In-state cost: $237,476)
5. Fordham University (Cost: $249,012)
6. Harvard University (Cost: $247,183)
7. Stanford University (Cost: $246,012)
8. George Washington University (Cost: $245,486)
9. SUNY Buffalo (Out-of-state cost: $244,579. In-state cost: $169,123)
10. University of Pennsylvania (Cost: $242,264)

The most pricey school on the list, University of Chicago, is highly ranked, and according to Forbes, 92.4% of graduates were able to get full-time legal jobs after graduation. Thankfully for them, they’ll need it to help with their $2,985 monthly student loan payments.

The second school on the list, Columbia, had similar statistics to Chicago. In 2014, 93.5% of its graduates reportedly landed full-time legal jobs, which helped them pay their monthly installment of $2,967.

While these two schools’ graduates may end up okay, students who attend non-elite law schools are saddled with similar amounts of debt but little to no job prospects. McEntee said he and a friend formed Law School Transparency in 2009 because he noticed that law schools advertised high employment rates, which misleadingly included part time jobs, non-legal jobs, or temporary work. He also noticed similar fudging of the numbers when it came to salary statistics. In reality, only 56% of graduates from American Bar Association-approved schools were able to find full-time legal jobs, according to Law School Transparency.

Source: Forbes, New York Times

What do you think of the schools on this list? Let us know in the comments below.



Associate Attorney


ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY McKenna Snyder LLC, a law firm in Exton, PA has an immediate opening for an ex...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now



Qualifications: HaasCaywood is seeking associate attorneys for our Coldwater and Sturgis, Michiga...

Apply now

Deputy General Counsel / Senior Deputy General Counsel


Cal Cities Culture and Mission Cal Cities is dedicated to creating a collaborative and inclusive ...

Apply now




Search Now

Education Law Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with ...

Apply Now

Education Law Attorney


Carlsbad office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law attorney with 4-...

Apply Now

Education Law and Public Entity Attorney

USA-CA-El Segundo

El Segundo office of a BCG Attorney Search Top Ranked Law Firm seeks an education law and public ent...

Apply Now

Most Popular


To Top