15 Best Law Schools for Immigration in the US 2024

Becoming a lawyer is no easy task. From preparing for the LSAT to passing the bar exam, it takes a lot of effort and dedication. Another important step is choosing the right law school, especially if you have a specific interest like immigration law.

If you’re passionate about immigration law, it’s crucial to find a school that specializes in this field. In this article, we’ll highlight 15 of the best law schools for studying immigration law, including their locations and what they offer. But first, let’s talk about what immigration law involves.

Understanding Immigration Law

Immigration law deals with the rules about who can enter, stay in, and become a citizen of a country. Lawyers in this field help clients with issues like visas, asylum, and deportation defense. They need to know the latest laws and policies and often work with government agencies.

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Choosing the Right Law School

When picking a law school, consider these factors:

  • Specialized Programs: Look for schools with strong programs in immigration law.
  • Location: Schools in areas with large immigrant populations often have more opportunities for hands-on experience.
  • Clinics and Internships: Practical experience is vital, so choose schools that offer clinics and internships in immigration law.
  • Faculty Expertise: Check if the faculty members are experts in immigration law.

15 Best Law Schools for Immigration Law in the US

We’ve put together a list of the 15 best law schools for immigration law, based on factors like location, program offerings, and opportunities for real-world experience. Each school has its own strengths and can help you build a successful career in immigration law.

Stay tuned as we go through the details of each program, helping you decide where to pursue your legal education.

1) Columbia Law School

Location: New York, New York

Columbia Law School looks at the whole picture when reviewing applications. They care about how applicants contribute to their communities and embrace inclusivity, not just their test scores and GPA. They seek students who are curious, resourceful, and driven. Columbia is known for having one of the best immigration law programs.

Students can join the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic to get real-world experience. They can stay in the clinic beyond one semester and take on more complex cases.

2) UC Davis School of Law

Location: Davis, California

Applying to UC Davis is free, but students who have been disqualified from another law school can’t apply. The program lasts three years and is full-time. It’s one of the top schools for immigration law.

At the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic, students work with clients from all over the world, focusing on cases involving detained immigrants. The clinic often deals with issues of unlawful and prolonged detention.

3) Cornell Law School

Location: Ithaca, New York

Cornell Law School offers a personalized learning experience with a 5:1 student-to-professor ratio. Applications need to include test scores (LSAT, GRE, or GMAT), transcripts, and recommendation letters.

First-year students can join the 1L Immigration Law and Advocacy Clinic to work on real cases, conduct research, and provide legal advice. This hands-on experience continues in later years, making Cornell one of the best for immigration law.

4) UCLA School of Law

Location: Los Angeles, California

To apply to UCLA, students need to submit a personal essay and another essay about their ability to succeed in law school and their specific interests.

For those interested in helping families, UCLA has the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, where students represent clients from six public schools. There’s also the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic, where students work with community activists and local officials, giving them extensive practical experience.

5) Duke Law

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Duke Law keeps class sizes small, usually about 30 students or fewer. Their curriculum includes traditional classes and practical clinics. They also offer an Early Decision application option.

Students can join the Immigrant Rights Clinic to represent individuals facing deportation, working with various organizations to gain comprehensive practical experience.

6) City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law

Location: New York, New York

CUNY Law focuses on how diverse student perspectives can serve their community. Notably, 34% of students starting in 2023 were the first in their families to attend college.

Students can join the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, which emphasizes fair and objective legal interpretations. The clinic addresses multiple aspects of non-citizenship advocacy, making CUNY Law one of the top immigration law schools on the East Coast.

7) University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

UPenn Carey Law is dedicated to equity and inclusion, considering the entirety of an applicant’s academic history, including advanced coursework. They also value well-developed personal statements and strong recommendation letters.

Students can participate in The Penn Law Immigrants’ Rights Project (PLIRP), partnering with local and national immigration organizations to assist clients with legal processes. Students engage in client meetings, research, and case preparation.

8) University of Washington School of Law

Location: Seattle, Washington

The admissions team at UW Law looks for intellectual curiosity, confidence, and academic excellence. The LSAT is required, but no single factor, including GPA and test scores, is decisive.

Students can join the Immigration Clinic, where up to eight students at a time work under faculty supervision to gain practical legal experience. The clinic partners with local and national organizations to advocate for immigrant rights.

9) University of Chicago Law School

Location: Chicago, Illinois

UChicago Law uses a paperless admissions process and received over 500 applications last year, accepting 195 students.

Students interested in immigration law can join the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where they build essential skills for representing clients and addressing human vulnerability in their work.

10) University of California, Berkeley Law

Location: Berkeley, California

Applicants must register for the LSAT and submit a personal statement, resume, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.

Berkeley Law students can join the Berkeley Immigration Law Clinic (BILC), which involves travel to Oakland or San Francisco. Students are recommended to participate in at least two clinics each semester, gaining extensive practical experience.

11) Harvard Law School

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

To join Harvard’s prestigious law program, applicants must have an outstanding undergraduate academic record. However, the admissions board also values personal qualities like leadership, ambition, and empathy. Harvard is renowned as one of the best immigration law schools.

Students in the immigration law program can engage in several clinics, including the Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Clinic. They can also gain practical experience through the Harvard Law School Immigration Project, a student practice organization focused on immigration law.

12) Yale Law School

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Yale does not use GPA or standardized test scores as a “cutoff” for law school admissions. Instead, they emphasize extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and honors. Despite this holistic approach, Yale remains highly competitive and is considered one of the best immigration law schools.

At Yale, students can participate in the Legal Assistance: Immigrant Rights Clinic, representing immigrants and their organizations in court or before administrative agencies. They can also join the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, which handles cases at all stages of legal proceedings.

13) Stanford Law School

Location: Stanford, California

Applicants to Stanford Law must submit a resume, a personal statement detailing their character and life experiences, LSAT or GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. Optional short essays are also part of the application process. Stanford is highly regarded as one of the best immigration law schools.

Immigration law students at Stanford can work with the Law and Policy Lab, consulting real-world clients under faculty guidance. They can also join the Stanford Immigration & Human Rights Law Association, which offers opportunities to advance human rights globally.

14) University of Maryland Francis King Carey Law School

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

To apply, candidates must submit LSAT or GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement highlighting their critical thinking and leadership skills. The admissions committee looks for candidates who adapt easily to new challenges.

Students at Maryland can join the Immigration Law and Policy Association, which fosters interest in legal and political immigration issues. They can also gain hands-on experience through the Immigration Clinic.

15) University of Virginia School of Law

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Applications to UVA Law are reviewed with an eye on grade trends, significant work experience, achievements, and contributions to campus and community life.

Students interested in immigration law can enroll in the yearlong Immigration Law Clinic, where they take classes and work with clients in a litigation setting, gaining practical law experience.

Best Law Schools for Immigration – Conclusion

Choosing the right law school is crucial, especially if you have a specific area of interest like immigration law. The top law schools highlighted in this article offer exceptional programs, practical experiences through clinics, and opportunities to work with real clients under expert guidance.

By attending one of these esteemed institutions, you’ll not only receive a top-tier education but also gain invaluable hands-on experience in immigration law. This will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to make a significant impact in the field.

If you’re passionate about immigration law, consider these schools as you embark on your journey to becoming a lawyer. They provide a robust platform for academic excellence, professional development, and making a difference in the lives of immigrants and their communities.