Yale Law School, Yale University
US News & World Report 2016 Ranking: 1
Tucked away in New Haven, Connecticut (north of New York State), is the world-renowned Yale University. Founded in 1701, it is one of the US’ oldest institutions for higher learning.
Yale Law School has a well-deserved reputation as the US’ highest ranked law school. It is the alma mater of some of the pre-eminent legal minds and figures, including Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and former President Bill Clinton, and Senator Hillary Clinton.
One of the most distinguishing factors of Yale Law School (or YLS as it’s often referred to) is its intimate size. With 650 students and 120 faculty members, Yale Law School has been described as an unparalleled and intimate crucible for legal thought.
In line with the school’s small size, the LLM class size is limited to 22-25 students per annum (as far as I am aware, the smallest LLM cohort in the US).
Before you get your hopes up, however, an LLM degree from Yale Law School is not designed for everyone. Specifically, the LLM at Yale Law School is generally only open to those who are planning to be legal academics (or as Yale puts it on its website, “planning careers in law teaching and scholarship”). Thus, if your aspiration is to be a partner of a huge commercial law firm in downtown Manhattan (think Harvey Specter, who, on an aside, fictitiously attended Harvard), this is not the law school for you.
The fact that the program is aimed towards budding legal academics is reflected in its application. The application essays are geared towards analysing your suitability as a legal scholar. This year, the application essays are:
In no more than 350 words, describe your reasons for seeking admission to Yale Law School’s LL.M. program, and explain how the LL.M. degree fits in with your plans for teaching after you graduate. Please indicate your areas of interest and what arrangements, if any, you have made concerning employment.
In no more than 500 words, describe your scholarly research agenda for the near future. Please articulate what you think are the most important issues in your chosen field, and explain why.
It is not uncommon for Yale Law School LLM applicants to be professors or doctoral candidates looking for a one-year “sabbatical”. This is not to put you off applying but, rather, to provide some context as to the calibre of law graduates, lawyers and legal scholars who are applying for the program. For a strong chance at Yale, you will ideally have excellent grades (in the top 5%, if not 1%, of your graduating class), have numerous journal publications, have an aptitude for serious legal research, have legal teaching experience, and a formulated scholarly research agenda.
As to quality of life, Yale University has a bad reputation for being located in New Haven. New Haven is not known to be the nicest city (to put it mildly) and has serious safety issues. See, for example, this piece by the Yale student news.
Financial aid is assessed after you have been accepted and is means tested (with parents’ assets having to be disclosed). Financial aid comes in the forms of grants (essentially scholarships) and loans.
As a guide, the cost of tuition for the 2016-2017 academic year is USD$57,615. With living costs and other expenses, Yale puts the total cost of pursuing an LLM at USD$80,229.
Prepare for the Journey, LLMSherpa