A legal profession in the Houston, Texas job market area provides a stable and sound career. As the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, Houston is the home of many business centers and corporate headquarters that are often in need of legal services. Houston itself is the capital seat of the Lone Star State, making it a natural fit for the strong repertoire of surrounding law schools that call it home. When jobs in other Houston industries declined in 2020, professional office and government sectors like legal practices remained stable. It’s not uncommon for the earnings of legal jobs to range from $50,000 to $126,000 per year.
The Legal Profession: More than One Pathway
A common line of thought foresees a legal education as long, tedious, and expensive, but that’s not always the case. Students can enter a profession in law as a paralegal with as little as a 6-month Certificate education or 2-year Associate’s Degree. A number of law schools in Houston have outstanding paralegal programs that serve as a great option for students working their way up in their legal careers. A paralegal performs and prepares necessary clerical work and legal documentation that supports attorneys and courtrooms. While a paralegal cannot deliver legal advice, it is imperative for him or her to understand the workings of the legal system in order to properly prepare the operations of the legal process. These key positions are essential in corporate offices, law offices, healthcare facilities, and the United States government system. The United States Bureau of Labor estimates that the job demand for paralegals will rise over 10% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than other job fields. These statistics show that a paralegal education is today’s dark horse in the legal industry that offers an affordable option for entry-level workers in Texas and other states.
A career as an attorney in the United States requires a doctorate or P.h.D. degree with licensing from the American Bar Association. The competition in the job market for lawyers is fierce, as there are typically more graduates than attorney jobs available. Those who thrive in this career field will be rewarded, however, particularly if they are skilled in more than one specific practice of law. The current job growth for attorneys in the United States is 4%, which is about the average growth for most jobs in the country.
But a career as a paralegal or attorney is not the only option in the law field. Law students may also pursue solid careers as a conciliator, mediator, or arbitrator. These special legal positions serve to reconcile and find remedy for two opposing parties outside of the court system. A Bachelor’s Degree is typically needed to hold these types of positions, which are just right for students working their way up the ladder, or for retired attorneys and judges. The job growth of these positions is higher than attorneys, roughly over 10%. Depending on the specific title, the specific recommendations from an arbitrator, conciliator, or mediator may or may not be legally binding to the parties. These services are useful in certain situations for businesses, property owners, and families.
Accreditations are important to note in the legal educational sphere. In this light, we reviewed the accreditations of each law school according to these accrediting institutions that are relevant to a legal education path. The following organizations are listed according to their abbreviations below:
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission of Colleges – SACSCC
- American Bar Association, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar – BAR
- American Psychological Association, Commission on Accreditation – PSPSYD
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology – SLP
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges – ACCSC
The 7 Best Law Schools in Houston Texas
1. University of Houston Clear Lake – BS in Legal Studies (20 points)
If you’re looking for a simple, no-nonsense educational pathway into the law field, the University of Houston Clear Lake is your ticket. Their Bachelor’s of Science in Legal Studies is clearly mapped out so students know exactly what to expect in the program, whether they are freshmen or transfer students. All of the professors who teach the program are professionally licensed with the American BAR Association, and students can achieve extra credit for participation in seminars hosted by the State BAR of Texas. They also have the opportunity to engage in several exciting events, including the Constitutional Law Day Program and the American Mock Trial Association’s national competition.
- Tuition & Fees: $7,310
- Number of Accreditations: 2 (PSPSYD, SACSCC)
3. Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law – JD and LLM Programs (16 points)
For over 70 years Texas Southern University has delivered sound legal education for leaders in the law field. The school is named after Justice Thurgood Marshall and is renowned for its diversity and empowering the disenfranchised in the local Texas community. The school offers an expansive library for students to hone their studies and craft their legal writing skills. Their Judicial Doctorate and L.L.M. Program in Immigration and Naturalization Law complement each other well, and the latter is the first program of its kind in naturalization law for the United States. It’s the ideal enhancement for law students who desire to pursue a career in law within the niche field for a riveting and intriguing experience in the career path.
- Tuition & Fees: $9,173
- Number of Accreditations: 2 (SACSCC, BAR)
3. University of Houston Law Center – Various Programs (16 points)
The University of Houston Law Center at their main campus in Houston is not only one of the best law schools in Texas, but it’s also ranked among the best in the entire country. The school achieved the 34th ranking by Law.com in the top 100 law schools in the United States. And with a myriad of strong legal programs to branch into, it’s no wonder why. Students can participate in both full-time and part-time law degree programs, and may even combine their JD with a dual enrollment option. They can pursue legal studies after achieving a Master’s or Ph.D. in areas like medical sciences, history, social work, business, and public affairs. The University of Houston Law Center specializes in branches that include immigration law, tax law, insurance law, healthcare law, and more. The school continues to grow in diversity and achievement with a brand new John M. O’Quinn Law Building under construction.
- Tuition & Fees: $9,221
- Number of Accreditations: 3 (SACSCC, BAR, SLP)
4. Houston Community College – AAS Paralegal Technology – Legal Assistant (14 points)
If you’re wondering where to begin in your legal career journey, Houston Community College is an excellent place to get your feet wet. The local school boasts a powerful group of Paralegal Technology programs, including an Associate in Applied Science Legal Assistant, a Law Office Clerk Certificate, and a Legal Assistant Certificate. Each of these programs is ideal for a quicker career launch into the legal field as a paralegal in court and attorney offices, and the results are impressive. Over five thousand graduates of Houston Community College have been placed in legal jobs in the Houston metro area. Those seeking to advance their career work as an attorney may obtain the associate’s degree for a practical pathway in their legal education. Students who graduate in the Paralegal Technology area will be able to interpret, prepare, and make a legal conclusion regarding an issue in Texas State Court Law. They will also be able to skillfully prepare and file legal petitions and practice basic courtroom etiquette in the state of Texas.
- Tuition & Fees: $4,152
- Number of Accreditations: 1 (SACSCC)
5. University of Houston Downtown – Paralegal Certificate Programs, BS in Criminal Studies (12 points)
Students who are seeking a lively and memorable educational experience will appreciate the Paralegal Certificate programs at the University of Houston Downtown. The hands-on approach and flexible weekend schedule is a great option for working students, and the mock trial program itself is very popular. Students engage in a file to mock trial legal case that they must work together to strategize and find their roles. The program ends with a mock court hearing and a jury whom students have the opportunity to present and argue their case. These experiences will sharpen students for a strong career as a paralegal with an invaluable return of investment in their careers. Several branches of the paralegal certificate are available, including criminal law, civil litigation, family law, and legal writing. The college also offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Studies for those seeking advanced education on that side of the legal spectrum.
- Tuition & Fees: $6,788
- Number of Accreditations: 1 (SACSCC)
6. Center for Advanced Legal Studies – Paralegal Certificate, AAS Paralegal Program (8 points)
This top-notch legal school is an excellent fit for aspiring paralegals and high school graduates interested in the law field. Students who attend the Center for Advanced Legal Studies can complete both the Paralegal Certificate and the Associate in Applied Science Degree in under 21 months, and there are flexible class schedules in the evenings and weekends. The total program contains 62 credit hours. New students will benefit the most from the AAS Degree, while those who already have a Bachelor’s are more likely to appreciate a Paralegal Certificate, which is also available completely online. The coursework material is relevant to today’s competitive paralegal workplace environment and to help prepare students for a bright future in this career.
- Tuition & Fees: $8,459
- Number of Accreditations: 1 (ACCSC)
7. South Texas College of Law – JD Degree Program (2 points)
First established in 1923, the South Texas College of Law is prestigious in the Houston area and one of the best law schools in the country. Its rich history is synonymous with the Texas community, and the school’s roots hearken back hundreds of years prior to when the local YMCA group wrote the school’s constitution in 1886. Honor and integrity in upholding the law have been part of the school’s reputation ever since, and its education is held in high regard by many local attorney offices. Students who enter this school are rewarded with a rich abundance in law program options, including estate planning, small firm practice, business, and corporate law, international law, environmental law, and more. They also have the unique opportunity to practice their skills in real-world legal situations with the college’s Randall O. Sorrells Legal Clinics.
- Tuition & Fees: $34,050
- Number of Accreditations: 1 (BAR)
Our Ranking Methodology
All the data in these rankings are compiled from each school’s website and via the Google Search engine. We calculate the tuition and fees by in-state rates and the academic semester year, which is in two-semester increments. The number of accreditations per school is accounted for by the number of up-to-date accreditations per accreditor that are relevant to programs complementing a legal education path. Both accreditation and tuition and fees are scored for each school. This information is sourced from the specific campus mentioned instead of the parent school where applicable. The scoring is calculated first by the tuition and fees category, and second by accreditation with an odd number factoring for each. The two category scores were then combined to receive the final rankings shown above.
Have Questions About Your Ranking?
If you are an employee at any of the schools listed and have questions or comments, let us know! We work hard to present accurate college data to the best of our ability at Best Value Schools and will correct information as needed. If you are a law student in the Houston Texas area, feel free to explore college options that are right for you. Best Value Schools is your partner to help you find the best educational fit for your legal career at every educational level from Certificate to Juris Doctor and beyond. Begin your search today and discover the options available to you.