Finding the top law schools in North Carolina makes it easy for you to realize your career dreams of being a lawyer or a judge. It all starts with finding the schools that offer the law programs needed. Once you graduate with your law degree, you can sit for the Bar Exam so that you can be well on your way to practicing law. Quite a few colleges and universities have law schools within them, allowing you to get your undergraduate and graduate degree from the same place.
What to Know About Law School
Applying for law school generally means that a person wants to become a lawyer. They will earn a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from a law school. Applications to law schools may require various things, though some kind of undergraduate degree is required.
While many schools don’t require a “prelaw” degree, many will have at least some requirements as to the type of courses that have been taken. Many students will have obtained an undergraduate degree in an area that will help them, such as Political Science, Criminal Justice, Economics, History, or Business.
Career Options with a Law Degree
Most students who graduate with a law degree work as a lawyer. Some will choose to work for the government while others will work in private practice. It is possible to become a district attorney for a city, work as a judge, or even go to work as a lawyer by starting up a boutique firm.
Additionally, there are various aspects of the law that a student can choose to practice, including:
- Criminal law
- Probate law
- Admiralty/maritime law
- Entertainment law
- Family law
- Environmental law
- Personal injury law
The earnings van vary dramatically depending on where a person works as well as what type of law is practiced. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average lawyer earns a median salary of $122,960.
While there are only a few law schools in North Carolina, each of them has quite a bit to offer students. We have ranked the six schools based on the student to teacher ratio, with smaller class sizes receiving a higher score. We also ranked them based on total enrollment.
The cost of tuition was not factored in since many students are able to obtain scholarships when applying for law school.
Top 6 Law Schools in North Carolina
1. Duke University
The Duke University School of Law offers an extensive list of programs. It is possible for students to start up conversations with Duke Law faculty during office hours. Students will engage in intensive and collaborative ways to explore the law. Duke University is considered one of the top schools in the country for those who wish to practice law – and the campus is located in Durham, North Carolina.
Students can pursue an array of degrees – dual degrees, a Doctor of Juridical Science, as well as a Juris Doctor. The application process is extensive, requiring recommendation letters, a personal statement, and essays. Standardized testing and academic transcripts will also be required.
Duke University embraces itself as a community of lawyers. Students have the ability to focus on intensive students, research, and public service. Students get to create their own adventure and partake in conversations with those who are already a part of the community. Every student will have access to courses and programs that ensure they’re able to not only meet academic goals but also be able to lead within the law and beyond following graduation.
Students at Duke University will have access to a long list of student resources, organizations, and events. The Pro Bono program also allows students to learn outside of the classroom while learning to work in governmental and non-profit organizations.
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 5:1
- Enrollment Total per Year: 15,984
2. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The School of Law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill offers a variety of programs to explore. Students can choose to partake in JD and dual degree programs and there are plenty of options for international applicants, too.
The requirements for getting into UNC include having already taken the LSAT (Law School Admission test) within the last five years as well as having a bachelor’s degree from a fully accredited school. It will also be necessary to have a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and complete the application form. The acceptance is strict, with less than 15% of applicants being accepted into the School of Law.
UNC prides itself on providing an education beyond the core legal subjects. Students will hone their research skills, their writing, and their analytical skills. There are more than 100 externships to explore, over 50 student organizations to choose from, nine clinical programs, and five journals. Students can also explore hands-on opportunities with trial advocacy and mock trail programs as well as a pro bono program.
The School of Law has a reputation for offering a high education with a low cost of attendance. Many resources are available to help students cover the cost of tuition. Additionally, there is a career center that will help students to explore legal careers upon graduating – before and after passing the Bar Exam.
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 17:1
- Enrollment Total per Year: 29,084
3. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As one of the top-ranked law schools, the School of Law offers a variety of programs for students to explore. Students can choose to pursue a Juris Doctor degree as well as LLM and SJD programs for international attorneys. Various professional programs are also in place for professionals who need to learn more about navigating the law without the need to practice it.
The Pro Bono Project at WFU makes it possible for law students to get the hands-on experience navigating the law. NC residents are able to get free legal help as it pertains to unemployment insurance and other issues that are plaguing them.
Students will have access to on-campus and online symposiums, seminars, and workshops throughout the time they spend getting their degree. It allows students to listen to legal experts talk about legal and ethical issues surrounding important topics. Many of these events also have a Q&A segment so that students can ask questions.
WFU stands out by providing the traditional classroom experience with service-based learning. They pride themselves on being a supportive community where students can form professional relationships with faculty, alumni, and fellow students.
5 concurrent and dual degree programs are available, 30+ student organizations invite students to get involved, thousands of hours are offered in pro bono experience. Approximately 5% of the students who apply are actually enrolled at the school. Students will need to submit LSAT or GRE scores, register with the SLAC Credential Assembly Service, and complete the online application.
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 10:1
- Enrollment Total per Year: 7837
4. Elon University School of Law
Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Elon University School of Law offers an experiential learning program. Full-time students are often able to finish their law degrees faster than at other schools and get a better value for their money. One of the reasons for this is by offering a combination of classroom learning and hands-on labs.
Students will enroll in a 2.5-year program and enjoy a low cost of living. A variety of scholarships are offered to make it easier for students to pay for the tuition. The school ranks high in a number of areas, including the ability to provide students with faculty-directed residency as well as being the Recipient of the American Bar Associations’ top national award for legal professionalism education.
Those wishing to apply to Elon Law can do so without paying an application fee. The application will involve submitting LSAT scores and completing an online application through the Law School Admission Council.
Law students will engage in first-year lab courses, team-based legal projects for nonprofits, and moot court. There will also be attorney shadowing as well as full-time residencies where students can enjoy more hands-on experience than many other law schools around the country. prelaw Magazine has also identified Elon Law as one of the “most innovative law schools” twice within the past decade.
Internships and judicial clerkships also provide summer employment opportunities that can also enhance one’s resume. Various career opportunities are available upon graduating from Elon University.
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 9:1
- Enrollment Total per Year: 6631
5. North Carolina Central University
Established in 1939 in Durham, the North Carolina Central University School of Law provides a quality, personalized, practice-oriented legal education to students from diverse backgrounds at an affordable cost. NCCU Law trains a diverse cadre of students to become lawyers and leaders in their local communities, their states, and the world.
An NCCU Law education provides a challenging course of study designed to stimulate intellectual inquiry of the highest order and to foster in each student a deep sense of professional responsibility and personal integrity to produce competent and socially responsible members of the legal profession.
NCCU Law offers two programs: a full-time day program and a part-time evening program. The part-time program is best-suited for those students looking to juggle their legal studies, life, and work.
While enrolled, students may elect to study in joint degree and/or certificate programs. NCCU faculty are committed to providing the community with legal services through its legal clinics like the Criminal Defense Clinic, Civil Litigation Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Intellectual Property Clinic, Juvenile Law Clinic, and Veterans Clinic that provide students with real life practical experience while representing real people with real legal problems.
NCCU Law alumni work across the United States in large and small law firms, as federal and state attorneys, as prosecutors, as corporate counsel, as in-house counsel, as elected officials as well as other legal jobs. NCCU Law alumni assist current students with mock interviews, serve as mentors, and provide vast networking for job opportunities.
NCCU Law has been recognized by the prelaw Magazine as one of the Best Law Schools for Practical Training and one of the Most Diverse Law Schools in the United States. This dedication to service can be traced back to the North Carolina Central University motto, “Truth and Service.”
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 15:1
- Enrollment Total: 405
6. Campbell University
Campbell University is a private school found in downtown Raleigh. The Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law provides students with experiential learning in the capital city. The Christian school believes that all are created in the image of God, and the application process ensures everyone is treated with respect using a holistic approach.
Applying to the school is an online process. Students will need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited and approved school and also take the LSAT. Students will also need to decide whether they want to enroll in a full-time program or the FLEX program. There are employment restrictions for students who are in the full-time program where they are not permitted to work during the first year of school. Second- and third-year students can work no more than 20 hours per week.
Students in the law program will work in a collaborative environment to develop practice-ready skills. Additionally, there will be opportunities to serve the community while gaining hands-on experience. The “legal learning laboratory” at the downtown Raleigh campus is filled with faculty that is not only experienced but that also offer unique perspectives.
Students will be able to choose from traditional, FLEX, and clinical programs based on the time in which students can dedicate to their degree. International opportunities also exist for those who wish to seek a global perspective.
Campbell University has five clinics, an award-winning externship program with 300 placements, numerous dual degree programs with NC State and others, and a robust Pro Bono Council that has 13 projects and we have 30 active student organizations. They are also known for their high bar passage rate.
Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers and U.S. News for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,300 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law is celebrating 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a dozen years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.
- Student to Teacher Ratio: 8:1
- Enrollment Total per Year: 513
Our Ranking Methodology
The methodology we used to rank the school is the student to teacher ratio and the enrollment numbers. Each school was first given a score based on the student to teacher ratio, with smaller class sizes receiving a higher score. Then, schools were scored based on the enrollment numbers, with larger enrollment totals receiving a higher score. The scores were added together in order to establish the ranking order.
Notice an Error?
Our goal is to use the most accurate information possible when ranking the schools. If you work for a school and notice an error in the data we’ve shared, please contact us so that we can make the necessary updates.
If you’re exploring law school, let us help you find the right program for your needs.