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The Best-Value Law Schools

September 25, 2023
10 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 9/25/23

In this article, we will explore the best-value law schools in the United States and their key features to help you make informed decisions regarding your academic pursuits and examine how long it will take to pay off law school debt.

Small Lady Justice statue

According to US News, paying for law school can cost more than $150,000–with the average law school student incurring over $160,000 worth of debt after graduation. Luckily, there are more than 200 law schools in the United States, which means that you have some options when it comes to finding the best-value law school. 

While you can apply for several law school scholarships to subsidize your tuition fees, you can also consider attending affordable law schools. 

Having these options will still provide you with a high-quality education while avoiding extensive debt. So, if you’re thinking about attending a law school without breaking the bank, read on to learn about the best-value law schools in the United States.

Top 10 Best-Value Law Schools

Below are the top 10 best-value schools in the US:

1. Penn State Dickinson Law School

Penn State University

Penn State Dickinson Law School is one of the oldest law schools in the United States. After several decades of offering exceptional legal education, it is known as one of the most affordable public law schools. The individualized attention coupled with high-quality training from professors is likely responsible for its bar exam pass rate–averaging over 80%.

Interestingly, Penn State has two separately accredited law school programs that contain resources and programs necessary for your growth as a lawyer. Penn State Dickinson Law School offers the following degrees: 

  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Master of Laws (LLM.)
  • Masters of Comparative Laws (LLCM)
  • Master in Law (ML)
  • Doctor of the Science of Law (SJD)

As reported by law school transparency, none of the students paid full tuition fees during the 2019-2020 session. It was also recorded that graduates of Penn State have less debt than other schools. In addition, the starting salary is $54,867. 

In addition to a reputable legal education, students of Penn State also benefit from the following:

  • Small classes for first-year students to enhance individualized learning
  • Access to different scholarship funds and merit awards
  • Availability of various initiatives that help the student during job searches and career planning
  • A huge alumni network dedicated to the growth of the school
  • Presence of opportunities that support consistent growth in career.

Interestingly, some students seek admission into this school because of the benefits it offers apart from its affordability. This characteristic further validates the school as one of the best-value law schools. 

2. University of Houston Law Center

University of Houston campus

The University of Houston Law Center was founded in 1947 in Houston, Texas. It was accredited by the American Bar Association, making it one of the Association of American Law Schools members.

The university boasts an average student loan debt of $97,246, less than the national average. Students graduating from UH Law receive an average starting salary of $102,153. 

Compared to other schools, one thing that distinguishes this law center is its modest tuition fee of about $28,129.8, which makes it a great example of a best-value law school in the US.

The law center offers a high level of professionalism coupled with various opportunities to enhance your career growth. The program is also flexible, giving students time to complete their degree and develop other valuable skills.

Below are some of the specializations the University of Houston Law Center offers:

  • Health law
  • Tax law
  • Intellectual property and information law
  • Energy, environment and natural resources law
  • International law

In addition to its flexibility and various specialties, the University of Houston Law Center offers a dual degree option where students can complete two LLM degrees. Interested students should apply to be admitted to both programs so they can start the degrees simultaneously.

3. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Downtown Columbus, OH

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law was founded in 1891 and has been a top-ranked law school in the United States. It is considered one of the most respected law schools in the world.

The tuition fee for law students at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is quite affordable compared to other law schools at approximately $29,131. The cost to attend Moritz Law is also lower than most high-ranked law schools.

The average debt accumulated by students graduating from Moritz Law is about $98,475, and the average salary is about $42,000 for students who have just started working.

The law school is known for being the best in legislative law. Also, it has many areas of specialization, which are listed below:

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Politics
  • Intellectual property
  • Real estate law

With over 100 years of providing legal education, the Moritz College of Law is known for its excellence, brought about by its rigorous academic programs and well-renowned lecturers. As a top-ranked law school, Moritz Law is deeply committed to delivering an exemplary legal education while maintaining its financial accessibility. 

4. The University of Alabama Law School

University of Alabama Campus

The University of Alabama Law School has been in existence for more than 150 years, and over these years, it has produced national and global leaders. It is located in the city of Tuscaloosa.

Despite providing high-quality education, legal studies in the school are quite affordable. The starting salary for graduates working in private practice starts from $70,000, and the average debt incurred is about $110,861, $50,000 less than the national average.

The University of Alabama Law School, the only public law school in Alabama, is student-centered. With many teachers being practicing  researchers and scholars, students can learn from educators with extensive experience in the field. 

The legal curriculum in the school is traditional, thereby equipping the students with cultural and academic skills to prepare them for opportunities. In addition, the school also offers dual programs for interested students.

The school of law is notably known for its vast knowledge of public interest law in areas such as:

  • Civil Law
  • Domestic Violence Law
  • Criminal Defense Law
  • Mediation Law Clinic

Alabama offers various degrees, such as a Juris Doctor degree and International LLM. in taxation and business transactions. In addition, the school offers a four-year joint JD/M.B. A degree, which are dual degrees that can be run alongside each other.

5. Wake Forest School of Law

Winston-Salem, NC

The Wake Forest School of Law is one of the best-value schools for students hoping to pursue a legal education. Located in Winston Salem, North California, It offers an affordable and high-quality legal education.

Many aspiring law students try to get into Wake Forest School of Law due to its affordability and commitment to minimizing student debt. Various initiatives have been put in place to ensure that graduating students have manageable student debt.

Also, the law school offers scholarship programs for their students to reduce the tuition fee load on them. This feature helps students benefit from these programs and focus on their education rather than worrying about student loans and repayment.

The school does this by granting scholarships with an average amount of $57,703 to its students. According to US News, about 25% of first-year students in the school were given need-based financial aid in 2020

Apart from its affordability, Wake Forest School of Law also has high-quality employment opportunities for its graduates. They have strong and notable connections with the legal industry, and their students are guaranteed to get a job within ten months of their graduation. The median salary for their graduates is about $67,500, and their employment rate is 89.8%, according to the 2020 statistics. 

Furthermore, the school of law pays above the average salary figure for most law schools. The competitive salary figure shows that their students are well-equipped with good academic skills and prowess.

To sum it all up, Wake Forest School of Law is one of the best-value schools with strong employment outcomes and good salaries. This attribute makes the school a perfect fit for students seeking admission to an affordable school with excellent career prospects.

6. University of Minnesota Law School

Minneapolis, MN

Next on the list is the University of Minnesota Law School. It is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and offers its students various options for an affordable legal education.

This highly esteemed establishment minimizes debt by offering the following to students:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships
  • Financial aid programs

The tuition fee is about $47,754, which is remarkably low compared to other law schools. Despite its affordability, the Minnesota Law offers excellent value for the quality of education it provides.

The school equips its students with a variety of employment opportunities in the legal field. They do this by exposing the students to many recruiting programs, practical interviews, workshops, panels, and counseling sessions on how they can achieve their career goals. 

This feature results in impressive employment outcomes for their graduate students. It is also important to note that the school is well-connected to local law industries, which gives students easier access to internships and externships while in school.

In addition to being an affordable and high-quality school, graduates are reported to receive an above-average starting salary. The median salary of Minnesota Law grads is $67,879.

All in all, the University of Minnesota Law School is an affordable and reputable establishment. The school is committed to student success, making it one of the best-value law schools in the US.

7. University of Cincinnati College of Law

University of Cincinnati campus

The University of Cincinnati College of Law, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is another reputable, best-value law school. This institution has a unique blend of affordability, impressive employment outcomes, and attractive post-graduate salaries.

A major feature of the school is its commitment to lowering student debt, giving the graduate less financial burden. A lower debt enables the student to explore more opportunities in a legal career. 

Tuition fees to attend the Univesity of Cincinnati College of Law is about $24,010. The average accumulated debt at graduation was about $63,608 for the class of 2021. 

Cincinnati Law tuition fees are lower than most high-ranked law institutions in the United States. The affordability makes the school a common option for intending law students.

In addition to the school’s already affordable fees, it offers scholarships of more than 3 million dollars to its students each year, giving those with financial limitations access to high-quality education. The in-house scholarship spans three years. 

Furthermore, the school has impressive employment outcomes and a good salary for its graduates. One of the school’s strongholds is its vast alum network, which provides students with good networking opportunities.

In conclusion, the University of Cincinnati College of Law offers good and affordable legal education to students willing to embark on a fulfilling legal career. With the exceptional value it also offers, the College of Law is a high-quality school that offers top-notch education.

8. Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University Campus

Source: University of Washington and Lee

As one of the best-value schools in the United States, Washington and Lee University School of Law offers high-quality education while making it affordable for its students.

The average debt for a Washington and Lee Law School graduate is about $95,000, which is low compared to other law schools in the country. This allows newly-employed graduates to focus on getting a leg up with minimal financial stress as they start their legal careers.

Washington and Lee Law School provides their students with great employment opportunities after graduation–with graduating students reporting an average starting salary of $85,000.

This high starting salary may be attributed to W&L Law’s comprehensive curriculum. With a focus on educating well-rounded legal professionals, they offer specialties and courses including, but not limited to: 

  • Criminal law
  • Constitutional law
  • Civil procedure
  • Legal research and writing

Overall, Washington and Lee Law boasts a high standard of legal education with the bonus of affordability and a vast array of post-graduate opportunities within the legal field.

9. University of Georgia School of Law

University of Georgia campus

Source: University of Georgia

University of Georgia School of Law, the next on our list, is one of the best schools in the United States. It has all the encompassing features that make up a high-quality school.

The average debt for graduates from the University of Georgia School of Law is about $75,000. This figure is relatively small compared to other best-value schools in the US. With a minimal debt, graduates can fully pursue their careers in law with less financial burden.

The school also has impressive salary figures for new graduates, which shows that the school is a good option for those hoping to pursue a legal career. The average starting salary for University of Georgia Law grads is about $70,000.

The school has a robust curriculum that equips students with the knowledge and skills needed in their chosen careers. Some of their courses include constitutional law, contracts, and criminal law. 

Finally, the school offers a lot of experiential learning opportunities for the students, allowing them to choose advanced courses and specialized electives that interest them.

10. University of Mississippi’s School of Law

University of Mississippi School of Law

Source: University of Mississippi School of Law

The last on the list of the best-value law schools is the University of Mississippi’s School of Law. It is one of the best low-cost schools, with a tuition fee of $18,070 and an average debt of $74,005.

The school of law focuses on research and offers auxiliary programs such as the ones listed below:

  • Center for Air and Space Law
  • National Center for Justice
  • Rule of Law
  • Mississippi Innocence Project
  • Mississippi Law Research Institute
  • Mississippi Judicial College.

The school also offers clinical programs, giving students opportunities to participate in clinics in child advocacy, elder law, criminal appeals, housing, mediation practicum, and others.

FAQs: Best-Value Law School

1. How Long Does it Take to Pay Off Law School Debt?

The average time to repay law school debt is about 20 to 25 years. The repayment time depends on the loan type and the debt repayment plan. 

2. What is the Best-Value Law School in the US?

According to recent data, the best-value law school in the US is Penn State Law School. 

3. What is the Least Expensive Law School in the US?

The University of the District of Columbia is the least expensive law school in the US, with an in-state tuition fee of $13,438.

4. What Does JD Stand For?

JD stands for Doctor of Jurisprudence, which is a standard professional degree in law.

5. Do Law Schools Offer Scholarships?

Yes, most law schools offer scholarships. 

6. How Long is Law School?

Generally, law school programs take about three years to complete.

Final Thoughts

While finding the perfect law school for you and your budget can be challenging, this list of best-value law schools can be a great place to start. 

Keep in mind that there are plenty of options when it comes to covering your law school tuition costs and managing debt. Do your research to determine which schools have the best financial aid options and your eligibility for full-ride scholarships

You can also consider other affordable options, such as part-time law school. Additionally, you can think about getting a job before law school that can help you earn some cash while developing essential skills to set you up for success in the legal field. 

Best of Luck!

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