20 Things You Didn’t Know about Yale Law School


Yale Law School is among the best law schools in the US, reputable for its prestigious educational establishments. The school is situated in New Haven, Connecticut, and is considered a member of the Ivy League. Due to its small size, the law school has a tremendously selective admission process. Although Yale law school is famous, most people don’t know many facts about this institution. Here are 20 things you didn’t know about Yale Law School.

1. Yale Law School Was First Established in the early 1800s

One of the facts about Yale Law School that you probably didn’t know is that it was originally established in the early 1800s, initially known as New Haven Law School. During the 1800s, students studied law by serving as an apprentice in a lawyer’s office. The law school was unofficially founded by Seth Staples when he started to train students. In addition, his lawyer’s office had an incredible library that helped him train law students in addition to his lawyer’s office.

2. The New Haven Law School Allied with Yale University From the 1820s

Over the years, the New Haven Law School joined with Yale University nearby. This unison occurred between the 1820s and the 1840s. In the year 1842, law students started to graduate with Law degrees from Yale University. The law school became a part of the more prominent Yale university as a primary law faculty.

3. The First Dean Was Chosen In 1873

The first-time dean of the Yale Law School was Francis Wayland III, who was appointed in 1873. He stayed as the school dean until 1903 when he retired and later died in 1904. In this period, the school started to teach other subjects such as history and science. As the school transformed to be more liberal, it became among the first Americans that allowed the creation of extracurricular student groups such as sports teams and student publications.

4. It Has One of The Largest Law Libraries

Yale Law School hosts the most extensive law libraries in the US. The Lillian Goldman Law Library features more than one million print volumes. This library also offers unparalleled access to both international and domestic law databases. Students can also access fifteen Yale University libraries, including the popular Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which is the home to a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Some of the unique strengths of the library collection include the interdisciplinary works that emphasize law as well as social sciences, online resources, extensive print, and a rare collection of historical books that covers international and foreign law.

5. Students Come from All Over the World

Students attending Yale Law School come from across the US and from far and wide destinations worldwide. For instance, the students of the class of 2021 are from 36 states of the US and other countries across the world. The class has lived in around 63 different countries, can collectively speak around 30 different languages, and has attended about 77 different undergraduate institutions between them.

6. Yale Law School Provides a Wide Variety of Study Options

The Yale Law School offers more than 180 courses as well as a variety of opportunities for independent writing and research. The institution has thirty clinics, and about 75 percent of the students take these clinics. The programs include; J.S.D., Ph.D., J.D., L.L.M., and M.S.L. There is also a wide range of joint degrees offered, including; J.D.-M.B.A., J.D.-Ph.D., and J.D.-M.A.

7. Yale Law School Has Produced Two US Presidents

The Yale Law School has produced many alumni that have pursued a career in politics and have held a position in the US government. The law school has more than 13,000 alumni leaders in corporations, law firms, businesses, public interest businesses, and academics in the US and across the world. One of the interesting facts is that two alumni went on to be the presidents of the United States. In 1941, the first president alumni Gerald Ford, graduated from the school. He served as the president from 1974 to 1977. The second alumni to be the president was Bill Clinton, who graduated in 1973. He was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001.

8. Yale Law School Has Produced Three International Presidents

Yale Law School has also produced alumni who have gone on to become presidents of other countries. Karl Carstens, the fifth president of Germany, graduated from Yale University in 1949. Jose P. Laurel, the third President of the Philippines, serving from 1943 to 1945, was also a Yale Law School alumni in 1920. Most recently, Peter Mutharika, a graduate of Yale Law school, has served as the Republic of Malawi president since 2014.

9. The Yale Law School Students Are Very Diverse

This university recruits’ students from diverse societies. For example, the class of 2021 consisted of 204 students with their diversity reflecting today’s society. Forty-six percent of the class are students of color, while 48 percent are women. Nine percent of these students are the first member of their family attending college, while around twenty-seven percent of the students are first-generation professionals. As an undergraduate college, the university started accepting women as students in 1969.

10. Heather K. Gerken Is the Current Dean

Heather K. Gerken was appointed in 2017 as the Dean of Yale Law School and the Sol & Lilian Goldman Professor of Law at the law school as the first woman to serve in this role. As a professor, she plays the role of teaching election law. Heather K. Gerken also heads the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project. However, she did not study at Yale Law School herself. She was actually a student at Princeton University, later joining the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The current dean was listed as one of the top 50 idea makers for scholarship on liberal federalism and has been hailed by many for her top leadership qualities. Gerken was reappointed to a second term in 2022.

11. Has An Acceptance Rate Of 6.9%?

According to www.ilrg data rankings in 2020, Yale Law school rated among the most challenging law schools to join, with an acceptance rate of as low as 6.9 percent. Only about one in fifteen highly qualified applicants makes it through to join the law school. Every year, the law school enrolls around 200 new students, one of the minor numbers of students in American law schools. More so, when it comes to bar passage rate, Yale Law School students are ranked in fourth place with a remarkable rate of 98.3 percent for first-timers. When we take these statistics into account, we can safely say that Yale is one of the hardest law schools to join, and it is worth the reputation with the incredibly high-quality education and bar pass rate.

12. Yale Law School Alumni Have 99% Job Satisfaction.

As earlier stated, the Yale Law School has more than 13,000 alumni who have ventured as leaders in different ventures, including government, business, and other corporations. But one of the interesting facts about the university is that 99 percent of the alumni express job satisfaction ten years after graduating. After graduating from school, the chances of getting employed are incredibly high, ranging at 96.5% after nine months after graduation. About 44 percent of the alumni pursue careers in the public interest, while 48 percent have gone on to clerk for a judge.

13. Yale Law School Produce Leaders from All Walks of Life

Another interesting fact about Yale School, among other law schools, is that it produces leaders in all types of industries. These include some of the distinguished deans and faculty members at law schools across the US and all over the world, corporate counsels and industry CEOs, founders of nongovernmental organizations and nonprofit entities, government servants in the judiciary, and others. Among the most successful graduates from the law school are the Supreme Court Justices and US presidents. Other famous alumni include politicians John Kerry and Hilary Clinton, CNN anchors, Anderson Cooper and Fareed Zakaria, actors Edward Norton and Meryl Streep, computer scientist Grace Hopper, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi as well as Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx.

14. The Campus Has a Unique Gothic Revival Architecture

The Yale Law School campus is popular for its Gothic Revival architecture. The architecture has been built to resemble older English Universities like Cambridge and Oxford. The college features a unique monolithic and pseudo-Gothic style. These Gothic structures were combined into a sizable building collection, virtually representing each major style in the last five centuries.

15. It Is at The Top of Law School Rankings

Did you know that Yale Law School ranked first in the law in the United States on different lists? The school surpassed other prestigious schools, including Stanford, Harvard, and Columbia. Yale Law School was also ranked as the best law school on top-law-schools.com, maintaining its spot in the global report and US news magazines on the best law schools.

16. 52 Nobel Prize Winners Have Been Professors or Students at Yale University

Among the prominent leaders who have passed through Yale School are fifty-two Nobel prize winners who have either been students or professors at Yale. Yale students, alumni, and faculty have been continuously lauded for their breakthroughs in innovations, winning Nobel prizes across various fields. Most recently, in 2013, the influential professor Robert J. Shiller teaching in the institution, was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics while James E. Rothman received the prize in the category of Medicine and Physiology.

17. Yale Law School Does Not Use the Traditional Grading System

Another unique thing you didn’t know about Yale Law school is that it does not have the traditional grading system, which resulted from unrest among students in the 1960s. Instead, the school grades first-year students on credit or no credit system. For the other academic years, students are graded on a simple fail/ low pass/ pass/ honors system. More so, they do not rank students. The law school is also known for only requiring a single semester class and two writing requirements instead of an entire year, as it’s the case with most US law schools.

18. Yale Was the First School to Offer Law Ph.D. In the US

Initially, Yale School only taught undergraduate students. Over the years, the institution developed graduate schools for law and other faculties, including music, nursing, medicine, environmental science, business. Yale then became the first school to offer Ph.D. studies in 1869 throughout the USA. Because it grew to accommodate many faculties, courses, and degrees, Yale changed its name to Yale University in 1887.

19. Yale Law School Has Over Two Dozen Student Clinics

Yale Law School houses more than two dozen clinics that allow students to represent clients in real-world legal issues. Yale law students commonly participate in clinics, with more than eighty percent of the students participating in the clinics before graduating. Unlike other law schools that generally allow students to participate in clinics from the second year, Yale law school allows first-year students to participate in the clinics. The Yale Law School has expanded the clinical programs, recently adding more than eight new clinics to serve the students.

20. A Culture of Government Service

Yale school of law is known worldwide for its high scholarly orientation. One of the features of the school’s culture since the early 1920s among the faculty and student graduates is the emphasis on spending some years in government service. The law school has also placed a similar emphasis on working as a judicial law clear after graduating.

Bottom Line

That’s it! You now know some interesting facts that you didn’t know about Yale Law School. The school is one of the best law schools in the US as well as across the world for students desiring to study law. Although it is small in design, it has proven its impact on the globe through its distinguished graduates.

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