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20 Worst Law Schools in the United States (Updated 2023)

Belmont University

When students are deciding on a career, many consider going to law school. Earning a J.D. allows them to become an attorney, but it also opens up other, less traditional career paths, such as consulting or working with a range of organizations. Law students have the opportunity to make a good amount of money while also learning valuable skills that can be used in just about any career.

Most law students are passionate about justice. They want to impact the world by working within the legal system and allowing everyone to be judged equally under the law. Many law students have idealist ambitions, and while the law is complex and nuanced, law students learn the best practices to approaching the law and how to have ethical and effective careers.

Law schools can be expensive, and while the investment can more than pay off, you want to make sure you are paying to get the best legal education you can buy. Going to the wrong law school not only impacts your potential to get the career you want, but it also can rob you of the robust learning you crave.

Remember that even institutions that are well-known for their undergraduate or certain graduate programs may not have an equally glowing law program, so you’ve got to use more than name recognition to find the ideal law school.

If you’re ready to apply to law school or are just curious about what law schools are out there, you can discover the types of schools you should steer clear of if you want a long, successful legal career. Law school is a lot of work, but when you choose the right one for you, you will be empowered and encouraged by your institution to grow and develop into a bright legal mind.


To ensure that we offered a fair and comprehensive list, it was important that we used the best possible methodology because we wanted to give each school a diligent and accurate analysis. The following steps and tools were used to ensure the best rankings possible.

  • We began by compiling a list of law schools across the country. From there, we could start eliminating schools based on a variety of qualities and could focus our attention on a shortlist of schools that were among the worst.
  • To promote a concise and clear result, we focused our attention on as much quantitative data that could give us good information about how a school ranks. We used various sources, such as the ABA Standard 509 reports, which give a wealth of information about the schools. We also used statistics from the official website of the school and other reliable resources.
  • The heart of our ranking was our quantitative data, but we used qualitative data and anecdotal evidence to gain more perspective and better understand the schools so that we could present the data in a more accessible and understandable way.
  • We included a range of factors when determining what classifies a school as bad. Some of the factors we looked at included student demographics, acceptance rates, enrollment rates, graduation rates, LSAT scores, passing rates for the Bar Exam, educational structure and staff, tuition and fees, educational hours required, and experiential learning opportunities.
  • We used the most direct and official sources whenever possible and used the most recent information available to ensure we gave correct information.

These methods ensured we could make a list that gives solid info, but we understand that such information changes often, so we continue to update our content as needed to reflect new information that becomes available. Thus, you can rest assured that we have worked diligently to provide accurate results.

Be Careful of Predatory Practices

Last year Required 509 Disclosures were put out by the American Bar Association, which made public the pertinent details regarding every last law school in the United States, and the truth of the matter is that the information in those reports enables one to look at and understand the various ways that certain law schools are skirting mandatory regulations regarding admissions practices by being predatory about the students they choose to admit.

The chairman of the National Advisory Council for Law School Transparency used this information to compile a list of ten of the lowliest law schools out there that pick from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to choosing students (they accept some of the lowest SAT scores that apply from around the nation). Our list will include some of those schools.

And we want to do our part, too. So, we’ve done a bit of the work for you to save you valuable research time and compiled a list of twenty of the worst law schools operating in the United States today, ranked as #20 through #1, with #1 being the worst of the worst.

After reading the following you should be able to eliminate some bad ones and turn your attention to the better ones…or even the best. Read on to discover the law schools you’ll want to avoid. You may be surprised to discover that some of these law schools have other prestigious programs.

20. Boston University

Boston University does not have terrible stats, and first-time bar pass rates are 90.6%, but that doesn’t mean this school is worth it. With yearly tuition of more than $62,000, it costs a lot to go to this school, but the employment score of BU is only about 84.1% for 2022 grads.

This law school with a great library which ranks #12 in the nation. But as for whether it’s a good school or not is up for debate. This is a school with high tuition, and while they seem to have pretty successful numbers, the high tuition makes for very difficult payback, and this sets many law students up for future failure.

This is especially true if their post-grad employment isn’t as prestigious as one might hope after attending a school with good stats.  They probably need to start using Certlibrary

19. Capital University

When it comes to GPAs and SATs, as well as bar passage statistics, Capital actually comes in fairly high. The problem is when their numbers are compared to every other law school in the country; they simply fall short. First-time bar pass rates are 73%, which isn’t the worst, but employment scores are lower at 53.7% with an underemployment score of about 27%.

Located in Columbus, Ohio, Capital is Lutheran-affiliated and was even voted the ‘Best Value Law School’ in 2009 by National Jurist magazine, yet it continues to struggle. This school has potential for sure, but it will take a lot of work for them to jump to any relevant spot on the worst school list.

18. Ave Maria School of Law

Ave Maria School of Law is a school that is notorious for its bad ranking. The school doesn’t have all bad rankings. Nearly 80% of 2022 grads have been employed in legal careers, which is higher than other candidates on the list, but the schools’ first-time bar pass rates aren’t great at 66.2%. However, they have a lot of other problems that students should consider. With a high acceptance rate and average student-to-faculty ratio, Ave Maria School of Law must make up for slack somewhere but struggles to make necessary improvements.

With those being a major focus for the ABA standards, Ave Maria is just about struck out before they even go up to bat. If going to a good, solid law school is something that is an option for you, you may want to skip the application fee to this particular one and move up the list.

17. Southern University

Southern University’s Law Center has educated students about the law for more than 70 years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have big problems. The school should be praised for educating students across walks of life, and they have a diverse student population and a high number of Black students. However, while the school’s diversity is good, it falls short in many other respects.

Southern University has an acceptance rate of 59.1% based on the ABA’s Standard 509 most recent report on the school. It has about an equal spread of students in the 75th, 50th, and 25th percentiles of LSAT scores, and even students with low undergraduate GPA scores could get into this school, showing that the school’s standards aren’t high.

16. Widener Commonwealth

Widener University Commonwealth Law School is located in Harrisburg, PA, and it is one of the university’s two ABA-accredited law schools. This particular law school is making this list for the first time this year, which is nothing to brag about, unfortunately. The legal class lost eleven students, and they failed to reach the admission standards required, which is typically a bit easier when the classes are smaller. It held its 25% and its 50% percentiles, but its 75 percentile experienced a slow and steady decline.

This school has an acceptance rate of over 60%, and its most recently listed first-time bar passage rate is a mere 47.9%, according to Law School Transparency, and the two-year pass rate is 87.9%, and over the years, this number has dipped awfully close to the 75% required for ABA accreditation.

15. UDC: The University of the District of Columbia

The historically Black David A. Clarke School of Law has been running for over fifty years, and while it has notable alumni like Thelma Buchholdt or Kenneth Eichner, it has been ranked at the bottom 25% of the US News and World Report’s list of law schools. This particular college’s law program maintained pretty much the same ratings grade and credential-wise, they had to cut some corners to get the job done (by eliminating 29 students from their roster).

The faculty lounge reports that there are simply too many schools of law in DC, and that this is the one that really needs to watch out if it wants to keep its head off the chopping block. This school is certainly not the worst of the worst, but it has a lot of issues it needs to improve to be a competitive law school.

14. Belmont University

Based in Nashville, Belmont University is number #25 on the bar passage list, with about 87% of their graduates passing the difficult test. They do have a fairly high acceptance rate of 52%, as is their student/faculty ratio of 11.5:1, making it one of the schools that struggles with individualized attention and other educational models. Couple that with a smaller-than-average law library and other factors, and one can see how Belmont U made this list.

13. Albany Law School of Union University

This school, on the other hand, has a well-stocked law library and ranks number twenty-five in that particular area. However, high acceptance rates, average test scores, and GPAs, and an atrociously high annual tuition make Albany Law School a shoe-in for our list.

They only have a 70.8% first-time bar passage rate, the student-to-faculty rate is 8.1:1. With only 80% of students finding employment at graduation and only 12.8% being underemployed, the high tuition simply doesn’t pull it through enough to make it worth the cost.

12. John Marshall Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School makes it in at number 12 on our worst law school list due to a couple of things. But before that, it should be noted that while the school has been in operation for some time, they have always boasted an ‘affordable, no-frills legal education’. The school offers a little too few thrills, and of 2022 grads, less than 60% were employed in full-time legal roles, and with expensive tuition, the odds aren’t great.

Regardless, JMLS received accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2009, so it’s legit. The trouble lies in the fact that the school has struggled with the issue of their students not passing the bar exam. Only about 66% of first-time bar-takers passed the exam, and these numbers are lower than they should be.

Knowing that the bar is difficult, and taking that into consideration, it is the statistics regarding the passing that show the problem, and their stats have been less than good, resulting in more than one citation from the ABA.

11. Concordia University School of Law

Concordia just became accredited by the ABA in the past few years, so it is now a bit of a safer bet than it was before. Keeping that in mind, we feel it important to mention Concordia in the list of the 20 Worst Law Schools.

With students who have only fair to poor LSAT scores, sagging GPAs, and the fact that they JUST became accredited in 2020, Concordia has remained on the list consistently.

While this can be a huge issue to fix, needing to rectify several citations at a time, Concordia University School of Law seems to be making a genuine effort and showing real progress. Who knows what the future holds for this law school?

10. American University

While they seem to rate a bit less than average on the GPA and LSAT scale standards that have been set, that is really the least of their problems at American University. Statistics show that it is estimated that only about 73% will pass the bar exams for their state if they attend and graduate from this law school. With an acceptance rate of only 48%, you would think they would be doing a bit better, but not so. Only 67% find themselves employed after graduation.

9. Campbell University (Wiggins)

When it comes to the LSATs and student GPA averages, Campbell is ranking, to put it boldly yet politely, way too high for our taste. They find themselves in the 100s on most lists that break things down for law students, and we all know that isn’t good.

With a nearly 60% acceptance rate, they don’t seem too finicky, either. Most graduates from Campbell seem to put out rather average or below average numbers, for the most part, but their first-time bar passage rate isn’t too bad at 75.5%; however, graduates at this school don’t have the best employment outcomes and struggle to get jobs in the legal industry and many people are underemployed.

8. Catholic University of America

Catholic University of America in Columbus makes the list due to several factors, one of which is a slightly below-average post-grad employment rate. While it is higher than some, it simply doesn’t hold up to other law schools with similar numbers score-wise.

The legal institute at Catholic U only accepts about fifteen new applicants per year, which is not a huge number, but their school bar pass rate is fairly low with only about 78% of first-time bar-takers passing the test, especially when compared to the state bar pass rate. Their bar pass rate has actually increased over 7% in the last three years. However, it’s still not where it needs to be to be worth the $57,470 in tuition.

7. Brooklyn Law School

Brooklyn Law School is well-known as a New York school, and many students are attracted to this school because it is in the city, and while the city life might be nice, the school isn’t necessarily worth enrollment.  The first-time bar pass rates are 76.4%, and the employment score is 79%, so they aren’t great, but they could be worse.

This school, according to Top Law Schools has one of the absolute worst curves imaginable, and that’s after being changed recently. The fact of the matter is that the curve at BLS is considered to be one of the very worst in all of New York. With a tuition of $68,321, the bottom line is that while this school certainly doesn’t have the worst overall stats, it’s really not worth the thousands of dollars that students have to pay.

6. Barry University

This Orlando, Florida law school ranks #145 when it comes to selecting its students, according to Public Legal. They accept around 57% of their applicants. Their first-time bar pass rate is a lowly 49.4%. This school also doesn’t have a high employment score, and only about 57% of grads have gotten employment in a full-time legal position, and more than 27% are underemployed, suggesting that the $41,050 tuition may be too much.

They do have a pretty bad student-to-instructor ratio, which likely contributes to this particular university making our list today, as it is difficult to properly train one in anything, much less the complexities of the law, in such large classes that don’t offer high-quality training.

5. Faulkner University

Faulkner University is a private school in Montgomery, Alabama that has a pretty bad reputation among law schools. This school is quite small and only had 50 grads in 2022. The outcomes for these students could be a lot better, especially considering the tuition is nearly $40,000 per year.

Students from Faulkner University have a first-time bar passage rate of only 65.9%, and while that isn’t great, the bigger problem is the employment rates related to this school. Only 52% of students who graduated from this school got full-time legal careers, while only 68% had a full-time job of any kind. 24% of grads were underemployed based on their qualifications.

4. California Western

With a student/faculty ratio of 9.5:1 and a tuition that is scary-high for what they have to offer and the numbers they present, California Western hops on the list pretty easily.

The school has an awful employment score of 50.4% and about 26% of grads are underemployed, meaning the more than 58,000 dollars per year tuition is not at all worth it. If all that isn’t bad enough, only 53.5% of students pass the bar exam the first time.

Simple enough to get into, one shouldn’t expect the best legal education, as their bar passage rate dropped dramatically by approximately 12%. According to the place is “going to the dogs”. Yikes.

3. Appalachian School of Law

Appalachian School of Law doesn’t have very good stats at all. For 2022 graduates, the first-time bar passage rate is a mere 51.2%, and for $41,000 tuition per year, the school’s 60% legal employment score is not encouraging.

The school’s acceptance rate is quite high, and students with low LSAT scores and low undergraduate GPAs can gain entry, so this school doesn’t necessarily have the top students.

Additionally, this school is small, meaning it likely doesn’t have the same amount of resources as most larger schools. Most graduates who attend this school will work for small law firms, while another significant group will choose to have public service careers.

2. Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Cooley Law School is a private law school in Lansing, Michigan that doesn’t quite meet the standards it should, and Western Michigan University Cooley Law School has a long way to go to improve its metrics

The school only has an employment score of 48.4%, and the first-time bar pass rates are even worse at 36%. These stats certainly don’t make the $44,140 tuition at all worth it. It doesn’t get much worse than that. So, once again, WMU Cooley makes the list with flying colors.

1. Texas Southern

Texas Southern was found guilty of not complying with a variety of the Standards. Among the violations was a 501b violation which resulted in them receiving an order to advance with remedial action.

On the sunny side, their LSATs were up this year from last, as were their grade point averages. Since they lost thirty-nine students this year as well, we can honestly say they have put forth an honest effort to improve, but the bottom line is that they simply have a long road ahead of them if they want to dodge further orders of remedial action.

Their first-time bar pass rates are unimpressive at 44.5%, and of 2022 grads, only 48.2% are employed in full-time legal careers, and 22% of grads are underemployed.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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