World law school rankings: Harvard beats Oxbridge again

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Ivy League player outperforms UK counterparts for fourth consecutive year

Harvard University

Harvard has once again beaten Oxford and Cambridge in this year’s world law school rankings.

Oxford and Cambridge place second and third, respectively, for law, in the 2021 QS World University Rankings, leaving Ivy League player Harvard to take the top spot for the fourth consecutive year.

The rankings, which cover 51 subjects, are based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. This year’s findings draw on responses from over 100,000 academics and 50,000 graduate employers worldwide.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Law School Most Lists

The next few spots remain unchanged, with US law schools Yale and Stanford again placing fourth and fifth, respectively, and LSE coming in sixth place.

Rounding off the top ten were the law schools of Columbia (seventh), New York University (eighth), California University, Berkeley (ninth) and the National University of Singapore, which made its first ever top ten appearance.

Other notable UK law schools to feature in this year’s list include UCL (15th), King’s College London (16th), Edinburgh University (23rd) and Queen Mary (29th).

QS World University Rankings — Top 10 for law:

Rank Law school Overall score (out of 100)
1 Harvard University 99.9
2 University of Oxford 96.7
3 University of Cambridge 96.4
4 Yale University 94
5 Stanford University 92.4
6 LSE 89.9
7 Columbia University 88.9
8 New York University 88.6
9 University of California, Berkeley 88.1
10 National University of Singapore 86.3

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Controversial opinion

Imagine not going to one of the top 10 universities for law… a sure sign of intellectual mediocrity.

(This is especially directed at those chippy Warwickers and Durhamites.)



Studying at Warwick is the legal equivalent of driving a Ford Focus.



More Warwick grads end up in top law firms and the top 4 accounting firms and IB firms etc

You might not like the uni and tbh most Warwick students don’t even like Warwick uni but you can’t deny that the employability prospects are high.



whoever spam disliked the comment is such a loser looool

What a cretin



I’ve seen fewer Warwick, Bristol and LSE grads at top firms and other grad schemes than Oxbridge.


@ Dan

I am the 5:07pm commenter.

Upon reflection, I was wrong.

There are definitely way more Warwick, Bristol and LSE grads at top firms and other grad schemes than Oxbridge.

The legal cheek firms section provides a pie chart which substantiates this as it clearly shows that there are more top russel group recruits at firms than Oxbridge and I now realise I was speaking out of where the sun does not shine rather than using my 1 brain cell.


Same as Bristol Uni tbf, the employability prospects seem really good.

I’ve seen more Warwick and Bristol grads at top firms and other grad schemes than Oxbridge and LSE



I’ve seen loadsss of Bristol students on vac schemes last summer and the winter vac scheme just gone


do “top firms” include any commercial firm that happens to be in the City? because I don’t think that what you said is true for MC and elite US firms. LSE’s representation does vary a bit depending on the firm but Oxbridge are always #1 and #2.

Also keep in mind that Warwick and Bristol have much bigger law cohorts than Oxbridge and LSE – almost twice the size


imagine being proud of ending up at CMS or PwC

can’t deny the IB presence but Warwick isn’t even that special elsewhere



As a former warwicker myself, I agree with the law school is mediocre. That said, my Warwick friends and I are currently at MC or V10 US firms.



True, but I hired someone from Oxbridge to drive that Ford Focus for me.



Wholeheartedly disagree. Warwick and Durham provide excellent training to legal clerks. They are top-notch instead of mediocre.



Does it count if I read for a degree in history at Oxford. That means I am a good lawyer right? Right?





sixth former

Why do people bash Warwick so often?



Why do people bash Durham so often? A league above Warwick.



Was it Oxford or Cambridge that you failed to get into, pray tell?



Even people at Warwick bash Warwick. It’s a rubbish uni.

The employability prospects are good but they have no regard for their students.

They are constantly involved in some controversy.



You rarely encounter Warwick grads in intellectually demanding jobs.


Make it make sense

Then why are there so many of them in top city firms and top 4 accounting firms and IB firms….



Anon said intellectually demanding job


There are so few Warwick graduates at the Bar, top City firms, top 4 accounting firms and IB firms.


Fact Checker

LinkedIn says otherwise


LinkedIn says there are so few Warwick graduates at the Bar, top City firms, top 4 accounting firms and IB firms.


I’m the 3:50pm and 4:29pm commenter

Anyways I take back what I said.

You were right.

I was wrong.

I apologise for being an insufferable mimicking troll but I have no life so this is where I get my gratification. If I don’t spam the dislike button and write dumb comments I’ll get blue balls.

Anyways, I am truly sorry for being such an imbecile and upon reflection, Warwick and other top Russel group unis are equally good and very good for employability.

Enjoy your day fact checker.

Fact Checker

@ anon

No worries, it takes a decent person to admit when they’re wrong.

Here’s a little tip: if you’re struggling to find a life and friends outside the Legal Cheek domain, try being less cunty. That will help x

Law MC

Warwick law graduates are very good at ticking boxes, due to their rigorous training by way of multiple choice questions in different assessments.

One obvious weakness, however, is that for each question you must provide not more than 4 choices to them. Otherwise, they don’t know how to process.


Law Mc

Simply because it is hugely overrated. A dog is never a wolf let alone a tiger.

Warwick law is mediocre, not impressive. How could I justify myself to hire someone who is mediocre to handle my case when dispute arises?


Kirkland NQ

Harvard is definitely a “nice to have” on the CV, but after being scouted mid-way through my first lecture there, my learning has all taken place at the ‘land (i.e. the Church of PE).



Agreed. Harvard law school academics are only lawyers who lacked the right stuff to make it at the ‘land. Everyone knows the best legal minds are the ones crunching deals at 4am.

I used to become so restless and agitated when my Oxford tutors insisted on poring over the finer details of property and criminal law as if any of them mattered when I knew there were listed fundraisings and private PE deals waiting for my input.

A grounding in contract law and a copy of the Companies Act 2006 and the Listing Rules are all you need to make it in the law but if you’re not working off pure commercial legal instinct then you’re in the wrong career.


MA Cantab

At least Oxbridge doesn’t have a ‘legacy’ system where thickies get in because a parent went.

You need $$$$$$$$$$$$ for Harvard. I will always commend Oxbridge for challenging candidates intellectually at interview and not giving a fig how much their parents earn. As it should be.


BA (Cantab.)


A solid in depth Oxbridge education will always be better than this arty farty indecisive liberal arts crap the Yanks like. You actually leave university an expert in your subject.


BA Jurisprudence

You are absolutely not an ‘expert’ in law by virtue of having an Oxbridge undergraduate degree in the subject.



Oxford Brookes doesn’t count as Oxbridge, if that’s what you’re thinking of.


Man with an opinion

I think it’s very brave of you to suggest an undergraduate degree anywhere is even slightly indicative of “expertise” today.

Top brass will have a phd and a couple years of experience before they can even begin to be consider anything near an authority.



True. A first in Contract law doesn’t equivalent to an expert in Contract law at all. It represents a relatively solid building block in term of the peers only.


Scouser of Counsel

I’m not sure that’s necessarily true.

On the Bar Course I met someone who had been to the same Oxbridge college as their Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather.

Of course I cannot discount the possibility that they all got in on merit alone.


MA Cantab

I knew one too at the commercial bar who was the fourth generation of his family to go to Oxbridge.

That’s down to parental expectations to apply and likely a LOT of parental help with subject choice and interview prep. The academic doing the interview won’t know that a candidate’s parent went, as they would at Harvard.

There are anti-corruption measures in place too to stop businessmen from buying colleges libraries/pools to get their kids in.

Oxbridge academics have no time for whinging rich brats who aren’t going to do any essays for them. Nothing worse for them than trying to teach stupid.



This is going to change now that Oxford has started handed out places based on post-codes and virtue signalling. The Oxbridge entrance outcomes from the top private school this years were a disgrace; poor kids rejected on grounds other than ability.


BA (Cantab.)

You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.

This is due to better contextual assessment, as well as the rise of better state schools that are able to finesse the admissions system in a way that hitherto only private schools have been able to really do to great effect. See this very new article:

And there’s no substantive difference in performance when actually at Oxbridge between private and state schooled pupils – the most firm indication that you and people who say the same kind of thing are talking complete nonsense.


MA Cantab

It’s always the people who haven’t been that seem to criticise the Oxbridge system the most. All bets are off once it’s you and the academic in that interview room.

Absolutely no way in Hell is an academic going to take on a student who can’t do the essays, needs daily hand-holding and who will cause nothing but problems, just because of the school they went to. These academics ultimately want an easy life to be able to do their research.

It makes zero sense to claim that private school candidates are somehow ‘favoured’ by Oxbridge. They only want the people who will get on with work independently and who are smart enough to cope, not entitled people looking for CV points.



Only a Sith deals in absolutes.


Hand Solo

Ah! Obi Wanker-Nob-EE, I presume?


The interview system suits private school candidates. They have grown up experiencing that style of assessment through their lessons etc. When a state school student (by this I mean bad/average comp, not a good grammar) goes into interview, it’s the first time they’ve ever been in a situation like that. It’s really, really ignorant to say that private school candidates don’t have a huge advantage in that regard. Granted, aside from introducing paper tests etc, which they have, there’s not much the universities can do about it. They need a way to distinguish candidates and unfortunately most of those ways will favour the cocky darling from a brilliant school.


MA Cantab

I tutored to get money for living costs before the GDL.

There are thousands of entitled kids from private schools who only pass A Levels because tutors are literally writing every essay for them and sitting with them every time they get a homework task.

These people would also apply to Oxbridge for their CV, but would fail at interview because they hadn’t even bothered to read the books on their personal statement. Can you imagine how they would have coped if someone asked them to research and write an essay on their own?

My college was over 70% state-school pupils, with many of my friends from state schools getting 1sts and academic prizes.

Do you think most academics there are privately educated? They only want people who love the subject as they do. It really isn’t their fault that more private students apply than state ones.


BA Cantab is talking nonsense. Both unis are now operating discriminatory application processes against private school applicants and the data are horrible from this year. Students from certain schools are being required to obtain unobtainable grade levels to the point that the schools are telling students not to bother with Oxbridge having been on Oxbridge track for years. That is all the harder when the national examination system is so watered down now that it provides no meaningful differentiation among the best of the best.



Exactly. We are soon moving to a time when we will need to know schools as well as unis as a Russell Group first from a student form a top public school will be worth more than an Oxbridge 1st from a state school applicant who got selected because of social justice discrimination.


MA Cantab

What ‘social justice discrimination’?

I tutored more private school kids than I could count who hadn’t read any of the books they named on their personal statement before their Oxbridge interview. Most knew nothing about the course they were so ‘passionate’ about studying.

THAT is why they didn’t get in. Why should an academic give a place at Oxford or Cambridge to anyone who can’t be bothered to read a book?? Because Mummy and Daddy have money, so it’s the academic’s job to get their kid’s degree for them???


I can’t believe people actually think like this. I don’t think they have any idea of the advantages private school candidates have – probably as they’re all privately educated themselves.

Oxbridge Grad

This is nonsense? I can’t believe it got so many upvotes.

Even if it were true (which it’s not) that sub-par state schoolers were undeservingly handed places at Oxbridge, they would still have to compete on a level playfield once there to achieve a First.

Bit of cognitive dissonance methinks.

Stephen Bluestone

Oxbridge teaches English law based on English history of years and precedent.
Harvard teaches law based on English law with a whip of American law.

They teach different courses for different countries. One cannot compare the two. Oxford wins for me.


Metal Minnie

You have to work harder throughout your time at Harvard because of the Socratic lectures. In Oxford you can slack and then cram.


Harry H.

Speaking from intuition – which, let’s face it, most of us are – the most notable thing about this list is LSE at No. 6.

Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and Stanford are all exceptional academic institutions. Columbia at No. 7 is a bit of a strange one – on one hand, it’s clearly not in the same league as the first 5. But on the other hand, it does have a noted prestige when it comes to law.

I feel happy for LSE that it came above Columbia. But the main take-home for me is the chasm between the top 5 and the rest.



LSE’s law department may not be on the level of the ones above it but can you really claim that it deserves to come much lower? Looking further down, the strong law schools I’m seeing are Columbia, Chicago, Melbourne, Berkeley and UCL. LSE is on par with them. We can argue semantics and rejig that part of the ranking a bit (I’d say that Columbia > LSE) but the ballpark is more or less right.



The thing about these sorts of conversations is that people talk about these things with no real knowledge of anything, including you interesting. You’ve listed all these law schools from around the world, and I doubt you have studied at all of them. You are probably not an academic and have not worked there, nor have you hired people from these law schools. You probably also haven’t actually completed an exercise to compare them looking at the quality of the research output or the teaching. You are just saying what you think feels right to you, which is complete nonsense and irrelevant. The only rankings UK students should concern themselves are the UK ones, and should look at the 4 available along with speaking to professionals.



You don’t need to taste your own faeces before understanding that it is inedible.


Harry H.

To “Interesting” @5.23pm.

I wasn’t suggesting that LSE “deserves to come much lower”. Rather, the point I was making is that there is a huge gulf between Stanford @ No. 5 on the list and LSE @ No.6.


Law Bull

Wow! What an observation? That’s an achievement you can put into your CV when you are applying for a cleaner job in Stanford or LSE.


Just my view

Speaking as someone who has studied on both sides of the Atlantic, I reckon Stanford should be no.2.



Does it really matter what uni you go to?

I mean there’s grads from Leicester uni who end up in Magic Circle firms and Latham/Kirkland.

Eventually we all end up in the same place



That’s why a lot of people are triggered.

They hate the fact that they gave their life and soul and worked excessively hard and put in so much time and effort to get into the likes of Oxbridge and LSE…

only to turn up at their TC or whatever else grad role and see the Leicester Uni grad doing the same job as them and likely even outperforming them.

Gotta hurt right



I’ve seen Aston uni, De’Monford, Coventry etc grads getting TCs at top city firms including MC and US.

The game has changed now. Your university name isn’t going to carry you throughout your career anymore.



This is all true. Did a vac scheme at one of the US firms mentioned and was very surprised by the diversity of universities the trainees attended. Admittedly, those from universities like Aston (remember a trainee from there) were probably the best in their year, but the point still stands. Everyone bangs on about universities in the LC comments but they’re really quite meaningless now.

It is perhaps relevant for a career at the commercial bar. However, people I know who went to the commercial bar were pretty much all from the same background – rich and well connected, public school/top private school, Oxbridge first, etc. And, if I’m being honest, there’s not really a debate to be had there because it’s such a small, elitist bubble that it’s irrelevant for almost the entire student population. Those kids were always going to be successful in one way or another.


Magic Oval

I’ve yet to see any of this university-related diversity in my MC firm. About a third of my intake is Oxbridge, the rest are LSE-UCL-St.Andrew’s-Warwick-Nottingham-Durham-Exeter etc. There are a couple of foreign unis and that rounds it off. I don’t think there’s a single ex-poly grad in a cohort of 40+.

I do appreciate that some US firms are very diverse in how they recruit (Latham, Gibson Dunn), but most aren’t. The typical elite US firms probably recruit from a smaller selection of unis than even the MC do. Not many Aston graduates at Skadden, Weil, Kirkland, etc.

come on now

the % of Oxbridge and LSE students who end up at these firms is much, much higher than the % of Leicester/Aston/crap uni students…

yes, the odd fish may slip through the net, often after it has topped its year, worked in another job or done a Master’s, but it doesn’t change the rule…

also, @ this entire thread: people pick unis based on factors other than “employability” and “prestige”



Probably why everyone at the MC is so unhappy tbh. Imagine being surrounded by that many oxbridge grads, the thought of it makes me nauseous.



Hardly surprising that the top firms hire Oxbridge graduates, since they are the cleverest and best educated people.


Law Bull

Absolutely. Once upon a time, a priest in my Church told me that an Oxbridge graduate has higher chance to go to heaven.

Where is Durham?

Where is Durham?


Geography Fan

It is in North Carolina.



this comment needs more upvotes


Law Bull

Please, it definitely out of the picture when one pursuits his career outside the GB. Oxbridge/ LSE and perhaps UCL are the only ones in the UK that are counted in if you are serious. Btw, law is serious.

Durham/ Bristol/ KCL/ Manchester/ Warwick/ Nottingham/ Queenmary, despite ranked within top 100 in the world for law, are another tier.



Why would anyone want to study law at university? How boring.



What do you study big man


BA (Oxon)

Boo hoo

Doo doo

Poo poo



Can I just say UCL > LSE



Said no one ever



I have to choose between LSE, UCL, and King’s next year, and every single ranking I’ve ever seen apart from this has UCL above LSE.



I went through the same process 3 years ago. You are speaking absolute shite.


Just My View

Whatever the merits of them both, LSE just produces too many arseholes.

Law Bull

Yes, in term of the size of campus if this is what you mean by ‘>’.



So many big firms, in their drive for inclusivity and tackling unconscious bias are taking measures to anonymise schools/unis and even grades as part of their application procedures. Whilst these institutions no doubt give you a first rate education, the mere fact that you went to one won’t be the advantage that it was in a few years. And good thing too.


You Are Wong

People don’t go to those unis just for the name, the difference in opportunities will still create a divide generally although I don’t disagree that it will remove some bias and stereotyping.


Law H

People don’t go to universities for opportunities. Let’s put it simply, nowadays we go there for fun and a degree certificate only.

After a few years of work after graduation, you will find the connection you made in the University is bull shit. Business is about benefits not where you attended your university.



okay Warwick …
…so you might get a decent shot at Simmons now
…whoopie dee doo


Smug toff from Trinity

Okay, we get it, you didn’t try very hard at school and now you spend your days stressing whether Birmingham is good enough to get you into a ‘top law firm’. Maybe if you’d studied harder you wouldn’t have to worry about your job prospects later on in life.



Like a first from a former poly is the same as a first from Oxbridge! My bias is conscious and rational. Knowing what uni someone went to is a critical part of assessing the applicant, especially because the best unis invest a lot of energy in selecting the best candidates and it makes sense to leverage off that process.



Quite. I am a member of my chambers’ pupillage committee. We consciously discriminate against non-Oxbridge graduates. This is entirely rational. Sure, someone from Warwick might turn out to be as able as an Oxford graduate but, given the financial investment which self-employed tenants are making in pupils, we would be taking an unjustified risk in preferring the Warwick graduate – a person who is objectively less intelligent – over the Oxford graduate, who is not only objectively much brighter but who experience tells us will be of the requisite quality.



True, but in a few years we will have to also look at schools too and weight that in. Those from the better public schools denied entry by the new discriminatory entry systems to Oxbridge will never have had the chance to get into Oxbridge and will need to be taken into account.



Yes, and someone from a decent public school and Oxbridge is the very much the safest bet all round.


You’re not a member of a pupillage committee.


Law MC

I don’t doubt this. There are way too many law graduates compared to a few decades ago. Even Oxbridge alone produces more than 500 UG and PG final year law students every year, right? This explains why non Oxbridge find themselves in a more difficult position than their alumni.



Oxford and Cambridge are a league apart from all other universities. Oxbridge graduates are the intellectual cream of their generation.

That said, you don’t need to be bright to be a solicitor. If you do corporate or other non-contentious work, you just cobble together boilerplate documents and never encounter the law. Litigators simply delegate the legal analysis and drafting to counsel and sit at the back of court. So yes, even Coventry and Warwick graduates can do that. The Commercial Bar is a different world. Hence the Oxbridge domination.



There’s this guy on LC who posts this comment or something similar on EVERY article about universities. You can tell because they always use the same language and, in some cases, the same sentences.

Genuinely bizarre. You’re self esteem must be so low to be posting stuff like this in multiple articles.



The data from the US tend to show that there is little evidence that there is a benefit to attorneys at having IQs above 120 or 125. Those with higher IQs than that did not perform better in their career progression and income than those the 120/125 cohort. Clients are probably better off with a lawyer who is sane balanced and clever than someone with the IQ of 160 and made as a box of frogs and lacks basic social skills.


An actual US attorney

Actually, the US data shows that the higher your IQ, the more likely you are to succeed in the legal profession. Who would have thought that the cleverest and best educated would achieve the most in an intellectually demanding job!



It’s worse than poor ‘social skills’.

Some of the super-high IQ ones you get at the commercial bar are notorious for harassment, temper tantrums and off-colour remarks.

Solicitors need them of course for the work, but will try to keep client contact with them to the bare minimum.



Actually, it’s the lower IQ barristers – those doing work other than Commercial or Chancery – who have conduct issues, because they are insecure. The Commercial Bar, being very bright, have no chips on their shoulders, and form easy working relationships with solicitors and lay clients.

i'm a trainee at a mid-sized City firm and I don't even disagree with your comment

I mean where is the lie tho

the biggest brains in law firms sit in tricky advisory seats like tax

and that’s just a sad, sad thing to think about


Old Guy

Man your first paragraph is complete tosh. And yet you managed to surpass that with the rubbish in the second paragraph.



A perusal of LinkedIn indicates that
there are fewer Warwick grads at top City firms, accountancy firms and banks than those from other universities, and that Oxbridge grads dominate in these fields.



I think chambers did an investigation into which universities are represented most at city firms. It was about 11% Oxford, 10% Cambridge, 8% Durham, and Bristol/Nottingham/London making up the rest at about 5%

Wow. Going to Oxbridge gives you THAT higher a chance of ‘domination’ in these industries. Utter domination indeed.

Ah yes, here it is



The reason why you see the scrub tier unis up there is because their cohort is much larger



The comments in these articles are always so entertaining. You’ve got the pro-Oxbridge brigade who derive all their self worth from a university, up against the bitter Oxbridge-reject, Russel group grads. Both sides are equally tragic and hilarious.


Forever Associate

I did not got to a very impressive UK university. Thankfully for my career, I had a number of very close friends that did.

It is true you do not need to be academically brilliant to be a lawyer. If you finish with a 2:1, are willing to work 12 hour days and maintain relative attention to detail on mind numbing task is than you can at least make it through the qualification process and first 3 years of PQE.

The value in attracting the Oxbridge/Harvard Yale Stanford types is the social connections. Grads from these universities are significantly more likely to be in positions of power at major banks, companies, etc. Rightly or wrongly, they just are. And they’re likely to instruct their mate from halls that wound up as a lawyer. I have had way more new client instructions as a result of boozy lunch introductions made through my Oxbridge friends than any blasted law firm article or webinar I was involved with. It’s also the same reason why grad rec usually prefers grads from wealthy/professional backgrounds. Wealthy families typically have wealthy neighbours and family friends. It’s clearly not a requirement to be a lawyer, but it’s why it seems so much easier for some (both to start the journey and to make partner). It’s a tough reality but a reality all the same.


Law MC

Oxford/ Cambridge
Lancaster/ LSE/ UCL
The rest are trash


northern shame




Snuck Lancaster in there didn’t you lmfao


Law MC

That’s what I heard from a Lancaster law graduate who I came across with. When I casted doubt on this, she referred me to the league table. Her LinkedIn profile even explicitly stated she graduated from a UK Top 10 law school.



haha guess she took the Guardian at face value


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