Traditionally, the value of an education has been considered to be grounded in the knowledge gained.  In today’s world, however, the real value is in the potential earnings a graduate can expect.  Here is a list of the top 25 law schools ranked by graduate’s earnings in their early career.

Columbia Law School

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, is professional graduate school of the prestigious Columbia University.  Consistently ranked in U.S. News and World Report top five law schools, Columbia is recognized by professionals as a top-notch institution.

Among the graduates of Columbia Law School is found a plethora of renowned practitioners; nine Supreme Court Justices, Presidential Cabinet members and advisors, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, state Governors and two Presidents of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  There are more Columbia Law School graduates among the Forbes 400 than any other school.

Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School, a graduate school of Stanford University, is located near Palo Alto, California.  Currently at number 2 on the list, it has been ranked in the top three since 1994.  Currently over 500 students are working towards their Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.  Four Masters Degrees are also available at Stanford.

University of Chicago Law School

Founded in 1902 by John D. Rockefeller and a group of donors, University of Chicago ranks as one of the best law schools in the U.S.  University of Chicago is known for its programs dealing with economic analysis of laws.  One of the highest ranking schools for clerkship employment, 15-25% of graduates go straight onto state or federal court clerk positions.

Harvard Law School

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Law School is one of the graduate schools in the Harvard University family.  With a founding year of 1817 it is the oldest law school in the country and known for its academic law library, the largest in the world. With an average class size of 550 students in the three year program, it is one of the largest in the country.

University of Virginia, School of Law

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 as part of his “academical village”, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second oldest in Virginia.  Most notable are the numerous visiting scholars and researches that travel to work in one of the legal research centres.

Duke University School of Law

Also known as Duke Law School or Duke Law, this school is a part of Durham, North Carolina’s Duke University.  Notable alumni include U.S. President Richard Nixon. Founded in 1868 as Trinity College School of Law, it was renamed in 1924.  Duke Law boasts a 95% employment rate at graduation.

New York University School of Law

Located in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York University School of Law was founded in 1835 making it the oldest in New York City.  Most notable for strong academics in international and tax law, the school offers 3 law programs.

Georgetown University School of Law

With its location in Washington, D.C., Georgetown Law is the go-to school for students wanting to be near federal courts, agencies and the Supreme Court.  The school, founded in 1870, offers J.D., LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees.

Yale Law School

Founded in 1824, Yale Law boasts one of the most impressive lists of alumni.  Included are Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Howard Taft who was a professor at Yale before becoming Chief Justice.  The smaller campus of Yale Law School is located in New Haven, Connecticut.

University of Michigan, School of Law

With an enrolment of 1,200 students, the Michigan School of Law offers a good balance to its 81 full-time faculty.  Located in Ann Arbor Michigan the school was founded in 1859.  With an acceptance rate of about 25%, the Michigan School of Law is notoriously hard to get into.

University School of Law

The private North-western School of law was founded in 1859.  With the North Side of Chicago as its home, it is a part of North-western University.  A member of the T-14, it ranks consistently high in many categories.  About 80% of graduates are employed at J.D. required jobs after graduation.

University of California at Berkeley School of Law

With alumni including Chief Justice Earl Warren and Secretary of State, the Berkeley School of law is very prestigious and known for producing leaders in government and law.  The school boasts consistent top rankings and acceptance rates lower than almost all other law schools.

University of Pennsylvania Law School

A typical starting class of only 250 students each year makes this Ivy League school very exclusive.  Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it sits in the birthplace of our country.  It offers the degrees of Juris Doctor, Doctor of the Science of Law, as well as Masters Degrees in Laws and Comparative Laws.

Cornell University Law School

Also known as Cornell Law School, it is a school of private Ivy League Cornell University.

Offering three main degree programs and several degrees in combination with other schools at Cornell, it is one of five Ivy League law schools.  Cornell Law School boasts one of the lowest faculty-to-student ratios at 10.4:1.

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

The oldest law school in the South-western U.S., USC Gould School of Law was established in 1904.  With only about 200 students per year it is also one of the smaller schools.  It offers three programs, alternative dispute resolution, entertainment law and business law.

University of California at Los Angeles School of Law

UCLA School of Law was the first public law school in Southern California.  It is also one of the youngest ranked schools with a founding year of 1949.  With 88 percent of students passing the bar, it is one of the more successful law schools.

University of Texas at Austin School of Law

University of Texas School of Law has a large alumni base with 19,000 living alumni, 4,000 of which are still practicing law.  Since its founding in 1883 the school has enjoyed a reputation for providing a high rate of return on the investment of a degree.  In addition to the Masters of Law and Juris Doctor degrees, there are also dual degree programs available with other University schools.

Fordham University School of Law

Fordham University School of Law or Fordham Law is located in Manhattan, New York City.  With 91% percent of students passing the bar exam, it is placed fifth in New York.  Within 9 months of graduation, 68% of students are working in their field.

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Established in 1913 as part of the University of Utah, the S.J. Quinney College of law is respected for its innovative curriculum and low student-to-faculty ratio.  S.J. Quinney is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

University of California Hastings College of Law

The University of California Hastings College was established by the first Chief Justice of California, Serranus Hastings.  Founded in 1878, it was one of the first in the Western United States and does not share its campus with other programs.

University of San Francisco, School of Law

Founded in 1912, the San Francisco School of law has an average of 700 students. In 1937 it joined the Association of American Law Schools.

Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law

Also known as CUA Law, the school has an average class size of only 150 students.  It is located just miles away from the United States Capitol.  In 2013 49% of graduates were employed in bar required positions within nine months.

Santa Clara University School of Law

Santa Clara University School of Law was established in 1911 as part of the Jesuit University in Santa Clara.  With a focus on social justice and community service, the Jesuit roots are well evidenced.  Doctor of Juris is offered as well as many dual degrees.

University of San Diego, School of Law

Founded in 1954, USD Law obtained ABA approval in 1961.  It is located on a large 182 acre campus in San Diego.  Three or four year programs are available for a Doctor of Juris.

University of Houston Law Centre

With degrees in both Master of Laws and Juris Doctor, the Houston Law Centre is part of the University of Houston and is located on the 667 acre campus.  It was established in 1947 and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.