Yale Law School’s distinctive approach to legal education is rooted in a commitment to academic excellence, intellectual intimacy, and egalitarianism. This formula is not without cost. Excellence is expensive; intimacy requires that we forego the larger class sizes that are the easy route to increased revenues; egalitarianism requires that we open the doors to those students who have the most to gain from this School, and the most to give to it, regardless of their means.

A world leader in legal education.

Out of more than 170 law schools in the U.S., Yale Law School is unique:

  • Our small classes, with a student-faculty ratio of approximately 8:1.
  • Our students, who not only have the highest test scores and GPAs, but who are also optimistic, diverse, and committed to making a difference in the world.
  • Our world-class faculty, who gather every Monday during the academic year for lunch to discuss each other’s work, who have won award after award, and who are regarded as leaders in their fields.
  • Our rich curriculum, which has been constantly evolving since the 1930s. The Law School is now a renowned center of constitutional law, taxation, commercial law, antitrust, and law and economics as well as of corporate finance, environmental law, and international law and human rights.
  • Co-curricular enrichment, which includes almost twenty exceptional clinical programs and more than fifty student organizations in addition to daily lectures and workshops involving notable alumni, practitioners, academics, and members of the judiciary.

A place where important connections are made and students are challenged not just to study the world, but to change it.

Somewhere along the way, during the anxious days and nights of a first-year student, comes the realization that the real prize of admission lies in the opportunity to spend time with peers whom they will enjoy and learn from for three years and then relish for a lifetime.

  • It is a welcoming, intimate, and engaged community that perpetuates faith in the notion that talking and listening, reason and reflection, are the most powerful tools at the disposal of any lawyer and where lifelong friendships are formed.
  • It is connecting with society and the world because we have long been committed to the deliberate use of law as an instrument of social, economic, and political improvement, believing that every lawyer is a trustee for the common good with a duty to actively work toward its advancement.

Preeminence in legal scholarship and learning is not a foregone conclusion.

Perhaps the biggest misconception among alumni is that Yale Law School is supported by the larger Yale University and its extraordinary endowment. In fact, Yale Law School is responsible for preserving its future. It is financially independent of the University; it administers its own budget and maintains its own endowment, which is invested as part of the larger University endowment. Funds raised by the Law School benefit only the Law School.

The Law School draws on revenue from three main sources: tuition, income from endowment, and gifts for current use. Tuition contributes approximately 33 percent of revenue, the Law School endowment provides 52 percent of revenue, and current use gifts from alumni and friends provide most of the balance of annual revenue.

  • Academic excellence and intimacy are expensive. That means committing to maintaining a faculty of the highest order, but recruiting and retaining the best faculty has never been more costly. The School’s identity and reputation for academic excellence is inextricably bound with its small size, but it has resisted at every turn the urge to grow the student body, though succumbing would certainly increase revenue.
  • A thoughtful and wise investment. The motivations for supporting Yale Law School are varied and personal. The education of our graduates is undeniably expensive to achieve. It is equally undeniable that the return on investment is extraordinary for they serve as leaders in every imaginable sector, enjoy satisfying professional lives, are active leaders in their communities; and for the most part they are as materially successful as they wish to be. Each gift impacts the life of a student and every graduate touches the lives of countless others. So each gift has an immediate return and a payoff that will grow exponentially over time. This is why Yale Law School is a worthy endeavor.

Your Gift Matters

Because of the continued support of alumni and friends, Yale Law School trains and inspires the next generation of leading legal minds. Learn how your gift impacts the lives our current students, faculty, and alumni.

Now it is time to pivot and ask, where are your extraordinary gifts needed? How do you make this legal world that you are entering a better world? One where no one is shut out; one where the weak and vulnerable are not exploited; one that produces fair results based on the merits of the issues before it.”

Visiting Lecturer Stephen Bright

2012 Commencement Address