Yale Law School Celebrates 200 Years of Legal Education

Yale Law School 200: A Legacy of Excellence, A Restless Spirit

Throughout 2024, Yale Law School will mark its bicentennial anniversary with a commemoration of its storied history, current impact, and future vision for legal education. 

What began as a small school by necessity, training apprentices out of a tiny law office in New Haven, today remains small by design in order to foster an intimate intellectual community where big ideas and cutting-edge clinical work thrive. In the two centuries since its founding, Yale Law School has evolved into a pioneering force with a global reach, making an extraordinary impact on the world and training generations of leaders to serve.


“Our bicentennial is a powerful moment to reflect on our legacy, celebrate how far we’ve come, and dream together about our next century,” said Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken. “As we mark this milestone, we can build on our extraordinary strengths — a faculty that is second to none, a deep commitment to service, an eclectic and engaged student body, and a tightly knit alumni community. We are uniquely positioned to help shape the next 200 years of legal education by opening the gates to the profession, expanding our wide-ranging curriculum, and doing everything we can to prepare our graduates for a complex and rapidly changing world.”

To engage its alumni network around the anniversary, Yale Law School will host 14 regional events throughout the year. Yale Law has also launched a 200th-anniversary website to showcase bicentennial news, feature stories, podcasts, Q&As, and videos throughout 2024. Additionally, the Lillian Goldman Law Library will be mounting a series of exhibitions drawn from its collections to celebrate the bicentennial. Alumni Weekend, held in October on Yale Law School’s New Haven campus, will cap off the year’s bicentennial celebrations. 

The 200th anniversary comes as Yale Law School continues its mission to redefine the future of legal education, providing students with an unparalleled educational experience that champions both theory and practice and is grounded in a commitment to scholarly excellence and public service. A series of new initiatives that help expand access to the profession and support students throughout their time in New Haven are aimed at launching them into meaningful careers after graduation.

Our bicentennial is a powerful moment to reflect on our legacy, celebrate how far we’ve come, and dream together about our next century.”

—Dean Heather K. Gerken

In 2023, Yale Law School expanded its groundbreaking, full-tuition Hurst Horizon Scholarship Program, which enables students with significant financial need to attend Yale Law School tuition-free. Yale Law School remains one of only two law schools in the country that provides aid solely based on need. This year, there are 75 Hurst Horizon Scholars at the School who are free to dream big and pursue their passions as a result of this life-changing scholarship program.

Through two innovative pipeline-to-law school programs, the School offers promising students from all backgrounds the support they need to navigate the law school application process from start to finish. Established in 2022, the Launchpad Scholars Program, powered by Latham & Watkins, offers comprehensive LSAT preparation and career mentorship to help break down the barriers that often stand in the way of aspiring law students. The program joins the Access to Law School Program, spearheaded by J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law James Forman Jr. ’92, which aims to serve first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minority students from the New Haven area by lighting up the pathway to fulfilling legal careers.

Yale Law School has also established The Tsai Leadership Program — a bold initiative that builds on the School’s remarkable legacy of excellence and innovation. Launched in 2021, it is one of the most significant programs in the School’s history. The Tsai Leadership Program offers a rigorous, broad-gauged curriculum, professional skills workshops, and networking opportunities to prepare the next generation of dynamic leaders to be ready to tackle pressing challenges in any career they choose.

“These important new programs work in unison to support our students at each phase of their law school journey,” said Gerken. “They’re part of a holistic strategy to prepare every one of our graduates to lead and to serve, in keeping with the finest traditions of our storied institution.” 

For more information about the bicentennial, including events, news and features, videos, podcast episodes, and more, please visit the Yale Law School bicentennial website.