For the first time in three years, there was some movement at the very top of the U.S. News Best Law Schools rankings. U.S. News also asks law firm hiring managers and recruiters from top-ranked law firms to rank all the law schools on a five-point scale for a new ranking that debuted last year.

Yale Law School took the top spot in the 2013 edition of Best Law Schools, a place it’s held since 1990. But contenders for the next two spots switched, with Stanford Law School outseating Harvard Law School for the first time since 2007. (In 2008 and 2009, the two schools were tied for the No. 2 spot.)

Along with Yale, Stanford, and Harvard, 11 institutions that historically claim the top spots in the U.S. News rankings are known as the top 14 (T14), which isn’t a designation by U.S. News but is widely known in the legal community. Some T14 schools shuffled: The University of California-Berkeley School of Law and the University of Virginia School of Law both moved up two spots to tie with the University of Pennsylvania Law School for 7th, while the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Law School slid from 7th to 10th; Cornell Law School, now ranked 14th, and the Georgetown Law Center, at 13th, switched spots from last year’s list.

Best Law Schools Ranked in 2012

  • 1. Yale University New Haven, CT
  • 2. Stanford University Stanford, CA
  • 3. Harvard University Cambridge, MA
  • 4. Columbia University New York, NY
  • 5. University of Chicago Chicago, IL
  • 6. New York University New York, NY
  • 7. University of California–Berkeley Berkeley, CA
  • 7. University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
  • 7. University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
  • 10. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI

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