Northwestern University School of Law

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Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Northwestern University Seal.svg
Motto Quaecumque sunt vera (Latin)

Ὁ Λόγος πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας - Ho logos pleres charitos kai aletheias (Greek)
Whatsoever things are true (Philippians 4:8 AV)

The word full of grace and truth (Gospel of John 1:14)
Established 1859
School type Private
Parent endowment US $7.9 billion
Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez, Harold Washington Professor
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA
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Enrollment 781[1]
Faculty 185[1]
USNWR ranking 12[1]
Bar pass rate 95.96%[1]
ABA profile Northwestern Law Profile
Northwestern Law

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is a private American law school in Chicago, Illinois. Located in the North Side's Streeterville, it is one of the twelve constituent schools of Northwestern University. The law school was founded in 1859 as the Union College of Law of the Old University of Chicago.[2] The first law school established in Chicago, it became jointly controlled by Northwestern University in 1873 and fully incorporated into Northwestern in 1891. Northwestern Law is a member of the "T-14" law schools, a prestigious group of 14 schools that enjoy national recognition.[3] The law school was ranked 12th by the 2012 Edition of US News and World Report guide to the nation's top law schools.[3]

According to Northwestern's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 79.2% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[4]


File:NLU Levy Meyer.JPG
Entrance to Levy-Meyer Hall

Northwestern Law is located on Northwestern University's downtown campus in Chicago's Streeterville/Gold Coast neighborhood. The law school is on Lake Shore Drive and Chicago Avenue, adjacent to Lake Shore Park and Lake Michigan. It is a few blocks from the John Hancock Center, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower, Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier.


Admission to Northwestern Law is extremely competitive. For the class entering in the fall of 2012, 1,040 out of 4,390 applicants (24%) were offered admission, with 259 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2012 entering class were 164 and 171, respectively, with a median of 170.[5] The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.38 and 3.84, respectively, with a median of 3.75.[6]

The School’s practical philosophy is manifested in a strong preference for applicants with at least two years of work experience. Approximately 90% of the school's students enter with at least one year of full-time work experience; 70% possess more than two years of experience.[7] In this respect, Northwestern Law is similar to many business schools.


According to Northwestern's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 79.2% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[4] Northwestern's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 8.8%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[8]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Northwestern for the 2013-2014 academic year is $76,382.[9] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $292,586.[10]

Degree programs

Northwestern University School of Law offers several degree programs.

JD programs

The primary program is the juris doctor (JD), a degree comprising 86 semester hours of credit that full-time students may complete in three years. During the first year, students take a combination of required classes and electives. The second and third year offer more flexibility in planning the student's curriculum as there is only one mandatory class. Students can choose a general course of study or decide to concentrate in one of five areas. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Bluhm Legal Clinic, serve on one of the law school’s scholarly journals, audition for one of the law school's trial or moot court teams, or study abroad through the International Team Project program.

To be considered for the JD program, students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or expect to finish one by the end of the academic year in which they apply.

Accelerated JD

The Accelerated JD (AJD) Program, in its fourth year as of May 2012, became a permanent fixture of the Law School by unanimous faculty approval in February 2012.[11] Students enrolled in the AJD program complete the same number of credit hours as traditional, three-year JD students in five semesters instead of six.

Accelerated JD students begin classes in May, completing six courses during the first summer. They join the three-year JD students during the fall and spring semesters, and work during their second summer. They then return to the Law School for two more semesters and graduate in May, two calendar years after they begin. This faster pace means AJD students must take, on average, one additional class per semester, though AJDs have the opportunity to select from the full range of electives offered by the Law School, as well as participate in all extracurricular and co-curricular activities, including journals, trial team, moot court, clinics, and student organizations.

AJD students participate in the Fall On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) process upon completion of their first term, with one semester of grades. AJDs thus receive the same 2L summer employment and permanent employment opportunities and benefits as three-year JD students.

Prospective students are required to complete either an on-campus or off-campus interview as part of the application process. Applicants must have at least two years of substantive post-undergraduate work experience, preferably in a non-legal setting, and ideally have demonstrated managerial and leadership experience to qualify for the program. Applicants may take either the LSAT or the GMAT. Prior classes have comprised students with diverse professional backgrounds in non-profit/government, finance/banking/real estate, consulting, technology/health/science/manufacturing, and media and entertainment.[12]

Joint-Degree programs

Northwestern Law offers a number of joint-degree programs:

  • JD-PhD, with one of Northwestern's graduate schools (the program typically providing full funding—including tuition and living expenses)


The JD-MBA Program is a dual-degree program administered by both the law school and the Kellogg School of Management. The Northwestern JD-MBA program is completed in 3 years, as opposed to the four years required at most other institutions. Students graduate with both a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The program has a unique application process among JD-MBA programs, in that there is a single admissions application and the GMAT is required, but not the LSAT. The JD-MBA program enrolls, on average, 25 students per year.

LLM Programs

The nine-month general LLM Program enrolls graduates of foreign law schools, giving them an opportunity to expand their knowledge of American law and legal processes, continue their studies in international law, and engage in comparative legal research. Graduates of the program represent more than 50 countries and hold positions in many areas of practice.

Executive LLM

Northwestern Law also offers Executive LLM Programs for working legal and business professionals in Europe, Korea, and the Middle East. The programs, designed specifically for professionals who can not or do not wish to undertake a full-time Master of Laws (LLM) degree in the United States or elsewhere, are made possible through partnerships with the KAIST Business School in Seoul, South Korea, the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel.


The Tax Program provides a foundation in the principal areas of tax law and complex tax transactions. Individuals who already hold a JD degree can enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis to receive the LLM degree. Practicing attorneys may also take courses on a non-degree basis to refine their knowledge in specialized areas of the tax law. Current law students can participate in the joint JD-LLM program and receive a JD and LLM in seven semesters.

Full-time students typically enroll in one elective course in the fall semester and three elective courses in the spring semester to satisfy the LLM degree requirements. The required courses encompass the four principal areas of modern tax law – Taxation of Property Transactions, Corporate Taxation, Partnership Taxation, and International Taxation. Full-time students enroll in Taxation of Property Transactions and the basic courses in corporate, partnership, and international taxation during the fall semester and the advanced courses in corporate and partnership taxation during the spring semester. Students must also complete at least one additional course in international taxation by enrolling in Transfer Pricing, Controlled Foreign Corporations, Advanced International Corporate Tax Problems, International Estate Planning, or Tax Treaties.

Accelerated LLM

The Accelerated Summer LLM Program (ALLM) is a 15-week intensive LLM degree program that will bring together legal professionals from diverse non-U.S. jurisdictions to study at Northwestern Law in Chicago. Accelerated LLM students will study legal issues relating to business law, with particular focus on transnational matters.

Master of Science in Law

The Master of Science in Law program launched in the fall of 2014.[13] Designed specifically for professionals with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine, the program provides focused training in the areas of intellectual property and patent design, business law and entrepreneurship, and regulatory analysis and strategy.[14]


The law school sponsors six student-run scholarly legal journals. Student staff members are selected based on a writing competition, editing competition, and first-year grades, or a publishable note or comment on a legal topic.[15]

Northwestern University Law Review

The Northwestern University Law Review was first published in 1906 when it was called the "Illinois Law Review." Prior editors include: Roscoe Pound, long-time dean of Harvard Law School; Judge Robert A. Sprecher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens; Dean James A. Rahl; Illinois Governor Daniel Walker; and former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Newton N. Minow; US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Presidential Candidate Adlai Stevenson.

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property

The Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property addresses subjects relating to law at the intersection of technology and intellectual property, including law and biotechnology, copyrights, the Internet, media, patents, telecommunications, and trademarks.

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

The School states that its Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology "is one of the most widely read and widely cited publications in the world".[16] It is the second most widely subscribed journal published by any law school in the country.[16] It is one of the most widely circulated law journals in the country.[16] The journal was founded in 1910 by Dean John Henry Wigmore.[17]

Journal of Law and Social Policy

The Journal of Law and Social Policy is an interdisciplinary journal that explores the impact of the law on different aspects of society. Topics covered include race, gender, sexual orientation, housing, immigration, health care, juvenile justice, voting rights, family law, civil rights, poverty, the environment, and privacy rights.[18]

Journal of International Law and Business

The Journal of International Law and Business has a substantive focus on private international law, as opposed to public international law or human rights. It seeks scholarship analyzing transnational and international legal problems and their effect on private entities. The Journal's stated goal is to promote an understanding of the future course of international legal developments as they relate to private entities.[19]

Journal of International Human Rights

The Journal of International Human Rights (JIHR) is an interdisciplinary journal dedicated to providing a dynamic forum for the discussion of human rights issues and international human rights law.[20] The Journal seeks contributions from professionals, scholars, and experienced field workers of every background, including but not limited to law, business, political science, public policy, economics, sociology, religion, and international relations. In addition to publication, the Journal seeks to promote the discussion of international human rights law by organizing semi-annual Symposia and a Speaker Series.

Pritzker Legal Research Center

The Pritzker Legal Research Center fulfills the research and information needs of the faculty and students of Northwestern Law. The Center is named after the Pritzker family, the Chicago family that is known for its international philanthropy. Jay A. Pritzker (1922-1999) graduated from Northwestern University in 1941 and Northwestern University School of Law in 1947.

Bluhm Legal Clinic

Clinical education at Northwestern began in 1910 when Dean John Henry Wigmore developed a program with the Chicago Legal Aid Society that evolved into the Bluhm Legal Clinic. The clinic opened its doors in 1969 with two staff attorneys and 12 students. Today, more than 20 clinical professors mentor over 120 students who take clinical courses each year. Each center within the Clinic operates as a quasi-law firm, wherein students assist clients with practical legal matters under the tutelage of full-time faculty from the School.

Center on Wrongful Convictions

The Center on Wrongful Convictions[21] is dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other serious miscarriages of justice.

The Center includes faculty, staff, cooperating outside attorneys, and Bluhm Legal Clinic students investigate possible wrongful convictions and represent imprisoned clients with claims of actual innocence. The Center also focuses on identifying systemic problems in the criminal justice system and, together with the community services component, on developing initiatives designed to raise public awareness of the prevalence, causes, and social costs of wrongful convictions and promote reform of the criminal justice system. In addition, the community services component helps exonerated former prisoners cope with the difficult process of reintegration into free society.

The Supreme Court Clinic

Northwestern offers a Supreme Court Clinic, allowing second- and third-year students the opportunity to work on cases pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. The clinic is run by Carter Phillips, from Sidley Austin's Washington, D.C. office.

Federal Appellate Clinic

The Federal Appellate Clinic[22] allows third-year students to obtain provisional law licenses and argue cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Students in this clinic spend an entire year representing a criminal appellant, from merits briefing to oral argument. The Federal Appellate Clinic is run by Northwestern Clinical Professor and former Seventh Circuit law clerk Sarah Schrup.

Children and Family Justice Center

The Children and Family Justice Center, directed by Julie Biehl, was founded in 1992.[citation needed] Attorneys, a social worker, and affiliated professionals help second- and third-year law students meet with clients, research legal issues, and learn pretrial investigation, interviewing, and counseling skills and litigate cases. The Center represents young people on matters of delinquency and crime, family violence, school discipline, health and disability, and immigration and asylum.

MacArthur Justice Center

The MacArthur Justice Center, led by Profs. Locke E. Bowman and Joseph Margulies, does work on police misconduct, wrongful detention compensation, post-9/11 work, and other public interest and civil rights issues. Of particular note is the Guantanamo Bay detainee representation led by Joseph Margulies, author of Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power and lead counsel in Rasul v. Bush.

Entrepreneurship Law Center

The Law School's Entrepreneurship Law Center (ELC),[23] originally founded as the Small Business Opportunity Center (SBOC), is a transactional clinic that was founded in 1998. Clients include technology executives, consultants, inventors, manufacturers and sellers of consumer products, musical groups, and persons interested in establishing nonprofit organizations.

The Center is also heavily involved in teaching in the field of entrepreneurship law, and hosts symposia and conferences to facilitate that endeavor.

Center for International Human Rights

The Center for International Human Rights works to advance human rights while enabling students to test and refine their academic learning in real cases. Stressing a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach, the center provides policy perspectives to the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the U.S. Department of State, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations.

Faculty, staff, and students, as well as volunteer lawyers, visiting fellows, and interns carry out research, public and professional education, technical assistance, and advocacy of pressing international issues.

The center also offers students an opportunity to earn an LLM in Human Rights. The degree program is designed for students from transitional democracies and for those with career interests in international human rights law.

Over the years faculty and staff working in the center have addressed, among other matters, the role of the International Criminal Court, international terrorism, U.S. death penalty laws, truth commissions, economic rights, NATO's humanitarian intervention, and political asylum cases. Students have investigated cases and had summer internships in Guatemala, Indonesia, and at the U.N. Human Rights Centre in Geneva.

Investor Protection Center

Northwestern Law's Investor Protection Center provides assistance to investors with limited income or small dollar claims who are unable to obtain legal representation. Law students, under the supervision of faculty attorneys, represent customers in handling their disputes with broker-dealers.

During the last few years, the (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)(FINRA) and other organizations have taken steps to make more information and services available to investors. Northwestern Law's Investor Protection Center operates with the aid of grants from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and other organizations to focus on priority areas. In particular, the center is focused on helping to meet the needs of women, novice investors, and the elderly, in connection with securities arbitration.

Fred Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy

Named in honor of an innovative leader[citation needed] in litigation and business strategies, the Fred Bartlit Center for Trial Advocacy was established in 1999 to conduct research and teach innovative and technologically advanced trial strategy. The Bartlit Center focuses on changes in trial craft brought on by new technologies and compensation approaches.

The Bartlit Center sponsors and conducts academic research on the litigation process; support teaching skills in the JD program; and holds national conferences to explore and teach innovative trial and trial management strategies. The Bartlit Center works to complement the Law School's program in simulation-based teaching of trial skills and builds on the research produced by Northwestern Law faculty.

Rankings and honors

The 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report Best Grad Schools[3] ranked Northwestern Law:
  • 11th in the country Overall
  • 7th for Trial Advocacy
  • 4th for Tax Law
  • 11th for Legal Writing
Leiter’s Law School Rankings placed the law school:
  • 5th in Percentage of Federal Appellate Clerkships for 2008–2009
  • 6th in Success Rate of Graduates on the Teaching Market 2006-2008
  • 9th in Student Quality
  • 10th in Total Supreme Court Clerks for 2000-2007 terms
  • 11th for Largest Gross Endowment[24]
The Princeton Review most recently[25] placed the law school:
  • 1st for Best Career Prospects
  • 7th for Toughest to Get Into
  • 9th for Best Quality of Life
  • 10th for Best Overall Academic Experience
Judging the Law Schools (2009)[26] ranked the law school:
  • 7th in the country Overall
The 2010 National Law Journal "Go-To Schools" list [27] ranked Northwestern Law:
  • 1st for Percentage of Graduates Hired by NLJ250 Firms


The 2010 student/faculty ratio was 8.8 to 1.[1]

Notable Northwestern Law faculty, past and present, include:

Popular Media

  • The Chicago Code was substantially filmed on the Northwestern Law campus in Chicago.[28] This television drama premiered on Fox on February 7, 2011.[29] Filming at Northwestern Law began in August 2010.[28] Classrooms in the Law School are depicted as interior offices for the fictional offices for City administration. Levy Mayer 212 served as the main taping location at the Law School.[28]


Selected prominent Northwestern Law alumni include:

Government / politics


For-profit / Non-profit organizations


  • Ada Kepley, first woman in the United States to graduate from a law school[35]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 American Bar Association Profile for Northwestern Law
  2. "Celebrating 150 Years", Northwestern University School of Law, accessed November 1, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Best Law Schools. Ranked in 2012", U.S.News & World Report, accessed April 10, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Employment Statistics".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. [1]
  7. Northwestern Law Admissions, accessed 2013-06-14.
  8. "Northwestern University Profile".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "JD Student Budget".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Northwestern University Profile".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "New Law Degree for Science and Technology Professionals".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Master of Science in Law Curriculum".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Northwestern Law Journals
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 TLS Profile on Northwestern Law
  17. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University
  18. Journal of Law and Social Policy, Northwestern University
  19. Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business
  20. Journal of International Human Rights, Northwestern University
  21. Center on Wrongful Convictions, Bluhm Legal Clinic
  24. "Top 20 Law School Endowments", Leiter Law School, accessed September 25, 2006.
  25. "The Best 172 Law Schools", The Princeton Review, 2011.
  26. "10th Annual Judging the Law Schools is Released", Judging the Law Schools, 2009 edition, accessed May 2, 2009.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 "Lights, Camera, Action! New Police Drama Filmed at Northwestern Law", E-Briefs: November 2010, Northwestern University School of Law, accessed December 1, 2010.
  29. Seidman, Robert (November 3, 2010). "'The Chicago Code' (FKA 'Ride Along') Premieres Night After Super Bowl XLV, Monday, February 7". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 3, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Washington Governor Albert E. Mead". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. [2]
  32. [3]
  33. "RAILSBACK, Thomas Fisher, (1932 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 19, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Bob Goldsborough (March 28, 2013). "George Miller Burditt Jr., former Illinois state representative, 1922–2013". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 6, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Charlton Thomas Lewis, Joseph H. Willsey. "Harper's book of facts: a classified history of the world; embracing science, literature, and art". Harper & Brothers, 1895, p. 939.

External links