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Northwestern University School of Law

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Northwestern University School of Law
Parent school Northwestern University
Established 1859
School type Private non-profit
Endowment $151 million
Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez
Location Chicago, IL, US
Faculty 155 (See List)
LSAT 75th% 171
Median LSAT 170
LSAT 25th% 165
Undergrad. GPA 75th% 3.9
Median Undergrad. GPA 3.8
Undergrad. GPA 25th% 3.4
Annual tuition $51,620
ABA profile link
Outlines 1 (See List)
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Northwestern University School of Law is located in Chicago, IL

The Northwestern University School of Law is a private American law school in Chicago, Illinois. The law school was founded in 1859 and is one of eleven academic entities at Northwestern University.

Northwestern enjoys a reputation as one the country's leading elite law schools. In the recent past, objective rankings have usually placed its admissions selectivity, faculty scholarship, and career placement among the prestigious top law schools nationwide. Princeton Review has ranked Northwestern as 7th most difficult school to gain admission.

Northwestern law is located on Northwestern University's downtown campus in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. The campus is on Lake Shore Drive, just south of the Gold Coast neighborhood, along Lake Michigan, and a few blocks from the John Hancock Center, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower, and Navy Pier.

Rankings and honors

The 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Grad Schools" ranked Northwestern Law:Template:Ref

  • 12th in the country overall
  • 10th in the country in Clinical Training
  • 14th in the country (tie) in Dispute Resolution
  • 12th in the country (tie) in International Law
  • 7th in the country (tie) in Legal Writing
  • 4th in the country in Tax Law
  • 5th in the country (tie) in Trial Advocacy

Recent Leiter’s Law School Rankings placed the law school:

  • 9th in the country in Student Quality
  • 14th in the country in Faculty Quality
  • 18th in National Placement


Northwestern Law's admissions philosophy places unusual emphasis on matriculating students demonstrating maturity and interpersonal skills, attributes the law school believes are conducive to career success. In this sense it mimics the approach increasingly embraced by many business schools.

The school’s practical philosophy is manifested in a strong preference for applicants with at least two years of work experience. Approximately 94% of the school's students enter with at least one year of full-time work experience; 74% possess more than two years of experience.

The law school's admissions also emphasize social, interpersonal, and professional communication competency. To that end, every applicant is invited to interview, either with a member of the admissions staff or a local alum.

The school's selectivity, as measured by various quantitative criteria, is among the top seven law schools in the country.Template:Ref According to the 2007 edition of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, Northwestern students had the following credentials.

25% LSAT: 167 | Median LSAT: 170 | 75% LSAT: 171

25% GPA: 3.40 | Median GPA: 3.70 | 75% GPA: 3.80

The unusual admissions process is part of the "Strategic Plan," which states, "We also firmly believe that over time the merits of this vision will be widely recognized by employers, by applicants, and by the world at large as the superior model, which in turn will propel our reputation to the top."[1]

To date, no other ABA-accredited law school has adopted Northwestern's admissions system. Northwestern continues to attract outstanding students and has 6th highest median LSAT score in the nation. Only other law schools with higher median LSAT scores are: Harvard Law School, Yale Law school, Columbia Law School, University of Chicago, and New York University. With median GPA of entering class set at 3.7, it boasts 6th highest GPA in the nation.

Degree programs

NU 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.

Two-year JD

Northwestern Law also offers a two-year JD program; only applicants from countries outside the U.S. who have earned at least a first degree in law are eligible.

Joint Degree Programs

NU Law also offers a number of joint-degree programs:

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 Programs

Northwestern Law continues to expand its international reach by offering Executive LLM Programs for working legal and business professionals in Europe and Korea. 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 Graduate School of Management in Seoul and the Instituto de Empresa (IE) in Madrid.

Tax Programs

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.


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

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 E. Stevenson. The Northwestern University Law Review is among the eight most frequently cited law reviews in the country.

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

The Journal is one of the most widely read and widely cited publications in the world. It is the second most widely subscribed journal published by any law school in the country. It is one of the most widely circulated law journals in the country. The journal was founded in 1910 by Dean John Henry Wigmore. It was a product of the "National Conference on Criminal Law and Criminology" held in 1909 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Northwestern University School of Law. The Conference elected Dean Wigmore as its first president and resulted in the creation of the Journal. Its stated purpose was to articulate and promote a criminal justice reform agenda, associated with the Progressive Era that dominated the first third of the twentieth century.

Journal of International Law and Business

The Journal 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.

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. The format of this online Journal permits these rapidly developing issues to be addressed in a timely manner by combining scholarly analyses with an examination of the current news in intellectual property law. The Journal is dedicated to the analysis of the burgeoning body of academic, business, newsworthy and legal issues regarding the rapidly increasing and shifting field of intellectual property and technology law.

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. 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.

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.

The 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 is dedicated to identifying and rectifying wrongful convictions and other serious miscarriages of justice. Its work was influential in former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan's decision to commute the death sentences of all Illinois' death row prisoners in 2003. Governor Ryan announced the decision on January 11, 2003 at an event held at the law school.

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.

Children and Family Justice Center

Founded in 1992, the Children and Family Justice Center has developed into one of the most effective and diverse clinical programs of its kind. 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.

As a comprehensive children's law center and clinical legal education resource, the Center is also committed to legal research and scholarship on laws and legal institutions that deal with children all over the world. Through lectures, newspaper and magazine articles by staff attorneys, courses on Children and Human Rights, work as visiting faculty in other countries, published articles and regular speakers and symposia, the CFJC has addressed issues such as the condition of children in Afghanistan, the condition of children in armed conflict, inter-country adoption, corporal punishment, the right to education and health care, and conditions of confinement.

Small Business Opportunity Center

The Law School's Small Business Opportunity Center (SBOC) is the first transactional clinic at any major law school. Since its founding in 1998, more than 1,000 potential clients have come to the SBOC for legal assistance and over 300 have been served. These 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 symposiums and conferences to facilitate that endeavor. In particular, in 2006 the SBOC hosted the first ever entrepreneurship conference at any law school in the country.

Center for International Human Right

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.

Each year the center organizes seminars, lectures, and conferences for lawyers and the public on topics ranging from reparations for Holocaust survivors to the human rights responsibilities of multinational corporations. The center plays a vital role in the Law School's expanding international program, which previously had concentrated on private international law.

Investor Protection Center

Northwestern Law's Investor Protection Center is one of fewer than 10 such centers in the country and the first among law schools in the Midwest. The 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 National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) 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 NASD 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 Strategy

Named in honor of an innovative leader in litigation and business strategies, the Fred Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy 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.

Notable faculty

Main Article: [[Northwestern University School of Law faculty]]

The NU Law faculty is highly regarded for academic strength in a number of disciplines including tax, international law, trial advocacy, alternative dispute resolution, and others. Selected prominent NU Law faculty, past and present, include:


Selected prominent Northwestern Law alums include:

Government / Politics


For-Profit / Non-Profit Organizations


  1. Template:Note Eric Owens et al., Best 159 Law Schools 2006 (Princeton Review)
  2. Template:Note U.S News & World Report, "Best Grad Schools 2007"
  3. Template:Note Leiter Law School top 20 Law school endowments


External links