Northwestern University School of Law

Established 1859
School type Private
Parent endowment US $6.3 billion
Dean David E. Van Zandt
Enrollment 781
Faculty 185
USNWR ranking 11
Bar pass rate 95.96%
Annual tuition $47,472

The Northwestern University School of Law is a private American law school in Chicago, Illinois. The law school was founded in 1859 as the Union College of Law of the Old University of Chicago. The first law school established in Chicago, it became in cooperation controlled by Northwestern University in 1873 and fully incorporated into the University in 1891. It is now one of the 11 academic institutions of Northwestern University. The law school enjoys a strong national reputation. It is presently ranked as tied for 11th by the 2011 Edition of US News and World Report guide to the nation's top law schools.

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 little blocks from the John Hancock Center, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower, Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier.

Rankings and honors

The 2011 edition of U.S. News & World Report Best Grad Schools ranked Northwestern Law

* 11th in the country overall
* 7th for Trial Advocacy
* 4th for Tax Law
* 11th for Legal Writing

Recent 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

The Princeton Review 2009 Rankings name 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 Rankings placed the law school

* 7th overall

Vault Law School Guide rankings placed the law school

* 9th in the country overall

The 2010 National Law Journal ranked Northwestern

* 1st for Percentage of Graduates Hired by NLJ250 Firms


Admission to Northwestern Law is extremely competitive; the median LSAT is in the top 2% of all test takers nationwide, ranking it #6 between all law schools.

The Law School's admissions philosophy also places unusual emphasis on matriculating students demonstrating maturity and interpersonal skills, attributes the School believes are conducive to career achievement. To this end, every applicant is invited to interview, either with a member of the admissions staff or a local alum. The interviewing program focuses on such individual qualities as speaking and writing skills, judgment, and ambition.

The School’s practical philosophy is manifested in a tough preference for applicants with at least two years of work experience. Approximately 95% of the school's students enter with at least one year of full-time work experience; 80% possess more than 2 years of experience. In this respect, Northwestern Law is similar to many business schools.

According to the 2008 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: 172

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


The Northwestern Law faculty is well regarded for academic strength in a number of disciplines including tax, international law, trial advocacy, alternative dispute resolution, legal writing, and others. The 2010 student/faculty ratio was 8.8 to 1.

Selected prominent Northwestern Law faculty, past and present, include:

* David E. Van Zandt, dean of Northwestern University School of Law
* Robert Bennett, constitutional scholar and founder of the Chicago Council for Lawyers. A leading scholar in Contract Law.
* Steven Calabresi, constitutional scholar and Founder and Chairman of the Federalist Society
* Anthony D'Amato, international legal scholar, European Court of Human Rights litigator
* Bernardine Dohrn, clinical professor, leader of the 1960s-70s radical leftist organization, Weatherman
* Andrew Koppelman, noted legal scholar on same-sex marriage
* Leon Green, former Dean; renowned for pioneering work in the law of torts, especially causation and injuries to relations
* Steven Lubet, nationally recognized trial advocacy expert and director of the Fred Bartlit Center for Trial Strategy
* Charles T. McCormick, expert on evidence, damages, and federal court procedure; writings include the classic hornbooks, Handbook on the Law of Damages (1935) and Handbook on the Law of Evidence (1954).
* John O. McGinnis, renowned expert on trade law and one of nation's leading scholars in the field of Constitutional Law.
* Dawn Clark Netsch, prominent member of the Democratic Party and the first woman to be nominated by a major political party to run for Governor of Illinois.
* Roscoe Pound, former dean of Harvard Law School, founder of the movement for "sociological jurisprudence"
* Stephen Presser, professor of legal history and jurisprudence
* Martin Redish, nationally renowned authority on the subjects of federal jurisdiction, civil procedure, and the First Amendment
* David S. Ruder, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
* David Scheffer, international law and war crimes expert who served as the first United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues
* Marshall Shapo, expert on tort law and author of The Law of Products Liability
* James B. Speta, expert in telecommunications and Internet policy
* Charles Taylor, internationally renowned political philosopher, Royal Society of Canada fellow, British Academy fellow, member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
* John Henry Wigmore, the "father of modern evidence" and author of Treatise on Evidence

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 blend of required classes and electives. The second and third year offer more flexibility in preparation 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 overseas 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 conclude one by the end of the academic year in which they apply.

Accelerated JD

Northwestern Law offers a 2-year accelerated JD program.

Joint-Degree programs

Northwestern Law offers a number of joint-degree programs:

* JD-PhD, with one of Northwestern's graduate schools
* MSJ-MSL, with Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism


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 finished in 3 years, as opposed to the 4 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 information of American law and legal processes, continue their studies in international law, and connect 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 continues to expand its international reach by offering Executive LLM Programs for working legal & business professionals in Europe, Korea, and the Middle East. The programs, designed specially 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 during 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 offers 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, editing 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.

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 present news in intellectual property law. The Journal is among the top ranked intellectual property and technology law reviews in the United States.

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 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 extensively 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 principle was to articulate and endorse a criminal justice reform agenda, connected with the Progressive Era that dominated the first third of the twentieth century.

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.

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 endorse a considerate of the future course of international legal developments as they relate to private entities.

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 offerings 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.

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 severe miscarriages of justice. Its work was dominant in former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan's decision to convert 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 examine possible wrongful convictions and stand for imprisoned clients with claims of actual innocence. The Center also focuses on identifying systemic problems in the criminal justice system &, 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 was one of the first law schools in the country to present 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. Supervised by attorneys from Sidley Austin's elite appellate litigation practice who regularly argue before the Supreme Court, clinic students perform research and draft briefs for cases that will define federal law and emerge in law school casebooks for years to come. The clinic is run by distinguished Northwestern alumnus and preeminent Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips, from Sidley Austin's Washington, D.C. office.

Federal Appellate Clinic

The Federal Appellate Clinic permits third-year students to get provisional law licenses and argue cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Like the Supreme Court Clinic, the Federal Appellate Clinic provides the rare opportunity for students to help shape federal law, but in even more direct fashion. Students in this clinic spend an entire year on behalf of 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. In 2008, two clinic students arguing against the United States Attorney's Office effectively persuaded the Seventh Circuit to overturn the conviction of a defendant wrongly charged under a statute that did not fit his actual crime.

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 criminal behavior 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 state of children in Afghanistan, the condition of children in armed conflict, inter-country adoption, corporal sentence, the right to education and health care, and conditions of confinement.

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.

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 symposia & conferences to facilitate that endeavor. In exacting, in 2006 the SBOC hosted the first ever entrepreneurship conference at any law school in the country.

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 complete interdisciplinary advance, 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 a chance 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 community on topics ranging from reparations for Holocaust survivors to the human rights responsibilities of multinational corporations. The center plays a very important role in the Law School's expanding international program, which before 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 partial income or small dollar claims who are unable to obtain legal representation. Law students, under the management 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 accessible 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 a pioneering 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 & conducts academic research on the litigation process; sustain teaching skills in the JD program; and holds national conferences to discover 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.

Alumni -

Selected prominent Northwestern Law alumni include:

Government / Politics

* José Abad Santos, 5th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
* Simeon R. Acoba, Jr., Hawaii Supreme Court Justice
* George Wildman Ball (1933), former Undersecretary of State, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
* Richard Ben-Veniste, Chief of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's Office Watergate Task Force
* Dalveer Bhandari, Justice, Supreme Court of India
* Judy Biggert (J.D. 1963), U.S. Representative, 1999–present
* William Jennings Bryan, former U.S. Secretary of State and three-time Democratic Nominee for President
* Dale Bumpers, former Governor of Arkansas and U.S. Senator for Arkansas
* Ruben Castillo, U.S. District judge for United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
* Salem J. Chalabi, First General Director of the Iraqi Special Tribunal to try Saddam Hussein
* Dennis Daugaard, Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
* Richard Devine, Cook County State's Attorney
* Arthur Goldberg, former United States Supreme Court Justice, U.S. Secretary of Labor, and Ambassador to the United Nations
* Ada Kepley, first American woman to obtain a law degree (1870)
* Frank Orren Lowden, Governor of Illinois, third place finisher in the 1920 Republican party convention, second place finisher in the 1928 convention
* Albert E. Mead, former Governor of Washington
* Newton Minow, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
* Dawn Clark Netsch, first woman to be elected to a Constitutional office in Illinois
* Roy Pearson, Administrative Law Judge, sued a dry cleaners $67 million in 2005 for losing a pair of pants
* Graham T. Perry, first African American assistant attorney-general for State of Illinois
* Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois
* Henry T. Rainey, 45th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
* Jerry Springer, former Mayor of Cincinnati, television talk show host
* Halvor Steenerson, former U.S. Representative
* John Paul Stevens, United States Supreme Court Justice
* Adlai Stevenson, former Governor of Illinois, two-time Democratic Nominee for President, and Ambassador to the United Nations
* Richard Tallman, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge
* Charles M. Thomson, former U.S. Representative
* Jim Thompson, former Governor of Illinois
* Daniel Walker, former Governor of Illinois
* Harold Washington, first black Mayor of Chicago (1983–87), Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
* Richard E. Wiley, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission


* G. Marcus Cole, Professor of Law, Helen L. Crocker Faculty Scholar, and Associate Dean for Curriculum, Stanford Law School
* Raoul Berger, one of America 's foremost legal historians, former Senior Fellow in American Legal History at Harvard University and author of Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment
* Stephen D. Sugarman, Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
* John E. Coons, Professor of Law, Emeritus, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
* C. Thomas Dienes, Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
* Terrence Isamu ("Terry Ryan") Ryan, graduate of Cornell University and practitioner of brazilian jiu-jitsu under the tutelage of Carlson Gracie
* Charles P. Kindregan, Jr., expert in assisted reproduction law, Professor at Suffolk University Law School
* Jonathan Turley, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, The George Washington University Law School
* Thomas F. Geraghty, Associate Dean for Clinical Education; Professor of Law; Director, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern University School of Law
* James A. Rahl, Owen L. Coon Professor of Law Emeritus, Northwestern University School of Law
* Gregory S. Alexander, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School
* Clark C. Havighurst, William Neal Reynolds Emeritus Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law
* Charles David Hricik, Author and Distinguished Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law
* Cheryl Harris, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

For-profit / Non-profit organizations

* Mark Anson, CEO of Hermes Pensions Management Limited
* Jared Bartie, VP of Marketing and Team Business Operations of the NBA
* Daniel Bernstine, President and CEO of Law School Admissions Council, former President of Portland State University
* Neil G. Bluhm, Founder and President of JMB Realty Corporation
* David Boies (attended 1964-65), Managing and Named Partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, also, counselor to Vice President Al Gore
* Nick Chabraja, Chairman and CEO of General Dynamics
* Owen L. Coon, Chairman Emeritus of General Finance Corporation and founder of the Coon Foundation
* Eddie Einhorn, Owner of the Chicago White Sox
* Matt Ferguson, President and CEO of
* Elbert Henry Gary, co-founder, president, and chairman of United States Steel Corporation; namesake of Gary, Indiana
* Gail D. Hasbrouck, General Counsel of Advocate Health Care
* Scott Z. Hochfelder, General Counsel of KB Toys
* Randy Kaplan, Founder of Akamai Technologies
* Randy Karchmer, Managing Director and Co-Head of M&A at Morgan Keegan & Co
* David Kleiman, President of The D2 Real Estate Companies
* Marc J. Lane, Founder of The Marc J. Lane Wealth Group
* Kenesaw Mountain Landis, First Commissioner of Major League Baseball, federal judge
* Derek Lemke-Von Ammon, Partner of FTVentures
* J. Landis Martin, Chairman and CEO of Titanium Metals Corporation
* Robert R. McCormick, Owner of the Chicago Tribune and founder of the white-shoe law firm Kirkland & Ellis
* Thomas McGrath, Attorney at Mayer Brown LLP
* Joanne Moffic-Silver, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Chicago Board Options Exchange
* Therese A. Mrozek, Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Weston Presidio, a prominent private equity firm
* Matthew B. Murray, President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and Partner of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen
* Morgan E. O'Brien, co-founder and former chairman of Nextel
* J.B. Pritzker, Managing Partner of New World Ventures
* Grier Raclin, General Counsel of Charter Communications
* Frank C. Rathje, Founder of the Mutual National Bank of Chicago and President of the American Bankers Association
* Jerry Reinsdorf, Owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls
* Nazar Yasin, CEO of Forticom

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