As the first law school established in Chicago, the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law stands out for its emphasis on innovation. A strategic planning committee works to ensure that the school’s programs evolve to reflect changes in both education and the economy. To create this progressive environment, Northwestern Law takes a market-focused approach to designing the school’s learning infrastructure. Foundational skill building is important and is based in part on feedback from potential employers about the abilities and characteristics they want to see in law school graduates. Students benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio, interdisciplinary study, and integrated technology. In addition, during the admissions process, their peers are carefully selected based on their interpersonal skills and work experience, as these factors influence students’ ability to contribute to the learning model.
Established in 1997, Northwestern Law’s interviewing program is the oldest among law schools in the nation. Interviews are optional but strongly encouraged, and students can complete their interviews online. Among the new admissions procedures at Northwestern Law is a plan to recruit students with STEM backgrounds—as noted on its website, the school wants “the scientists, the inventors, the entrepreneurs” looking for a career in law.
Many Northwestern Law students choose to live off campus in the nearby Streeterville neighborhood, where high-rise and mid-rise buildings are typical. There are also many housing options within a 10- to 12-minute walk to campus along Dearborn Avenue, which allows students to be closer to nightlife.
Notable Northwest Law graduates include Ada Kepley, the first American woman to earn a law degree; Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens; and Harold Washington, the first African American mayor of Chicago.
Northwestern Law is student centric and aggressively seeks to prepare its students for post-graduate employment in a changing world. The school touts an interdisciplinary scholarship approach, with an emphasis on the intersection of law, business, and technology. Northwestern Law has developed a comprehensive, integrated curriculum founded on science and technology to give students multidisciplinary training to succeed in 21st century legal practice.
To supplement the standard first-year curriculum, Northwestern Law requires students to take “Communication and Legal Reasoning,” with team-based coursework incorporating writing exercises and role-playing that culminates in the Arlyn Miner Moot Court program. Another requirement is “Lawyer as Problem Solver,” a conference that offers training in such areas as client counseling and interviewing, understanding financial data, and public speaking.
Concentrations are available in Appellate Law, Business Enterprise, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Environmental Law, International Law, Law and Social Policy, and Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.
Northwestern Law has several joint degree programs, including a JD-MBA in conjunction with Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. In addition, the law school offers domestic JD-LLM programs in Taxation and International Human Rights, and international JD-LLM programs are available through IE Law School in Madrid and Sciences Po Law School in Paris.
To prepare students for an increasingly globalized world, Northwestern Law’s study abroad opportunities include programs in Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, and Switzerland.
Northwestern Law maintains strict cutoffs for academic honors: Cum laude begins at 3.65, Magna Cum Laude at 3.97, and Summa Cum Laude at 4.2. Class rank is neither computed nor disclosed. Order of the Coif and Dean’s List honors exist, although Order of the Coif is discretionary.
Clinical and Experiential Learning
True to its dedication to fostering foundational skills that prepare students for post-graduate employment, Northwestern Law boasts one of the largest legal clinics in the country. The Bluhm Legal Clinic covers topics ranging from trial advocacy and international human rights to negotiation and wrongful youth convictions. 90% of Northwestern Law students typically participate in one of the clinic’s hands-on programs before graduating.
One of the school’s most notable experiential programs is the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center, which trains students interested in entrepreneurship or transactional law through a mix of coursework (including simulation-based courses), workshops, and events. Northwestern Law’s Center for Externships provides students with opportunities in various fields of law, including civil government, corporate counsel, and criminal law.
Class Profile (Class of 2024)
Number of Applications: 7,475
Class Size: 249
Average Age: 25
Students of Color: 45%
Median LSAT: 171
Median GPA: 3.86
Career Placement (Class of 2020)
- Law Firms: 77.215%
- Judicial Clerkships: 8.439%
- Business and Industry: 5.485%
- Public Interest: 5.485%
- Government: 2.954%