As the first law school established in Chicago, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law stands out for its emphasis on innovation. A strategic planning committee works to ensure that the school’s pedagogical approach adapts “to changing education and economic conditions.” Among the new admissions procedures is a plan to recruit students with STEM backgrounds. Northwestern wants “the scientists, the inventors, the entrepreneurs” looking for a career in law.
To create this progressive environment, Northwestern also takes a “market-focused” approach to designing their learning infrastructure. Foundational skill-building is important and based in part on talking to potential employers about what abilities and characteristics they want to see from law school graduates. Students benefit from a small student-faculty ratio, interdisciplinary study, integration of technology, and peers carefully selected during the admissions process for the interpersonal skills and quality work experience that allows them to contribute to the learning model.
Since 1997, the admissions office has established an interview program and preference for applicants with previous work experience. Northwestern prides itself as “the only major law school to strongly encourage all applicants to interview,” which demonstrates a unique commitment to evaluate applicants as individuals. Maturity, leadership, and teamwork are thus emphasized as Northwestern seeks to build a diverse and collegial campus environment.
Notable graduates include Ada Kepley, the first American woman to earn a law degree, and Robert McCormick, founder of one of the most elite law firms in the world Kirkland and Ellis, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and Harold Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago.
Northwestern is student-centric and aggressively seeks to prepare students for post-graduate employment in a changing world. Interdisciplinary scholarship—with an emphasis on the intersection of law, business, and technology—is touted. Dubbed “Law-STEM,” Northwestern has developed a comprehensive, integrated curriculum that draws upon science and technology foundations to give students multidisciplinary training to succeed in 21st century legal practice.
To supplement standard 1L curriculum, Northwestern also requires students take Communication and Legal Reasoning with coursework built around “teamwork and collaboration on brief writing exercises and role-playing situations” culminating in the Arlyn Miner Moot Court Program. Another mandatory seminar is Lawyer as Problem Solver, which offers training in skills such as client counseling and interviewing, understanding financial data, and public speaking.
Available concentrations are available in Business Enterprise, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, International Law, Appellate Law, Environmental Law, Law and Social Policy and Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.
To prepare students for an increasingly globalized world, study abroad opportunities include programs in Australia, Belgium, Amsterdam, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, and Singapore.
Clinical and Experiential Learning
True to its dedication to fostering foundational skills that prepare students for post-graduate employment, Northwestern boasts one of the largest clinics in the country. The Bluhm Legal Clinic is comprehensive, covering topics ranging from trial advocacy to international human rights to negotiation to wrongful convictions of youth and more. 90% of Northwestern Law graduates participate in one of the clinic’s hands-on programs.
One of the most notable programs within the clinic is the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center, which exposes students interested in transactional law or founding their own businesses to training “through a variety of traditional, clinical, simulation-based courses, a marquee annual conference, a speaker series, and workshops.”
Class Size: 223
Average Age: 25 (86% possess at least one year post-undergraduate experience)
Students of color: 33%
Median LSAT: 168 (middle 50% 163-170)
Median GPA: 3.83 (middle 50% 3.56-3.89)
- Law Firms: 71%
- Judicial Clerkships: 10%
- Business & Industry: 8%
- Government/Public Interest: 11%
- Education: 1%
- Illinois: 56%
- New York: 30%
- California: 12%
- U.S. Territories/Foreign: 2%