U.S. News & World Report ranks Chicago fourth among U.S. law schools, and it is noted for its influence on the economic analysis of law. The University of Chicago Law School was ranked second in the country by the 2017 Above The Law Rankings, which ranks law schools based on employment outcomes such as quality of jobs, federal clerkships, and alumni satisfaction. It is ranked 11th in the 2018 QS World University Rankings.
The Law School has the third highest gross and third highest per capita placement of alumni in U.S. Supreme Court clerkships with approximately 15-25% of each graduating class going on to a state or federal clerkship. The ABA disclosures indicate that 75% of Chicago graduates earned starting salaries of $180,000 or greater upon graduation. The law school was ranked # 3 of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2015 graduates to the largest 100 law firms in the US (52.04%).
University president William Rainey Harper requested assistance from the faculty of Harvard Law School in establishing a law school at Chicago, and Joseph Henry Beale, then a professor at Harvard, was given a two-year leave of absence to serve as the first Dean of the law school. During that time Beale hired many of the first members of the law school faculty and left the fledgling school "one of the best in the country."
The Law School experienced a period of profound growth and expansion under the leadership of Dean Edward Hirsch Levi, AB 1932, JD 1935 (1945–1962). Levi later served as university Provost (1962–1968) and President (1968–1975), and then as United States Attorney General under President Gerald Ford. During his time at the Law School, Levi brought scholars to the faculty and supported the Committee on Social Thought graduate program.
The D'Angelo Law Library is part of the greater University of Chicago library system. Renovated in 2006, it features a second-story reading room. The Law Library is open 90 hours per week and employs the equivalent of 10 full-time librarians. It has study space for 483, a wireless network, and 26 networked computers.
Admission to The University of Chicago Law School is highly selective. For the class entering in the fall of 2015, 900 out of 4,111 applicants (21.8%) were offered admission, with 183 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2016 entering class were 166 and 172, respectively, with a median of 170. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.69 and 3.97, respectively, with a median of 3.90.
The University of Chicago Law School employs a grading system that places students on a scale of 155-186. The scale was 55-86 prior to 2003, but since then the school has utilized a prefix of "1" to eliminate confusion with the traditional 100 point grading scale. These numerical grades convert to the more familiar alphabetical scale roughly as follows: 155-159 = F, 160-167 = D, 168-173 = C, 174-179 = B, 180-186 = A. For classes of more than 10 students, professors are required to set the median grade at 177, with the number of grades above a 180 approximately equaling the number of grades below a 173.
In a June 21, 2010 article in The New York Times, business writer Catherine Rampell criticized other schools' problems with grade inflation, but commended Chicago's system, saying "[Chicago] has managed to maintain the integrity of its grades."
A student graduates "with honors" if a final average of 179 is attained, "with high honors" if a final average of 180.5 is attained, and "with highest honors" if a final average of 182 is attained. The last of these achievements is rare; typically only one student every few years will attain the requisite 182 average. Additionally, the Law School awards two honors at graduation that are based on class rank. Of the students who earned at the Law School at least 79 of the 105 credits required to graduate, the top 10% are elected to the "Order of the Coif." Students finishing their first or second years in the top 5% of their class, or graduating in the top 10%, are honored as "Kirkland and Ellis Scholars" (a designation created in 2006 by a $7 million donation from the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis).
According to the Law School's official 2015 ABA-required disclosures, 92.1% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation. The Law School's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 2.8%, 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.
Chicago ranks second on Chicago Professor Brian Leiter's "Top 15 Schools From Which the Most 'Prestigious' Law Firms Hire New Lawyers"; first for "Faculty quality based on American Academy of Arts and Sciences Membership"; third for "Supreme Court Clerkship Placement"; and fifth for "Student Quality". The Law School had the third highest gross and third highest per capita placement of alumni as U.S. Supreme Court clerkships (16% for the years 2000-2008), with Leiter reporting that approximately 15-25% of each graduating class going on to a state or federal clerkship.
The law school was ranked # 3 of all law schools nationwide by the National Law Journal in terms of sending the highest percentage of 2015 graduates to the largest 100 law firms in the US (52.04%).
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at the Law School for the 2013-14 academic year was $78,324. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $297,325.
The Law School produces six professional journals, and three are student-run: The University of Chicago Law Review, The Chicago Journal of International Law, and The University of Chicago Legal Forum. Students interested in membership on any of these journals participate in a writing competition at the end of first year. The Law Review selects 19 students for membership based on first year GPA ("grade on"), and 10 students for the quality of their writing competition submission ("write on"). The other two journals select members on the basis of writing competition submissions alone (without regard to GPA). All three student-run journals allow second and third year students to "write on" by submitting a piece of legal scholarship worthy of publication.
The Supreme Court Review, published by the law school and overseen by faculty since the 1960s, is the most cited legal journal internationally with respect to commentary on the nation's highest court. The faculty also oversees publication of the Journal of Law and Economics and the Journal of Legal Studies.
The Law School produces several series of academic papers, including the Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers, the John M. Olin Program in Law & Economics Working Papers, and the Maurice and Muriel Fulton Lectures. It also produces a series of occasional papers.
The Law School publishes several blogs, including the Law School Faculty Blog, Accolades and Achievements, the D'Angelo Law Library Blog, and the Electronic Projects Blog.
There are approximately 60 student-run organizations at the Law School which fall under the umbrella of the Law Students Association. It is home to one of the three founding chapters of the Federalist Society. As a professor, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia helped organize the Chicago chapter of the society. Chicago is also home to a large chapter of the progressive American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.
Leadership awards: The Ann Watson Barber Award and the LL.M. Award for Integration and Inclusion. Awards for academic performance: The Joseph Henry Beale Prize (for first year students); The John M. Olin Prize; The Francis Bustin Prize and The Casper Platt Award. Moot Court Competition awards: The Thomas R. Mulroy Prize, The Karl N. Llewellyn Cup, and The Edward W. Hinton Cup.
The law school was originally housed in Stuart Hall, a Gothic-style limestone building on the campus's main quadrangles. Needing more library and student space, the law school moved across the Midway Plaisance to its current, Eero Saarinen-designed building (next to what was then the headquarters of the American Bar Association) in October 1959. The building contains classrooms, the D'Angelo Law Library, faculty offices, and an auditorium and courtroom, arranged in a quadrangle around a fountain (mimicking the college Gothic architecture of the campus's main quadrangles). The year saw a number of celebrations of the law school's new home, including a filming of the Today Show (then hosted by Barbara Walters) and appearances by Chief Justice Earl Warren, Governor (and later Vice President) Nelson Rockefeller and Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld.
In 1987, and over the objections of the Saarinen family, the building was expanded to add office and library space (and the library renamed in honor of alumnus Dino D'Angelo). In 1998, a dedicated space for the law school's clinics, the Arthur Kane Center for Clinical Legal Education, as well as numerous additional classrooms, were constructed. The library, classrooms, offices, and fountain received an acclaimed and award-winning renovation, completed in 2008, notable for the preservation of most of Saarinen's structure at a time when many modernist buildings face demolition.
Currently, there are three federal judges on the faculty.
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