Law School stained glass windows

1800's | 1900's | 1910's | 1920's | 1930's | 1940's | 1950's | 1960's | 1970's | 1980's | 1990's | 2000's | 2010's | 2020's


1859 Founding of the Law School
On September 21, the Law School is founded, by Henry Booth, as department of the now defunct Chicago University. It is the first law school established in Chicago. Booth is inaugurated as the first dean and professor of the school. Twenty-three students enroll the first year and tuition costs $100 per year. The school was first opened in the Larmon Block, located at the corner of Clark and Washington Streets, in the same building the Federal court was held, with enough room for one professor and 11 students.

1859 Lincoln Case
Classes are suspended for a week in order for students to see one of Illinois’s best litigators, Abraham Lincoln, argue a case before the appellate court. At this time, Lincoln serves as counsel to the Illinois Central Railroad. The case is decided in his favor.

1868 Elbert H. Gary graduates
Elbert H. Gary LLB 1868 graduates from the Law School. He later goes on to become president of U.S. Steel Corporation, which he co-founds and eventually becomes namesake to the city of Gary, Indiana.

1870 Ada Kepley graduates
Ada Kepley LLB 1870 graduates from the university and becomes the first American woman to earn a law degree. As a woman, she was denied a license to practice law and therefore never officially became a lawyer until the Illinois law barring women from practicing the learned professions was overturned in 1881.

1870 Richard A. Dawson becomes first Black graduate of the Law School
Richard A. Dawson was the first Black graduate from the Law School and the second Black attorney admitted to the Illinois Bar. After graduation, he moved to Arkansas to build a career in law and politics. He served at different times in the state's Senate and General Assembly, and used his influence to promote civil rights legislation. In one instance, Dawson successfully sued a saloonkeeper who withheld service from Black patrons. This bold act upheld the importance of enforcing new, Reconstruction-era laws that protected the recently emancipated population.

1873 Union College of Law
Chicago University and Northwestern University enter into an agreement to operate a shared law school, the Union College of Law. That was the beginning of the Law School’s association with Northwestern University, which had itself been established in 1851 to serve people of the Northwestern Territory.
Union College of Law History, Written 1889

1883 William Jennings Bryan graduates
William Jennings Bryan LLB 1883, the youngest presidential candidate ever, graduates from the Law School. He later serves as U.S. Secretary of State and represents the World Christian Fundamentals Association in the Scopes Trial.

1885 Henry Thomas Rainey graduates
Henry Thomas Rainey LLB 1885 graduates from the Law School and in 1933 becomes the 45th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1888 Alumni Association formed
An alumni association is formed -- the organization numbers 867 members.

1891 Integration into NU
Union College formally becomes Northwestern University School of Law when Northwestern University assumes total control. Dean Henry Booth resigns from his post. Judge Henry W. Blodgett assumes the position part-time for one year.

1892 Henry Wade Rogers Interim Dean
Henry Wade Rogers, also president of the Northwestern University, steps in as acting dean. Rogers had practiced law for several years in various locations including Minnesota and New Jersey before becoming a law professor. Besides serving as President of Northwestern and acting dean of the Law School, Rogers' academic career also included serving as the Dean of the Law Department of the University of Michigan and Dean of the Yale Law School.

1895 Florence Kelley graduates
Prominent reformer, Florence Kelley LLB 1895, earns her degree from the Law School. She was later appointed as the first chief factory inspector in Chicago and would go on to help found the NAACP.

1896 3-year curriculum adopted
The Law School adopts a three-year curriculum for the Bachelor in Laws degree (LLB) – an increase of one year. The Bachelor of Laws was an undergraduate, or bachelor, degree in law originating in England and offered in most common law countries as the primary law degree.

1899 New location on LaSalle St.
From 1899 to 1902, the Law School is located on the top floor of the YMCA Building, 153 LaSalle Street

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1901 Wigmore becomes dean
John Henry Wigmore, a faculty member since 1893, becomes the first full-time dean of the Law School. Wigmore, a prolific scholar who penned the seminal Treatise on Evidence, serves as dean until 1929. After retiring as dean, he continues as a professor of law at the Law School, becoming emeritus in 1934. He remains at the school until his death following an automobile accident in 1943.
Report of the dean of the Faculty of Law on an educational survey, 1925

1902 New location on Lake & Dearborn
The Law School moves into its new residence, the old Tremont Hotel Building at the corner of Lake and Dearborn. The School occupies the third floor of the building, sharing the location with the dental and pharmacy schools. Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes gives the keynote speech at the building’s dedication, paying tribute to both Northwestern and Dean Wigmore.

1906 1st faculty-student softball game
A time honored tradition, the student-faculty softball game, takes its first pitch. Wigmore was very involved with students which led to this first annual game, which still continues to this day.

1906 NU Law Review established
The Law School faculty votes to found the Illinois Law Review, now the Northwestern Law Review, in February 1906. At the time, there were only a few such journals published by law schools. Wigmore was a prolific contributor to the publication, often penning adversarial editorials that directly addressed the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States and the “cowardly” members of the Chicago Bar Association.

1907 Robert McCormick graduates
Robert R. McCormick JD 1907 graduates from the Law School and one year later he founds the law firm that later becomes Kirkland and Ellis. In 1910 he becomes editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and ten year later, helps sponsor Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism with his cousin, Joseph Medill Patterson.

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1910 1st National Conference on Criminal Law and Criminology
The first issue of the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology was issued in 1910 after its founding at a conference on the subject in January of 1910. At the beginning, it was called the Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, a name that changed many times over the years.

1914 Impact of WWI
The student and faculty population was greatly reduced during the time of the War due to an out pouring of support for the cause. Nearly every student made an effort to enter the Officer's Training Camps in the summer of 1917.

1915 Minimum age raised
The minimum age for admittance to the Law School is raised to 21. Just one year prior the qualifying age for admittance was 20 years of age.

1919 Clinical courses introduced
Clinical education makes its formal debut, when Wigmore insists that all students be exposed to the practical side of the law through work at Chicago’s free legal services agencies.

1919 Four-year curriculum introduced
The Law School adopts a four-year curriculum and raises entrance requirements from one to three years of undergraduate work.

1919 Rosenthal Foundation created
The Julius Rosenthal Foundation is established in 1919 in memory of Julius Rosenthal (1827-1905), an eminent and beloved member of the Chicago Bar. The Foundation supports the Rosenthal lecture series, a distinguished lecture program which has assumed a preeminent position in the legal world.

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1921 McKinlock Campus and Gates
Northwestern's downtown campus housing the schools of law and commerce, and medical and dental schools, was originally named the McKinlock Campus for George McKinlock, a wealthy Chicago manufacturer and donor. He purchased and donated nine acres of land at Chicago and LakeShore Drive in 1921 in honor of his only son George A McKinlock, Jr, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who was killed in action in France in 1918. The Gates that stand today at Huron and LakeShore drive were erected as a result of one of his donations - for $25,000. When Mr. McKinlock was not able to meet all of his pledges around the time of the Depression, the University repaid a portion of Mr. McKinlock's gift in 1937, and the decision was made to rename the campus the 'Chicago Campus'.
McKinlock Campus Memorial Gates

1923 Graham T. Perry graduates
Graham T. Perry JD ’23 graduates from the Law School and in 1941 he becomes the second African-American in history to be elected assistant attorney general for the state of Illinois.

1925 Seal adopted
The Law School adopts its seal, which uses the emblem of St. Ives, patron saint of the legal profession. The seal include the name of the school in the outer circle, and the Saint’s words on the inner circle “bon droit et raison” which means, with good law and justice. In the center is a figure of the Saint doing equal justice for the rich man and poor man.

1926 Adlai Stevenson graduates
Adlai Stevenson JD ’26 graduates from the Law School and in 1948 he is elected Illinois Governor and is named the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956. In 1961, he is named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

1926 Levy Mayer, Gary library finished
Levy Mayer Hall and the Elbert H. Gary Library are completed on the new Chicago campus. The buildings receive $500,000 in funding from Rachel Mayer, wife of prominent Chicago attorney Levy Mayer, and Elbert H. Gary LLB 1868, founder of U.S. Steel and namesake of Gary, Indiana. The central location of the Law School was chosen for its close proximity to the community for clinic work, for faculty to keep in touch with the legal bench and bar, it served as a central location for alumni passing through and to draw students away from the distractions of care-free college activities.

1926 Traditions of the English Bar
The Law School courtyard is modeled after the Temple Gardens in London, a little-known haven of tranquility cloistered by law buildings in the heart of a busy metropolis. These massive buildings with origins dating back to the 14th century, provide space for its over 8,000 scholarly members of judges, barristers and students to congregate. The faculty of the time had confident hope that Northwestern Law would preserve the spirit of this enterprise.

1926 Wigmore Chimes installed in Levy Mayer
A 37-note carillon, which is a set of stationary bells, is installed at the Law School at the request of Wigmore. The apparatus is furnished by the Kimball Organ Company of Chicago. At the stroke of twelve noon the bells can be heard playing the Law School song, “Counselor’s Chorus,” written by Wigmore.
Letter from Dean Wigmore regarding origins of the Chimes

1927 James Nabrit graduates
James M. Nabrit Jr. JD ’27 graduates from the Law School and in 1938 he introduces the first formal civil rights law course in the U.S. and later served as the Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations and president and law dean of Howard University. Nabritt also argued the companion case to Brown vs. The Board of Education before the Supreme Court in 1954.

1927 Start of stained glass tradition
A tradition is started by each class to place a double pane of stained class with the class number and design in Lincoln Hall. A proposal is made to add panes for past classes dating back to 1860.
Letter Regarding Stained Glass Origins

1929 Air Law Institute established
The Air Law Institute, conceived by Wigmore, is established in August 1929. The institute focuses on laws and regulations affecting air transportation throughout the world.

1929 Leon Green becomes dean
Leon Green, a leading scholar in torts law, succeeds Wigmore as dean. During his tenure, the Law School expands the scope of its curriculum, changing from its traditional concentration on the judicial process of the courts to the study and analysis of the relationship between the law and a whole range of governmental and business agencies. Green serves in this post for eighteen years, retiring in 1947.

1929 Scientific Crime Detection Lab established
In the wake of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the Scientific Crime Detection Lab, affiliated with Northwestern Law, begins operation in July 1929. The lab carries on an extensive research program, renders important services to various police departments throughout the United States, and develops a number of valuable investigative devices, including the lie detector. The lab was transferred to the Chicago city government in 1938.

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1930 Arthur Goldberg graduates
Arthur Goldberg JD ’30 graduates from the Law School and in 1962 he is appointed to the United States Supreme Court as an Associate Justice. Goldberg was also an Ambassador to the United Nations.

1931 David Bazelon graduates
David Bazelon JD ’31 graduates from the Law School and in 1959 he becomes the youngest judge ever appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. He later becomes Chief Judge and a pioneer in mental health law.

1933 George Ball graduates
George W. Ball JD ’33 graduates from the Law School and in 1968, following a seven-year stint as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs, he becomes U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

1934 Junior Bar Assoc. established
The Junior Bar Association is organized, assuming responsibility for the promotion of student activities and for obtaining unity and cooperation among the student body. The JBA serves many roles, ranging from developing rules of conduct for the examination honor system, to organizing social events, and day to day operations such as choosing vending machine vendors. Today it is known as the Student Bar Association and continues to be the formal student representative body within the Law School.

1935 Six-year degree created
The Law School introduces a Bachelor of Law degree for candidates who complete a six-year course which combines three years of undergraduate work and three years of law school.

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1940 Abbott Hall opens
Abbott Hall, which stands 20 stories high, opens as a dormitory for law students with a housing capacity of 1,000 students. During World War II Abbott Hall was taken over by the Navy for training reserve midshipmen.

1941 Wigmore Follies
The school instates the Wigmore Follies which was a parody of skits between faculty and students. It originally only included students from the Law Review and faculty. Over the years it was opened to all students and has now since evolved into a full-scale theatrical production performed by students. It started as and remains to be a sharp-witted take on life in law school. Named after Law School Dean John Henry Wigmore, the Follies  have continued to serve as a way to build camaraderie between faculty and students unwinding from the school year.

1943 Wartime enrollment
Due to World War II, enrollment at the Law School drops from 261 in 1939-1940 to just fifty-seven in 1943-44. Faculty declines from 38 to four and the number of JDs awarded drops from 38 to nine. In an effort to maintain enrollment, the administration lowers the admission requirement from three years of college to two and adopts an accelerated schedule of three full terms within a calendar year.
WWII Enrollment Stats

1946 Cecil Partee graduates
Cecil Partee JD ’46 graduates from the Law School and in 1976, he is nominated for Attorney General of Illinois, becoming one of the first African-American to be nominated by a major party for statewide office.

1947 John Paul Stevens graduates
John Paul Stevens JD ’47 graduates from Northwestern Law with the highest GPA of any student in the Law School’s history. In 1975, he becomes Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, where he serves until 2010. He retires as the third longest serving justice and second oldest justice ever and the last member of the Court who did not study law at Harvard or Yale.

1947 LSAT introduced
The Law School begins using the Law School Admission Test for admittance due to excessive applicants. The test was a requirement in the case of all applicants whose transcripts showed less than a "strong B average in a college with whose standards the admissions office is familiar.” By 1950, all applicants were being required to have taken the LSAT.
1948 LSAT Form

1948 Havighurst becomes dean
Harold Havighurst, a member of the Law School faculty since 1938, becomes dean in March 1948. As dean, Havighurst spearheads the addition of more elective courses, strengthens the school’s seminar program, and stresses the need for new buildings for the library and for student housing. He retires in 1956.

1949 The Reporter
The Reporter began as an eight-page newsletter created to inform alumni, friends, and colleagues of the achievements and events of Law School community. The Reporter was originally a student publication and its founding editors were members of the Junior Bar Association. It was succeeded by the Northwestern Reporter and grew into a substantial magazine. Together the two publications ran for nearly a half century, chronicling important events in the Law School’s history.
The Reporter Archive

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1951 Dale Bumpers graduates
Dale Bumpers JD ’51 graduates from the Law School. In 1970, he is elected governor of Arkansas, and in 1974, he is elected to the first of four terms as U.S. Senator from Arkansas.

1952 Dawn Clark Netsch graduates
Dawn Clark Netsch JD ’52 graduates first in her class from the Law School and in 1965 she becomes the first female faculty member at Northwestern Law. In 1994, she becomes the first woman nominated by a major political party for governor of Illinois.

1952 Harold Washington graduates
Harold Washington JD ’52 graduates from the Law School and in 1983, he is elected the first African American mayor of Chicago.

1956 John Ritchie III becomes dean
John Ritchie III succeeds Harold Havinghurst as dean. During his deanship the faculty grows in size and reputation, and new facilities are constructed. His years at Northwestern are marked for his devotion to students and for the strengthening of the Law School's relationship with alumni.

1956 Undergraduate degree required
Beginning in academic year 1956-57, students are required to obtain an undergraduate degree in order for admittance to the Law School.

1959 Centennial
The Law School celebrates its centennial. In May, the laying of the first cornerstone for McCormick Hall kicked off construction efforts. The Centennial Convocation in September includes the dedication of the Owen L. Coon Library and the awarding of honorary Doctor of Laws degrees to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren and Associate Justices Tom C. Clark and John M. Harlan.
A Short History Commemorating the Centennial of the Law School

1959 Horace Ward graduates
Horace T. Ward JD ’59 graduates from the Law School and becomes the first African-American to challenge the racially discriminatory practices of the University of Georgia Law School. As a result, in 1961, UGA admits its first black students. Ward is later appointed to the Northern District Court of Georgia

1959 James Thompson graduates
James R. Thompson JD ’59 graduates from the Law School and in 1976, he is elected governor of Illinois. After 14 years, he becomes the state’s longest serving governor.

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1960 Carole Kamin graduates
Carole Kamin Bellows JD ’60 graduates from the Law School and in 1977, she is elected president of the Illinois State Bar Association, the first female state bar president in the country.

1962 First Corporate Counsel Institute
Approximately 300 lawyers attend the first Corporate Counsel Institute. The Corporate Counsel Institute provides in-house counsel with updates on legal developments and current issues impacting business.

1962 McCormick Hall opens
The three-story, L-shaped McCormick Hall opens in 1962. The building is made possible through a substantial grant from the Robert R. McCormick Trust. Colonel McCormick, a member of the class of 1907, was a famed editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. McCormick Hall was needed to accommodate the expansion of the student body and faculty, providing additional classrooms, a moot courtroom and expanded library space.

1964 Curriculum overhauled
The Law School undertakes a thorough evaluation of its curriculum, which results in several significant changes. For instance, curriculum for the first year is now completely prescribed, and the second and third years are open for electives. Another important innovation is the Senior Research Program (now the Owen L. Coon/James A. Rahl Senior Research Program) for third year students. This program allows students to pursue individual research under close supervision of a faculty member on a subject matter that interests them both.
Curriculum Changes

1964 Moot Court - Endowment of Julius Miner Competition
Mrs. Julius H. Miner and John J. Crown make gifts totaling $50,000 to the Law School to endow the Julius H. Miner Moot Court Competition. Miner LLM ’45 was a Cook County Circuit Court Judge and a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

1967 Sophia Hall graduates
Sophia Hall JD ’67 graduates from the Law School. In 1992, she is the first woman named Presiding Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County

1968 Clinic established
Students approach faculty with the idea of opening an in-house clinic at the Law School. One year later, the clinic opens its doors in the basement of Thorne Hall, its first home.
Bluhm Legal Clinic

1969 JD-PhD introduced
The Law School establishes a joint JD-PhD program, which is designed to allow students to complete both degrees more effectively than they would through consecutive degree programs. Students are able to complete the entire program, including dissertation, in six years. Today, the program is the most integrated one of its kind with the most generous funding in the nation.
Origins of JD-PhD Degree

1969 LLB replaced by JD
Northwestern Law joins other major law schools in substituting the JD for the LLB. Faculty and trustees agree that the JD should be retroactively awarded to holders of the LLB.

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1970 JD-MBA introduced
Northwestern Law partners with the Kellogg School of Management to offer a joint JD-MBA degree. Today, JD-MBA students account for approximately 10 percent of the total JD student body.

1970 Library instates computer-based system
The law library becomes the first department to utilize the computer-based integrated library system NOTIS (Northwestern Online Total Integration System).

1972 James Rahl becomes dean
The only Northwestern graduate to serve as dean, James A. Rahl JD ’42 succeeds Ritchie as dean of the Law School. An authority in antitrust law, Rahl is the driving force behind the implementation of the Law School’s unique senior research program.

1977 David Ruder becomes dean
David Ruder, a leading expert in corporate and securities law, becomes dean. Under Dean Ruder’s leadership, the Law School cements its ties to the business community. Eight years later, Ruder leaves Northwestern to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1989, he returns to the Northwestern Law faculty, where he currently is a professor emeritus.

1979 Rita Fry graduates
Rita Fry JD ’79 graduates from the Law School and in 1988, she becomes the first woman, and first African-American woman, Cook County Public Defender.

1979 Ruben Castillo graduates
Ruben Castillo JD ’79 graduates from the Law School and in 1994, he becomes the first Latino federal judge in Illinois.

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1984 Rubloff building opens
Northwestern Law conducts a major capital campaign that funds the construction of an addition to the Law School facilities. Named for Arthur Rubloff, a legendary Chicago real estate magnate who made a major contribution to the campaign, the Rubloff building helps transform Northwestern Law into one of the finest facilities of any major urban law school.

1985 Robert Bennett becomes dean
Robert Bennett, a scholar in the field of constitutional law and a member of the faculty since 1969, becomes dean. Under Bennett’s leadership, the Law School expands and strengthens its faculty, adding a number of endowed chairs and research and teaching professorships. Bennett serves in the position for ten years. Today, he is the school’s Nathaniel L. Nathanson Professor of Law.

1989 Trienens Visiting Judicial Scholar Program established
Partners of Sidley and Austin establish the Howard J. Trienens Visiting Judicial Scholar Program at Northwestern Law in 1989 to honor Mr. Trienens' service to the firm and to Northwestern. Trienens received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in 1945 and a JD in 1949.

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1991 The Pope & John Lecture on Professionalism established
The Chicago firm of Pope & John Ltd. establishes a lecture series at Northwestern Law. The Pope & John Lecture on Professionalism focuses on the many dimensions of a lawyer's professional responsibility, including legal ethics, public service, professional civility, pro bono representation, and standards of conduct.

1995 David Van Zandt becomes dean
David Van Zandt begins his position at the helm of the Law School. A scholar in the fields of corporate law and international finance, Van Zandt came to the Law School as a professor in 1985. Under his leadership, Northwestern Law is strategically focused on improving its research capabilities and reaching out to employers of its graduates to understand what Northwestern's graduates need to succeed. Faculty grows by 40 percent and more than 50 percent of the research-intensive faculty hold PhDs in related disciplines. Van Zandt serves for 15 years, the second longest running term for any dean. In 2010, he becomes President of The New School in New York.

1997 Admissions interview program/preference for work experience instated
The Law school establishes a unique admissions interview program and preference for previous work experience to help improve the student body not only academically, but also in terms of maturity, teamwork, and interpersonal skills.

1997 LLM/K introduced
The first class of students in the Graduate Program in Law and Business (LLM/Kellogg) begin their studies. The program offers international students the rare opportunity to study both business law and management techniques.

1998 Center on Wrongful Convictions established
The Law School hosts the first National Conference on Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty, which features a moving appearance by more than thirty men and women who have been on death row, but were subsequently exonerated. The conference leads to the creation of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008.

1998 Laptop requirement for all students
All students are required to have laptop computers for classes.

1998 Law School launches new strategic plan
The Law School releases a strategic plan in 1998 for building “The great law school for the changing world.” The Plan provides a realistic assessment of trends in the legal profession, a critical analysis of the Law School’s strengths and weaknesses, and a blueprint for leveraging the strengths of Northwestern Law and distinguishing it from the competition. Northwestern is one of few law schools in the country to formulate a strategic plan for its school - a practice virtually unheard of at this time.

1999 Library named for Pritzker family
A campaign to fund the Strategic Plan starts in 1999. The campaign receives a jump start with a gift of $10 million from the Pritzker family, one of Chicago’s most successful and charitable families. In part, the donation honors Law School graduate Jay Pritzker JD’47, the chairman and founder of Hyatt Corporation. The family’s gift is commemorated by naming the Law School’s library and legal research facility the Pritzker Legal Research Center.

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2000 3-year accelerated JD-MBA introduced
The Law School partners with the Kellogg School of Management to offer the first integrated, three-year JD-MBA program in the nation.

2000 Law School goes wireless
The Law School is equipped with a wireless network and the first access point is installed in the Atrium

2000 Legal clinic named
The clinic is formally named the Bluhm Legal Clinic, in part to honor a $7 million gift from Neil G. Bluhm JD ’62. In 2007, the clinic moves to a new, state-of-the-art, 22,000-square-foot home on the 8th floor of the Rubloff building. The clinic, one of the best in the nation, today houses twelve programs and centers.

2001 Executive LLM program introduced
Northwestern Law aims to expand its international reach by offering Executive LLM Programs for working legal and business professionals in Europe, Korea, and the Middle East. The programs are made possible through partnerships with the KAIST Graduate School of Management in Seoul, South Korea; IE Law School in Madrid, Spain; Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel.

2002 LLM in Taxation introduced
Northwestern Law welcomes the inaugural class of the LLM Tax Program. The class includes twenty-two full time and eleven part-time LLM Tax students, as well as eight joint JD-LLM Tax students. The program has held the No. 4 spot in the U.S. News and World Report rankings since 2005.

2006 Searle Center instituted
The Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth was established to research how government regulation and interpretation of laws and regulations by the courts affect business and economic growth. The Center has a dual mission of both research and education.

2008 Plan 2008 introduced
After two years of research and analysis, the Law School releases Plan 2008: Preparing Great Leaders for the Changing World. The Plan updates, expands, and improves upon portions of the 1998 Strategic Plan. The proposals aim to ensure that Northwestern Law prepares its graduates for success in multi-job careers better than any other law school.

2009 AJD introduced
Northwestern Law becomes the first top tier law school to offer an Accelerated JD program. Students in the program take the same number of credit hours as traditional JD students, but in a condensed timeframe – five semesters instead of six – and graduate two calendar years after they begin.

2009 Law School Celebrates 150 years
In celebration of the Law School’s 150th anniversary, a special website is launched that chronicles the history of the Law School. Events were planned to commemorate this milestone during the annual Alumni Reunion Weekend.

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2011 ALLM introduced
The Law School launches the Accelerated Summer LLM (ALLM) program, a 15-week degree program that brings together law graduates from diverse non-U.S. jurisdictions to study at Northwestern Law. Specifically designed for graduates of non-U.S. law schools working in their home countries, the ALLM program emphasizes the importance of the role of the lawyer as a strategic advisor in business. In 2016, the program was overhauled and renamed the Executive LLM Chicago (ELLMC).

2012 Access to Health launches
In collaboration with the Feinberg School of Medicine and the Kellogg School of Management, the Law School launches Access to Health, a cross-campus initiative designed to build teams of students and faculty who work with non-governmental organizations in the developing world to develop sustainable interventions that improve health outcomes. Since 2012, Access to Health students and faculty have worked on healthcare issues in the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Mali, and Nigeria.

2012 Daniel B. Rodriguez becomes dean
Daniel B. Rodriguez is appointed Northwestern Law dean and Harold Washington Professor of Law, effective January 1, 2012. Previously the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, Rodriguez also is a former dean at the University of San Diego Law School. He succeeds David Van Zandt, who had served as dean since 1995. Northwestern Law Professor Kim Yuracko served as interim dean of the Law School from January 1 to December 31, 2011.

2013 DPELC offers Massive Open Online Course
The Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center launches a massive open online course (MOOC), Law and the Entrepreneur, as part of a university-wide initiative to provide selected Northwestern courses globally. More than 16,000 students worldwide register for the course.

2013 Master of Science in Law program introduced
The Law School creates a one-year Master of Science in Law (MSL) degree for STEM professionals. Students receive business-centered legal training in the areas of intellectual property and patent design, business law and entrepreneurship, and regulatory analysis and strategy. The inaugural class began in fall 2014.

2015 Admissions introduces video interviews
Northwestern Law is the first law school to provide applicants with the option to complete their interview using video technology from any internet-accessible location and at any time of the day. The video interviews are constructed to solicit information along five competencies: motivation, maturity and responsibility, resilience, empathy, and problem solving.

2015 Atrium Expansion
The Law School completes the atrium expansion project; adding study areas, a state-of-the-art classroom, and an expanded cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. The 14-month project was completed by Holabird & Root, the firm that designed the Arthur Rubloff building.

2015 Center for Practice Engagement and Innovation established
The Center for Practice Engagement and Innovation (CPEI) is established. Led by Professor James Lupo, the center serves as an incubator for legal education innovation, bringing together leaders from all sectors of the legal profession to inform and shape best practices for training Northwestern Law students to assume future leadership in law. Since its founding, CPEI has brought together legal practitioners in several design charrettes that have generated curricular innovation ideas.

2015 Inaugural Newt and Jo Minow Debate held
The inaugural Newt and Jo Minow Debate is held at the Law School. The debate series is established as part of a gift from friends and colleagues of Newton N. Minow (BS '49, JD '50), former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to honor his career-long commitment to elevating public dialogue throughout his career. This same gift endows a new named professorship at the Law School.

2015 Northwestern Law helps open law school in Qatar
Northwestern Law enters a partnership with the Qatar Foundation and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), to assist them in creating a new graduate law school in Doha, Qatar. Professor Clinton Francis assumes the role of interim Dean to launch a three-year JD program at HBKU, the first of its kind in the Middle East.

2015 Pritzker Family Makes Unprecedented Gift
On October 22, 2015, Law School alumnus J.B. Pritzker (JD '93) and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, gave $100 million to significantly advance the school's mission and vision. The gift will allow the best students, no matter what their socio-economic background, to get a legal education at one of the top law schools in the country. The gift also focuses on the advancement of the study of law, business, and technology, and on public interest initiatives in the areas of civil and human rights. In recognition of this extraordinary gift, the 156-year-old school is named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

2016 Public Interest Center founded
The Law School’s Public Interest Center is founded to house the growing array of public interest offerings at the school under a single umbrella, enhancing the Law School’s strong commitment to a public service ethic. Among the center’s features are financial support for students doing public interest work during and after law school; a robust menu of course offerings, including a law and social policy concentration; career programming and counseling; a wide range of pro bono and public service opportunities; and passionate student organization participation and leadership.

2016 Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship concentration introduced
The Law School introduces a Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship concentration for students to explore issues that drive the innovation process through coursework in three main areas: innovation regulation and policy, legal practice technology, and entrepreneurship. The concentration includes capstone course offerings for students to put the knowledge and technical skills they learn into practice.

2017 Innovation Lab offered for JD, LLM, and MSL students
The Innovation Lab, a joint initiative of the Master of Science in Law program and the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center, is designed to give students hands-on experience with the innovation process. Throughout the course, teams of students from across degree programs create a commercially viable technology-based solution to address an existing legal problem.

2018 Kimberly A. Yuracko becomes dean
Kimberly A. Yuracko, the Judd and Mary Morris Leighton Professor of Law, is appointed Northwestern Law Dean, effective September 1, 2018. Yuracko joined the Northwestern Law faculty in 2002 and served as its associate dean for academic affairs from 2009-2010. She holds a joint appointment in the department of political science in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Yuracko is a nationally renowned scholar in the areas of employment law, antidiscrimination law and gender equity. She succeeds Daniel B. Rodriguez, the Law School’s dean since 2012.

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2021 Hari M. Osofsky becomes dean
Hari M. Osofsky is appointed dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Myra and James Bradwell Professor, effective August 1, 2021. A leading scholar of energy and climate change law, Osofsky was previously the dean of Penn State Law and the Penn State School of International Affairs. She succeeds Kimberly Yuracko, who served as dean from 2018 to 2020. Northwestern Law Professor James Speta served as interim dean of the Law School from August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021.

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