Research Funding

Research Accounts

The Law School is committed to ensuring that faculty are able to conduct a diverse array of research and scholarship activities, as well as engage in professional development opportunities. Many expenses that directly support these efforts may be paid for or reimbursed using research account funds.

Allowable Expenses

  • Professional membership dues
  • Research and conference-related expenses (see details below under Travel Expenses)
  • Research Assistant (RA) wages
  • Books and media relevant to research
  • Article printing and submission costs
  • Special or larger-scale postage and shipping
  • Software and data sets
  • Computing equipment (see details below)
  • Office furniture (see details below)

Unallowable Expenses

  • Expenses that exceed the available research account budget
  • Home internet or in-home installation of equipment
  • Local meals, parking, or transportation during regular working hours
  • Meals or refreshments for class (note the policy regarding the Law School's 1L student meal initiative)
  • Expenses submitted for reimbursement that are >$75 without an itemized receipt and/or older than 90 days
  • Taxes on retail purchases
  • Reimbursements for computing equipment or office furniture that are not purchased through Law IT or Facilities (see below)
  • Toner for home printers 
  • Appliances (refrigerators, microwaves, or other similar items)
  • Other expenses identified as unallowable or not reimbursable per the Travel, Entertainment, and Courtesy (pdf) guidelines, including personal, decorative, and entertainment-related items

Travel Expenses

Expenses related to business travel (for example, to attend a conference, present research, etc), may be paid or reimbursed using research account funds. Please review the University’s COVID Travel Guidelines for up to date information regarding university travel policies.

Computing Equipment

Computing equipment (e.g., laptops, tablets, monitors, etc.) beyond the standard primary office computer may be paid for using research account funds. Secondary computing equipment must be purchased through the Law IT team. Members of the Law IT team are equipped to help guide faculty and provide recommendations that will best meet research and instruction needs, and to leverage the Law School and University’s preferred vendor pricing and tax exemption. The Law School will not reimburse for equipment purchased outside of Law IT. Toner for home printers is not reimbursable.

Please contact for additional information.

Office Furniture

Allowable items to furnish a Law School office may be purchased or reimbursed using research account funds. These items should be procured via Facilities, using preferred vendors when possible. The Law School will not reimburse for equipment that is made outside of Facilities, or via personal credit card.

Please contact for additional information.

Research Assistant Hiring Policies

Research Assistants may be hired using research account funds. RAs earn $16 per hour. They should be current Northwestern students and may work no more than 20 hours/week when taking classes. RAs may not begin work until the hiring process is complete, including I-9 employment verification and obtaining a social security number if needed. Faculty are expected to make RA hiring decisions that reflect the diversity of our student community and are encouraged to post job opportunities. If you wish to hire an RA or have questions, please contact the Law HR Team.

Spending Policy Exceptions

We expect faculty to comply with all research account spending guidelines as well as Law School and University policies. Exceptions to any of the above policies are extremely rare and must be pre-approved by Law Finance. Please contact Matt Seikel to seek pre-approval if you believe you have a purchase that warrants an exception. 

Requesting Additional Funds

Faculty may be able to request additional funds for special projects or research that will exceed their current research account budget. If you believe you may be eligible for additional research account funds, please contact the Associate Dean of Research and Intellectual Life to request additional funds. 

Research Account Management

Research account funds are allocated at the beginning of each fiscal year. Unspent research funds or research account overages may not carry between fiscal years. 

Financial activity will be monitored to ensure all research account spending stays within the budgeted amount. Your faculty assistant will provide you with a monthly report summarizing your current fiscal year activity. 

Grant Support

Faculty are encouraged to seek external grant funding to support their research needs. Please contact Derek Gundersen if you are interested in pursuing grant funding.