This is the third in a series of posts looking at how law schools in specific markets stack up based on the results of our ATL Insider Survey. Very few law schools are truly national institutions. Typically, the majority of graduates don’t stray too far from their alma maters, so the strongest network will be local, for local jobs. It’s to your advantage to go to school where you want to practice, sometimes even more so than going to a higher-ranked school.

In recent weeks, we’ve looked at our survey results pertaining to Boston and New York-area law schools. We examined how current law students rate their schools in terms of academics, career counseling, financial aid advising, practical/clinical training, and social life.

Today we turn to Chicago. Which school was highest rated by its current students in all but one category?

Keep in mind that these survey results are purely a function of what our respondents tell us about their experiences at their schools, nothing else. It turns out that people at Northwestern hold their school in very high regard, and congratulations to them. Check out the ratings:

Quality of Faculty and Academic Instruction (ratings are on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest)):

1. Northwestern (3.60)
2. University of Chicago (3.58)
3. DePaul University (3.56)
4. Loyola University – Chicago (3.33)
5. Chicago Kent (3.32)
6. John Marshall (2.67)

Practical and Clinical Training:

1. Northwestern (3.58)
2. Loyola University – Chicago (3.53)
3. Chicago-Kent (3.26)
4. University of Chicago (3.00)
4. DePaul University (3.00)
4. John Marshall (3.00)

Financial Aid Advising:

1. Loyola University – Chicago (3.07)
2. Chicago-Kent (2.83)
3. Northwestern (2.78)
4. University of Chicago (2.58)
5. DePaul (2.44)
6. John Marshall (1.86)

Career Counseling and Job Search Help:

1. Northwestern (3.10)
2. University of Chicago (2.98)
3. Loyola University – Chicago (2.93)
4. Chicago-Kent (2.83)
5. John Marshall (2.22)
6. DePaul University (2.00)

Social Life:

1. Northwestern (3.50)
2. Loyola University – Chicago (3.33)
3. DePaul University (3.22)
4. University of Chicago (2.87)
5. Chicago-Kent (2.79)
6. John Marshall (2.44)

Overall Rating:

1. Northwestern (3.31)
2. Loyola University – Chicago (3.24)
3. Chicago – Kent (3.01)
4. University of Chicago (3.00)
5. DePaul University (2.84)
6. John Marshall (2.44)

One consistent theme in the Northwestern students’ survey comments is that the student body is unusually mature. As one respondent told us, “The student population is old, I’m not talking elderly, just most people are older.” The benefits of this older student body were outlined by a peer:

Unlike other top schools, about 95% of students have at least 1 year of experience, usually more … I think the work experience gives students valuable perspective – not necessarily about the issues, but a perspective on life. A maturity that may not be found in typical law schools filled with fresh out of undergrad liberal arts gunners who didn’t have a life in college.

Again, congrats to Northwestern, and thanks to all the students who took our brief, absolutely confidential survey. If you haven’t yet, please take our survey here.


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