The University of Chicago Law School located in Chicago, Illinois occupies a unique niche among this country’s premier law schools. Students, faculty, and staff form a small, tightly knit community devoted to the life of the mind. Learning is participatory. Chicago does not seek to impose a single viewpoint or style of thought on its students. Instead, our faculty exposes students to contrasting views, confident in students’ abilities to choose their own paths.
University of Chicago Law School graduates lead and innovate in government, activism, academia, and business, as well as law. For this reason, Chicago aims not to merely certify lawyers, but to train well-rounded, critical, and socially conscious thinkers and doers. Three cornerstones provide the foundation for Chicago’s educational mission: the life of the mind, participatory learning, and interdisciplinary inquiry.
Learning the law at Chicago is a collaborative venture between faculty and students that begins in the classroom but extends far beyond it. In a Chicago classroom, students share the stage with the professor. The professor does not lecture the students but rather engages them in a dialogue.. Known as the Socratic Method, this dialogue presents students with questions, to which there are no easy answers, regarding some of our most complex legal and social problems. This method prepares students to think on their feet when the stakes are high in the courtroom, legislative chamber, or boardroom.
All first-year students participate in the legal writing program under the guidance of one of the full-time Bigelow Teaching Fellows. Through this program, students master a lawyer’s most powerful skills – researching, writing, and presenting well-reasoned legal arguments.
Chicago students also learn by meeting in groups to explore particular areas of the law, hosting distinguished speakers, attending faculty Works-in-Progress lunches, meeting with faculty, and organizing symposia. Learning through lunch is a tradition at Chicago. Lunchtime guests have included Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, ACLU President Nadine Strossen, and attorneys that argued Michigan’s affirmative action case. Other recent visitors have included Vernon Jordan and Carol Mosely Braun. Students are also encouraged to attend lectures, workshops, and symposia at other divisions of the University of Chicago. United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer recently participated in the Shakespeare and the Law conference.
About one-third of the upper class students produce publications that feature articles by the world’s leading legal minds. The University of Chicago Law Review publishes articles quarterly on every conceivable legal subject. The University of Chicago Legal Forum, an annual event, concentrates each year on a single topic around which it organizes a scholarly symposium. The Chicago Journal of International Law brings a new perspective to international and comparative law.
The Moot Court competition is open to all second and third-year students who want to hone their appellate advocacy skills. Both students and faculty avidly follow the competition. In the first round, participants argue a case before panels of local attorneys. In the second round, ten students brief and argue a different case before a faculty panel. The four finalists work in teams to brief and argue yet another case before a panel that includes distinguished sitting federal appellate and Supreme Court judges.