4.5 out of 5 Stars
Engaged students and factuality; professors committed to teaching; great employment prospectsDowners
Intellectually elitist; little emphasis on clinics and pro-bono opportunitiesComments
Come if you want an intense, intellectually rigorous experience in a tight-knit environmentWould You Recommend
Class sizes are relatively small which means that sometimes there are not enough courses offered and a really popular one can get crowded easily. But on the other hand you can always get whatever class you want it just might be in a larger room. The small seminar classes with prominent faculty are outstanding and sometimes as small as ten students to a professor. The faculty are some of the most brilliant in their field and are truly challenging and inspiring. The legal writing course is pretty terrible, but I don't know of any law school who has a good one. There is no study abroad which is unfortunate. There are many many research opportunities because of the student faculty ratio. I find the competitiveness is very low, because you know all of your fellow students so well it's hard to be competitive against anyone but yourself.Quality of Life
Chicago is a city and more expensive than most places, but incredibly cheap compared to cities of it's size (LA, NY, Boston, Miami). The campus is very beautiful but it is kind of removed from the rest of the city in Hyde Park which is both good and bad. The law building is very nice with lockers and a small cafe inside. The library is fantastic with computers and wireless throughout. Crime does happen around the neighborhood, but I have never had a problem (knock on wood) and I walk around at night without a problem but I do carry MACE just in case. If you are not lazy like me there are also Safe Ride buses you can call or police umbrella services available 24 hours. The neighborhood of the law school is definitely lacking but it only takes a 20 min bus to get to the heart of downtown Chicago, and the public transportation here is phenomenal. I think it is a very, very happy place to be even with the cold :)Admissions
LSAT and essays are very important. I think there was one optional essay. The scholarship and financial aid is sparse, but the school has one of the best loan forgiveness programs for those that are public interest bound ($10,000 forgiven per year worked in the public interest sector!) and other students can count on generous firm salaries to pay back loans quickly.Level
Chicago is one of the few remaining law schools that does hardcore Socratic, in every single class. Most law schools have backed off or softened a little bit. Chicago is also very hardcore about grading; a strict curve, while other law schools (other T14 law schools) have been inflating and softening their grading curve. Our professors are world class, famous, brilliant, but also caring. We have amazing, prominent faculty. The class size is really small, which means a lot of attention for each individual student, and the bigelow legal research and writing program provides a lot of structure and guidance. Chicago does have a very competitive atmosphere though; students don't come here to screw around. In my class of 200, I don't know anyone who doesn't study hard every day.Quality of Life
Quality of life is awesome. Hyde Park is small but it's a classic college town. It's waaaaaaay safer than it was 5 years ago, and it's growing in size. It has a dozen or so restaurants, really nice cafes, and campus type hangouts (like bowling and bars). The best part is that you're 10-15 minutes downtown by public transportation and it's really convenient; downtown Chicago has everything.Admissions
Like most law school, admissions requires essays, high LSAT (people sometimes ridicule you at Chicago if you have below 170), high GPA from undergrad. You use LSDAS. They interview *some* but not all applicants, if they ask for an interview you have to give it.Level
Socratic heavy first year; After the first year, I had many small seminarsLevel
Most professors use the socratic method, which when properly executed, is far superior to any other method. Seminars are usually 10-20 students, and lecture classes range anywhere from 10 to around 120 for the main 1L classes.
Faculty is amazing and is what sets this school apart from its peers.
Grading system, in my opinion, is ideal. It identifies the very top students so that are good candidates for the most selective clerkships and similar positions, and it also protects/muddles everyone else so that employers can't distinguish, say, the 40th percentile from the 60th percentile.
Lots of great research opportunities. We were required to write two "substantial" research papers, which can be quite serious works if one so desires.Quality of Life
Lots of options, both private and University-affiliated, in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is both inexpensive and safe.Admissions
Typical process: essay, LSAT, etc. I was a borderline candidate, so I was asked to come in for an interview and write an additional essay on a given topic. I actually really enjoyed both the essay and the interview.Level
Most professors use the Socratic method.
In the second and third year there are excellent opportunities to focus on both theory and practical study. Students can get credit for clinical work and take classes from a variety of highly successful practitioners. Also, there are excellent opportunities to take highly theoretical classes and classes which largely review and focus on scholarship. It certainly helps that Chicago has such esteemed faculty members. Further, law students can take classes in any other department at the University of Chicago--many have taken classes at the business school, graduate school of economics, as well as schools like public policy and undergraduate programs.
Grading is on a scale based from 155-186. The median, for curved classes, is 177. I have found that getting away from the 4.0 scale has encourages a focus away from grades and more towards learning. Because few employers understand our grading scale, grades don't matter as much. I don't know what grades most of my colleagues, and even close friends, receive. Everyone I can think of has the job they want--whether it is a clerkship, big firm job, or public interest. As a result, there is no reason to be competitive. I find that most students are primarily competitive with themselves. Interpersonal competitiveness based on grades is not socially acceptable at Chicago. Grades are seen as superficial and really more of a tangential aspect of legal education.Level
Socratic method in most classes. I have a workshop on judicial behavior tought by Judge Posner. Judge Easterbrook has attended every class just because he is interested in the subject. It is amazing.Quality of Life
The facilities are excellent.Admissions
I applied as a transfer. U of C is one of the few schools that allows for an early transfer application (after 1st semester of IL year).Level
Individually, most students are laid back and cooperative with discussion and ideas, but in class, the high admittance standars show with prepared students and exceptional answers. The quality of the student body, however, pales in comparison to the brillance of the faculty, which is filled with up and coming academic elite as well as old-school law and econ notables. Every professor enjoys teaching and approaches it with a sense of humor.Level