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September 16, 2013

Work experience and the NU Law student body

by Dan Rodriguez

91% of our entering JD students had at least a year’s worth of work experience between graduation and law school.  The number was 90% last year and 95% one year before that.

This number is exceptional among top U.S. law schools and undergirds what we call the Northwestern Difference.

The students who come to Northwestern with work experience, in some cases, a significant amount and range of such experience, have developed some key skills in teamwork and task management.  And they have a level of maturity that translates into excellent judgment and the ability to manage time and juggle activities.  These qualities not only improve the learning experience within the law school classroom, they also provide a tangible level of sophistication to employers in business and legal settings.  Employers value these qualities and they note the ways in which our more experienced students are better able to hit the professional ground running.

Preference for work experience has expanded among peer law schools.  Harvard Law has developed a creative strategy to enable students to defer enrollment in order to gain experience.  And it seems that, in general, the student bodies of other leading law schools are gradually becoming older.

However widespread and enduring these trends, Northwestern Law is proud of its longstanding emphasis on work experience in our admissions process.  And we are proud of the difference that this emphasis makes in both the classroom and in the culture of the Law School.

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