Prospective Students: Message from the Dean
Welcome to the University of Chicago Law School. I welcome you from a perspective of considerable personal experience. I was a student here myself (from 1968 to 1971) and I have been a member of the faculty since 1973. Chicago is, quite simply, a most remarkable institution.
What is unique about us? We have a small and very select faculty and student body. This allows for great accessibility and interaction, which we prize. The very design of the building is intended to foster student-faculty contact. Unlike most law schools, where faculty offices are located in a separate and distinct part of the building, faculty offices at Chicago are on the perimeter of the library, so students and faculty run into each other constantly. We take a deep interest in our students and we take pride in their achievements, both while they are here and in the years and decades to come.
We also take teaching very seriously. We believe that the education of future lawyers (including judges, academics, government officials, public interest lawyers, etc.) is essential to our mission. We understand that we are, in the best sense of the phrase, a "professional school." We do law and philosophy, law and history, law and economics, law and literature, and so on, but at our core we are about . . . the law.
More fundamentally, this is a place that is deeply committed to the principle that ideas matter. Indeed, that is what we are most "about." Everything here is open to question. Nothing is taken for granted. It is an exciting, challenging, engaging, and demanding educational and intellectual culture. One of my favorite comments about the University of Chicago is that at this institution "the only appropriate response to even the most withering question is not resentment, but gratitude." That captures the essential spirit of Chicago, for faculty and students alike. We test each other’s ideas constantly, with the overarching goal of making them better (or, if need be, discarding them).
Chicago is also renowned for our distinctive strengths in law and economics, law and philosophy, legal history, international law, and constitutional law. We also have one of the strongest and most vibrant clinical and public service programs in the nation. The Law School has a broad range of clinical programs for students, we fund all of our students interested in working on public service during the summers, and we have very generous post-graduate public service fellowships, as well.
Our goal in all of this, first and foremost, is to prepare our students for the future. We strive to give them the analytical, intellectual, and personal skills necessary for them to be successful across a broad range of endeavors. Among our alumni are not only extraordinary lawyers in the best law firms in the nation, but also, to cite just a few examples, the Chair of the nation’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the Commissioner of the NBA, the Director of the FBI, the founder of the website TMZ.com, the chief executive officer of the Carlyle Group, the executive director of the Legal Assistance Foundation, and the general counsel of United Airlines. Our alumni are everywhere – in government, in public service, in Congress, on the federal bench, in legal academia, in business, and in every facet of the practice of law. That is our goal – to provide our students with those opportunities both in the short run and for a lifetime.
I hope I've given you some sense of the Law School. I can confidently assure you, based on my experience with several thousand students over the past forty years, that if you choose Chicago you will never regret it. It will be a demanding, enlightening, and at times exhilarating experience. It will test your confidence and your courage, but it will make you the very best lawyer — and thinker — you can be.
With warm best wishes,
Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law