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Law Schools in Illinois: Your Guide

June 11, 2024
8 min read


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 1/3/24

It can be challenging to figure out which law school in Illinois is the best for you. Here, we’ll give you the inside scoop on the best law schools in Illinois to help you decide!

Being a lawyer means you’ll be able to represent clients in various legal matters. Practicing law is a special privilege that requires a long road of hard work. Law schools like to find candidates who can understand foundational legal frameworks to ensure that society maintains adequate law and order.

Aside from the legal jargon, there are many branches of law where lawyers can see the positive impact they make in the world. Being able to provide legal services for clients in need means they’ll have a chance to improve their outcomes in all kinds of fields like criminal law, intellectual property, health policy, and many more. 

Not only does Illinois have top prestigious law schools, but the state also has schools that emphasize flexibility, which can be a huge help if you have a family or career to worry about. Whether you’re interested in breaking into big law or combining law and tech, Illinois law schools have something for everyone.

Without delay, let's go through the top facts about Illinois-based law schools!

Law Schools in Illinois

It’s important to remember that each school on this list caters to different kinds of students. Although no one school can excel in every metric, each school has a slightly different approach to how they teach law. At any rate, they all offer a solid path to obtaining your juris doctor (JD) degree.

Law School U.S. News Ranking Acceptance Rate Location Median LSAT Median GPA
University of Chicago Law School #3 14.2% Chicago 173 3.91
Northwestern University (Pritzker) Law School #10 15% Chicago 171 3.89
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign #43 34.7% Champaign 166 3.71
Loyola University Chicago #84 41.7% Chicago 159 3.56
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent #99 50.5% Chicago 159 3.61
DePaul University #135 41.8% Chicago 156 3.57
University of Illinois--Chicago #159 66.4% Chicago 152 3.36
Northern Illinois University #162 52.1% DeKalb 150 3.36
Southern Illinois University--Carbondale #174 56.7% Carbondale 150 3.35

Source: US News

Illinois is home to nine accredited law schools. Some of which are internationally renowned institutions. Schools like UChicago and Pritzker are frequently rated within the top ten schools in the country. There are also a variety of flexible options that can be tailored to different interests.

University of Chicago Law School (UChicago) 

University of Chicago Law School (UChicago) 

Source: UChicago

Ranked as the third-best law school in the US, there’s no denying the prestige that comes from being a UChicago law alumnus. You’ll need a highly impressive GPA to be on par with the 3.91 median of all applicants. This is complemented by the median LSAT score of 173. 

The first-time bar passage also far exceeds the averages from other states: 97.8% compared to just 79.1%. In 2019, the ultimate bar passage rate reached 99.5%. 

At UChicago Law, you’ll have a well-rounded education. Your studies in law will be integrated with exciting topics like natural science, humanities, and social science.

Graduates from the JD program also go on to have impressive career prospects, with the class of 2021 enjoying a 99% percent employment rate within ten months of graduation. They also had a median private sector salary of $215k, making it one of the best law schools in Illinois. UChicago is also one of the most expensive law schools.

Northwestern University (Pritzker) Law School

Northwestern University (Pritzker) Law School

Source: Northwestern

Northwestern University’s Pritzker Law School is something that every aspiring lawyer in Illinois should take note of. The law school is one of the first to offer a two-year JD. Even more impressive, students can choose to pursue a combined JD-MBA with the Kellogg School of Management. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for part-time study, this isn’t an option here.

Coming in at number ten in best law schools, Pritzker looks for top students hoping to kickstart their law careers. The median GPA stands at 3.89, and the median LSAT is at 171. Altogether, the acceptance rate is 15%.

When it comes to the bar, 95.1% of Pritzker students pass it the first time around. For the year 2019, the ultimate bar passage rate hit 98.7%.

With five legal journals and 30-plus student organizations to join, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find your place and carve a niche at this Chicago law school.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Source: UIUC

Coming in at number 43 for best law schools is UIUC. With an acceptance rate of 34.7%, UIUC is a bit easier to get into than Pritzker or UChicago. For all program entrants, the median undergraduate GPA is 3.71. This is matched with the 166 median LSAT score. The first-time bar passage sits at 84.4%.

UIUC is fairly old compared to other law schools in the country, founded in 1867. The school doesn’t offer specific degree concentrations and instead favors Illinois’ areas of strength, which include fields such as criminal law, public interest, business and law, and environmental law.

Even more exciting, UIUC has an incredible range of joint degree programs, such as political science, human resources and industrial relations, journalism, and computer science.

Notably, in recent enrollment, only 37% of students were Illinois residents. The school also has a thriving student life, with more than 30 student organizations and 100 lectures and events annually.

Loyola University Chicago Law School (Loyola or LUC)

Loyola University Chicago Law School (Loyola or LUC)

Source: Loyola

For those interested in part-time law studies in Chicago, Loyola University Chicago School of Law may be exactly the school you’re looking for. Ranked at number 18 for part-time law, LUC is renowned for its healthcare law specialty program and for being one of the best part-time law schools in Illinois.

To get into law school at LUC, you’ll want to maintain a 3.56 GPA during undergrad and score 159 on your LSAT. 81.7% of Loyola students pass the bar the first time around, and the school holds a 41.7% acceptance rate.

Loyola Law School offers great flexibility with its weekend JD program. This is an accommodating option if you have a busy work schedule or family obligations. You’ll be able to mix online learning with in-person classes roughly every other weekend.

Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law (IIT or Illinois Tech)

Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law (IIT or Illinois Tech)

Source: IIT

Another solid option for part-time study, the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law ranks at number 12 in part-time law. The Chicago-Kent College of Law has one of the best part-time evening JD programs in the country, making it a fantastic choice for Illinois law schools.

To be a competitive applicant, you’ll want to have at least a 3.61 GPA to be on par with the median of all entrants. As for the LSAT, a score of 159 will be commensurate with the other matriculates. With a 50.5% acceptance rate, 74.7% pass the bar on their first try.

Chicago-Kent College of Law stands out for its highly distinguished trial advocacy program and legal research and writing curriculum. You’ll also enjoy the option of many unique certificates to further your education, including exciting fields such as intellectual property and criminal litigation.

DePaul University College of Law

DePaul University College of Law

Source: DePaul

Law school at DePaul can provide a wonderful opportunity for those who want to launch their law careers in Chicago. Ambitious and academically inclined students should take special note of their unique joint degree programs, which include options like a JD/MBA and a JD/MS in computer science.

Holding a 41.8% acceptance rate, DePaul Law School accepts a diverse host of students. The median GPA and LSAT scores of program entrants rest at 3.57 and 156, respectively. On their first attempt, 68.2% of students passed the bar, with an 81.3% ultimate passage rate in 2019.

Their juris doctor program is flexible, offering both evening programs and part-time options. Additionally, if you’re interested in law for serving those less fortunate, DePaul’s mission to help vulnerable populations in the city may align with you.

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (UIC Law)

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law (UIC Law)

Source: UIC Law

Being the only public law school in Chicago, UIC Law offers a legal education that no other school can match. This is because the University of Illinois Chicago is the biggest university in the city. The school offers flexibility, including a part-time evening JD program.

UIC Law is a modestly competitive law school in Illinois, with a median undergraduate GPA of 3.36 and a median LSAT score of 152. 66.4% of students are accepted, and 64.4% pass the bar on their first try. If you’re considering applying for part-time study, the median GPA and LSAT are slightly lower, at 3.26 and 151.

You’ll also be able to customize your education with several different JD concentrations at UIC Law. These include exciting fields such as intellectual property law, international human rights law, and health equity law and policy. You’ll also have time to hone your skills with experiential learning externships and community legal clinics

Northern Illinois University College of Law (NIU Law)

Northern Illinois University College of Law (NIU Law)

Source: NIU Law

Named a best-value law school by National Jurist, NIU Law gives students a range of options to leverage their legal education. Being the only public law school in the greater Chicago area, NIU prioritizes affordability for all students. Whether you’re from the state of Illinois or an out-of-state resident, you’ll enjoy the same tuition and fees.

To meet the median student profile stats-wise, you’ll want to have a GPA of 3.36 and an LSAT score of 150. At NIU law, 63.1% of students pass the bar their first time around. In terms of acceptance rate, 52.1% of those who apply get in. All things considered, NIU Law would be considered a moderately competitive school.

NIU Law is dedicated to committing itself to its mission statement. The school prides itself on preparing legal professionals who aid the public while developing close and professional relationships. What’s more, the school offers a unique accelerated JD program, where students can earn a law and undergraduate degree in only six years.

Southern Illinois University School of Law (SIU Law)

Southern Illinois University School of Law (SIU Law)

Source: SIU Law

Ranked number 16 for affordability when considering average debt from law school, SIU Law is an inclusive choice for everybody. By prioritizing a tight-knit atmosphere, students will be able to thrive in a more intimate setting–getting to know their peers and professors. The school also offers a generous single tuition rate for all domestic students.

The median undergraduate GPA for students at SIU Law rests at 3.35. As for LSAT scores, the median achieved by program entrants is 150. On their first attempt, 59.4% of students pass the bar, and the school holds a 56.7% acceptance rate. The student-to-faculty ratio is eight to one. 

SIU Law offers many 3+3 accelerated law programs with select partner schools. In addition, SIU law students have a selection of concurrent degree programs to choose from. These include options like an MD/JD and a Master’s in electrical and computer engineering. 

How to Find More Law Schools Near Illinois

Make sure to check out our free Juris Education Law School Quiz tool to find out which law schools are the perfect match for you!

FAQs: Illinois Law Schools

Have additional questions about Illinois law schools? Give our FAQs a read for some additional information!

1. How Many Law Schools Are in Illinois?

There are nine law schools in Illinois. These include highly distinguished schools such as UChicago Law School and Pritzker School of Law.

2. How Many Law Schools Are in Chicago?

There are six accredited law schools in Chicago.

3. What Is the Best Law School in IL?

UChicago is the best law school in Illinois, ranking number three in the country. The school lets in just 14.2% of those who apply.

4. What Is the Easiest Law School in Illinois?

University of Illinois--Chicago is the easiest law school in Illinois, with an acceptance rate of 66.4%. The median GPA required for admissions is 3.36, and the median LSAT score is 152, making them some of the lowest compared to other schools. 

5. What Are the Best Pre-Law Schools in Illinois?

UIC and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are the best pre-law schools in Illinois. UIC offers a dedicated pre-law program, while the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has pre-law advising services.

All things considered, pre-law majors or schools may not matter that much. However, taking some pre-law classes to help you prepare for law school can work in your favor.

Final Thoughts

It can be helpful to think about which branches of law you are naturally curious about. Exposure to different areas will help you decide what aspects of law school are most important to you. 

No matter your aspirations, attending a law school in Illinois can lead to a meaningful legal career. Even if you don’t get into your first choice, all schools are diverse enough to help you succeed no matter your area of interest. And don’t forget that being happy in your legal career will always be more important than prestige or money.

Some may see themselves pursuing law to help those less fortunate. Others may want to be at the cutting edge of law and technology. Illinois can be where you start your law journey to make an impact that makes a difference in the world.

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