The Mission and Objectives of the Northern Illinois University College of Law

The mission of the Northern Illinois University College of Law is to provide a high-quality and affordable legal education that

  • Prepares students to become effective, creative and ethical lawyers, ready to serve the legal needs of their communities
  • Engages faculty and students in a broad range of legal and interdisciplinary research and scholarship
  • Fosters access to law school and the legal profession by traditionally underrepresented groups
  • Inspires students to serve the public interest throughout their legal careers
  • Builds a unique atmosphere of collegiality and cooperation within the law school community

Preparing Students for the Legal Profession

Excellence in teaching is our first priority. Our goal is to provide our students with an intellectually rigorous academic experience that emphasizes critical thinking, effective problem-solving and experiential learning. To assure that our students are prepared to be effective and creative lawyers who are ready to start practice upon graduation, we integrate instruction in practical lawyering skills and encourage our students to avail themselves of our vigorous clinical, externship and lawyering programs. By offering comprehensive instruction in legal ethics, the college also helps our students understand their professional and civic responsibilities. 

Pursuing Scholarship

One of the most important functions of the college is to advance academic discourse in the law and other disciplines. As a community of scholars, our faculty and students explore, discuss and disseminate new ideas about the ways in which law functions in our dynamic society. Members of the faculty are committed to engage in an active program of research and scholarly publication to broaden their academic skills and knowledge and to enhance the reputation of the college. The college also provides students with opportunities to contribute to scholarly discussion, through membership in the Law Review, participation in seminars, collaboration with professors as research assistants and various extracurricular activities.  

Providing Access for Historically Underrepresented Groups

The college is strongly committed to maintaining and increasing the diversity of our student body and faculty. As a public law school in the greater Chicago area, the college has a special responsibility to facilitate access to the legal profession by members of traditionally underrepresented groups. Among our goals is to counter the effects of societal discrimination, to increase the number of lawyers who will serve in communities that are currently underserved and to obtain for our students the educational benefits that flow from a diverse faculty and student body. We therefore recruit faculty and students who represent diverse communities and identities in our society based on gender, sexual orientation, race, culture, ethnicity and physical ability.

Serving the Public Interest

As a public law school with a tradition of public service, we encourage students to aspire to become ethical leaders in the legal profession and to maintain a deep concern for social justice. We thus strive to assure that all of our students begin their careers recognizing that they are joining an honored endeavor that entails obligations to the communities in which they practice.

To promote these goals while students are at the college, we provide a variety of practical opportunities for students to serve their communities through clinical and extracurricular opportunities for professional development. We also continue our historic pattern of sending a significant number of our students to pursue careers in public service as public defenders, prosecutors and judges, as well as in a variety of other nonprofit and government positions. Regardless of their professional path, we encourage our students to engage in substantial pro bono work before and after they graduate, knowing that a commitment to service is a key component of a satisfying and rewarding legal career.

Promoting Collegiality 

While pursuing the other aspects of its mission, the college preserves and builds upon its long tradition as a small, collegial community in which faculty, students and staff work to develop close personal and professional relationships that last for years.

-- adopted October 8, 2009 

NIU Statement of Vision and Mission