Northwestern University School of Law, located at 357 East Chicago Avenue in the Streeterville Neighborhood (within the Near North Side Community Area) of Chicago, Illinois, United States, has been in continuous operation since 1876. It grew out of the merger between the old University of Chicago (not affiliated with the current University of Chicago) and Northwestern University to jointly operate the Union College of Law, in 1873. The new law school opened its doors in 1876. In 1926, the law school, along with the rest of Northwestern's professional schools, relocated to its current location at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.
Northwestern Law markets itself using the phrase "The Northwestern Law Difference." This phrase, commonly mocked and pilloried by the students at NU Law, refers to the differences between NU Law and most other major law schools. The most noticeable difference is the age and experience of the student body. Northwestern attempts to recruit and enroll students who have at least one year of professional experience post-baccalaureate. In 2007, approximately 95 percent of the incoming class had at least one year of professional experience, and approximately 80 percent had two years or more. The other major difference is the "collaborative environment." While competitiveness among students is a hallmark of most legal education, Northwestern prides itself on creating and encouraging the development of collaborative environments. This does not, however, extend to grading practices: all classes greater than a certain size are on a forced curve, thus pitting students against one another. Despite the curve, NU Law manages to still maintain a remarkable level of cooperation and collaboration amongst its students.