MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 19, 2013
If you've studied philosophy at the undergraduate or graduate level, and are thinking about law school, I would like to urge you to consider the University of Chicago Law School. The Law School trails only Yale in per capita placement in law teaching, and graduates are also hugely successful in the private firm market, and in clerkships. Although we have a relatively small faculty (35 full-time academic faculty), we have two philosophers full-time in the Law School (myself and Martha Nussbaum), and a large number of colleagues with philosophical interests. This year, we have three philosophically-minded visiting professors in the Law School as well, Corey Brettschneider from Brown University, Alon Harel from the Hebrew University and Robert Simpson from Monash University, as well as our Law and Philosophy Fellow for this year, Amanda Greene; we expect to have other philosophical visitors in coming years, including Derrick Darby from Michigan.
There is an annual Law & Philosophy Workshop that meets throughout the year, and which students may take for credit: last year's theme (when Martha Nusssbaum ran it with our Law & Philosophy Fellow Sarah Conly ) was "Life and Death," with speakers including Dan Brock, Jeff McMahan, Julian Savulescu, Daniel Wikler, and others and others; the year before (when I ran it with our Law & Philosophy Fellow Justin Coates) the theme was "Freedom and Responsibility," and speakers included Derk Pereboom, Gary Watson, Pamela Hieryonmi, Hanna Pickard, and others. This year's topic is "Free Speech and Its Critics," and speakers will include Joshua Cohen, Seana Shiffrin, Susan Brison, Jason Stanley, and Mary Kate McGowan, among others. We also have regular offerings in the Law School in jurisprudence, feminist philosophy, political philosophy and other areas. Each year we have both a Law & Philosophy Fellow in residence, and a week-long Visiting Political Philosopher in residence (last year it was T.M. Scanlon, the year before David Estlund). The annual Dewey Lecture in Law & Philosophy has recently brought Barbara Herman, Philip Pettit and Elizabeth Anderson to the Law School; Axel Honneth is this year's Dewey Lecturer. In addition, there are usually one or more conferences each year in the Law School related to philosophical topics; last Spring, for example, I organized a conference on "Skepticism about Freedom and Responsibility," with main papers by Conly, Jesse Prinz, Paul Russell, Saul Smilansky, and Gideon Yaffe, with JD and PhD students serving as commentators. There is now a large and lively group of philosophically-minded students here. (More than 10% of the first-year class last year came to us with a philosophy major or advanced degree--that's the highest since I've been here, and probably one of the highest percentage of philosophy students at any law school in the U.S. That doesn't count one JD/PhD in philosophy student, who started in philosophy last year.) Of all the law schools in the U.S., the Chicago experience is also probably most like that of a graduate program in a PhD field, in terms of the intellectual engagement of both faculty and students.
Chicago currently has substantial merit aid to offer to very strong students (the best-known are the Rubenstein Scholarships, but there are other sources of aid, including for students interested in a JD/PhD). Philosophy students, both those with undergraduate majors and those with advanced degrees, have been very successful in getting this aid, and have performed very well at the Law School; as a result philosophy students receive favorable consideration here. Excellent numerical credentials are very important, of course, but even within that pool, applicants with philosophy backgrounds stand out. Students with philosophy backgrounds have recently turned down Yale, Harvard, and other peer law schools to come to Chicago. If you have questions about law study at Chicago, feel free to e-mail me at bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu.