Northeastern University School of Law
MottoLux, Veritas, Virtus
Parent schoolNortheastern University
School typePrivate
Parent endowment$ 795.0 million (2017)[1]
DeanJames Hackney[2]
LocationBoston, Massachusetts, United States
USNWR ranking67th (2022)[4]
Bar pass rate90.3%[3]
ABA profileNortheastern University Law School Profile

Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL) is the law school of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded as an evening program to meet the needs of its local community, Northeastern law school is nationally recognized for its cooperative legal education and public interest law programs.[5]


The first graduating class of Northeastern University School of Law in 1902.
The first graduating class of Northeastern University School of Law in 1902.

Northeastern University School of Law was founded by the Boston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in 1898 as the first evening law program in the city.[6] At the time, only two law schools were in the Boston area and the time-honored practice of reading law in the office of an established lawyer was losing its effectiveness.[7] An advisory committee, consisting of James Barr Ames, dean of the Harvard Law School; Samuel Bennett, dean of the Boston University School of Law; and Massachusetts Judge James R. Dunbar, was formed to assist with the formation of the evening law program.[8] The program was incorporated as an LL.B.-granting law school, the Evening School of Law of Boston YMCA, in 1904.[6] Additional campuses of YMCA Law School were opened in Worcester, Massachusetts by 1917, in Springfield, Massachusetts by 1919, and Providence, Rhode Island by 1921. The Worcester and Providence branches were closed by 1942, but the Springfield branch eventually became the Western New England University School of Law.[9] In its early days, the school "saw itself as the working man's alternative to the elite schools" and "boasted of being 'An Evening Law School with Day School Standards,'" using the case method of teaching, according to legal historian Robert Stevens.[9]

The school was renamed Northeastern University School of Law in 1922 and began admitting women that year.[6] NUSL was accredited by the University of the State of New York in 1943 and became a member of the Association of American Law Schools in 1945.[6] It was accredited by the American Bar Association in 1969.[10]

In April 1953, Northeastern President Carl Ell announced that the law school would close.[11] He cited the number of other law schools that had sprung up elsewhere in the city. Meanwhile, enrollment at Northeastern law school had plummeted, from 1,328 students in 1937-38 to 196 students in that year. The school's building and library on Mt. Vernon Street in Beacon Hill was eventually sold. Alumni - who composed one-fourth of Massachusetts's Superior Court judges as well as many District Court judges - worked to reestablish the law school in 1966, based upon the university's signature cooperative, or co-op, education model. Thomas J. O'Toole, a Harvard Law graduate, was selected as the school's dean in 1967. In 1970, Gryzmish Hall on Huntington Avenue was dedicated, which would later become part the Asa S. Knowles Center for Law. Despite the school's working-class origins, rigorous new admissions policies resulted in a small student body of 125 students who nearly all came from financially well-off families and upper-echelon undergraduate colleges. Still, half of those admitted as first-year students were women.[12]

Over the ensuing decades, students worked in co-ops as varied as Native American land claims in rural Maine; assisting migrant farm laborers in east Texas; at the Moscow, Russia office of Baker & McKenzie; the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in New Delhi; and countless legal services offices.[13] In 1968, O'Toole, explaining the school's dedication to public interest law, told a Boston Globe reporter that "law schools are still teaching lawyers as if they were all going out to be corporation lawyers on Wall Street...(but) the big demand for lawyers today is in the field of public affairs in government, and in dealing with basic human problems, and no law school today seems to be training lawyers for those jobs."


Dockser Hall
Dockser Hall

The NULS complex is located on Boston's Huntington Avenue and includes three adjacent buildings: Knowles Center, which houses offices and the Law Library; Cargill Hall, home to most faculty and some administrative offices as well as small seminar rooms and lecture halls; and Dockser Hall, which includes a moot courtroom, classrooms, seminar rooms, offices and lounge areas and space for the law school's clinical program.


NULS offers a Juris Doctor (JD) program for full-time, on-campus students as well as a FlexJD program for part-time students online and on-campus that began in the fall of 2021. The law school also offers on-campus and online Master of Laws (LLM) programs for lawyers seeking to expand their legal knowledge. In addition, the school offers programs for non-lawyers, including a Master of Science (MS) in Media Advocacy and online programs leading to graduate certificates in health law, intellectual property law, business law and human resources law, plus a data privacy fundamentals program.[14]

NULS integrates full-time employment into its traditional JD curriculum, allowing students to graduate in three years - the same amount of time as peers at other law schools. Following the first year of study, students alternate between classroom and co-op professional experience until they graduate with three, full-time employment experiences.[15] Instead of grades, students receive written evaluations from their professors and co-op employers.[16]

Northeastern has been named as one of the top public interest law schools in the nation.[17] Many students participate in the school's clinics and institutes, such as the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.[18] In addition, all students are required to complete a year-long social justice project during their first year.

Northeastern is #1 for "Practical Training," according to The National Jurist.[19]

The Princeton Review's "The Best 172 Law Schools" ranks Northeastern #2 among all the law schools for both providing the "best environment" for minority students and for having the "most liberal" students.[20]


Tuition for a full-time Northeastern student is $56,940 per year. The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees and living expenses) at Northeastern law school for the 2021–2022 academic year is $82,736.[21]

Student organizations and journals

Northeastern University School of Law has many student-run organizations and activities, including affinity groups and shared interest groups such as Entertainment and Sports Law Society (ESLS), Human Rights Caucus (HRC) and Phi Alpha Delta International, a co-ed fraternity.[22] NULS is home to two scholarly legal journals.[23]

Northeastern University Law Review

Main article: Northeastern University Law Journal

The Northeastern University Law Review is a law review founded in 2008 that publishes a broad array of legal scholarship primarily from law professors, judges, attorneys and law students. Staffed and edited by law students, it is published twice a year. Staff members are selected largely based on their writing abilities, tests and first-year grades. The law review also publishes content through its online publications: Extra Legal and the Online Forum.[24]

Journal of Legal Education

NULS is co-editor of the Journal of Legal Education, a quarterly publication of the Association of American Law Schools. The Journal publishes articles on legal theory, legal scholarship and legal education, among other topics. It claims a readership of more than 10,000 law instructors.

Research centers, institutes and clinical programs

Notable alumni


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2016. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2015 to FY 2016" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  2. ^ "Welcome from Dean James Hackney". Northeastern University School of Law. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Northeastern University Law School ABA 509 Report
  4. ^ "Northeastern University". U.S. News & World Report.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d "Northeastern Timeline". Northeastern University. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  7. ^ Marston, Everett C (1961). Origin and Development of Northeastern University, 1898-1960. Northeastern University. ISBN 978-1179824123.
  8. ^ Marston, Everett C (1961). Origin and Development of Northeastern University, 1898-1960. Northeastern University. ISBN 978-1179824123.
  9. ^ a b Bocking Stevens, Robert (1983). Law School: Legal Education in America from the 1850s to the 1980s. Union, New Jersey: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 9781584771999. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Alphabetical School List". American Bar Association. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  11. ^ Baker, Brook K (1998). Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Northeastern University's First Century. Northeastern University Publications.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Baker, Brook K (1998). Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Northeastern University's First Century. Northeastern University Publications.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Best schools for public interest law | the National Jurist". Retrieved 2015-12-14.
  18. ^ "The Goal: To Remember Each Jim Crow Killing, From The '30s On". NPR. January 3, 2015. Archived from the original on January 3, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Mike, Stetz. "Best Schools for Practical Training". The National Jurist.
  20. ^ "The Best 172 Law Schools". The Princeton Review. Archived from the original on 2016-09-02.
  21. ^
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  24. ^

Coordinates: 42°20′21.15″N 71°5′26.93″W / 42.3392083°N 71.0908139°W / 42.3392083; -71.0908139