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Kirkland & Ellis Shows Northwestern Its Love—Plus News from Penn, Stanford, BU Law Schools

Vivia Chen

October 8, 2012

Tuition_© Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.comRemember how your mom told you it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich guy as a poor one? The same logic could be applied to picking a law school. If  law school debt is worrying you, I'd suggest you go for the most generous,  richest law school possible. So let's look at which law schools are dripping with money lately.

Kirkland & Ellis and Northwestern make a love pact. I don't know how Northwestern University Law School does it, but it seems to be doing everything right. It got itself a nice ranking in U.S. News & World Report (12th place), became a go-to school for Big Law, and somehow managed to make itself lovable to alums. And now graduates are backing their love with big bucks. Reports Karen Sloan at The National Law Journal:

A number of Kirkland & Ellis partners have reached into their own pockets to give $5 million to Northwestern University Law School—among the largest single donation the school has ever received. 

The money, which will be disbursed over five years, will create the Kirkland & Ellis Scholarship Fund for students in the school's J.D./MBA program. More than half of the gift is unrestricted, meaning administrators may spend it on programs of their choosing.

Kirkland & Ellis is apparently crawling with loyal Northwestern alumni, starting with Jeffrey Hammes (class of 1985), chairman of the firm's global management executive committee, who led the gift effort. In addition, 31 senior Kirkland partners who are Northwestern alumni also contributed to the gift.

Penn Law School is rolling in dough. The University of Pennsylvania School of Law has just closed the capital campaign it started in 2006. The official haul is a cool $180 million. So what is it doing with it? Well, first, it built itself a shiny trophy—Golkin Hall (at left), a classroom and office building that cost $33.5 million. It's also hiring more faculty and revamping its academic programs.

But let's cut to the chase to what you really care about: financial aid. The NLJ's Karen Sloan reports that financial aid has "more than doubled, from $3.2 million per year in 2006 to $6.6 million now." What's more, Penn is also giving more money to its loan repayment assistance program to aid those who take on public interest jobs.

Stanford suffers a shortfall. Everything usually turns to gold in Silicon Valley, right? Not so, apparently. It turns out that Stanford Law School's endowment isn't returning sufficient returns, which is affecting its financial aid funding. For the first time in its history, the law school "is dipping into its rainy-day fund to cover its financial aid obligations to students," reports Sloan at The National Law Journal.

I don't know what Stanford is investing in, but apparently there was a whopping 25 percent decline in endowment returns. The NLJ says that the loss affects $2 million in financial aid funds at the third-ranked school.

But don't let this decline stop you from going to Stanford. So far, there are no indications that the law school will cut its financial aid program. Historically, aid money flows: "Stanford is one of just a handful of schools that only offer need-based financial aid, as opposed to merit scholarships. Students received an average $25,000 last year. (Tuition is $48,870)."

You can always go to Stanford's Afghan program. The law school just got a $7.2 million grant from the U.S. State Department to be used for a student-led initiative to promote legal training in Afghanistan.  According to the NLJ, 15 Stanford students will be working on the project in collaboration with American University of Afghanistan.

The U.S. military might be out of Afghanistan by 2014, but Stanford intends to stay on. Stanford law professor Erik Jensen, who heads the school's Rule of Law Program and serves as faculty adviser to the project, told the NLJ: "To Afghans worried about what happens after the U.S. military pulls out, the grant signals continued interest and support."

BU Law gets $18 million for a new building (sorry, scholarship seekers). Some give scholarship money to students, but most rich folks would probably prefer to erect a spiffy new building and name it after themselves. Sumner Redstone, the executive chairman of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., is coughing up $18 million to build a 93,000-square-foot structure to house classrooms, meeting areas, and the like, reports the NLJ. And you betcha, it will be named the Sumner M. Redstone Building.



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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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