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Christmas arrives early for Northwestern law students

Law school receives $15 million donation

Yes, Northwestern Law students, there is a Santa Claus. And his name is Neil Bluhm.

On Dec. 17, just a little more than a week before Christmas, the law school announced that it received a $15 million gift from the Chicago-based casino and real estate magnate and university trustee -- the largest gift in school history. 

The $15 million gift is part of a larger $25 million gift to the school, and it will be earmarked for the law school, where it will fund student financial aid programs legal clinics already named after Bluhm and other initiatives.

“I am extremely pleased to support Northwestern University and the law school with this commitment,” Bluhm said in a statement. “And I am especially proud to assist with the important work of the law school. I am inspired by the vision of Dean Daniel Rodriguez and his goals for the law school’s mission and future.”

Bluhm, who rose from the most ordinary circumstances into a wealthy hotel and casino developer, has donated $25 million to Northwestern University where he earned his law degree.

The remaining $10 million of Bluhm's gift will be spread among Northwestern Medicine, the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Bienen School of Music and the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University.

In a statement, Northwestern Law Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez spoke of his appreciation for the money in the wider context of the national law school crisis.

“With major changes in legal practice forcing law schools to evolve to meet the demands of the market, we live in an unprecedented time of both challenge and opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “The old models don’t work as well as they once did; we need to build new models. Northwestern Law School is able to do this because of the extraordinary support of alumni like Neil Bluhm.”

According to the Chicago Business Journal, President of Chicago-based JMB Realty Corp., Bluhm has a long history of giving to Northwestern. In 1999, his pledge of nearly $7 million to the Neil G. Bluhm Fund led to the naming of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at the law school.


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Alexis Harrison

Alexis Harrison is a Connecticut-based writer and public relations professional whose career spans both print journalism and broadcast news. Alexis started her professional life as...

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