Northwestern law gets $15M donation for LRAP, other programs

Northwestern University trustee Neil Bluhm and the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation donated $25 million to Northwestern Univeristy, which includes $15 million for the law school. That is the biggest gift the law school has ever received.

“I am especially proud to assist with the important work of the law school,” Bluhm  said. “I am inspired by the vision of Dean Daniel Rodriguez and his goals for the law school’s mission and future.”

Bluhm asked that his gift be allocated in ways that would help Dean Rodriguez accomplish his key objectives. With that in mind, the largest portion of the gift — $6 million — is unrestricted. These funds will be used to support need-based financial aid and key initiatives of the law school’s strategic plan, which is under development

“It will enable us to temper financial burdens on our law students, advance the excellent work of the Bluhm Legal Clinic and pursue strategic initiatives to strengthen the impact and reputation of our world-class law school,” Rodriguez said.

The law school’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program will be the next biggest beneficiary of the gift — $5 million will be used to help graduates who accept public service and government jobs repay law school loans.

The Bluhm Legal Clinic will receive $3 million to strengthen its endowment and enhance clinical legal education programs; these funds are in addition to the $7 million Bluhm has already given to support the legal clinic.

The remaining $1 million will be used over a 10-year period to build ongoing, sustainable support from law school alumni through annual gifts to the Law School Fund.

Bluhm is president of JMB Realty Corporation, which he co-founded in 1970 with his college roommate, Judd Malkin. JMB Realty is a major commercial real estate investment firm that owns, develops and manages a variety of large real estate projects throughout North America, including malls, hotels, planned communities and office complexes.

As managing principal, Bluhm also oversees the strategic direction of Walton Street Capital LLC, a private equity real-estate investment firm that he co-founded in 1995 with former senior executives of JMB Realty. The firm focuses on investing the principals’ own capital in real estate, in partnership with institutional and private investors. Since its founding, affiliates of Walton Street Capital have received total equity commitments in excess of $7 billion.

Bluhm has also developed casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Mississippi and Canada, as well as The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which opened in July 2011. Over the past 40 years, Bluhm has overseen the acquisition and development of approximately $50 billion in real estate and casino projects.