Last week, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and The John Marshall Law School announced big news for the city of Chicago. The two institutions joined forces to create the city’s first and only public law school – UIC John Marshall Law School.
Back in 2016, UIC initiated the conversation with The John Marshall Law School leadership. Since then, the two schools have worked together to create the public law school without the need for any new state expenditures.
According to The John Marshall Law School’s press release, upon the deal’s closure, John Marshall assets will transfer to UIC and the University of Illinois Foundation. The law school’s current Loop campus, which will continue to serve as the law school’s campus, initially will be leased and then transferred within five years to UIC. UIC will have no financial obligation for the acquisition and will fully integrate the law school into UIC after the closing.
Considering the news, I reached out to The John Marshall Law School dean for a quick interview. After talking with Dean Darby Dickerson, it was clear the creation of UIC John Marshall would open doors for aspiring lawyers living in Chicago.
We’re excited that this merger will allow us to collaborate with other UIC colleges in ways that will help train lawyers with multidisciplinary perspectives. We hope to offer all UIC students opportunities to study across disciplines. Regarding law students specifically, we will be adding new dual-degree programs and joint programming. We’re also looking at other opportunities, such as inviting graduate students in social work and health sciences to work with our law students in John Marshall’s 9 legal clinics. That type of collaboration would allow us to offer a more holistic approach to client matters, and show all students involved the value of working across professions.
According to the Dean, UIC John Marshall may jump on more opportunities to collaborate with other public law schools in Illinois down the road.
We’ve been involved in an urban-rural veterans clinic program with SIU. Regarding UIUC, we will be separate law schools and we have different missions, but we always welcome ideas about how to collaborate in ways that would benefit the students and the citizens of Illinois.
Current law students and incoming 1Ls at John Marshall will remain John Marshall students until the transaction officially closes. At such time, the nearly 900 Juris Doctor students and 117 Master of Laws and Master of Jurisprudence students will become UIC students.
As UIC students, they will have greater access to student services, recreation facilities, residence halls, and college athletics. Likewise, current UIC students will be able to access law courses and both John Marshall and UIC faculty.
UIC Chancellor, Michael Amiridis is equally optimistic about the future of UIC John Marshall.
The decision to create a public law school marks a historic day for higher education in Chicago. It is also a historic day for UIC, which will fill a 50-year gap in its academic offerings as a comprehensive research university. Through our research and scholarship, we have celebrated and contributed to the rule of law for decades, and now we open the doors of our academic community to those who teach the law and those who study the law. We look forward to welcoming the John Marshall family into UIC.
Currently, UIC John Marshall Law School is awaiting its approval for accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association, and the U.S. Department of Education. Dean Darby Dickerson estimates the public law school will finish the process in late June or early July of next year. If all goes as planned, UIC John Marshall will welcome its first class of 1Ls in fall 2019.