Law Schools

University of Illinois at Chicago reveals 'preliminary discussions' to add John Marshall Law School

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John Marshall Law School logo.

The University of Illinois at Chicago revealed on Monday that it has been in “preliminary discussions” with the John Marshall Law School to explore absorbing it into the university.

John Marshall would be the only public law school in the city were it to become part of the university, which already has a law school in Champaign-Urbana. Crain’s Chicago Business broke the news.

UIC officials disclosed the talks in a memo to the “UIC community” that included a link to a page of frequently asked questions. Chicago is one of very few major cities in the country without a public law school, according to the FAQ page.

Informal discussions have been underway for 16 months. A study concluded that a merger would be financially feasible.

If an agreement is reached, the law school would remain at its downtown location. The new name will be discussed by working groups at both institutions, but one possibility is the University of Illinois at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. Students at the law school would become UIC students, and the law school would become a school within the university.

Several approvals would be needed for John Marshall to become part of UIC, including approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, according to the FAQ page.

Law students would benefit from a combination with new “opportunities for interdisciplinary work and potential new joint and dual-degree programs aligned with UIC strengths, in disciplines such as the health sciences, engineering and technology, urban planning, public administration, the social sciences and business,” according to UIC.

It’s not the first time the two institutions discussed a partnership or merger. Discussions were launched in 1998, but the negotiations ended in 2001. At that time, some leaders at U of I’s downstate law school were reportedly “chafing at the prospect of a sibling that could drain resources,” according to a 1999 Chicago Tribune article.

In the most recent rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Illinois School of Law is ranked No. 44 in the country, while the ranking for John Marshall in Chicago was not published, meaning it was among the bottom quarter of law schools.

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