Historic Merger Creates Chicago’s First Public Law School
In a historic move, University of Illinois at Chicago has agreed to merge with John Marshall Law School to create Chicago’s first public law school.
The Chicago Tribune reports that University of Illinois’ board of trustees unanimously approved a proposal Thursday that will close operations at the downtown private law school. The new institution, now known as UIC John Marshall Law School, will be located in the Near West Side campus.
“I believe this is a historic moment for UIC and for public education in Chicago,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis tells the Chicago Tribune. “The integration will add significant value to all components of UIC’s mission: education, research and civic engagement.”
A Drop In Tuition
Currently tuition at John Marshall Law School is $47,000 a year. But with the merger, tuition is expected to drop.
“One of the most beneficial parts of this deal is that we will have public-level tuition,” John Marshall Dean Darby Dickerson tells the National Jurist. “The in-state tuition will be a game changer in this market.”
Dickerson says he hopes the school’s in-state tuition will be similar to UIC’s, which is $35,000 a year. Ultimately, however, he says the University of Illinois Board has the power to set tuition rates.
A cut in tuition, according to the National Jurist, would make John Marshall the least expensive law school in the Chicago and give it a recruiting edge over nearby programs at DePaul University, Chicago-Kent College of Law and Loyola Law School, Chicago.
Expansion In Curriculum
On top of the benefit of tuition cuts, the merger will allow both schools to combine their existing curricula, according to Amiridis.
UIC will incorporate its legal education into health sciences, engineering, and social work courses. Additionally, UIC also plans to introduce combined degrees, such as an accelerated degree program where undergrads can earn a bachelor’s and law degree in six years.
On John Marshall’s side, the merger presents the opportunity to introduce dual degree programs, joint programs, and a larger faculty.
“We hope to change our clinical programs into multi-disciplinary programs,” Dickerson tells the National Jurist.
Christopher Chapman, chief executive of Pennsylvania nonprofit AccessLex, tells the Chicago Tribune that the merger means greater financial flexibility for John Marshall.
“It looks like a win for the school, it looks like a win for UIC and it looks like a win for the students and community to keep a school that’s been operating for over 100 years and to keep fulfilling its mission with some additional backing,” Chapman says.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, National Jurist