Chicago’s First Public Law School Is Here
Chicago is welcoming its first public law school.
The University of Illinois John Marshall Law School officially welcomed its students back to campus last week.
The public school is a result of the merger between John Marshall Law and the University of Illinois-Chicago, which received approval from the Higher Learning Commission in July. Up until then, Chicago had six private law schools and no public law institutions.
In an exclusive Law.com interview, Darby Dickerson, Dean of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, spoke about the transition and what it means for returning students.
The transition from private to public for John Marshall brought a bump in application numbers for the law school. Yet, Dickerson says, that increase might not necessarily be due to the transition.
“We did receive more applications,” she tells Law.com. “We made fewer offers and received more acceptances. Our LSAT averages—75th percent, 50th percent and 25th percent—all moved up a point. I know the median GPA now exceeds 3.2. We had been under 3.2. It was a good year, but we had to recruit as the John Marshall Law School last year. Some people knew about [the transition], but we didn’t get the final accreditation sign-offs until the very end of June. This will be our first year recruiting as the UIC John Marshall Law School.”
For law students, the transition to a public school bring one obvious advantage: cheaper tuition.
Tuition for the then-private John Marshall Law was $47,500 last year.
Now, in-state tuition is priced at $1,200 per credit hour, down nearly $1,565, according to Dickerson.
For out-of-state students, the price is set at $1,500 per credit hour.
“For out-of-state students, it turns out to be about a wash, because the fees in a state system are higher than they were in a private institution,” Dickerson tells Law.com. “But our in-state students are paying less. So the tuition went down about $10,000 for in-state students, but the fees went up a couple thousand dollars. So it’s about a free year for those not on scholarship.”
THE KEY DIFFERENCES
For returning law students, the transition will bring about a few noticeable differences as they return to campus.
“The biggest change is that they see all the new signs,” Dickerson tells Law.com. “But they see the same people in the building. We took all our faculty over with us and all but three of our staff over with us. All the services we offered before continue to be offered. The biggest changes for our students are what they see in the building. We took a whole floor of the library and turned it into a collaborative commons so there are all new study rooms and collaboration booths. We have a new clothes closet. For the students, we wanted it to continue to feel like home.”