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John Marshall Law School (Chicago)

Law School Considers Name Change

A Chicago-based law school may be getting a new name in 2021.

John Marshall Law School of the University of Illinois at Chicago is reconsidering its name due to the historic past of John Marshall. A former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Marshall also owned more than 150 slaves, Chicago Business reports.

The law school, which was merged to become part of the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018, is required to preserve its name until 2025 due to legal covenants. However, the law school is considering plans to try and change the name sooner.

“The committee is expected to provide its findings and a recommendation by January 2021,” Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the school, tells Chicago Business.


The dark history behind the law school’s name has sparked controversy amongst critics who argue that the name is offensive.

“Many observers argue that continued use of the John Marshall name offends and prevents racial minorities, particularly African Americans, from escaping the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow (laws), thereby undermining the law school’s goal of becoming a more diverse and inclusive institution centered on expectations of high academic achievement,” Samuel Jones, a professor at the school and member of the committee , and John Lee, who graduated from the school in 1973, tell Chicago Business. “On the other hand, some alumni and observers note that the decision to name our law school after Justice Marshall was undertaken to honor his immense contributions to constitutional law.”


A number of institutions have pushed to remove racist undertones from their names.

Earlier this year, Berkeley Law removed the name “Boalt Hall” after the law school determined it should not honor the racist views of John Boalt, an attorney who famously argued that non-assimilated races couldn’t live together peacefully without enslaving one another in his speech called “The Chinese Question.”

Sources: Chicago Business, NY Times, UC Berkeley