July 19, 2018

Joint News Release from The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and The John Marshall Law School (JMLS): “UIC, John Marshall Law School join forces to create Chicago’s only public law school,”

November 2017

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and The John Marshall Law School (JMLS) are exploring the idea of JMLS becoming a part of UIC.

The following Frequently Asked Questions about this opportunity are based on current information. While many questions cannot be answered at this early stage, this site will be updated as more details become available.

Why are UIC and JMLS considering a new arrangement?

Exterior of John Marshall Law School

UIC is one of the few public research universities designated with the highest Research 1 classification by the Carnegie Foundation that does not have a law school. Sixty-five percent of all Research 1 universities, public and private, have a law school.

The John Marshall Law School is an independent law school and the possibility of becoming Chicago’s only public law school would allow it to expand its current mission and grow its quality, unique programs within a strong public university.

A natural alignment exists between UIC’s public mission and JMLS’s commitment to provide access and opportunity to students from underserved communities and to help fill the justice gap for citizens in the Chicago area. The new arrangement would fill a significant void in the country’s third largest city. Chicago is one of very few major cities in the United States without a public law school.

What previous associations or discussions have the two schools had?

Beginning in 1998, UIC and JMLS began negotiating a possible permanent partnership. Discussion regarding the relationship between the two institutions ranged from an affiliation to a merger. The negotiations ended in 2001. [Reference: http://findingaids.library.uic.edu/ead/lhsc/003-01-15f.html]

Over the past 16 months, UIC and JMLS have had informal preliminary discussions and undertook a financial assessment to determine feasibility and whether both institutions’ goals could be met. The preliminary conclusion of this study was that it would be financially feasible for JMLS to become a part of UIC.

What is the timeline for a possible arrangement?

Any arrangement would require approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees and The John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees; degree approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education; and approval of a major change in operation from both the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and the Higher Learning Commission, which serves as the regional accreditor for both UIC and JMLS. The timeline would depend on the timing of these reviews as well as the steps needed to ensure a smooth transition for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of each institution.

UPDATE (February 2018)

Staff, and faculty from UIC and JMLS are actively doing due diligence on issues related to the exploration of JMLS becoming part of UIC.  Those issues include:

  • Financial considerations
  • Real estate
  • Faculty and staff transitions
  • IT and systems transitions
  • Alumni and development
  • Accreditation

Additionally, staff, faculty and students from UIC and JMLS are considering:

  • Academic collaborations (this matter is being considered by faculty from UIC and JMLS).
  • Student interests (students from UIC and JMLS will be considering areas of interest to them).
  • Educational policy (the UIC Senate is exploring the process for approving and transition to UIC the law school curriculum and degree programs)

Does this arrangement require legislative approval?


What would the law school be called?

Working groups will be established at both institutions to discuss a variety of issues, including naming. One possible name is the University of Illinois at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. We do anticipate keeping some version of the John Marshall name.

UPDATE (February 2018)

One current proposal being considered for the name of the law school is “UIC John Marshall Law School.”

Would JMLS move to the UIC campus?

No. The law school would remain at the downtown location at Jackson and State streets, which is in the heart of the Loop and the city’s legal district.

What are the benefits to students?

JMLS would continue to provide J.D., LL.M., and M.J. students with a practice-ready experience in state-of-the-art facilities in Chicago’s Loop. Benefits would include:

  • 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
  • enhanced student services the benefits to JMLS students, including recreational facilities, athletics, and so forth
  • opportunities for law students to take classes outside the law school
  • opportunities to take classes jointly taught by JMLS and UIC faculty
  • an accelerated (3-3) program for UIC undergraduates by which students would be able to obtain both an undergraduate and a law degree in six years instead of seven
  • access to law courses as part of other UIC degree programs
  • access to a downtown law library

Would JMLS students become UIC students?

JMLS students would become UIC students.

Would law school courses be held at JMLS and at the UIC campus?

Law courses would continue to be offered at the current JMLS law school downtown, but JMLS students would have access to a variety of courses on the UIC campus. Other qualified UIC students may have access to JMLS law classes.

Would JMLS faculty and staff become UIC employees?

Yes. We are exploring various scenarios for the transition of faculty and staff. JMLS faculty would have all rights and responsibilities of current UIC faculty.

What are the benefits to faculty?

The benefits to JMLS and UIC faculty would include a larger intellectual community and increased access to interdisciplinary research and grant opportunities.

If JMLS becomes part of UIC, how would JMLS governance change?

JMLS would become a new school within the university. UIC has 15 colleges and schools. JMLS would be governed, just as the other colleges and schools of UIC, by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

How would the arrangement impact staff and operations at JMLS and UIC?

JMLS and UIC will be reviewing each school’s operations to determine where efficiencies could be realized through consolidation and where it would be preferable to maintain independent operations.

Would employees lose their jobs in areas where consolidation may occur?

If a final agreement is approved and executed, the university and law school would evaluate possible efficiencies in structure, but no decisions have been made about changes in the workforce.

How would faculty governance change?

Although JMLS faculty would continue to have school-level committees, JMLS faculty would also serve on university-wide committees, and JMLS would be represented in the faculty senate, as are all other professional schools within UIC.

What are the benefits to alumni?

JMLS alumni would continue to receive the same support from the law school and would also become part of the UIC alumni base. Additional opportunities will be addressed during further discussions.

What are the costs of the new arrangement? Would there be transition costs?

There are no plans to invest state or institutional funds to facilitate JMLS becoming a part of UIC. We are in the process of beginning to consider transition costs, but would make every effort to keep those costs to a minimum. No funds currently allocated to UIC Colleges and Schools would be utilized for JMLS.

What would happen to the JMLS real estate?

The law school would continue to operate out of the current downtown facility. UIC and JMLS are discussing details concerning the ownership of the real estate.

What would happen to JMLS if it does not become part of UIC?

Should the discussions with UIC end for any reason, JMLS would continue to operate uninterrupted as an independent, private law school, as it has since 1899.