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When the University of Illinois takes over John Marshall School of Law, it will become Chicago's first public law school.
The new law school will be open for business by fall 2019, and it is good news for just about everybody. Students will pay less for their education. The campus will not move.
It looks so seamless, the only outward change will be the name on the buildings: UIC John Marshall Law School. Oh, there is the matter of accreditation.
John Marshall is an accredited law school, but the new school will have to be approved. Administrators expect that to happen in time for the class of 2019.
About 1,100 students are currently enrolled at the private, non-profit school. It expects to add another 280 this coming fall.
School and public officials can't wait. Chicago is the largest city in the United States without a public law school.
"When you combine the strengths of the John Marshall Law School and UIC, one plus one is much greater than two," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "The merger of these two bright lights on Chicago's scholastic landscape will strengthen education and career opportunities for generations of Chicago students, and strengthen our city's reputation for world-class academic excellence."
UIC law students will receive have access to university health care services, recreation facilities, athletic programs, and residence halls. UIC students in other disciplines will be able to take law courses at John Marshall.
It's an entirely new atmosphere for the law school, especially since it had been struggling in recent years. Enrollment and faculty had fallen by more than a third, and it was running at a deficit.
Dean Darby Dickerson, who has guided the law school through the transition, said they will add faculty, and students will pay less for tuition. Going public should help with enrollment and the school's commitment to access, she said.
"This was not something we had to fight for, everyone understood it's part of our history and our mission," she told the ABA Journal. "That's why this is such a good fit."
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