Friday, July 20, 2018

University of Illinois, Chicago Board approves acquisition of John Marshall Law School in Chicago (UPDATED)

A big moment for the legal education landscape in Chicago if this goes through and if the new UIC John Marshall Law School offers state resident tuition discounting comparable to that at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  While Urbana-Champaign won't be much affected, there will be considerable pressure on the private law schools in Chicago, namely, Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago.  (Northern Illinois, another public law school in the far suburbs of Chicago, won't be helped either.)   The real pressure will be on DePaul, which has suffered from years of mismanagement and turmoil, and is the lowest rank of the three in the rankings (#128 most recently; Loyola-Chicago and Chicago-Kent are solidly in the top 100).  

One unknown is how much of the John Marshall law faculty will be taken on board by UIC; in terms of scholarly prominence, it is clearly weaker than the faculties at Chicago-Kent, DePaul, and Loyola-Chicago.

UPDATE:  Dean Darby Dickerson at John Marshall kindly wrote and gave me permission to share some further information about the proposed merger:

The parties have negotiated that all full-time faculty will be transferring to UIC, with their tenure status, rank, and pay intact.

In addition, emeritus faculty will also have an opportunity to transition to emeritus status at UIC. 

During the 207-2018 academic year, we offered a voluntary buyout opportunity to our more senior faculty to allow them the ability to retire if they wished to avoid a benefits transition. Six faculty members accepted that offer; two retired in June and the other four will retire in December. 

We have three new faculty members who either have just started or will be starting later this month. We're in the process of hiring five new tenure-line faculty members who will begin in Summer/Fall 2019, and we then hope to hire about eight new tenure-line faculty members in the two years after closing. 

In June, the full-time faculty voted unanimously to support the transaction. The vote included several faculty members who had accepted the buyout opportunity. They were excited about the opportunity for the school and our students, but had personal reasons for desiring to retire before closing.

I learned also from IHE that the new UIC John Marshall Law School will offer in-state tuition rates.  That will make the new law school a force to be reckoned with in the legal education market in Chicago.

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