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John Marshall Law School may become part of the University of Illinois at Chicago, at the same time showing how legal education is changing at the speed of a mouse-click.
UCI Chancellor Michael Amiridis made the announcement electronically with a link to frequently asked questions that educators composed and answered even before the announcement. The FAQ's reveal the university and the law school have been earnestly studying a partnership for the past 16 months.
"The preliminary conclusion of this study was that it would be financially feasible for JMLS to become a part of UIC," the website says.
Any arrangement would require approval from the boards of the university and the law school, as well as the Illinois board of higher education and the American Bar Association. But the process is already underway.
The law school would become part of the university's 15 colleges and schools, including its law school in Champaign-Urbana. John Marshall, a private school since 1899, would become the first public law school in Chicago.
John Marshall students pay about $46,470 a year in tuition at the private law school. Illinois university law students, who reside in state, pay about $41,332. The university disclosed no information about whether tuition would change if John Marshall students are brought into the state system.
However, the ABA Journal reported that the law students would benefit from new "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."
Law schools have struggled with declining enrollment in recent years, forcing some out of business and pressuring others to make major changes. Many have lowered admission standards to attract students.
Days ago in Indiana, Valparaiso Law School suspended admissions for new students. Potentially it will become the second ABA-accredited law school in the country to close its doors.
In California, Whittier Law School became the first ABA-accredited school to announce it was closing. USA Today reported its "demise could be a sign of things to come."