Tuesday, November 21, 2017

John Marshall to merge with the U of Illinois?

The University of Illinois at Chicago is proposing to absorb the John Marshall Law School) (only the one in Chicago, not the one in Atlanta), thereby forming what someone with a poor sense of grammar, style, and concision would call the University of Illinois at Chicago's John Marshall Law School. Officials ju$tify this proposal on the grounds that UI Chicago somehow needs a law school—everybody else has one, you know—and that John Marshall would benefit from the resources and facilities of a large university backed by the (nearly insolvent) state of Illinois.

In decades past, John Marshall offered working-class people reasonable and affordable access to the legal profession. Today, however, it is a toilet par excellence (so to speak). Its LSAT scores have fallen from a shameful 151/154/157 in 2010 to an utterly contemptible 145/148/151 in 2016. Enrollment, too, has plummeted, from 539 first-year students in 2010 to 282 in 2016. Seventeen percent of last year's graduates were unemployed ten months after graduation, and 15% were in short-term or part-time jobs; only 4% were in Big Law, and none got a federal clerkship. The cost of attendance, $75k per year, would run up a bill exceeding $280k if fully financed with student loans. A third of the class gets no discount on tuition; most others get only a slight discount.

UI Chicago seems to be proud of its reputation. Why, then, is it so eager to take over one of the US's most toilety law schools? Can the putative benefits from this proposed take-over really offset the reputational harm?

Bear in mind that John Marshall does have one thing going for it: land. It was established in 1899, when Chicago was much smaller and land was much cheaper. Perhaps the idea here is to grab the assets (especially the valuable urban land), ship the remaining students down to Urbana–Champaign (home to a formerly faux-prestigious, now plainly toilety, law school shaken by scandal in 2011), and then shut John Marshall down. Just imagine the excuse proffered for public consumption: "Enrollment had fallen by 50% in the few years before we acquired John Marshall, and economic conditions in legal education remain poor. Our feasibility study"—yes, one of these has already been produced, à la Indiana Tech—"convinced us that this project would succeed, but circumstances conspired against us. At least we have a great building, though, which we are going to convert to cozy administrative offices just as soon as we can get rid of the little bast—er, I mean, once the law students have left."

Is this merely an asset-stripping ploy? Could UI Chicago seriously have in mind to sustain a bottom-of-the-barrel law school? I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

34 comments:

  1. For those not familiar with Chicago geography, Marshall is located in prime downtown real estate right by the federal courthouse; I am not sure if they own the plot or not. It has a better location than all the law schools except DePaul (which is across the street). Marshall also just remodeled like 5 years ago.

    UIC is the best-regarded public school in the city. It is located just west of downtown, but easily accessible. I don't think it would need the real estate or access to classrooms since its current location isn't inconvenient to downtown (unlike, say, U of C).

    While UIUC is exclusive and expensive for a public school, UIC is seen as more affordable, at least for city residents, and has a fairly good reputation locally. IF - big if - Marshall can convert to being a lower-cost public school in Chicago, I think it actually becomes a better option than Depaul, Loyola, or Kent, based primarily on cost. JMLS still has a massive alumni network and UIC would add to its goodwill with locals.

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  2. And who can forget that John Marshall was such an important resident of Chicago? JK.

    Of note, he did not go to law school. Yet, there are 4 ABA cess pits that bear his name.

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    1. Four named after John Marshall? Which ones, beyond the one in Atlanta and the one in Chicago?

      It's true that Marshall didn't go to law school, but hardly anyone did in his day; there were only a few law schools in the US during his lifetime. Even at the start of the twentieth century, most lawyers had no degree of any kind. People became lawyers by "reading law". That's still possible in Vermont and a number of other states, although in practice it seldom happens, since few lawyers are willing to supervise a student for years.

      Yeah, John Marshall's time in Chicago lasted exactly as long as Thomas Jefferson's in San Diego. Neither person would be flattered to have his name associated with a toilet law school.

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    2. Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William & Mary are references to him.

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    3. Isn't Dodge City starting a law school named after Marshal Dillon? Hopefully, there will be great martial law clinics serving marshalmallows.

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  3. This wouldn't be the first time in recent history that a standalone law school got saved from oblivion by joining up with a state university. See: Dickinson -> Penn State; Franklin Pierce -> UNH; Southern New England -> UMASS.
    I know that Southern New England "gave" itself to the State after first trying to "sell" itself to the State for a considerable sum. That school was a total failure factory and definitely would have gone under had the State not taken it over on the assumption that it would later become a revenue-generator (in a State with 8 other law schools).

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    1. Yes, Massachusetts was still stuck with a liability. Apparently it accepted the Trojan horse of Southern New England in the mistaken belief that Massachusetts needed a public law school. As you point out, the small state already had too many private law schools; there was no need for a public one, especially one with a record of failure.

      Why exactly does Massachusetts, the state regarded as the leader in both public and private education, sustain a law school that last year attracted only 66 first-year students, most of them in the bottom half on the LSAT? one of whose graduating class last year 25% were unemployed, 9% were in short-term or part-time jobs, 13% were in questionable positions in "business" (quite possibly crumby jobs in retail and the like), and none at all had federal clerkships or worked for law firms with more than ten lawyers?

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    2. You are absolutely correct, Old Guy! Massachusetts has no need for another law school. It used to be said (when I lived there) that the private universities ruled the Legislature, and that was the reason public higher education lagged in Massachusetts compared to other states. Case in point, the many-years-long haggling over a public medical school ended with new UMASS Medical School being located out in Worcester, far, far away from the 3 private medical schools (Harvard, BU, and Tufts), which are all in Boston. And I also remember the big schools with nursing programs (especially BU) kicked up a real fuss over the proposal to set up a public nursing school as part of UMASS-Boston. I was thoroughly amazed when the Legislature approved the state take-over of Southern New England. I think part of the politicians' change of heart was the fact Massachusetts had no PUBLIC law school, and all of the ABA schools had ridiculous tuition.

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    3. I don't blame Massachusetts for locating public facilities outside Boston. Despite its self-image, Boston is not the entire state.

      Tuition at U Mass Dartmouth is also ridiculous, at $26k for residents of the state and $35k for non-residents. Admittedly those amounts are considerably lower than the figures for similar toilets New England ($47k) and Western New England ($41k). But they're still too damn high. A graduate of U Mass Dartmouth could leave with $200k in student loans for law school alone, which is an awful lot to owe (with accruing high interest) for a 25% chance of unemployment and a 75% chance of a lousy job.

      Maybe the state will end up shutting its public toilet down, now that enrollment has dwindled to 66 first-year students per year. As Indiana Tech has seen and various other law schools (hello, Appalachian) are now seeing, enrollment below a certain level will send a school deep into the red ink. Lemmings should also consider the implications for their studies. How many electives can they expect at a toilet with only a few dozen students per year? Very likely they'll be stuck with courses that they don't want—if the school doesn't shut down in the middle of their studies (several examples of that from the past year).

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    4. Western New England's law school is a shithole.

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  4. Hmm, figured Valpo would have reached out to JMLS and said "hey, let's make a deal." Maybe they did, but looks like JMLS already found a dance partner.

    JMLS is not Lutheran-enough, anyway...

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    1. Incorporation into the Cooley chain might make more sense, to the extent that keeping the toilet going makes any sense at all. Then again, Cooley last year got only 415 new students at its four campuses (plus a half-campus in Kalamazoo). It may have to shut another campus down, as it did a few years ago. It can hardly have the resources to absorb a toilet campus in Valparaiso, Indiana.

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  5. Old Guy,

    I don’t think this is a land grab by UIC. If you look the relationship between UIC and UIUC in a broader context, there is a growing rift between the schools. For instance, for many years the University of Illinois College of Medicine operated on the campus of UIC. This makes perfect sense – there are massive hospitals in Chicago for students and residents to learn. But medical students also trained in Urbana-Champaign, Peoria, and Rockford. A few years ago, UIUC decided to open their own medical school. The new school, named Carle Illinois College of Medicine, is currently accepting applications for next year. Medical students attending the University of Illinois College of Medicine, based out of UIC, will no longer train at the Urbana-Champaign campus. UIUC claims the purpose of the new school is to integrate engineering and medicine. But there were rumors the administration at UIUC was upset that they did not control the medical school. So now UIC and UIUC will have rival med schools.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if UIC is considering absorbing the trash pit JMLS to create a rival state law school. The law school will move up in the US “News” rankings just by associating with UIC. The law school will be cheaper than the other private toilets (Loyola, Kent, and Depaul). So the feasibility study is probably accurate – lemmings will attend UIC at a cheaper price over those overpriced private trash pits. UIC can raise standards and further improve the rankings. I’m sure there are lemmings out there who even think they’ll have better career opportunities studying in Chicago compared to studying in small town Urbana-Champaign.

    I do not think the administrators at UIC are delusional enough to think the legal market is going to rebound or that they will fill a “justice gap”. I think the administrators see this as an opportunity to steal market share from their rival sister school and the other trash pits in Chicago.

    Another local opinion.

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    1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts. Interesting that the whole thing could be motivated by internecine rivarly. That would be typical of the state of Illinois, which has become the very poster child of financial irresponsibility.

      If the name were changed to the University of Illinois at Chicago, perhaps some people would mistake it for the University of Chicago. Graduates of various toilets must benefit from confusion arising from the similarity of names: Samford and Stanford, New York Law School and New York University.

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    2. It's also worth noting that having a law school is currently the favored vanity project of politicians across the nation. See UNT; also see efforts still underway in locales as diverse as Tacoma and Charlotte. Apparently, you're nobody unless you have a law school(not kidding-the argument for the publicly-funded Charlotte school was "we're the largest US city without a law school".)

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    3. Yes, and also southern Texas, and a few years ago there was an effort to get a law school going in Peoria. Perhaps the disgraceful experience of Indiana Tech, Whittier, Charlotte, Valpo, Hamline (or was it Mitchell?), and Cooley (one campus closed a few years ago), as well as other law schools soon to follow, will put the kibosh on proposals to bring a law school to every goddamn crossroads in the US.

      I predict that Appalachian will the be the next to go (I construe Valpo's closure as a fait accompli), and after it in approximate order Thomas Jefferson, Florida Coastal, Arizona Summit, Concordia, Elon, Western State University, and Ave Maria. Cooley will shed another campus along the way to closure within five years.

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    4. Add La Verne to the list of closures to come.

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    5. All should and hopefully will close-except Ava Maria, which ought to close but is the vanity project of a multi-millionaire(if I recall correctly, the founder of Domino's Pizza). So they'll be around for a while.

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    6. Certainly Domino's Pizza has thrown its putrid weight (and mediocre pizza) behind various reactionary projects, notably efforts to interfere with the right to abortion.

      Ave Maria, however, needs more than prayers and a sprinkling of holy water. See these articles published here by Law School Truth Center two and a half years ago:

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2015/04/vanity-rephrased-part-one-tom-monaghan.html

      http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.ca/2015/04/vanity-rephrased-part-two-ave-marias.html

      Since then, Ave Maria has been drying up faster than a swamp under the hellish Floridian sun. Last year only 88 first-year students enrolled there. The decline in enrollment will only exacerbate the toilet school's financial difficulties. Pouring in money from the sale of shitty pizza won't save this god-bothering vanity project.

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  6. Man oh man, JMLS. I come from an absolute Toilet (Chicago-Kent) and the JMLS students were looked upon with pity. They were known as the dregs even then. I can't imagine how bad standards have slipped.

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  7. UIC has been hoping to acquire Marshall for decades. I was at A reception where an old administrator discussed the failed attempts to take over Marshall in the 1990's. UIUC has always blocked the UIC from acquiring a law school for fear of UIC replacing UIUC as the premier state school in Illinois. However, as you note, UIUC has been losing prestige for a number of reasons lately. At alumni functions, downstate alumni will try and get the president to affirm that UIUC is the "flagship" school for the state. Presidents are less likely to do so now. UIC will be able to provide legal education at considerably lower cost than the other schools in the Chicagoland area, and offer law students the opportunity to work their second and third years in the much larger legal market. I wouldn't be surprised if in twenty years, UIC replaced UIUC as the better regarded state school in Illinois. My guess is that Northern and Southern Illinois law schools will be likely to close down if UIC acquires Marshall as Illinois has no need for four public law schools.

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    1. Illinois already has two public toilet schools (Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois, both of which are of Valpo's kidney) and does not need a third. The Univershitty of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, formerly faux-prestigious, is just another humdrum lousy school today. I don't see how acquisition by the state would make a silk purse of the John Marshall sow's ear.

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  8. You folks know the esteemed andre pond cummings, formerly of Indiana Tech Law is now, apparently, a "professor at John Marshall Law"? Looks like legal acedmia takes care of their own:

    http://drexel.edu/law/about/news/articles/overview/2017/October/race-and-policing-symposium-10232017/

    "In the symposium’s third panel, John Marshall Law School Professor andré douglas pond cummings, Defenders Association of Philadelphia Chief Defender Keir Bradford-Grey and Kline School of Law Professor Donald Tibbs discussed ways to change the paradigm of race and policing. Cummings said law enforcement training and hiring should be changed to alter the dynamics between those policed and those who police. Private and for-profit prisons should be abolished, cummings said."

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    1. Dougie Fresh is listed there as "Visiting Professor":

      http://www.jmls.edu/directory/profile.php?lastfirstname=cummings_andr%C3%A9

      That title seems inaccurate. A visiting professor "visits" temporarily from another academic institution. Dougie Fresh Pond Scum, however, appears not to have a regular position at any institution, as he taught at Indiana Tech's law school until it closed a few months ago and now suddenly is "Visiting" John Marshall. Most likely "Visiting Professor" in this case is a euphemism for adjunct or temporary instructor.

      Oddly enough, the Web site doesn't give all four of his names, although it does cater to his juvenile eschewal of capital letters.

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    2. It's andre douglas pond cummings. You have to write it all out or he gets testy, like A Pimp Named Slickback.

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    3. I actually agree that private and for-profit prisons should be abolished.

      He finally said something I agree with.

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    4. Actually, it's andré douglas pond cummings, with an acute accent on the e. I'm happy to give him his accent mark but not his lower-case initials, which violate a basic principle of the orthography.

      The first time that I saw the name "bell hooks" in print, I thought that it referred to mounting hardware for a carillon.

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    5. "Fresh is listed there as "Visiting [Associate] Professor": "

      Momma always said, VAPid is as VAPid does.

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  9. Wasn't there a song about The Night Chicago Died?

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    1. Maybe they should name it the Bad, Bad Leroy Brown School of Law.

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  10. Old Guy, does dybbuk still write for this blog?

    Despite the fact that the law school scam has damaged many, many lives (including my own), sometimes I can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Thank you to the scambloggers for the oftentimes much needed comic relief.

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    1. Dybbuk hasn't written for this blog lately, but I wouldn't count him out.

      Thanks for your appreciation of our efforts. I'm sorry, but not surprised, to hear that you too have suffered from the odious law-school scam.

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    2. I am still around, still following law school scam developments, and will surely write again at OTLSS. Over the last several months, however, I have found it much more difficult (for some reason) to find "hiding in plain sight" scam activities that needed public attention.

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  11. I think we should all chip in and buy it for OTLSS and/or Campos and/or Nando and/or the TLSC.

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