From salary cuts, furloughs, and layoffs to the concept of online schooling and working from home while on lockdown, the pandemic has brought a lot of change to the legal profession as a whole. Here’s one more interesting change that could come to fruition sometime in the next year: a law school merger.
Cleveland State University and the University of Akron recently announced that they’re forming a working group to determine the feasibility of creating a “unified” law school. To think, this all started with an idea to cross register classes between the schools for the Fall 2020 semester. The last time we saw one of these was back in 2015, when Minnesota-based law schools William Mitchell and Hamline joined forces amid a nationwide collapse in enrollment to become Mitchell Hamline Law.
Here’s an excerpt from the press release on the potential merger:
A joint operating model would potentially create the largest law school in Ohio and one of the largest public law schools in the country. UA and CSU would jointly own and operate the newly organized law school, making it the only law school in the United States to be part of two different urban public research universities. …
The physical proximity of the two campuses would allow students to take in-person courses at both locations; students also could choose from many online offerings. The combined faculty would bring enormous depth and breadth to the school’s curriculum and scholarly output and its capacity to serve the Northeast Ohio community through clinics, educational programming, pro bono work and legal expertise would be unmatched.
Cleveland State is currently ranked at #102 by U.S. News, while Akron Law follows at #141. Employment prospects at both schools were similar for the class of 2019: at Akron, 63.6 percent of graduates found full-time, long-term jobs where bar passage was required, while 62.5 percent of Cleveland State’s graduates found similar jobs. Akron’s ultimate bar passage rate for 2020 is 83.02 percent, while Cleveland State’s is 81.03 percent. The two law schools really are quite similar.
From the sounds of it, both schools would remain open, so there would hopefully be no layoffs to worry about. Let’s see what the future holds for these law schools.
University of Akron and Cleveland State University to Explore Creating Unified Law School (University of Akron)
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.