By: Dina Usanovic
News broke recently that Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is planning to merge with Akron Law, creating the largest public law school in Ohio. This merger is surrounded by an aura of mystery, as no one has officially announced the true reason behind it or the way it will be implemented. The merger between the schools has caused many people to call into question the success of the schools: Are they merging because of lowered finances? Have they experienced lower enrollment rates? Are they at risk of closing if the merger does not happen?
Both schools are considered to be successful and renowned. The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the highest-ranked public law school in Ohio and has an important place in history as the first law school in Ohio to admit women. The college was also one of the first to admit African American students. Akron Law, on the other hand, has the highest first-time pass rate on the Ohio Bar Exam. Clearly, both schools have prospered on their own.
It has been rumored that the discussion of a merger was brought about due to the close proximity of the law schools. With only forty miles between the campuses, students would have the opportunity to take classes on both campuses (with a virtual option available, as well). The merger is intended to increase students’ opportunities for a more well-rounded education, as well as increased employment opportunities.
The effect that the merger would have on faculty and students is unclear. No plan has been officially released. However, it has been announced that the merger is intended to be completed by August 2021. In fact, the plans are so nuanced that faculty at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law were not informed of the possibility of the schools combining until a few hours before the official announcement.
This merger is incredibly unique. It will be the first combination law school in Ohio and will be the first in the nation to share campuses, rather than sending each student to one campus. The merger will create one of the largest public law schools in the country. Regardless of the possible consequences of the implementation of the deans’ plans for the merger, there are certain clear benefits. Students will have much more flexibility regarding class schedule- an important factor with the stressful atmosphere of law school- and a greater opportunity for internships and jobs. CSU’s decision to be a part of this trailblazing move will certainly put it- along with Akron Law- on the map.