C|M|LAW Timeline: 120 Years of Legal Education

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C|M|LAW Timeline: 120 Years of Legal Education

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has a rich history dating back to its founding as Cleveland Law School at Baldwin University in 1897.  Today, C|M|LAW remains at the forefront of legal education innovation.  This four-part historic timeline highlights the major events of each generation that have shaped the law school over the past 120 years.


1897-1946: Two Law Schools are Established - The first 50 years

1897: Ohio Court of Appeals Judge Willis Vickery and other notable Cleveland attorneys and judges found the Baldwin University Law Department, a proprietary night law school located in the American Trust Building and loosely affiliated with Baldwin University.

1899: The law school is incorporated under the name of the Cleveland Law School of Baldwin University (Baldwin-Wallace College after 1913). Ohio Court of Appeals Judge Charles S. Bentley is Dean and Judge Vickery is President of the Board.

1900: A chapter for the Delta Phi Delta law fraternity is established at the Cleveland Law School of Baldwin University.

Early 1900s: The Cleveland Law School is the first law school in Ohio to admit women and one of the first to admit minorities.

1908: Elizabeth Williams becomes the first female graduate of Cleveland Law School, the first law school in Ohio to admit women

1915: Judge Willis Vickery is named Dean of the Cleveland Law School.

A. A. Benesch 1916: Cleveland Law School Professor David C. Meck, Sr., ’13, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Frank Cullitan ’06 and A. A. Benesch found the John Marshall School of Law, a proprietary law school with both an afternoon and a night program.

1917: The John Marshall School of Law is affiliated with Ohio Northern University.

1919: The John Marshall School of Law moves from the Guardian Building to the Old Court House on Public Square.

1921: The John Marshall School of Law moves to 242-248 Superior Avenue.

1923: The John Marshall School of Law offers an LL.M. program. Kappa Beta Phi legal sorority is established at the law school.

1924: The John Marshall School of Law severs ties with Ohio Northern University after “six years of the most cordial relations.”

1926: In a disagreement over which institution has the ultimate authority to set the law school’s academic standards, Cleveland Law School Dean Vickery severs ties with Baldwin-Wallace College.

1927: The Cleveland Law School adds an LL.M. to its program.

1932: Judge Willis Vickery dies and his son Melville Willis Vickery ’14 is appointed Dean of the Cleveland Law School.

Judge Lee E. Skeel ’12 1934: The Cleveland Law School becomes a charter member of the League of Ohio Law Schools.

1937: Cleveland Law School Dean Melville Vickery dies; Ohio Court of Appeals Judge Lee E. Skeel ’12 is named the school’s new Dean.

1938: The Cleveland Law School is reorganized as a not-for-profit institution. The John Marshall School of Law moves to its last home in the Hippodrome Building at 720 Euclid Avenue.

1939: The John Marshall School of Law is reorganized as a not-for-profit organization. Dean Meck dies and his son, David C. Meck, Jr., is named second Dean of the John Marshall School of Law.

1930s:  Grace Doering McCord ’32 becomes the first woman law faculty member in Ohio.

1942: Professor Ellis Diehm ’11 becomes the first president of the Law Alumni Association.


1946-1968: Law School Merger - The Dean Wilson Stapleton years

Frank Lausche1946: The two law schools merge under the name of the Cleveland-Marshall Law School. Wilson Stapleton ’34 is named Dean of the Cleveland-Marshall Law School. The Honorable Frank Lausche ’21, Governor of Ohio, is named Chairman of the Board.

1947: The law school relocates to 1240 Ontario Street.

1952: The law school adds a J.S.D., Doctor of Juridical Science, which was discontinued in 1969. Dean Stapleton and Judge Skeel create the Cleveland-Marshall Law School Review, the first night law school law review in the country.

1953: The Gavel, a student-run newspaper, publishes its first issue.

1957: The College is accredited by the American Bar Association.

1963: The Cleveland-Marshall Law School re-affiliates with Baldwin-Wallace College and is renamed the Cleveland-Marshall Law School of Baldwin-Wallace College. Wilson Stapleton remains as Dean.

1967: The school begins offering day classes. Dean Stapleton retires, and the law school breaks with Baldwin-Wallace College over the right to select a new Dean. Associate Dean Howard L. Oleck is selected as interim dean.

1968: Cleveland-Marshall Law School Professor James Gaynor is appointed Dean of the merged law school.


1969-1996: Affiliation with CSU - The law school finds its home

1969: The law school joins with Cleveland’s new public university and is renamed the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University. The school relocates to the CSU campus.

1970: The law school is accredited by the Association of American Law Schools.

1971: The law school creates an admissions program that recognizes the value of students’ backgrounds and life experiences as well as their academic records. The predecessor program becomes the law school’s Legal Career Opportunity Program (LCOP).

1972: Dean Gaynor retires and Professor Craig Christensen is named Dean. The College of Law opens the Sex Discrimination and Employment Clinic, afterwards called the Fair Employment Practices Clinic.

1973: The College initiates the Cleveland-Marshall Fund Enrichment Program which brings prominent national legal scholars to campus.

1975: Construction commences on a new law school building at East 18th Street and Euclid Avenue.

1976: Dean Christensen resigns; Professor Hyman Cohen is appointed Interim Dean.

1977: Robert L. Bogomolny is appointed Dean. The law school moves into its new building at East 18th Street and Euclid Avenue. Charles, Prince of Wales, visits the law school as part of opening ceremony and is awarded an honorary doctoral degree.

1979: The law library is designated a selective U.S. Government Documents Depository. The College is the only law school in the country selected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to assist attorneys in litigating employment discrimination cases in a 13-state ABAR III region.

1982: The College begins offering a joint J.D./M.B.A. degree.

1987: The College publishes the first issue of the Journal of Law and Health. Dean Bogomolny resigns. Professor Lizabeth A. Moody is appointed Interim Dean.

1988: University of Louisville Law School Associate Dean Steven R. Smith is appointed Dean.

1990: The Honorable Harry A. Blackmun, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, speaks at the College of Law. Max Ratner ’29 endows the law school’s largest scholarship fund.

1991: The College inaugurates its Environmental Law Clinic and the Housing Law Clinic.

1992: The College offers a new joint degree, the JD/M.P.A., and opens the Law & Public Policy Clinic.

1995: The Honorable Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, speaks at the College of Law. The College sponsors its first Summer Institute for Law Students in St. Petersburg, Russia.

1996: Dean Smith resigns and Associate Dean Steven H. Steinglass is appointed Interim Dean. The Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States, inaugurates the Centennial of the College of Law.


1997-2017: Centennial Celebration - The law school enters the 21st century

1997: Steven H. Steinglass is appointed Dean. A new law library, part of the CSU 17-18th Street Block Project, opens. The College of Law dedicates its new library and celebrates its Centennial at a Gala Birthday Party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

1999:  The Moot Court Room is dedicated as the Joseph W. Bartunek III Moot Court Room to honor retired U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph W. Bartunek III ’55. 

2004:  The College of Law receives a record-setting $6.25 million gift from Iris S. Wolstein, widow of Bert L. Wolstein ’53, for renovation of the law building and scholarships. The law library celebrated the addition of the 500,000th volume.

2005: Geoffrey S. Mearns is appointed Dean of the law school. The federally-funded Center for Election Integrity is established in a partnership with the law school and Levin College of Urban Affairs to assist state election reform.

2008: Renovations to the newly named Wolstein Hall building are completed, including a revamped Moot Court Room, a new building facade, conference rooms, ground floor atrium and classrooms.

2009:   Cleveland-Marshall opens the Community Health Advocacy Law Clinic, designed to assist low-income citizens with medical and other legal issues.

2010: Professor Phyllis L. Crocker is appointed Interim Dean. The law school opens the Center for Health Law & Policy to serve practicing attorneys and health professionals.  The first issue of the Global Business Law Review is published.

2011: Craig M. Boise is named Dean. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks at the College of Law. A state-of-the-art Trial Courtroom is opened.

2012: Cleveland-Marshall teams with Case Western Reserve University to form the Great Lakes Sports and Entertainment Law Academy. A partnership is established with BARBRI to offer bar exam preparation to students at no cost.  The law library is established as the repository for the complete collection of materials related to the Sam Sheppard trial. 

2013: The law school established a Master of Legal Studies program. An engaged learning guarantee is developed wherein every law student has the opportunity to participate in an externship or clinic before graduating.  The Education Law Association moves its national headquarters to Cleveland-Marshall.

2014: The College opens a Solo Practice Incubator for recently graduated legal entrepreneurs.   

2015: Cleveland-Marshall establishes the region’s first 3+3 program with Lake Erie College.   

2016: Lee Fisher is appointed Interim Dean.  The law school opens the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, a multidisciplinary center dedicated to analyzing and addressing cybersecurity, privacy and information management issues.

2017: The Judy and Robert H. Rawson, Jr. Learning Commons, a space dedicated to a technologically-advanced collaborative learning, opens.


A special thanks to Louise Mooney and the Cleveland Memory Project hosted by the Michael Schwartz Library at Cleveland State University for previous work compiling information and photos.

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