In past entries I’ve written about specific times in my life. I think. I left off just as I graduated college at Boston University and was starting law school at Lewis University in Glen Ellen, Illinois a suburb of Chicago. I started law school in September of 1975
Lewis University College of Law was a brand new law school that opened six months before I started there. And I started there even though it was not accredited by the American Bar Association. In fact, it could not be accredited until the first class graduated which was scheduled for January of 1978. I was scheduled to graduate in May of 1978. So I went there not knowing if I would be eligible to take the bar exam in New York where I hoped to practice law. If the school was not approved by the ABA, at best, I would be able to take the Illinois Bar exam. Thisbe got over my head most of the time I was at law school.
As it turned out I believe I received an excellent legal education even though the school was brand new. The faculty was excellent. I had a number of memorable professors who had a strong impact on my legal education. The facilities at the college, the former. Maryknoll seminary of Glen Ellen was really good. And the law library established there at the time was the best in DuPage County. Lewis University did a real good job in creating this academic institution.
The student body was also very good and very diverse. It was made up of students who did not do well on law board entrance exams but were good overall academic students. The law school was also very liberal in accepting students. My class started with over three hundred most commuters from the Chicagoland area. It was a way to get tuition money. However, by the time we graduated there were less than 150 graduates.
I was one of about 40 to 50 students from out of town. Many of us were from New York, New Jersey, Florida and a few from out west. And these out of town students gravitated to each other. We formed study groups and social groups and basically kept an eye on each other. And overall we all became pretty good lawyers. My. EST friend to this day Dan Roberts was a member of this law school. We are extremely close and he was my first law partner forty years ago.
We did have a sense of esprit de cour, being in this together. Remember, we didn’t know until January of our last year of law school whether or not the school would be accredited. As it turned out Lèwis University College of Law did receive its provisional accreditation from the ABA in January 1978 but it was touch and go. Turned out the overall finances of the University were very iffy. The ABA wanted to make sure the law school would be around in five years. Suffice it to say, some creative paperwork was supplied to the ABA to prove the college’s financial worthiness. And we were accredited.
And it turned out that Lewis University could not sustain a law school. So within about a year, year and a half Lewis University negotiated with the state of Illinois to have the law school taken over by the state university system and become a part of Northern Illinois University located in Dekalb. And that’s how today I have a diploma as a graduate from Northern Illinois University College of Law.
As for my three years there, I have great memories of my time there. There wasn’t much in the way of social life. I didn’t date much at all. The student body was 80% men and 20% women. It was by and large a commuter school. I spent a lot of time in the law library believe it or not. Went to class, didn’t really cut classes and socialized within my law school group of friends.