JU announces plans to open law school in downtown Jacksonville

Jacksonville University announced plans Monday to establish a law school in downtown Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University announced plans Monday to establish a law school in downtown Jacksonville.

The private school will be supported by private funding and a $5 million commitment of public investment from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, the school said. It will become the state’s first new law school in more than 20 years.

The Jacksonville University College of Law will launch classes in the fall of 2022 with an expected inaugural class of 20-30 students and a projected total enrollment of 150 students in Fall 2024.

The College of Law will offer a three-year Juris Doctor degree program that is designed to prepare graduates for the Florida Bar exam. Tuition will be around $36,000 a year with up to $14,000 in scholarships per student.

Jacksonville University President Tim Cost said the JU College of Law has been years in the making and now the time is right.

“To have a day where you can bring to life what you’ve been planning for so long. I think the community will embrace a new college of law. We’re excited to bring it forward. We think it’s a great fit for everything else we do over there at JU,” Cost said.

While Jacksonville University’s main campuses in Arlington, the law school is going to be based at the VyStar Tower downtown. JU already has several programs in the building, and leaders say it’s important because it is within walking distance of City Hall, the public defender’s office, the state attorney’s office as well as the county courthouse.

Curry emphasized the need for a quality law school in the city.

“Jacksonville is currently the largest city in the U.S. that does not have a law school,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “Too often, our citizens must choose to leave Jacksonville to pursue a legal education. This College of Law will offer a prime opportunity for current residents and serve as a magnet to attract talent back into our city and our downtown.”

The new school will be Jacksonville’s only law school enrolling new students filling the gap that Florida Coastal School of Law leaves. That school, which had been around since 1996, is no longer taking students after a financial aid and accreditation spat with the Department of Education.

Florida is the third most populous state in the U.S., but is ranked 24th in lawyers per capita. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 1.5 jobs for every lawyer in the state.

Duval County Chief Judge Mark Mahon is optimistic it’ll be a symbiotic relationship and he said students will have access to judges and attorneys.

“There’s a really good relationship that can develop between the law school, the law students and the court itself. The students get to see judges and the day-to-day operations of the court. And the judges can have students help with research and kind of act as mentors,” Mahon said.

The university is accepting applications as of Monday at ju.edu/law.

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