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John Marshall School of Law

Cleveland, Ohio



The 1921 Cleveland Foundation Survey of Criminal Justice has a profile of the school, its professors and facilities.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer carried news and ads for the school.


The John Marshall School of Law was founded in 1916 by Cleveland attorneys David C. Meck, Alfred Benesch and Frank Cullitan.  It was initially advertised as offering perparation “for the bar and for business.”  Among classes offered were those that would attract business persons: bankruptcies, insurance, mortgages, municipal law, public utilities and federal and state procedures.  there were also co-curricular classes in oratory and public speaking.  It offered both evening and night classes.  By 1923 it was offering morning classes as well.


In 1917 J.M.S.L. began a relationship with Ohio Northern University, which allowed it to offer a three-year program leading to an L.L.B. degree.  In 1921 the entrance requirement was listed as graduation from an approved high school.  However, the Cleveland Foundation Survey noted that in reality 42 of 153 students surveyed did not have a high school diploma.  That survey found that almost every student held a day job.


Edited Image 2018-07-06 16-10-05_edited.

In 1922 John Marshall began to offer post-graduate courses leading to an LL.M. degree.  The relationship with Ohio Northern having ended, John Marshall was allowed to offer degrees in its own name in 1923.  By this time, the program had been extended to four years.


Seniors, Sophomores and post-graduate students had classes on Mondays and Thursdays.  Juniors, Freshmen and reviewing students had classes on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Wednesdays were reserved for public speaking classes, general lectures, and the moot court sessions.


Enrollment reached 457 students in 1922 and 500 in 1925.   J.M.S.L. graduated 80 in 1928—including nine with LL.M. degrees.  But with the onset of World War II, only 11 students graduated in 1945. 


J.M.S.L. had chapters of the Delta Theta Phi law fraternity and the Kappa Beta Pi law sorority. 


In 1946 John Marshall School of Law merged with Cleveland Law School to form Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.  Since 1969 the merged school has been affiliated with Cleveland State University.

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Lambda Delta Beta law fraternity members.  Image from the 1929-30 John Marshall School of Law Bulletin.  Image courtesy of

Bricks and Mortar

The first advertisements for John Marshall School of Law show classes being held on the second floor of the New Guardian Building at 627 Euclid Avenue.   Built in 1896 as the tallest building in Cleveland, it later became a Holiday Inn Express.  It is now leased by Rosetta and its top floors are being converted into upscale apartments. 


In 1919 the school moved to the unoccupied third floor of the old Cuyahoga County Courthouse on the Public Square.  Built in 1875 and enlarged in 1884, the old courthouse was razed in 1935.


In 1921 the school took up quarters “opposite the post office” at 242-248 Superior Avenue, its home until 1938.  At that time it moved to the Hippodrome Building at 720 Euclid Avenue.  Built in 1907, the “Hipp” was one of the great theaters of its time, seating 3,558.  It was razed in 1981.   


One feature of each site was the law library, prominently mentioned in all ads.


After the merger, Cleveland-Marshall Law School moved to the Ontario Building on Ontario Avenue.


The Old Courthouse.   John Marshall School of Law paid $60 per month for the use of three classrooms  and a library room on the third floor.  Image by Bwsmith84


            Team name:  Newspapers refer to teams as “Lawyers”


Basketball is first mentioned in the Plain Dealer in 1921, with the note that the school would “again be represented by a team.”  J.M.S.L. teams played against St. Ignatius, Kent Normal, Ohio Wesleyan, Defiance, Findley, Baldwin-Wallace and Spencerian College.  Newspaper coverage of basketball ceased after 1926.   


College Football Data Warehouse shows football in both 1932 and 1933.  The 1932 team played against Western Reserve Freshmen, Findley, and Urbana University in addition to Benedictine and Wellsville High Schools.  In 1933 J.M.S.L. played a seven-game schedule, losing all seven, scoring only one touchdown.  Among the losses was a 96-0 thumping by Findley. 

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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