Loyola University Chicago was established by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as St. Ignatius College in 1870, the year before the Great Chicago Fire. The first campus was originally on Chicago's near South Side, where St. Ignatius High School is now located. Loyola was moved to what is now the Lake Shore Campus on Chicago's North Side in 1908.
1908 - 1917:
A group of prominent Chicago lawyers established the Lincoln College of Law in early 1908, hoping to affiliate with St. Ignatius College. That hope was realized later that same year, when St. Ignatius College was reorganized into Loyola University and the Lincoln College of Law became the Loyola University Law Department, a name that was retained until the 1920s. It was the university's first professional school.
Under the leadership of Dean William Dillon (1908 - 1917), the first class of 30 students took many courses still taught today (e.g., contracts, torts, crimes and criminal procedure, property). Also offered was an optional course, "Logic, Philosophy and Sociology," taught by Rev. Edward J. Gleeson, S.J., which was the first of many elective courses available to students. Students also were required to complete an extensive practice court program—the seeds of today's prominent advocacy program.
The law school was located in the Loop, the heart of downtown Chicago, in a building known as the Ashland Block, at Clark and Randolph Streets, near the city's courts and government offices. Initially, all classes were conducted in the part-time evening division.
1917 - 1937:
The second dean, Arnold D. McMahon (1917 - 1925), saw enrollments rise after having fallen off sharply during World War I. Beginning in 1921, the new regent of the university, Rev. Frederick Siedenburg, S.J., instituted a series of crucial changes for the law school: He established a full-time day division with a three-year curriculum, expanded the evening curriculum to four years, and admitted women students to both divisions. The school qualified to become a member of the Association of American Law Schools in 1924, and accreditation by the American Bar Association followed in 1925.
Dean John V. McCormick (1925 - 1937) moved the law school to a new and better location in Chicago's Loop at 28 North Franklin Street. He launched a graduate program in law which continued into the 1930s. Dean McCormick left the deanship when he was elected to the bench; he was later appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court.
1937 - 1959:
The deanship of John C. Fitzgerald (1937-1959) was momentous for the law school. He set out to transform the school, emphasizing the history and traditions of the legal profession. Dean Fitzgerald and colleagues adopted a rigorous academic program designed to ensure that every Loyola law graduate would be prepared to practice with distinction in any jurisdiction. They gave life and meaning to the social, moral and ethical values implicated in the practice of law.
During World War II, with its student body increasingly called to military service, the law school was closed after the class of 1944 graduated. It was through the remarkable efforts of Dean Fitzgerald that the school was resurrected in 1946. Returning service people, eager for the education they missed during the war, flocked to the school.
Dean Fitzgerald moved the law school from Chicago's Loop to the university's Water Tower Campus on the near North Side, first occupying space in Lewis Towers, the building donated to the university by philanthropist Frank J. Lewis. In 1954, through the generosity of its alumni, the law school moved to a building at 41 E. Pearson Street, which was later named Siedenburg Hall.
1959 - 1983:
Under Deans John C. Hayes (1959 - 1967) and William L. Lamey (1967 - 1970), the school experienced steady but modest growth in the numbers of faculty and students. The law school began to offer a significant number of elective courses and to support more co-curricular activities including student publications and moot court competitions. The Law Journal was inaugurated in 1969.
The deanship of Charles R. Purcell (1970 - 1975) saw a dramatic increase in enrollments, including more women, who began attending law school in large numbers. Physical space was expanded, and planning began for new law school expansion and facilities. The Trial Practice Program was established, following the format that had been pioneered by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA).
Dean Charles W. Murdock (1975 - 1983) oversaw the law school's move into its new building, Maguire Hall, at 1 E. Pearson. The number of full-time faculty also increased, as did academic programs, along with co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities for the students. The Community Law Center, the school's legal clinic, was established, along with the Street Law Program that enabled law students to teach law in the city's high schools.
1983 - Present:
In 1983, Nina S. Appel, then a faculty member and associate dean, was chosen as the school's ninth dean. Her 20-year tenure is one of the longest in U.S. legal education. Under her leadership, the law school acquired the 16 E. Pearson Street building for the Child and Family Law Center, relocated the Law Library to the 25 E. Pearson Street building, consolidated the legal clinics in Maguire Hall, and established a number of centers, institutes and programs that have achieved distinction.
In mid-2004, Dean Appel assumed the title of Dean Emerita, the first such title to be conferred in university history. She remains a full-time member of the faculty and administration of the law school, responsible for development and alumni activities with the goal of furthering the law school's strategic plan to be recognized as one of the top Catholic law schools in the country.
Professor Diane Geraghty served as interim dean until David N. Yellen joined the School of Law as dean in 2005. Yellen served as dean until July 2016. Michael Kaufman currently serves as interim dean of the School of Law.