Jacksonville University College of Law celebrates its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Jacksonville University College of Law represents much more than the official opening of the classroom, library, office, and study spaces as the launch of the law school in downtown Jacksonville was decades in the making, according to the university.
It all started in the 1930s with the original charter for the university, then known as William J. Porter University, which “envisioned the study of the principles and practices of law” at the school. Nearly 100 years later, that became a reality as the inaugural 14 students started classes in August.
Plans were set in place for the college of law a decade ago when President Tim Cost took the helm at the university.
“When I think about 10 years ago and where Jacksonville University was positioning itself under the leadership of president Tim Cost, we were positioning ourselves to be very strategic and become something comprehensive – and to build,” said Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Christine Sapienza. “Jacksonville University positioned itself not just a year ago, but decades ago, to be where we are today. To be a highly ranked, regional, premiere private university.”
Law Dean Nick Allard credited the support of the community, particularly the legal community, Mayor Lenny Curry, and the Jacksonville City Council in helping get the law school off the ground. Those present at the ceremony included State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Public Defender Charlie Cofer, City Council President Terrance Freeman, Gunster’s Mike Freed, Chief Judge Tim Corrigan, and others.
“We are overwhelmed by the positive outreach of the bench and the bar,” Allard said.
The opening of the school also means a new source of legal talent in the city, something that is desperately needed, said Mayor Curry, who spoke at the event.
The JU College of Law was initially founded with private investment and $5 million in public investment from the City of Jacksonville.
“It’s been over 20 years since we’ve had a pipeline of this talent and the community has been missing that locally,” Curry said. “So this is an historic day, this was a no-brainer for this to happen. I am incredibly proud and excited about it.”
While it has just been a few weeks in classes, Allard is impressed with the inaugural class.
“They are highly intelligent, mature, confident, and have this intangible quality of curiosity, so we’re off to a really good start,” he said. “They want to be part of an institution that succeeds. They like that the law school is new, it’s not just a cookie cutter operation.”
The Jacksonville University College of Law is accepting applications for the spring semester starting in January 2023, and for the fall semester beginning August 2023. For more information on the application process, visit ju.edu/law.