Cleveland Law School, founded in 1897, was Ohio’s first evening law school and also the first to admit women. John Marshall School of Law was established by Cleveland attorneys, and classes began in 1916 in the New Guardian Building on Euclid Avenue. Following an affiliation with Ohio Northern University (1917–1923), Marshall received authorization to confer degrees under its own name. In 1946, the two Cleveland schools merged to form Cleveland–Marshall Law School. From 1963 to 1967, C-M maintained a nominal relationship with Baldwin–Wallace College. After regaining independent status, Cleveland–Marshall began its full-time legal education program. C-M became a state institution affiliated with Cleveland State University in 1969, becoming the Cleveland–Marshall College of Law, the largest law college in Ohio at the time.
Cleveland–Marshall has a rich history of integrating women and minorities into the American legal field, including Carl Stokes, the first African-American mayor of a major city in the U.S., Mary Grossman, the first woman in Ohio elected to a Municipal Court Bench as well as one of the first female members of the American Bar Association, Genevieve Cline, the first woman appointed to the U.S. federal bench, and Lillian Walker Burke, the first African-American female judge in Ohio.