Co-founded with Thomas A. Moran the Chicago Evening Law Class, which later became the Chicago College of Law (the law department at Lake Forest University) with Bailey serving as dean from 1889 to 1895. Chicago College of Law later merged with Kent College of Law to form Chicago-Kent College of Law; in 1969 Chicago-Kent became IIT’s law school.
At age 53, some 30 years after being admitted to the bar, Justice Joseph Bailey, instead of making retirement plans, made plans to begin a new phase of what was already a long and distinguished career of public service. A noted jurist, having previously served in the Illinois state legislature, Bailey began teaching a law class in the evening to hopeful future attorneys who assembled in his chambers.
Bailey had served on key legislative committees during his tenure as an Illinois lawmaker—he chaired the railroad committee in the crucial period following the Civil War—and it was probably there that he came to the attention of those who would promote him to successively more influential positions on the bench. Eventually rising to Chief Justice of Illinois, Bailey’s career had moved through the fields of education and private law practice to the legislative and judicial branches of government.
The Evening Law Class founded by Bailey and his colleague Thomas Moran in 1887 evolved through later steps and mergers into Chicago-Kent College of Law, which first operated as an independent school. In 1969 it became IIT’s law school and now boasts almost 12,000 individuals who have studied at the current and predecessor law schools.