Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center
The Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center (ILJLC) is a collaborative effort between the University of Idaho College of Law and the Idaho Supreme Court to create a center for legal education and civic engagement. This multipurpose is:
- Located in the historic and newly renovated Ada County Courthouse in the heart of the Boise metropolitan area on the Idaho capitol mall.
- Adjacent to the Idaho Supreme Court, Idaho State Bar and the Capitol Building.
- The ideal place to provide public civic outreach and education space to students, educators and the community.
- Home to the Idaho State Law Library with its exhaustive resources.
- A facility that will provide law students expanded externship and networking opportunities critical to their success as future lawyers.
- Home to the Idaho Supreme Court’s judicial education offices and training facilities.
This space “will be nationally distinctive and an asset to the College of Law, the general community, as well as the legal profession, and it will serve as a location for collaboration among the branches of government and for public educational outreach on the rule of law in a democratic society,” said Don Burnett, former College of Law dean and University of Idaho interim president.
History of the Building
The Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center, formerly the Ada County Courthouse, was constructed as part of the Depression-era Public Works Administration in 1939. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The building was constructed in the Art Deco style. Modern style and solid construction were intended to communicate confidence in the government and a positive outlook for the future at a difficult time in US history.
The building was in use for almost 63 years as a courthouse, jail, and legislative offices. The building functioned as a courthouse and holding jail until 1999, when Ada County sold it to the State of Idaho. The state leased the building to provide office space for state legislators when they were in session, however it soon became apparent that space was limited. Legislators made several proposals to renovate or rebuild the courthouse, but in February of 2002 the courthouse was officially abandoned. The building was later re-opened to be used as the home of the Idaho State Legislature during the 2008 legislative session because the Statehouse was being renovated.
In 2009, state leaders again began discussing the future of the historic Ada County Courthouse. The Idaho Supreme Court and the University of Idaho met with leaders from the Idaho Department of Administration to discuss the possibility of the Supreme Court and the College of Law becoming the building's tenants. A decision was reached to seek funding from the Idaho Permanent Building Fund Advisory Council to complete the infrastructure upgrades to the building. In October 2010, the Idaho Department of Administration designated the building as the future home for the Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center. Infrastructure remodeling work was completed in 2014 and the College of Law and Supreme Court are currently in the final phases of tenant renovations.
For more information about the building’s architecture and history visit The Boise Architecture Project.
The College commenced a fundraising campaign, and with the help of several donors and a very generous grant from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, over $1.2 million was initially raised for this purpose.
When the historic courthouse was designated as the home for the University of Idaho College of Law in Boise, it was agreed that the College would fund the tenant specific improvements to allow the facility to function as a law school. Fundraising continues as work is being completed.