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Press Release

Professor John Walton Retires from NIU Law

Professor Walton (right) was honored by the Black Law Students Association at their banquet held on April 20, 2016.

Professor Walton (right) was honored by the Black Law Students Association at their banquet held on April 20, 2016.

April 26, 2016

DeKalb, Ill.--Professor John Walton, a longtime faculty member of Northern Illinois University College of Law, has retired from the school. He will now serve as a professor emeritus.

“Professor Walton has been an excellent teacher and highly valued member of our law school community. He has brought a unique perspective into the classroom as a longtime educator and former practitioner - and most recently as an inventor of a universal jack stand for cars. He turned his invention into an invaluable teaching moment as he guided his intellectual property students through the patent and trademark process in real time,” said Dean Mark Cordes.

In his 23 years at NIU Law, Professor Walton taught agency and unincorporated business organizations, corporations, sports and entertainment law, intellectual property, patent law, and lawyering skills. He was twice voted Professor of the Year

He held visiting professorships at DePaul Law School and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Before joining the NIU Law faculty, he was a litigation attorney in Denver, Colorado where his clients included the Denver Nuggets of the NBA and New Line Cinema. In addition to his litigation practice, he was counsel to the Sam Cary Scholarship Endowment Fund, on the Boards of Directors for the Colorado Bar Association and Colorado Lawyers for the Arts and was a visiting prosecutor for the Denver City Attorney.  

In 2008, Professor Walton sought to turn a cardboard model into a patented invention as a teaching exercise in patents and intellectual property. “I thought the invention could be a valuable teaching aid – combining the substantive intellectual property law with the development of the invention and actual trademark application and patent prosecution processes,” said Walton. He was able to involve a recent NIU Law graduate and newly minted patent attorney in the applications and teachings. The various classes were taught in parallel to three successful patent prosecutions and a trademark registration.

Walton was featured on an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” where he demonstrated the workings of his invention. Leno commented that “it took a law professor to come up with a simple solution to an automotive problem.” Walton agreed, noting his view of lawyers as problem solvers. “Every profession needs problem solvers and the legal training our students receive at NIU Law prepares them not only for the practice of law but for solving human problems.” Walton believes many employers, in addition to traditional law practice, need graduates with these skill sets. Professor Walton plans to remain connected to the College of Law and in touch with alums and current and future students.


For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or

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