Troubled Law School to Cease Operations At One of Its Campuses
This summer, Above the Law began reporting on the uphill battle the Thomas M. Cooley Law School faced with regard to its declining revenue and student enrollment. In early July, they were the first to break the news that Cooley Law would stop accepting first-year students at its Ann Arbor campus as part of a “financial management plan.” At the time, James Robb, the law school’s associate dean of external affairs and senior counsel, said there were no plans to close the campus.
Plans apparently changed quickly, because at the end of July, they learned that Cooley Law was considering consolidating the Ann Arbor campus with other Cooley campuses by the end of the fall 2014 semester. Once again, Robb assured the media that no definitive plans had been made yet.
Now that we’re almost halfway through the fall 2014 semester, it seems that Cooley Law has begrudgingly decided to lie in the bed that it has made. This may be the first law school campus closure since the public started learning that legal education wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be…
Late this afternoon, Cooley Law students were greeted with the following message on their web portal:
Notice of Intent to Cease Operations at Ann Arbor Campus
Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School intends to cease operations at its Ann Arbor Campus on December 31, 2014, subject to the approval of teach-out plans submitted to its accrediting agencies, the Higher Learning Commission and American Bar Association – Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. Students are requested to contact their Enrollment and Student Services Coordinator with any questions or need for assistance they may have.
One has to wonder what the American Bar Association’s reaction to this announcement will be. Law schools across the nation are in trouble, and the ABA had an implicit hand in their downfall. By failing to institute measures that would keep law schools from deceiving their students as to their likely employment and salary prospects after graduation until the last minute, the ABA invited disasters like this to occur. Law schools were inevitably going to suffer once prospective students learned that all was not as good as it appeared — and was marketed — to be. Cooley Law School just happens to be one of the schools that has suffered the most, deservedly or not.
As we noted in July, Cooley Law is offering a number of concessions to students in exchange for their enrollment at one of its other campuses in Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills, and Tampa, Florida, including:
- Early registration for the January 2015 term, continuing through graduation;
- Retention of financial aid packages, regardless of campus chosen;
- A $1,500 cash payment for their troubles; and
- A $3,500 bar review stipend to be advanced during the final semester.
Above the Law reporters reached out to Cooley for comment, but have yet to hear back. We will update this post if they do.
Once again, Above the Law asks that students at this beleaguered law school take the time to consider their options wisely. Please think long and hard about your decision, because your financial future depends on it.
As of October 6, 2014, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School has updated the Ann Arbor campus section of its website with its Statement of Intent to Close. A Cooley student contacted Above the Law about the school’s impending campus closure, and was none too thrilled by the news. Here’s what that student had to say:
“I think this was a long time coming. Cooley teachers do provide a good education, but the administration unfortunately makes Cooley a joke. The expansion that they have done was clearly unsustainable and they are paying the price now. Students have been questioning the expansion for years, and the response has been that they did it with a long-term goal and have been dismissive of students concerns. I hope in the future when students express their apprehensiveness, the administration actually listens.”
Zaretsky, Staci. “Troubled Law School To ‘Cease Operations’ At One Of Its Campuses.” Above the Law. Above the Law, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.