Law school closure


The future is not what it used to be. Law school applicants are fewer each year. For many schools there are three choices: reduce the number of enrolled students, lower the minimum credentials of enrolled students, or close up operations.

Thomas M. Cooley Law School may have some advantage in that it has multiple campuses. So it makes sense to them to close one campus and have students finish out their law school careers at another campus. Any way you slice it, this is not the happiest news.

Here’s the story directly from Cooley:

Statement of Intent to Close

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School has notified its students that it 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.

This action follows implementation of a financial management plan announced July 1, 2014.

Anticipating the possibility of the closure, the Law School told its Ann Arbor students in August of accommodations it would provide them should the campus close. Those include:

  • early registration at other campuses
  • $1,500 cash stipend to help cover costs of attending a different campus
  • $3,500 stipend for a bar review course for graduates
  • specialized advising for registration, financial aid, housing and other issues
  • possible adjustment to available financial aid
  • additional consideration to students with special circumstances.

Starting January 2015, the affected Ann Arbor students may choose to take their classes at any of the Law School’s other campuses, including Lansing or Auburn Hills located about an hour away from Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids located about two hours away, or at its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. Travel to other campuses has historically been common amongst students, with more than 60 percent of Ann Arbor-based graduates over the last three years taking classes at more than one campus. The Law School has always admitted students to the school as a whole and not to a particular campus.

Announcement of the intent to cease operations at Ann Arbor awaited the required formal notice recently given by the school to its accrediting agencies, which must review the arrangement. The school and the accreditors will ensure that the affected students are provided the full range and quality of curriculum, instruction, and student services as all other students receive.