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Cooley Law Graduates the Most Minorities in the Nation
The secret to having diversity in your law school is to lower the requirements to get into the program without lowering the requirements to get out of the program. That, at least, is how things were explained by Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which according the American Bar Association’s “Official Guide to Law Schools,” graduated more minority law students than any other U.S. school. They gradated 958 students in the years the study covered, in comparison with 865 minority students from Harvard, the second runner up, and 784 from Loyola Marymount, Georgetown with 775, and American University with 747.
Cooley is a Michigan based school that has opened up schools in Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and also one in Tampa Florida. They explain that their diversity program is subsequent of lowering LSAT requirements.
“Out students talk about Cooley as easy to get into but hard to get out of,” said Associate Dean John Nussbaumer, as reported by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. “We made a business decision a long time ago to set our LSAT requirements at a level where we thought students had a reasonable level of success and not to play the U.S. News ranking game.”
That game, he explained, is to bolster the U.S. New and World Report law school ranking by hiking LSAT requirements.
“Part of our philosophy is that you shouldn’t set the standard so high that you shut out people who would succeed. That is what happens. If you want to play is safe, you can raise your LSAT standards to a certain level and nobody will fail out, but a lot of people who would have succeeded won’t get the opportunity.
“Our mission talks about providing access for those who want to study law, but combining that with a very rigorous academic program that prepares student to pass the bar and become very good lawyers.”
This peculiar gospel of lower expectation might even sound like an insult to minorities, but they at least claim that their classes are rigorous and challenge students. Nussbaumer will speak more about their academic philosophy at the upcoming State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession series; he will speak at Seattle and Washington.
“In terms of why this is important, the ABA did a study about three years ago and identified four rationales why diversity is important. One was the leadership rationale: that so many lawyers play important leadership roles, both in and out of government, that it’s important to have a diverse legal profession in order that our leadership is diverse.”
One would expect, nevertheless, for minorities to rise to the occasion, rather than having the occasion lowered for them. Ranking is more than a mere game, but if their program is as challenging as they allege, the results will speak for themselves.