Law Students

Cooley Law School Closing Second Campus
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In such a weakened legal job market, many feel that law schools should be closing instead of receiving accreditation.

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School is closing its Grand Rapids, Michigan campus, and consolidating operation at its Lansing location, the school announced in a press release Monday.

The move follows the closure of Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus in Southeastern Michigan, in response to declining enrollment.

Cooley was once the largest law school in the country with multiple campuses and enrollment of 4,000 students in 2010. In recent years enrolment has drastically fallen, with only 1,156 students in fall 2019.  Closing its Grand Rapids campus will leave one Michigan location and another in Tampa Bay, Florida.  


The School has also announced its classes will be held online this fall and tuition will be reduced by 21% for the 2020-21 academic year.   

The Grand Rapids campus will cease operations on Aug. 31, 2021, pending approval by accrediting agencies, according to the release.

The law dean at Cooley James McGrath said the reason behind closing the Grand Rapids campus is the dramatic drop in enrollment there. 

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“The recent Board action was the appropriate decision as demand for a legal education continues to vacillate. We are focusing on providing a quality practical legal education to students who will truly diversify the legal profession, said McGrath. “As with many institutions of higher education, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected our decision making and continues to have an impact on our enrollment,” McGrath continued. “We have made bold and sweeping changes this past year and a half to show our commitment to building a socially just future while setting us on a path to better serve our students and the profession.”

McGrath said cutting back to one Michigan campus will help Cooley focus on enrolling students who will be able to pass the state bar exam.

Cooley was listed as non-compliant in May as it didn’t meet the new bar passage standard known as Standard 316, which requires 75% of an ABA-accredited law school’s graduates who take a bar exam to pass within two years of graduation.

“WMU-Cooley’s Board is committed to placing the law school in a position of strength as we continue to provide broad access to legal education,” said Board Chairperson Hon. Louise Alderson.  

WMU-Cooley was founded by a former Michigan Supreme Court chief justice Thomas E. Brennan in 1972. It was named after Thomas Cooley, another state Supreme Court justice, one of the first faculty members at the University of Michigan Law School, and boasts more than 20,000 graduates.

“The current pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives forever and WMU-Cooley is embracing these challenges as opportunities,” asserted McGrath. “WMU-Cooley’s goals are to rebuild our school, our profession, and help make our nation stronger and more equitable. We will ALL RISE by working together.”



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