The ABA Standard 509 reports came out a few weeks ago, and there are many alarming statistics in them, but none quite so disturbing as the admissions information from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The class that Cooley admitted in 2015 is statistically the worst entering class of law students in the history of American legal education at an ABA-Accredited law school, and that is saying something. ...
In 2015, Cooley abandoned all pretense of maintaining sound admission policies, significantly lowering its LSAT and GPA standards across the board, as can be seen by comparing their 2014 and 2014 matriculating student credentials.
GPA/LSAT75th50th25th# of Students 2014 3.28/149 2.90/145 2.53/141 445 2015 3.19/147 2.85/141 2.51/138 448
Once again in 2015, Cooley was faced with a choice – shrink the entering class, or lower standards, or some combination of the two. After four years of shrinking its class, Cooley abandoned that approach and simply lowered its already rock-bottom standards.
The credentials of the part-time entering class, which makes up 90% of admitted students were even more appalling:
In percentile terms, this means that Cooley matriculated over 100 part-time students with LSATs of 137 or below,comprisingthe bottom 8% of LSAT-takers. While there may be very rare exceptions, there is simply no evidence to support a belief that a student with a 137 or lower LSAT and mediocre or worse college grades has a reasonable prospect of becoming a lawyer. The average MBE score for a student with a 137 LSAT is approximately 128. The average state bar exam cut score, including in Michigan (where most Cooley graduates take the bar) is 135.
The bottom line is that Cooley has once again regained its rightful place as the law school of last resort, surpassing even the InfiLaw schools in the race to the bottom. In fact, Cooley is perilously close to having an open admissions policy. In 2015, Cooley admitted 88% of applicants, up from 85% in 2014.
The East Lansing attorney was told early on in life that he wouldn't amount to much. From his rough upbringing in New York, to the rodeo arena, to the courtroom, he set out to prove everyone wrong. ...
He withstood 65 shoulder dislocations in his 12-year career ... He knew it was time for a change when he struggled to hold his youngest son. Hilyard hung up his spurs in 2005. ...
Hilyard had always been a fan of TV court shows. “Matlock,” starring Andy Griffith, was his favorite. He wanted to bring the same bravado to the courtroom.
But, in what would become a recurring theme for Hilyard, life got in the way: His father suffered a heart attack the week before he took the Law School Admission Test. He scored a 134. "It pretty much means I got my name right, I think," Hilyard said.
He took another shot at the LSAT, scoring slightly higher. Still, his stack of law school rejection letters grew. Working as a paralegal, Hilyard complained to his wife, Brandy, that he was being paid a pittance for his work. So she gave him a choice: Get into law school or choose a new career.
His application to Cooley Law School, in his mind, was a Hail Maryattempt. He was accepted on April 19, 2010. “I broke down in tears, big, tough bullrider. I let out this scream. It just completely overtook me,” Hilyard said. ...
Hilyard graduated from Cooley with honors in September of 2013. In his valedictory speech at Cooley, Hilyard likened his fortunes to those of Charlie Bucket in the film "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." He broke out in song: “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket."
“I’ve got a golden ticket. I’ve got a golden chance to make my way,” he sang to his fellow graduates. “And with this golden ticket, it’s a golden day.”
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Today, Hilyard is an attorney for the Gallagher Law Firm, spending much of his time representing indigent criminal defendants assigned to him by Ingham County Circuit Court. He saw sees the work as a way to help those with few alternatives.