Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

WMU-Cooley Shutters A Second Campus In As Many Years, Cooley Law School to Shutter a Second Campus in as Many Years:

Thomas Cooley Logo (2017)Western Michigan University Cooley Law School is shrinking … again.

The law school—once the largest in the country by both enrollment and number of campuses—announced this week that it will shutter its Grand Rapids location at the end of the academic year, leaving a single location in both Michigan and Florida. That decision comes a year after Cooley unveiled the closure of its campus in Auburn Hills, outside of Detroit. Cooley Dean James McGrath said enrollment has fallen dramatically at Grand Rapids, prompting the closure.

“Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids were both undersubscribed,” he said. “There was not really enough students to make it work. Each campus operates almost like its own law school, so the expenses are the same, whether it’s 100 students or 500 students. We were hoping the Auburn Hills closure would be enough. With COVID—even though applications to law school are up slightly—the applications to us in the range of students we’re trying to attract is way down.”

Cooley is trying to admit stronger incoming students in light of the American Bar Association’s 2019 decision to tighten its bar passage standard, McGrath added.

The Cooley law school of today is far different than it was a decade ago. In 2010, the school had 4,000 students across four Michigan campuses and was two years from opening a new branch campus in Tampa Bay. This year, the school expects to have about 900 students spread across its main campus in Lansing, and the campuses in Grand Rapids and Tampa Bay, McGrath said.

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