Thomas M. Cooley Law School
|Thomas M. Cooley Law School|
|Location||Lansing, Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Auburn Hills, Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Tampa, Florida, United States|
|Faculty||124 full-time faculty, 160 adjunct faculty|
|USNWR ranking||Rank not published3|
|Bar pass rate||74% (Official ABA Data)|
|ABA profile||Official ABA Data|
Thomas M. Cooley Law School is an American Bar Association-accredited law school in the United States. Cooley's main campus is located in Lansing, Michigan. It has three satellite campuses in Michigan located in Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills, and Ann Arbor. It has a fourth satellite campus located in Tampa, Florida.4 Cooley's aggregate enrollment is known for being among the largest of American law schools. At present, Cooley has the largest law school faculty, the largest total enrollment (if both full-time and part-time enrollment are considered), the largest minority enrollment, and the largest foreign national enrollment in the nation.5
The law school is named in honor of Thomas McIntyre Cooley, a prominent nineteenth-century jurist, justice, and later chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, former dean of the University of Michigan Law School, and visiting faculty at the Johns Hopkins University. Thomas E. Brennan, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, led a group of lawyers and judges in establishing the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1972.
Cooley prepares its graduates for entry into the legal profession. While most students work toward a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.), Cooley also offers the Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. In partnership with Oakland University and Western Michigan University, respectively, Cooley offers joint degree programs in Master of Business Administration (J.D./M.B.A.) and Master of Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.).
Cooley was the first ABA-approved law school in the nation to have an officially recognized weekend program, allowing students to earn a law degree by attending classes on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Cooley currently awards the following types of degrees:
- LL.M. – Corporate Law and Finance
- LL.M. – Insurance Law
- LL.M. – Intellectual Property
- LL.M. – Self-Directed
- LL.M. – Tax
- LL.M. – U.S. Legal Studies for Foreign Attorneys
J.D. students are able to select from several concentrations (specialized areas of legal study):6
- General Practice
- Business Transactions
- Administrative Law
- International Law
- Environmental Law
- Constitutional Law and Civil Rights
- Intellectual Property
- Canadian Practice
- Self Declared
To earn a J.D., students must complete 90 credit hours at the law school. All J.D. candidates must complete 22 required courses:7
- Introduction to Law
- Torts I & II
- Contracts I & II
- Constitutional Law I & II
- Property I & II
- Criminal Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Civil Procedure I & II
- Research & Writing
- Secured Transactions
- Business Organizations
- Advanced Writing
- Equity & Remedies
- Personal & Professional Responsibility
- Wills, Estates & Trusts
The remainder of the classes depend on which concentration area the student selects. All concentrations require that students complete at least one skills class and that they either (1) complete an unpaid externship (between three and ten credits) at a law firm or as a law clerk under the supervision of an experienced attorney or judge or (2) complete at least three credits of clinical experience, or (3) demonstrate that they have comparable legal experience from other employment or volunteer work. Students successfully completing a concentration receive the appropriate certification on graduation.
Cooley operates programs allowing ABA-approved foreign study credit in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, students are able to study at ABA-approved programs through partner law schools, including U.S. law schools operating programs in: London, England (University of Notre Dame); Oxford, England (Florida State University); Madrid, Spain (The College of William and Mary); Montreal and Quebec, Canada (Pennsylvania State University); and Paris, France and Muenster, Germany.
Cooley offers clinical programs at each campus. Students who participate in any of the Michigan clinics are allowed to practice law in Michigan under the Michigan Court Rules by representing clients in court, drafting client documents, and giving legal advice under the supervision of faculty. The Innocence Project is nationally recognized in the United States for helping free persons wrongfully incarcerated by obtaining DNA evidence and providing pro bono legal advocacy to overturn their convictions. Cooley also offers an elder law clinic, Sixty Plus, Inc., which provides free legal services to senior citizens, as well as two Public Defender's clinics, which allow students to work in the Public Defender’s office with indigent clients who are accused of committing a crime. The Access to Justice Clinic provides a general civil practice, focusing on family and consumer law. Free legal help in family law and domestic violence matters if offered at the Family Legal Assistance Project. And evening and weekend students can gain experience in the Estate Planning Clinics or the Public Sector Law Project, which provides civil legal services of a transactional, advisory, legislative or systemic nature to governments.10
Cooley offers externships throughout the United States at over 2600 approved externship sites. Student externs work under the supervision of experienced attorneys, with the guidance of full-time faculty.10
Cooley Law is currently the Executive Office of Scribes: The American Society of Legal Writers.
Cooley has a library at each of its 5 campuses. The mission of these libraries is to provide students, faculty and staff with the resources, instruction, and services that are necessary for legal scholarship. Legal research can be conducted at the library through a variety of mediums including print, electronic, and multimedia sources. Reference librarians are present at each campus and can also be reached via the school website by chat, email, or telephone. The libraries have around 60 staff in total. CoolCat is the internet-based online catalogue for the library that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. The Cooley libraries collectively house roughly 670,000 volumes with an annual growth rate of more than 17,000 volumes. Cooley Law has a reciprocal agreement with both Western Michigan University and Oakland University allowing access to the materials in each institution's collections.11
Thomas M. Cooley Law School's Latin motto, In corde hominum est anima legis, was written in the 1970s by its founder, former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan. Dean Brennan had originally described the meaning as "the spirit of the law is in the heart of man"; when a female organization called the Cooley Action Team argued that the motto should also refer to "the hearts of women", Justice Brennan agreed and changed it to "The spirit of the law is in the human heart".12
In 2006 the school received the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism, for its program "Creating a Culture of Professionalism in Law School."13
Cooley Law School has been the subject of criticism from other members of the legal community regarding its comparative overall quality as a law school.
In August 1973, an articlecitation needed in the Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press newspapers criticized Justice Brennan for serving on the Michigan Supreme Court and leading the law school at the same time, suggesting that he was "moonlighting" and therefore not living up to his duties to Michiganders. Brennan denied the conflict of interest or the harm to the state and refused to step down.14
In 2002, when Cooley was expanding, Cooley filed a lawsuit against the American Bar Association for delaying the accreditation of its then-two satellite schools.15 Cooley was working to gain ABA accreditation since the satellite schools opened in June 2002, but had faced delays caused by disagreements on standards, resolved by a settlement of Cooley's lawsuit with the ABA, resulting in the ABA's acquiescence.
Cooley is shown as "Rank Not Published" in the U.S. News & World Report listing of law schools.18 Previously Cooley was ranked by U.S. News as a fourth-tier law school.1920 In 2011 blogger Mike Masnick said that the rankings did not include a ranking for Cooley because they "did not supply enough information to U.S. News to calculate a ranking".20 In the twelfth edition of Judging the Law Schools, which is published by Cooley, it ranked itself second.21
Several bloggers provided updated information about the case when blogger "Rockstar05" responded through his attorney.24
In August 2011, a class-action lawsuit by 12 Cooley graduates was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleging25 fraud and misrepresentation about Cooley's published employment information concerning its graduates. In response the school filed a Motion to Dismiss.26 On July 20, 2012, Judge Gordon Jay Quist granted the motion, concluding: "The bottom line is that the statistics provided by Cooley and other law schools in a format required by the ABA were so vague and incomplete as to be meaningless and could not reasonably be relied upon. But, as put in the phrase we lawyers learn early in law school—caveat emptor."27
- Spencer Abraham – former United States Senator and United States Secretary of Energy
- Robert Holmes Bell – District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- Hon. John W. Fitzgerald – former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court (deceased)
- Philip J. Prygoski – constitutional law expert and author, American Law Institute Member
- John N. Scott – author of Evidence Illustrated: Cases to Illustrate How All the Rules Work28
- Joseph Kimble – author of Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language, named by the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement as a drafting consultant for the rewritten Federal Rules of Civil Procedure29
- Chris Chocola – former United States Representative
- John Engler – former Governor of Michigan
- Anthony H. Gair – New York City attorney who represented the family of Amadou Diallo in a case against the New York City Police Department
- Mark Grisanti – Buffalo, New York New York State Senator, 60th District
- Chris Hazel – Louisiana House of Representative since 2008
- Edward Mermelstein – New York City real estate attorney
- Bart Stupak – United States House of Representatives, Michigan's 1st congressional district
- Rashida Tlaib – the first Arab-Muslim woman elected to the Michigan House of Representatives.
- As of June 30, 2011. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers. January 17, 2012. p. 21. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- 2010 Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools: Thomas M. Cooley
- "U.S. News & World Report, "Best Law Schools: Thomas M. Cooley Law School"". Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Cooley Law School Campuses
- Cooley: Facts at a Glance
- Cooley: Concentrations
- Cooley: Courses
- Cooley: Clinics
- Cooley: Library
- Cooley: About
- Cooley: Gambrell Award
- A Swirl of Controversydead link
- Badger Herald: Michigan Law School
- Cooley opens Tampa campus
- Wittrock, Angela (May 7, 2012). "Cooley Law School expands into Florida, welcomes first class of students", MLive.com
- U.S. News and World Report: Cooley Law School
- TopLawSchools.com Third and Fourth Tiers
- Masnick, Mike (8 August 2011). "How To Make A Mockery Of Your Own Law School: Sue Your Critics". Techdirt. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Brennan & DuLac, Judging the Law Schools, 12th Ed., 2010.
- "Cooley Law School Files Suit to Protect Students, Alumni and Reputation". July 14, 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- Cooley Sues Law Firm
- All Education Matters: Freedom of Speech
- Macdonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Case No. 11-cv-00831 
- Cooley Law School, October 20, 2011, "Cooley Files Motion to Dismiss Jobs Reporting Lawsuit"
- "McDonald v Thomas M Cooley Law School: IV. Conclusion". Retrieved 4 August 2012.
- Faculty: – Thomas M. Cooley Law School
- Cooley: Kimble Burton Award