Thomas Cooley Law School's Reputation Is In The Dumps... So It's Thinking About Changing Its Name

from the beats-actually-improving dept

We've written a few times about the Thomas M. Cooley law school -- a 4th tier, bottom of the barrel law school known for letting in a very high percentage of the people who apply... and also for coming up with its own ranking system (which includes "total volumes in the library" and "total law school square footage" among other factors) that says it's one of the best law schools in the world. If you value square footage, I guess. It's also known for suing a bunch of its own students for being critical of the school.

Of course, our friends over at Above the Law have written many, many, many more posts about the somewhat infamous Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and the name has become something of a punchline among lawyers and legal followers. So what's a law school with the reputation of a joke to do when faced with the fact that anyone with a Google account can find out about its actual standing in the world? Why, change its name, of course.

Apparently, the law school may be ditching the name of the former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court with a sort of merger-but-not-merger with Western Michigan University, that would allow Cooley to take on Western Michigan's name in exchange for... well, that part's not clear. The two would remain financially separate, but might have students share certain services and classes.
The law school would get a new name but it would maintain separate finances and leadership under the proposal that leaders are considering. Details are still being ironed out, but the alliance could open the door for Cooley law students to take classes at Western Michigan University and utilize its student services, and vice versa, said Associate Dean for External Affairs James Robb. The partnership could also allow faculty to engage in interdisciplinary teaching and research, he said.
WMU's reason for doing this has something to do with the fact that it already has a medical school. Yes, I said medical school. What does that have to do with anything? Your guess is as good as mine.
"The result of such an affiliation with Cooley would make our University one of fewer than 90 universities in the nation to have both a law school and school of medicine," notes WMU President John M. Dunn. "The benefits that accrue from that distinction would pay dividends to our students, faculty and staff for years to come. The opportunity is made even more intriguing by the common mission and values of our two institutions."
So, um, they could be better at... malpractice law? Forgive me, I'm just not seeing how that's a benefit. It sounds like WMU decided it needed a law school for the prestige part, but the way you do that is by starting a law school, not giving your name over to the joke of the law school world. And, as Above the Law points out in its post on this, it's not like this is about money from students, since Cooley will keep its finances separate (though, you wonder if there's possibly a payment involved in all of this, rather than a cut of the tuition fees). But if it's prestige WMU wants, a simple Google search would suggest that this sort of partnership probably won't bring very much.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:10pm

    Anybody checked WMU's Medical School Ranking?

    Just askin' :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:11pm

    *Insert ranting comment about Mike and his anti-copyright ways*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Oh, I thought someone was raising cain, saying that the name "Cooley" is racist against Chinese.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mason Wheeler, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:50pm

    It's all about the correlation and the causation

    So, um, they could be better at... malpractice law? Forgive me, I'm just not seeing how that's a benefit. It sounds like WMU decided it needed a law school for the prestige part,


    ...and that's the (perceived) benefit right there.

    A few years back, here in Seattle there was a big kerfuffle going down about the owner of the Seattle SuperSonics, the local NBA team, selling the team to Oklahoma. One thing that a lot of people were annoyed about was that Seattle was about to go from being a city with three top-league sports teams (baseball, football, and basketball) to only having two.

    If you look around the country at the cities with three such teams, and the cities with two such teams, the ones with three tend to be bigger and just generally "cooler" than the two-team cities, so the idea was that this was somehow diminishing Seattle in some way.

    Of course, this is the correlation/causation arrow pointing in the wrong direction. The teams don't make the cities big and cool; bigger, cooler cities can afford more teams than smaller, less cool cities due to being bigger and cooler than them. And having our basketball team move out really hasn't changed Seattle all that much; it's still the same city it was when it left; just with less nasty traffic snarls on game nights.

    If Western Michigan University is trying to acquire a law school alongside its med school "so that it can have both," you can bet that the same sort of thinking is in play here...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    apauld (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Maybe the medical school is as bad as Cooley's law school

    They may figure their new medical grads will instantly need malpractice lawyers...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 4:53pm

    what law school did the prenda johns go to?
    please say it was this one

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 5:13pm

    Wow, Mike. Could you be any more of an elitist asshole snob? Over-compensating?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 9:30pm

      Re:

      Might help your argument if you point out the comment in the article that makes you say this.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2013 @ 12:32am

      Re:

      Masnick isn't an elitist asshole snob, but even if he was, who the hell are you to assert a monopoly over being an elitist asshole snob?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
         
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2013 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re:

        Of course he is. He thinks he's better than just about everyone else--so much so that he ignores or berates anyone who dares to challenge him. But then he hires idiots like Zachary and Marcus to his staff, which is just hilarious.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 13th, 2013 @ 2:09am

      Re:

      So what year did you graduate from Cooley?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Wolverine Law 2013, May 13th, 2013 @ 11:00am

        Re: Re:

        I received my JD last weekend from The University of Michigan, and while living in Michigan I knew several friends graduate from Cooley. To be quite honest, it's not that bad of a school. Hey, all 5 of the Cooley grads I know are making as much money as I have been offered. One of them took the California Bar last year, passed, and is making upwards of $120,000 a year. The other took the Texas Bar, passed,is now working in Oil and Gas, and is making over $180,000, however, she is also a Chemical Engineer who received her undergraduate degree from Rice University. Another one of my Cooley friends was an associate for Geoffrey Fieger, enough said! I used to be an elitist snob too. I used to be a Cooley critic, but once I was exposed to a handful of Cooley graduates; my views changed. It really doesn't matter where someone attended school, remember George Bush went to Yale for crying out loud, it matters how successful one is throughout their career. In my opinion, if my life was on the line, I want the attorney who can sway a jury, not the egg head who hasn't a scintilla of common sense. That's just my humble opinion. Not everyone who attended Cooley is as dumb as a box of rocks.

        Thanks

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bronco, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 5:29pm

    Sorry to be

    a WMU alumn right now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    ChrisH, Apr 12th, 2013 @ 6:25pm

    A crappy company changing it's name to stay in business. Classic.

    ValueJet > Airtran > Southwest

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      alanbleiweiss (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 7:17pm

      Re:

      Xe ---- Blackwater --- Academi LLC

      hahaha a rogue mercenary providing hired thug company named "Academi" because it's most likely to be disassociative of their verified and testified and acknowledged criminal activity. (They've paid out almost $50 million in "fines" (read that payoffs to the fed so they could continue operating and continue getting contract work from the fed)...

      :-)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    alanbleiweiss (profile), Apr 12th, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    So like wouldn't a "prestegious" university have fiduciary responsibility to perform due diligence when coming to an arrangement like this?

    I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist (I am pretty sure no rocket scientists sit on the board at WMU but I could be wrong) to do some basic Googling to discover the overwhelming volume of complaints about the hack law school...

    So yeah I am betting on the belief someone got paid off to make this happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bo, Apr 13th, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    This reminds of the scene from Boiler Room where the protagonist tails the head of the chop shop brokerage firm into a building next door. All he sees are a bunch of phones and he overhears his boss saying that if the SEC raids the firm they can just change the name, move everyone into to the new building, and restart the business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 15th, 2013 @ 3:45am

    Hmmm could it be we've found out where Steele and all Prenda staff got their degree?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Adam, Apr 30th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Coward

    You clearly need to educate yourself. Cooley was established because most people outside of Detroit did not want to go to Detroit for post grad. Cooley, for years, prided itself on being the school for the rest of Michigan and aligning itself with WMU is not far off. Further, from my understanding on many occassion MSU entered into talks with Cooley for a similar arrangement. It didnt work out and Cooley expanded. I know many Cooley graduates who are great at their profession. Those with a grind to pick are typical those who could not handle their workload.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Nisah Tahara, May 17th, 2013 @ 10:13pm

    Sounds Like A Personal Issue

    Since Cooley grads must sit either in Feb or July for the SAME Bar exam for which every other law school grad must sit, it seems to me that any of those graduates who are successful in passing the bar, character and fitness and the MPRE, are then on an equal footing. Sounds like someone is chewing sour grapes for some odd reason, perhaps you were not successful?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Johnathan Carter, May 24th, 2013 @ 11:23pm

    Thomas M. Cooley Law School Alumni

    Thomas. M. Cooley Law School has instilled in many of its graduates the skills necessary to become a successful. It's difficult to argue to with facts. Here is the link to SuperLawyers who have graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School: http://www.superlawyers.com/lawschool/The-Thomas-M-Cooley-Law-School/fad6dc18-84c4-102c-aca4-000e0c6 dcf76.html

    In addition, Thomas M. Cooley Law School is one of the larger law schools in the U.S. meaning that it a graduate of the school has a larger network of alumni to refer work to and from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    tophawk, Jul 9th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Some people just cannot cut it

    I can say that your reasoning about the Cooley / WMU may (or may not) be on track... I am not privy to the reasoning. But a point to be made is that Cooley is GROWING! They added a new campus in Tampa, FL this last year.

    If this is a hack law school, we must have alot of people wanting to be hacks. I use to agree that Cooley was an easy law school because they allow almost every applicant to attend. But after learning that it also has a VERY HIGH rate of people not cutting the grade and being asked to leave, I realized that they just give everyone a chance to try to earn a degree- IF you aren't up to speed they quickly can and will show you the door. Not saying they do not help the struggling- just that they have no problem letting the weaker ones know it may be futile to stay and they should seek out another EASIER school or career path.

    I agree with the Alumni post and the recent Wolverine grad- Cooley has put out some of the best lawyers. OF course you can look at the ones who did not take the advice and leave because they were just above the required 2.0 grade. Those seem to be the ones, like the others from other law schools, who can not pass a state bar and who file suits blaming the school for not getting them a job or preparing (ie teaching them)for the bar. Cooley teaches the law- unlike other school that teach the bar. Maybe that's why Cooley gets a share of the super lawyers...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Lame, Jul 10th, 2013 @ 6:51pm

    Cooley

    Cooley sucks. That is all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Hutch, Jul 11th, 2013 @ 1:51am

    Cooley's All Right Afterall

    I am a recent Cooley graduate who is currently slaving through the IN bar exam prep through one the highest rated bar prep courses known. I spent nearly three years at Cooley with what I thought was a certain type of people, and after spending nearly two months re-learning the law with students from each of Indiana's few law schools, I have come to one conclusion...anyone graduating law school is fit to practice law. I knew some serious dipshits at Cooley who are now licensed, and living great lives practicing law. I have now met recent law students from Indiana, Valparaiso, and Norte Dame, and the information we are learning is all the SAME, and was the same in law school (except for the state specific electives like "Gaming Law" dealing with casinos that I was fortunate enough to take).

    To agree with an above post, Cooley admits A LOT of students, and is definitely a business. However, the school does through its faculty, i.e., professors, does an incredibly efficient job of weeding out those students who want to practice law "for the money" or because it seems like a cool job. I was fortunate to work for the school in a student related job, and was in regular contact with both processors and alumni, and was able to truly appreciate the quality education that Cooley provides. For example, Cooley requires it's full-time professors to have practiced a certain amount of years in their field before being considered for a position. In fact, my property professor and advisor (now my mentor) was a real estate guru in Chicago making butt-loads of money decided to venture to Cooley and serve as wonderful professor when he had opportunities to do whatever he wanted to (and still does).

    I'm not trying to say Cooley is Ivy League, or anything close. According to the "rankings" systems (including Cooley's bogus one), Cooley is consistently a very low ranked school. I equate this to being the nerdy kid or loser in high school. It's easy to hate on the "nerdy" or "loser"when in reality, Cooley is not all that bad.

    Oh and a side note, I was awarded my civil court clerkship out of five applicants. It's funny how this "Cooley" student landed a pretty sweet clerkship over an Indiana and Notra Dame law student.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mr. Nash, Jul 12th, 2013 @ 2:39am

    A Question on Motive

    I confess, I am not an expert on American law schools; however, it is interesting that I have heard more than a few glowing comments on the "Cooley" Law School. In fact, my International Environmental Law tutor said that she once had a Cooley student study international law under her - this student was "very bright" - the words of an Oxford professor.

    Rather, it makes one wonder why such strong criticism exists. Isn't it true that we tend to take aim at personalities that have somehow injured us in the past. A more interesting question is this: "What person or past event associated with Cooley injured Mr. Masnick, thus, compelling him to write such criticisms?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dale Mullins, Nov 10th, 2013 @ 3:01pm

    Mike the innovator/business owner

    Instead of bashing the author- one should have compassion for him. It's clear he is an intellectual phenom of some sort! You know he once wrote a full USEFUL analysis on converting his desk to a sit and stand elliptical friendly desk?! He breaks it down thoroughly.(Please google mike masnick) The guy is a CEO, always on the road- stacking paper left and right! Keep up the good work, your tenacity is exemplified through these captivating articles you produce on a consistent basis. Various blogs you grace your presence with have audiences enamored! Smh, I'm proud of you bro, 38 and still you have maintained your clownish success. - yours truly, dale m. Cornell class of "98"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2013 @ 4:40am

    Don't you ever shut up?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jane Davis, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Cooley gave me an opportunity and I passed the bar on my first try. Just like any consumer product, please do your research before buying. To be honest with you, I had no other law school to fall on. Cooley is listed on the fourth tier. Graduates are not going to be highly recruited by law firms. Let's not kid ourselves. They generally end up setting up their own small firm or staying with the company they were working previously. These lawsuits or cooley bashing really are a product of bad I mean really bad legal job market. We are beyond over saturation. Even people with Michigan law degrees can't find work. Instead of paying back the student loan, some want a quick fix blame others like cooley. I am very proud of my degree at cooley. I also attended a very prestigious law school for my LLM but cooley is better minus the name recognition. Also I only had to pay 50% at Cooley as I got scholarship. We need school like cooley.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    clarity, Feb 18th, 2014 @ 11:43am

    I love how all the pro-Cooley comments are full of anecdotal evidence like “I’m smart, I went to Cooley” or “I know a guy who went to Cooley who is making $120,000 per year in California!” Sure. But here are some facts:

    Only 32.62% of Cooley’s 2012 graduates had found full time permanent jobs that requires a JD within 9 months of graduation,19% were completely unemployed and searching for work and 9% simply went missing. The other 50% were in some form of temporary employment or employment that did not require a law degree. Note this is self-reported, so there is a good chance that the actual numbers are a good deal worse. http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/ (generate the report for Thomas M. Cooley Law School).

    A Federal Court has said that its likely that Cooley reports inaccurate salary data for its graduates. http://abovethelaw.com/2013/10/cooley-law-forgets-that-truth-is-a-defense-to-defamation/.

    Of Cooley graduates taking the California bar in July 2013, only 13% of first time takers passed, 16% of second time taker.
    http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/4/documents/gbx/JULY2013STATS.012214_R.pdf (page 9)

    California is hard. What about Michigan?

    43% of Cooley grads taking the Michigan bar failed the July 2013 sitting. That was the worst in the State. http://sbmblog.typepad.com/sbm-blog/2013/11/michigan-bar-exam-pre-appeals-pass-rate-is-60-percent.ht ml.

    A Cooley gradates hated the school so much he put up a blog:

    http://thomas-cooley-law-school-scam.weebly.com/

    Cooley sued him to get him to take it down. Cooley lost. http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2013/04/cooley-law-loses-bid-to-unmask-critical-blogge r.html

    You should read that blog.

    Just some *facts* that might want to make you read the pro-Cooley trolls above in a more critical light.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This