Cooley Law to close Ann Arbor campus

By Douglas Levy
The Daily Record Newswire

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School has announced that it will be ceasing operations at its Ann Arbor campus Dec. 31, 2014.

The decision comes nearly two months after the Lansing-based school announced it was cutting faculty and staff positions at all of its Michigan campuses as part of a financial management plan, and would not be accepting new students to its Ann Arbor campus.

James D. Robb, associate dean of external affairs for WMU-Cooley, directed Michigan Lawyers Weekly to a statement on the school website's Ann Arbor page. He declined to offer additional comment or elaboration.

Ann Arbor students affected by the closing will be able to enroll at the Lansing, Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills, and Tampa, Florida, campuses. The school also said it would offer:

- early registration in the January 2015 term and throughout graduation;

- a $1,500 payment to help cover the additional costs of attending a different Cooley campus;

- a $3,500 stipend for a bar review course; and

- specialized advising to help with their transition, including student services staff, financial aid assistance and any other issues that may arise.

The school also said it would allow the affected students to retain the amount of their financial aid budget, no matter what campus they choose to attend.

The Ann Arbor campus opened five years ago. Robb had said that location had been chosen for possible closure because it has the smallest enrollment of all the other campuses.

MiLW left a message for Mike Taylor, president of WMU Cooley's Ann Arbor Student Bar Association, seeking comment.

In late July, Robb and Associate Dean Joan P. Vestrand met with Ann Arbor students to discuss what would happen should that campus close.

Taylor in July said that since the possible closing was announced, students had been preparing to take classes at the other campuses by making alternate travel and living arrangements for the next few terms.

"While it is surely an unwelcome inconvenience, the school has done as much as possible to mitigate the hardship on the students," he said, pointing to the financial assistance the school has offered.

Cooley has faced a declining enrollment over the past four years. According to a Feb. 17, 2014, report in The National Jurist, Cooley's enrollment dropped 40.6 percent from 2010-11 to 2013-14 - the second largest drop among law schools across the country, next to the University of La Verne.

The Ann Arbor campus closure is subject to the approval of teach-out plans submitted to the school's accrediting agencies the Higher Learning Commission and American Bar Association - Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar.

The law school in mid-August confirmed its formal affiliation with WMU. Cooley's campuses in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills and Ann Arbor are now branded with the WMU name.

Published: Wed, Oct 08, 2014