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'Second Best' Law School in the Country Cuts 1L Class at One Campus

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 02, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

No, silly, not that second best law school in the country. No, we're talking about the school that once ranked itself as the second-best in the entire country, in part due to the number of chairs in its library (1,058 as of 2011).

We're talking about the school that sponsored a minor league baseball stadium (Go Lugnuts!). We're talking about the school that lost 40.6 percent of its 1L enrollment since the 2010-2011 school year. We're talking about one of five schools that was recently given a negative credit rating by Standard and Poor's.

And finally, we're talking about a law school that just cut its entire 1L class from one of its five campuses. If you guessed we are discussing the prestigious Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, you get a cookie.

Ann Arbor 1Ls Cut; Layoffs to Follow

According to an internal document leaked to Above the Law, Cooley Law School is set to cut its entire 1L class -- from its Ann Arbor campus. The school, of course, has four other fast law franchises campuses located in Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Lansing, Michigan, as well as Tampa Bay, Florida. According to the ABA Journal, students that were set to attend Ann Arbor will have the option of attending one of the other campuses.

Students currently enrolled at the Ann Arbor campus will continue to be able to take the school's full curriculum at those facilities.

For the cut/reassigned 1Ls, you might take this opportunity to reconsider Cooley: with a 26.9 percent chance of employment after graduation, a 55.3 percent bar passage rate [PDF], and a $43,540 per year tuition sticker price, a Cooley JD is not a wise investment.

Sadly, this will also mean layoffs, according to the notice. Good luck to the staff members who will join the school's recent graduates on the unemployment line.

What Does This Mean Long-Term?

Nobody knows, yet. The school was obviously a bit overextended, and with declining enrollment, it may have simply decided to put a single class or two on hiatus. With the legal job market flat, but showing signs of future recovery, this could be a temporary measure. After all, the school historically had an operating margin of more than ten percent, pre-crash and before its expansion to Florida.

Or, perhaps, law school applicants are finally learning and are avoiding schools with high sticker costs, low bar passage rates, and even lower employment rates. Maybe this is the first step towards Cooley consolidating campuses and reducing its massive class sizes (more than 1,000 graduates per year). Or even towards complete closure.

Thoughts on the Cooley cuts? Tweet us @FindLawLP.

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