The Future of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School Has Become Unclear [VIDEO]By Anne Collins, UniversityHerald Reporter
Cooley is now known as Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. It was the biggest law school in the country then. In 2007, before the financial crisis turned the job market for new lawyers down and classes in Cooley were big then.
Between 2010 and 2016, law school enrollment fell by 25 percent nationwide. Cooley's enrollment in particular fell more than 60 percent, which dropped from a peak of 3,931 students in 2010 to less than 1,300 last year according to Cooley data from the American Bar Association.
Year 2010 was Cooley's peak where it brought in more than $123 million. By 2014, which was the most recent year where tax records were available, the revenue plummeted to $63 million. Even when enrollment rates started to drop, the school was still bringing in money.
Cooley's end-of-the-year balance continued to rise until 2012. It also opened a new campus near Tampa, Florida, which peaked at $132 million and fell to less than $110 million by 2014. As a result they laid off more than half of its full-time faculty and closed the Ann Arbor campus.
The Lansing State Journal reported that the research and study building appeared to be mostly empty these days. The 105,000-square-foot former Masonic Temple has been on the market since December 2014. Its original price was $8.15 million, today it's priced at $4.75 million.
Cooley is still looking for students and last year it had 1,067 applicants, which was less than 6,000 compared to 2010 however they still offered admission to 915 students and accepted 415. It has become one of the least selective law schools in the country, 85 percent of their applicants were students most other law schools would reject.
Cooley and Western Michigan University signed an agreement in 2013. The two schools have retained their financial and leadership independence. However, it's not clear that Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School would fit well on the sign and it's also not clear that Cooley would be in a position to re-up that commitment.