Not that long after requesting permission to open a new campus in Kalamazoo, the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School announced it will close another campus. Pending approval from accreditors, the campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan will close next summer. Dean James McGrath cited a steep drop in enrollment. He also explained that the school is having trouble recruiting applicants that can help Cooley comply with Standard 316. That ABA standard requires at least 75% of law school graduates who take a bar exam to pass it within two years of graduation.
Back in 2010, Cooley was the largest law school in the country and enrollment was nearly 4,000. A lot has clearly changed since then as the ABA has cracked down on law schools churned graduates deep in debt with little realistic chances of passing a state bar exam and earning a healthy return on their law school investments. (We won’t even delve into the cost to taxpayers.)
The bottom line is that the supply of law schools still exceeds the demand for legal educations. We believe the ABA is doing everything in its power to ensure the ‘good’ schools survive the market correction at the expense of the ‘bad’ schools. In other words, choose your law school carefully. Make sure you feel your future career goals are realistic and that your school will be around to assist you with alumni networking events and career guidance long after your graduate!