American Bar Association / ABA, Bad Ideas, Law Schools

Because Cooley Law Really Needs Another Campus

It’s time for some news from the second-best law school in the country, namely, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Members of the Cooley Law administration had to find something to do with themselves when not busy defending the school’s honor by suing the internet.

Boasting four campuses and more than 15,000 graduates in Michigan wasn’t enough for this elite law school. The nation’s #2 law school needs MOAR CAMPUSES (and unemployed graduates). So the administration started cooking up a plan to remedy this issue, on the down low.

Yet another Cooley Law campus will soon be invading a state near you on the east coast. But which one will be plagued with more unemployed law school graduates?

As several tipsters informed us, Cooley Law will be opening a new campus down in Riverview, Florida Flori-duh. “Because Disney World shouldn’t be the only game in town to provide you with a fantasy world experience worth a nominal value, yet hell bent on taking all your money,” a tipster quipped to Above the Law.

News of the Florida campus was posted on the school’s student portal yesterday morning. An email with an attached memo from Dean Don LeDuc’s office followed. Here’s a little gem from the memo:

The Council of the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee to acquiesce in Cooley’s application to operate a Tampa Bay branch campus at Riverview, Florida.

The ABA Council’s action is the final hurdle, joining previous approvals from the Florida Commission on Independent Education and the Higher Learning Commission, as well as rezoning by Hillsborough County.

Both the ABA Section on Legal Education and the ABA Accreditation Committee thought it would be a smashing idea for this diploma mill to throw open its doors in May 2012. Color me surprised.

(Are you kidding? It’s too bad Elie’s on vacation this week, because he would’ve had a freaking field day with this — or an aneurysm, I can’t decide.)

Cooley plans to enroll 700 students at the new campus. Yes, you read that correctly: seven hundred students. Other law schools are reducing the sizes of their incoming classes due to the state of the economy (which is bad and getting worse). Why does Cooley Law believe that the value of its degree is recession-proof?

Because there are jobs in Florida, says LeDuc, jobs, I tell you! Who cares if Florida already has ten other law schools? Who cares if the Tampa Bay area already has another third-tier law school with recent graduates to employ? Yeah… maybe these people will be able to snag a job thanks to the newest Cooley rankings category: family networking support.

President LeDuc: just because the “Tampa Bay area is a large employment market” does not mean it will be a large employment market for Cooley grads. I guess the school figured that if its graduates had to be unemployed, it would be fun to hang out under a palm tree and get a tan while doing it.

You can read the Tampa Bay Campus memo in full below.

TAMPA BAY COUNCIL APPROVAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF BRANCH CAMPUS — STUDENTS

To: Cooley Students
From: President LeDuc
Re: Tampa Bay
Date: August 8, 2011

The Council of the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee to acquiesce in Cooley’s application to operate a Tampa Bay branch campus at Riverview, Florida.

The ABA Council’s action is the final hurdle, joining previous approvals from the Florida Commission on Independent Education and the Higher Learning Commission, as well as rezoning by Hillsborough County.

Tampa Bay comprises a little over 4,000,000 residents, but is home to only one law school. Florida represents Cooley’s largest alumni location outside Michigan, and Florida provides about 6% of our applicants and 5% of our incoming students each year. The School also has an active externship program in the state. The Tampa Bay area is a large employment market.

The target date for the first class is May 2012 with an evening division that will offer the standard 15-credit schedule. In Michaelmas 2012, we plan to start two morning sections in the same fall formats as the other campuses, followed by afternoon classes in January 2013. The implementation will follow the same pattern as at the School’s other branches, rolling out the standard curriculum over a three-year period. All Cooley students will be eligible to attend classes at the Tampa Bay campus, subject only to our standing rule giving preference for available seats to students from the home campus. We will not have the FT-24 option available until the second year, and we will not have a weekend section until we evaluate demand.

Cooley has acquired a 130,000 square-foot facility in Riverview, comparable in size to its current Auburn Hills building. Renovations are now underway to allow the facility to accommodate the planned enrollment of 700 students.

Professor Jeffrey Martlew, a former Michigan circuit court judge, is the new Associate Dean for Tampa Bay.

The accreditation process and the negotiations regarding the property required that we keep this information as confidential as possible. My thanks to all of you who kept the speculation to a minimum during our efforts to bring this project to this initial stage of fruition.

Thomas M. Cooley Law School to Open New Campus in Tampa Bay [Thomas M. Cooley Law School]
Cooley Law School to Expand to Florida [SBM Blog]

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