American Bar Association / ABA, Job Searches, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Minority Issues

Cooley Law Will Say Anything To Justify Its Behavior

It’s pretty well established that the people running Thomas M. Cooley Law School have no sense of shame. They invented their own stupid law school rankings and then had the audacity to rank themselves #2. They’re already the second-biggest law school in the nation, but they’re opening another campus, this time in Florida. Cooley really doesn’t care what you think (or what the graduates who are suing them think), so long as there are enough prospective law students to fill their incoming class.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) did a big article this weekend about law schools that are taking a thoughtful approach to class size given the challenging legal job market. In the article, Cooley evidently didn’t mind looking like the thoughtless school that does what it wants and dares somebody to stop them.

Again, if you know Cooley’s history, that’s to be expected. It’s just their hypocrisy can be a little hard to swallow…

In a feature piece that includes intelligent discussion from the likes of Daniel B. Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern Law, and Frank Wu, dean of U.C. Hastings Law, the Cooley spokesperson — associate dean James Robb — comes off like the guy who had to take the short bus to class.

Robb has two quotes in the piece, both of them defending Cooley’s decision to open a new campus while responsible law schools are considering limiting class sizes. From the WSJ:

The independent school, which has campuses in Michigan and recently expanded into Florida, has defended its practices, saying they met ABA requirements.

Cooley “isn’t interested in reducing the size of its entering class on the basis of the perceived benefit to society,” says associate dean James Robb.

Okay, once again Cooley officials are basically daring the American Bar Association to step in and stop them, knowing full well that the ABA does not have the will to effectively regulate the behavior of Cooley or any other law school. Still, Robb’s point is well taken: Cooley is a business, and its business doesn’t care about benefiting society. Fair enough. Cooley has every right to behave this way.

Except, here’s the very next quote from Robb:

“Cooley’s mission is inclusiveness,” adds Mr. Robb, who says he worries reducing class sizes could disproportionately affect minority students.

Wait, didn’t you just say that Cooley — and I’m quoting — “isn’t interested in reducing the size of its entering class on the basis of the perceived benefit to society”? How can you say that Cooley doesn’t do things based on the interests of “society” and then turn around and make a “best societal interests” argument? Aren’t your lines about minority students precisely an argument about the societal benefit of your policies?

Do you care about the best interests of society or not? Which one is it?

Because if Cooley has a study, a paper, a freaking Excel spreadsheet, or one whit of evidence that proves that saddling minority students with a bunch of debt and a Cooley Law degree actually helps minorities, I’d like to see it. I’d like to see the data that shows minorities — who will disproportionately not have access to the kinds of family funds that makes law school effectively free — are benefited overall by the “opportunity” to pay (wait for it) as much as $51,476 PER YEAR to go to Cooley Law School.

Me hopping on the back of a minority and using him as a goddamn horse would be less of an encumbrance than saddling him with a $50K-per-year bill to get a Cooley Law degree.

So let’s dispense with this farce that Cooley somehow cares about the effect its class sizes will have on the opportunities for minority students and get back to the statement about how the school “isn’t interested in reducing the size of its entering class on the basis of the perceived benefit to society.” That, at least, has the whiff of truth to it.

But think about what that really means, prospective law students who are seriously considering going to Cooley. Deans of good law schools know that producing class upon class of disgruntled graduates who can’t find jobs is not good. They know that in this business the reputation of your school has a direct impact on the quality of your degree, and the best way to ruin your rep is to have your own graduates walking around being unhappy about their experiences.

Do you think Cooley knows that? Do you think Cooley cares about that? Do you think Cooley, now and in the future, is going to make decisions based on protecting the reputation of its degree — if only in the minds of the people who graduate from the school? Or do you think Cooley, which doesn’t really care about “perceived benefits,” will be more than happy to just churn out as many graduates as possible, by any means necessary?

Every prospective law student should ask whether or not their law school will care about them the minute after they graduate.

With Profession Under Stress, Law Schools Cut Admissions [Wall Street Journal]

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