Ave Maria School of Law, Law Schools, Student Loans, Texas

TTTrading Places: Law Schools Acquire New Territory

Law school deans should bet a dollar on whether or not change the name of a law school makes more people come.

And the band plays on. No matter what happens in the economy. No matter what kind of evidence we get that the market for legal jobs is totally in the tank. No matter what, law schools continue to expand and continue to find new ways to convince more people to spend a lot of money getting an education that might not lead to employment.

Of course, I’m talking about something new and annoying Cooley did, because you basically can’t have a conversation about what is wrong with law schools anymore without referencing some kind of fresh horror enacted by the people who run the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

But this impulse towards MOAR LAW STUDENTS obviously isn’t just a Cooley problem. Even though some schools that are already in the law game have thoughtfully looked at reducing class sizes, there are always going to be schools and universities eager to provide prospective law students with educations they can waste money on.

Time for some stories about law school acquisitions, a plague that has now made it all the way down to Texas

The big news today is that Texas A&M — last seen stabbing the Big 12 in the back by moving its football team to the SEC, where it will get nothing but crushed — has acquired a law school. From the Star-Telegram:

Texas A&M University’s long quest for a law school isn’t just a dream anymore.

That ambition moves closer to reality today with an announcement that the university plans to buy Texas Wesleyan’s School of Law for about $25 million — a move that would bring a public law institution to Fort Worth.

The end result will be an institution to be called the Texas A&M School of Law at Texas Wesleyan University.

Texas Wesleyan is actually already accredited by the ABA — I know, crazy, I had to look it up) — so this isn’t like a UMass situation, where the big state university is buying an unaccredited school and turning it into another unneeded, accredited law school.

Here, the unneeded law school already exists. Texas A&M will just be supercharging it with money and some 12th man prestige. They’ll rearrange some deck chairs and make it more attractive to even more law students. You know, like how an octopus can change its colors to look like an inviting safe haven before striking.

But A&M wasn’t the only law school to announce an acquisition this week. Thomas Cooley Law has officially bought the building that once housed Ave Maria School of Law. Ave Maria, as many of you know, was founded by Thomas Monaghan, the guy who started Domino’s Pizza. That line was funnier before the Republicans tried to nominate a pizza magnate for president. Actually, maybe it’s more funny now.

Anyway, tipsters forwarded this email that Ave Maria sent out to its students and graduates announcing the sale of its Michigan building to Cooley (AMSL is now located in Florida):

Dear Law School Community,

Following extensive negotiations, I am pleased to announce that the law school building in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which served as the first home of Ave Maria School of Law, has been sold to Thomas M. Cooley Law School. This sale will retire the balance of a substantial debt and provide increased flexibility in a challenging economic climate.

Fondness for the old campus is understandable and reflects our roots in Michigan and our founding. However, this significant transaction helps set the stage for a prosperous future.


Eugene R. Milhizer
President and Dean

Quipped a tipster: “From bad to worse. What did this poor building ever do to deserve this kind of treatment?”

Here’s what I’m wondering. Will any of the sale proceeds be passed on to the Ave Maria students who have an expected $58,269 cost of attendance for the 2012-2013 academic year?

Probably not. But this is how the law school game is played. If you are an education professional, you can look at a law school, but all you’ll see is dollar signs.

Texas A&M to buy Texas Wesleyan University School of Law [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
Texas A&M, Texas Wesleyan University Partner To Form The Texas A&M School Of Law At Texas Wesleyan University [TAMU Times]

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