The median LSAT score for students at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is 145. This means that Cooley is already trawling in the waters of the bottom 25 percent of LSAT takers. So when Cooley Law Dean Don LeDuc says that the school might consider lowering its admissions standards to cover the drop in law school applications, it’s fair to ask what’s lower than the bottom of the barrel.

Are they going to start admitting people who took the LSAT in crayon? Are they going to start admitting people who can’t read? If the median score is 145 and you’re going to bring that number down, what (if any) “standards” does your school still purport to have?

Cooley would rather lower its standards than lower its tuition. In fact, LeDuc says that tuition is going the other way: Cooley announced that it will raise first-year tuition by 9 percent and tuition on everybody else by 8 percent. It’s almost as if Cooley has taken upon itself the responsibility of punishing people too ignorant to research legal education….

I use strong words when discussing Cooley because I think what they are doing is wrong. Tuition at Cooley will now cost $43,500 for the first year. Charging $43,500 for people who struggle to break 145 on the LSAT is just taking advantage of people who are too disadvantaged or uninformed to protect themselves. That’s all it is. It’s like giving a high school drop-out a predatory home loan, paying a drug addict in drugs for sexual favors, or convincing grandma to invest her life savings in a risky business venture. Cooley has a ridiculous informational advantage over its students, and it is literally targeting and exploiting people with poor logical reasoning skills, as evidenced by their performance on the LSAT.

I suppose there are a handful of schools engaged in the same scheme, but none of them are as brazen about it as Cooley. From the Lansing State Journal:

LeDuc believes this a cyclical downturn. He said the effects of a bad economy have been “exacerbated by the stuff on the Internet.”

His prediction: The economy will improve. Government agencies will start hiring lawyers again. The older generation of lawyers will retire. Students graduating in three or four years will find a much more welcoming job market…

This fall, it will raise tuition by 9 percent for first-year students, bringing the cost of the first 30 credits to $43,500, and by 8 percent for everyone else.

It hasn’t lowered its admission standards, LeDuc said. The median LSAT score of its entering class slipped from 146 two years ago to 145 last year, but that reflects a reduction in the number of higher-scoring applicants rather than a drop in the school’s minimum requirements for admission, he said. But LeDuc doesn’t see a drop in minimum requirements as out of the question.

“Sooner or later you’ve got to make a choice,” he said, “because you need enough revenue to cover what your expenses are.”

What a joke. The government isn’t going to hire Cooley graduates in enough numbers at high enough salaries to cover the $43K-per-year nut many of them are borrowing, even if government hiring magically picks up in the next few years. LeDuc has no evidence that Baby Boomers are going to retire in droves in the next couple of years, and there’s no evidence that Boomer retirees will be replaced by new hires. LeDuc himself isn’t filling vacancies at his school, so he should be able to admit that attrition doesn’t lead to hiring if he wasn’t being so intellectually dishonest.

But the “stuff on the internet” is not exacerbating Cooley’s problems. It’s the $43,500 tuition coupled with Cooley’s 29% full-time, long-term employment rate, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Whatever, arguing against Cooley’s business model is like trying to convince somebody that they shouldn’t mug homeless people for their unemployment checks. The obvious moral argument means nothing to these people. All you’re left with is a question of whether or not regulators are going to let them continue to operate. Since Cooley is not doing anything illegal and is in compliance with all ABA rules, they are free to admit whoever is stupid enough to go and charge them whatever they’re wiling to borrow from the government.

Again, if you desperately want to go to law school, but aren’t very good at taking tests, there is a way to do it. Paying $43,500 to go to Cooley isn’t the right answer.

Cooley Law School weathering decline in enrollment [Lansing State Journal]

Earlier: A Guide For Choosing A Low-Ranked Law School


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