Law Schools

Cooley law school confirms layoffs, but not numbers


Several faculty and staff members at the Michigan campuses at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School have learned of their impending layoffs as the law school deals with declining enrollment.

James Robb, associate dean of external affairs and senior counsel, confirmed layoffs but declined to give numbers, report the Lansing City Pulse and MLive.com. The layoff notices came as the law school added Western Michigan University to its name, reflecting its affiliation with the school.

“The process is not complete. I don’t have numbers for you,” Robb told the Lansing City Pulse last Thursday. “And I don’t know that we will release numbers, frankly.”

One source told the Lansing City Pulse that layoffs could be higher than 50 percent. Asked about the number, Robb told the publication, “I think you’re hearing wrong.”

One faculty member who refused to be identified told the Lansing City Pulse that severance packages require laid off personnel to sign non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses. “So I cannot say anything on the record and very little off the record,” the faculty member said, “other than to confirm that the cuts to faculty and staff are significant and I am among those in that category.”

Robb told MLive.com that students will still be able to take a full range of classes and use a full range of services. He cited the reduced enrollment affecting many law schools as one reason for the layoffs, and confirmed to the Lansing City Pulse that the school needed to reduce costs to make a bond issue more attractive to investors. At its height in 2010, enrollment at Cooley was about 4,000, MLive.com says. By 2013 the number had fallen to 2,477 students.

Last month Robb confirmed that Cooley will not be enrolling any first year students at its Ann Arbor campus. He told the Lansing City Pulse that the school was giving some consideration to closing that campus.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

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