Law Schools

Cooley Law School won't enroll new 1Ls at Ann Arbor campus, plans faculty layoffs

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Law students hoping to start their first year at Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus this fall will have to change their plans.

According to an internal announcement obtained by Above the Law, Cooley “will hold off enrolling incoming first-term students at the Ann Arbor campus for fall 2014.” The Ann Arbor location is one of four Cooley campuses in Michigan; a fifth campus is in Tampa, Florida.

The Ann Arbor hold on enrollment is part of a plan “designed to right size and reinvent the school,” says the announcement on an internal portal. The “aggressive financial management plan” also includes faculty and staff layoffs.

Students currently enrolled at the Ann Arbor campus will have access to the school’s full curriculum, the announcement says.

“As with most law schools across the country, Cooley’s enrollment and revenue have continued to decline,” the announcement begins. “Despite our ongoing cost control efforts, it has become apparent that we must now reassess our costs, including our faculty and staff levels, in light of current enrollment.”

The announcement also says that Cooley will work to keep tuition increases as low as possible, and its 2014-15 academic calendar won’t change.

Cooley’s associate dean of external affairs and senior counsel, James Robb, confirmed the accuracy of the internal announcement and pointed to a public statement confirming a plan to reduce faculty and staff.

“I can confirm for you that we do not plan to enroll an incoming first-term class at Ann Arbor this fall,” Robb told the ABA Journal.

“Due to our review and the decline of enrollment and revenue, we’re looking to right size the organization,” Robb said. “That will include some faculty and staff reductions, the scope of which is under review now. And we’re reviewing our programs and we’re reviewing our campuses and facilities to reduce costs.”

Asked if Cooley will phase out its Ann Arbor campus, Robb said there are no plans at this point to do so.

Any incoming 1Ls already accepted to Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus will be given the opportunity to attend Cooley at another campus, Robb said.

News of Cooley’s decision comes the same day that the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of Cooley’s $17 million defamation suit against lawyers who unsuccessfully sued over the school’s employment statistics.

Updated at 2 p.m. to include news of Cooley’s 6th Circuit loss.

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