Thomas M. Cooley Law School

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Cooley: The Crap Shoot Law School

Mar 20, 2004 (Updated Dec 22, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Liberal Admissions policy, diverse student body, FT/PT, eve/wknd programs.

Cons:Rigorous Program. High tuition. Do your homework and know what you're getting yourself into.

The Bottom Line: If you can't get in anywhere else, get your foot in the door at Cooley then TRANSFER!


The previous review is accurate, however, I think it was a tad too nice. I currently attend Cooley, and I see why Cooley is one of the worst ABA-accredited law schools in the country. The overall attrition rate is too high(around 60% to be totally truthful) because with a law school that flunks out students in their 1st, 2nd or 3rd year, you're rolling the dice and should be leery of investing tens of thousands of $$ in student loans to attend.
The grading system is very severe--A's and B's are hard to come by. In many law schools, students take a single exam at the end of the term for each class. Most law schools will allow open book or take home exams or let students bring their notes and outlines in to take closed book tests. At Cooley, every exam is closed book, there are no take home or open book exams ever, and you cannot bring notes or outlines.
To stay afloat and not flunk is difficult once you get accepted. They admit more students than they can accommodate, which explains why they weed out a lot of the people regardless of how long you've managed to stick around.


The school is located in downtown Lansing where there is no free parking. You have to park in a paid lot or garage that is not owned by the school if you drive and have classes during business hours. The city even enforces parking on weekends by ticketing cars parked in no parking zones!

There are only two computer labs with about 80-100 workstations(keep in mind that the Cooley administration likes to brag that it's student body is three times larger than other law schools making it the largest in the country). Most students have their own laptops.

Despite the diversity and the Brennen law library being very impressive, the administration and the faculty are not student friendly at all. The deans are dorks and the professors are pricks(not all, but most). They adopt or revise policies every term, to the detriment of student needs. For example, Most colleges and universities let you add, drop or change classes during the 1st week, but at Cooley, if you get a teacher or class that you don't think you would feel comfortable with, the only option you have is to drop that class, you can't add or replace the class because they eliminated this option last term. You cannot sit as a visiting student at another law school and have those classes count toward graduation. My guess is that its the Cooley administration's fear and expectation that if you get admitted as a visiting student at another school and you experience less hassle, you will withdraw from Cooley and get your degree from that other school, plus, you may wind up with a better grade in that class than you probably would had you taken it at Cooley.

There's too many flaming hoops to jump through and only the mentally strong and disciplined student shall survive at this school. I don't understand why anyone with a high GPA and LSAT would consider going to this school besides the 50% and 100% scholarships they offer them(which is always subject to get cut if your GPA drops). Cooley has a terrible reputation and even if you do manage to graduate, keep in mind that last year less than half (an embarrassing 43%) passed the bar their 1st try and only 57% passed this year. Cooley always ranks dead last out of all the law schools in Michigan and if you are among the lucky ones to pass the bar, top firms still won't give you the time of day.

The tuition is $790 per credit hour(up from 750$ last term). They even have the audacity to raise their admission standards for the next entering classes. You have to have a minimum 144 LSAT score to get in, where it used to be a 141.

There are 63 credit hours in required courses and 28 electives that you must complete to graduate with 91 total hours. This leaves little time to acquire job experience or bar exam preparation during your 2L and 3L years(which further explains why Cooley grads don't pass the bar or get the same career opportunities that other grads from more reputable law schools get). They have a crappy bar prep course, but obviously it's not very effective in helping graduates pass the damn bar exam. Most law schools only require that you pass 3 credit hours of Torts, Contracts, Property, Civ Pro, Crim Law, Crim Pro, Con Law, PR and Legal Research & Writing your 1st year, and then an advanced writing class, an oral argument course or seminar in an area of law of your interest, some clinical experience and maybe an Evidence or Con Law II class your second year. Well, Cooley requires that you take 6 hours of Torts, Property, Contracts, Civ Pro and Con Law, in addition to 3 hours in Research and Writing, Crim Law, Crim Pro and Professional Responsibility, you also have to take a class in your 1st term called Intro to Law( which is BS class worth 0 credit)which adds up to about 48 hours in 1L courses! and then you have to endure Equities and Remedies, Business Organizations(AKA corporations), Secured Transactions, Taxation, Wills, Estates and Trusts, Advanced Writing, Oral Argument, and Externship for upper level requirements.
No other law school has this many required classes except UDC and Texas Southern which are the other law schools in the country with astronomical attrition rates!

Experience is the best teacher and the bottom line is, had I known before what I know now about Cooley, I would have tried harder to get accepted into another school. I recommend that if you try to get accepted into a 4th tier school such as Oklahoma City University, Tulsa, Florida Coastal or Roger Williams because your scores are low,make Cooley your last option. If you do decide to go to Cooley, manage to do more than just survive your 1st year and then transfer. Do yourself a favor and do not drop anchor at this school. Although you may have to relocate, so long as you leave in good standing,(Cooley registrar's office personnel and professors are known to prolong or refuse to give letters of good standing and recommendations to students seeking to leave-like blocking a professional swimmer wearing a life jacket from jumping off the Titanic)there is another school that will accept you that is not this unnecessarily demanding that has lower attrition rates and higher bar passage rates because LSAT and GPA are not as important as your 1st year grades when transferring. TRUST ME! And if not, then contact Cooley yourself at 517-371-5140 to confirm all of what you've read(that is, if whoever you talk to tells you the truth).


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