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Cooley Law School enrollment declines sharply

Cooley Law School

Law schools across the country have been experiencing enrollment declines for the past few years, but not like Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

In 2010, Cooley Law School had about 4,000 students. This past academic school year, the law school had 1,880 students.

According to the American Bar Association, law school enrollment has declined by 17.5% since 2010.

Alfred Brophy is a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

He says law schools have been seeing drops in enrollment, but it's more dramatic for Cooley because it's a low-ranking school.

"As people are deciding not to go to law school, schools that are better ranked are taking students that use to go to Cooley," Brophy said. 

Brophy says Cooley's employment outcomes could be affecting enrollment as well.

According to the ABA, only 264 out of the 871 people who graduated in 2014 had a full-time job that required them to pass the bar exam.

"The employment prospects correlate very highly, at least for people coming right out of law school, to the quality of law school they went to," Brophy said. "I don't think it's right, and it's probably not fair, but that's the world we live in."

However, Brophy says law school enrollment is starting to stabilize.

"It wouldn't surprise me if Cooley first-year classes start increasing somewhat," Brophy said. "I hope we don't see a great increase because more people graduating makes that much harder for people to get jobs."

The law school has three campuses in Michigan. Last year, Cooley shut down its Ann Arbor campus. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association.

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