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Saturday December 20, 2014
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From Ave to Cooley

 

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While that may not be the most prestigious strategy, it's worked well for Cooley. Founded by conservative former Michigan Supreme Court justice Thomas Brennan in 1972 (and named for a nineteenth-century Michigan justice), it's grown into one of the nation's largest law schools in part by accepting students others won't. The downside of its open-door policy: 19 percent of the students who enroll at Cooley don't graduate (though LeDuc says some dropouts eventually graduate from other schools).

Cooley keeps overhead low: the Ann Arbor campus will initially offer just five full-time classes from Cooley's standard first-year curriculum. The four faculty members were already teaching at other Cooley campuses (which are in Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Auburn Hills). Still, it's not cheap: at $1,025 per credit hour, a Cooley degree costs at least $90,000.

The high attrition rate troubles U-M general counsel Suellyn Scarnecchia--though she emphasizes that she's speaking not on behalf of the university, but as a former dean of the University of New Mexico's law school. "There is an ethical question whether one ought to accept tuition money...where you can predict that they're not going to be able to be successful at your law school."

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