Cooley Law School Disputes Accreditation Dispute

The American Bar Association says that Cooley Law School admits unqualified law students. Cooley Law School officials disagree. They’ve filed a lawsuit to stop the ABA from publishing a statement that the school is out of compliance with education standards. The ABA has filed actions against several underperforming law schools including Florida Coastal School of Law, John Marshall Law School and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

The ABA wanted to publish a statement saying that the law school is out of compliance. Cooley didn’t want the ABA’s opinion becoming public. School officials filed a lawsuit to ask a court for an injunction that prevents the ABA from publishing the letter.

Cooley officials say that it’s unfair to hurt the school’s reputation over what’s essentially an opinion. They say that the ABA hasn’t taken any adverse action against the school. They say that a new crop of law school applicants are about to decide where to attend law school. Prospective students who would otherwise consider Cooley might make a different choice if they see the ABA notice, officials say.

School officials go on to say that the ABA doesn’t have the authority to publish opinion statements. They say the ABA can only accredit law schools and that the ABA doesn’t have the authority to simply state they believe that a school is out of compliance. They say that’s unfair when they have a school to run.

The ABA has a different opinion. They say that Cooley’s bar passage rates are too low compared to other schools. They claim that Cooley admits students that aren’t likely to graduate from law school and pass the bar. The ABA says that prospective law students deserve transparency when they’re deciding whether to go to law school and where to attend.

The average Cooley student has a 2.90 undergraduate GPA. The median LSAT score is a 141 out of a possible 180. By comparison, neighboring Michigan State University’s average LSAT scores range from 151 to 157 for the middle 50th percentiles. Only 61 percent of Cooley graduates pass the bar on the first try.

Even if Cooley ultimately loses it’s accreditation, it may not matter for Cooley graduates. The State Bar of Michigan doesn’t require a person to graduate from an accredited school in order to take the bar exam. Michigan bar officials can decide whether to allow graduates of unaccredited law schools to sit for the bar exam.

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