WMU-Cooley to begin offering more courses in Kalamazoo

By Thomas Franz
BridgeTower Media Newswires
 
DETROIT — After a two-year back-and-forth with the American Bar Association, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School has gained acquiescence to begin offering 60 credits at its WMU campus in Kalamazoo.

Permission was granted by the ABA Aug. 15, and WMU-Cooley will offer 15 credits in Kalamazoo this fall. The school will then roll out an additional 15 credits over each of the next three terms.
That will allow students to complete nearly all of their 66 required credits in Kalamazoo before moving to a different campus.

“Opening a substantial presence in Kalamazoo has long been an objective of the school, one that we are glad now to have met,” said James D. Robb, associate dean of external affairs and general counsel for WMU-Cooley. “We are looking forward to moving to the next stage of our relationship with Western Michigan University through our presence on its main campus in Kalamazoo.”

Last year, WMU-Cooley began offering students 15 credits in Kalamazoo. With the expanded course offering, Cooley’s partnership with WMU will be enhanced.

Associate Dean Nelson P. Miller said law students have already presented at WMU’s annual Bioethics Conference, and WMU has hosted a healthcare reform symposium in a law school/medical school collaboration.

“While we have around 180 examples of university-law school collaboration efforts, a couple of the more significant involve university undergraduate students helping to prepare files for law-student review in the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, and then law students helping to train university medical students in litigation procedures,” Miller said.

Miller added that the collaboration he is most excited about is a four-year instructional design program that Cooley and WMU have maintained.

“We’re placing university graduate students in psychology in law school classrooms to observe and comment on instructional designs. The university’s Instructional Design Research Lab has helped us significantly increase student engagement with associated successes,” Miller said.

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Legal case still going

While the Kalamazoo campus can now offer 60 credits, WMU-Cooley’s legal struggle with the ABA remains ongoing.

WMU-Cooley filed a federal lawsuit against the ABA Nov. 14, 2017, to contest the publishing of a letter by the ABA that stated WMU-Cooley was not in compliance with an admissions standard.
“As litigation now stands, the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The U.S. Magistrate Judge recently struck portions of the ABA’s motion and brief for improperly containing material beyond the administrative record on which the ABA says the case should be decided,” Robb said in an email to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. “Currently, the summary judgment motions are set to be argued before the U.S. District Judge in December.”

The original complaint from WMU-Cooley also stated that the ABA was preventing it from offering 60 credits in Kalamazoo until WMU-Cooley could demonstrate it was in compliance with the admissions standard.

“We are pleased that the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has seen fit to allow us to open the Kalamazoo location. Its decision was on the merits and not the result of any settlement of the litigation, same for its recent decision that the law school complies with its standards,” Robb said.

Although the campus is now operating as WMU-Cooley intended, Robb said those decisions from the ABA do not affect WMU-Cooley’s litigation, which presents several claims.

“One of those claims is that the ABA’s previous failure to permit us to open at Kalamazoo, without stated rationale and despite a highly positive site report by its own inspector that showed we met the requirements to establish that location, caused undue delay to the detriment of the school and students who would have liked to study there,” Robb said.
 

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