Cooley to open new campus in Tampa Bay

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School announced on Monday that the American Bar Association's (ABA) Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar accepted the recommendation of the Accreditation Committee to acquiesce in the Thomas M. Cooley Law School's application to open a Tampa Bay-area campus in Riverview, Florida. The Tampa Bay campus has also been approved by the Higher Learning Commission and the Florida Department of Education, Commission for Independent Education.

The Tampa Bay campus will begin offering evening classes in May 2012, followed by morning classes in September 2012, and afternoon classes in January 2013. The implementation will follow the same pattern as at the school's other campuses, rolling out the standard curriculum over a three-year period. All Cooley students will be eligible to attend classes at the Tampa Bay campus.

Tampa Bay comprises a little over 4,000,000 residents, but is home to only one law school. Florida represents Cooley's largest alumni location outside Michigan, and Florida provides about 6% of its applicants and 5% of its incoming students each year. The school also has an active externship program in the state.

In addition to its large alumni base of 886 graduates throughout Florida, Cooley has had a growing presence in the Tampa Bay area through its Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program, which recently expanded to Florida in January. The ABA's Military Pro Bono Project and the Hillsborough County Bar Association joined together with Cooley to offer a complimentary training program aimed at preparing local attorneys to represent members of the military in legal issues ranging from child custody concerns to housing rental disputes.

Cooley, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Michigan educational corporation, has acquired a 130,000 square-foot facility in Riverview, comparable in size to its current campus in Auburn Hills. Renovations and staffing details are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. The facility will accommodate the approximately 700 students who are expected to attend.

Professor Jeffrey L. Martlew, a former Michigan circuit court judge, has been designated as the Associate Dean for the Tampa Bay campus. Associate Dean Martlew explained that the new campus in Tampa Bay will cater to an underserved sector of law students, particularly part-time students and minority populations, but will provide Cooley's full-time program as well.

Published: Wed, Aug 10, 2011