WMU Cooley to offer first-year law classes in Kalamazoo this fall

by Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—WMU Cooley Law School and Western Michigan University announced yesterday that the law school will offer 15 credits of first-year instruction to incoming law students on WMU's Kalamazoo campus beginning this September.

"This new program will enable entering law students to take nine credits in the fall term and six more credits in the winter term at Kalamazoo," says WMU Cooley Law School President and Dean Don LeDuc. "After earning 15 credits in the fundamental subjects of torts, contracts, criminal law, and completing the Introduction to Law program, students may pursue the balance of their legal education at the law school campus of their choice, whether in Grand Rapids, Lansing, or Auburn Hills, Michigan, or in Tampa Bay, Florida."

"The 15-credit program will allow WMU students to begin their legal education in familiar surroundings on our beautiful main campus," says WMU President John M. Dunn.  "And it will attract students from other universities who want the amenities, resources, and learning environment of a major public research university as they pursue a law degree."

The announcement about fall classes follows a May 16 agreement between the schools outlining student and employee services, benefits, and privileges. The agreement grants law students attending classes in Kalamazoo access to the student recreation center, health center, library, student organizations and athletic events at a discounted price while also providing law school employees access to recreation facilities, athletic events and the library. It further offers all WMU students, faculty and staff access privileges for the Law School’s vast library system across its four campuses.

Prior agreements signed on Jan. 19, by Presidents LeDuc and Dunn, cover facilities use, courses and programs, and parking at the respective campuses.  Under those agreements, the law school began to offer select upper-level law classes in Kalamazoo this past January. 

Enhancing educational opportunities

LeDuc and Dunn praised the agreements for enhancing educational opportunity for students in west Michigan while creating new teaching, research and service opportunities for faculty and staff. They include:

  • Accelerated programs that save WMU students time and tuition dollars by completing both an undergraduate and law degree in less than the traditional seven years.
  • Cross-listing courses to allow WMU graduate students to take law classes and law students to         take graduate courses for credits toward their respective degree programs.
  • Dual-listed courses team taught by faculty of both schools.
  • Collaboration on legal clinics such as the WMU Cooley Innocence Project.
  • WMU courses taught at the Law School’s campuses.

These innovative initiatives and 140 others like them were made possible by the 2014 affiliation that formally links the private law school with the public university yet preserves the governance and fiduciary independence of each.

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