Suit alleging law school’s misleading post-grad numbers dropped

A $300,000 class-action lawsuit against The Thomas M. Cooley Law School was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist on Friday.

The lawsuit, filed August 2011 by 12 Cooley graduates, alleged they were misled by Cooley’s post-graduate employment reports.

In granting Cooley’s motion to dismiss, Quist noted that while the school’s employment and salary figures were “vague and incomplete,” the students should have relied on more than statistics when making their decision to enroll.

“Plaintiffs and prospective students should have approached their decision to enter into law school with extreme caution given the size of the investment,” Quist wrote. “With red flags waiving and cautionary bells ringing, an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on the statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more.”

In addition, the graduates alleged fraud and negligent misrepresentation on Cooley’s part, and violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

But Quist said the MCPA applies to “providing goods, property, or service primarily for personal, family or household purposes.” As such, “the MCPA did not apply because the plaintiff purchased the services for a business or commercial purpose,” he wrote.

Besides saying that the plaintiffs unreasonably deduced that the “percentage of graduates employed” statistic included only graduates who were employed in full-time legal positions, Quist wrote that it was unreasonable to believe Cooley’s stated average starting salary of $54,796 represented a figure for all its graduates. That figure represents the average salary of graduates who responded to the school’s survey and chose to reveal their salaries.

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Cooley goes to the Sunshine State

Well, here’s a good reason for students at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School to head South for the winter.

The law school is opening its Tampa Bay-area campus in Riverview, Fla., come May 2012, and will accommodate around 700 students. And, all current Cooley students will be eligible to attend classes there.

The school didn’t just pick out the location at random, as Florida represents Cooley’s largest alumni location outside Michigan. In a statement, Cooley also said that about 6 percent of its applicants and 5 percent of its incoming students are from Florida. In addition, Cooley has had a growing presence in the Tampa Bay area through its Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program, which expanded to Florida this past January.

Professor Jeffrey L. Martlew, a former Michigan circuit court judge, was designated associate dean for the Tampa Bay campus.

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Attorneys, professors land new jobs

There’s been some recent movement into and out of colleges, courts and the Capitol.

First James B. Thelen has left as principal in Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C.’s labor and employment group to become associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

He takes over the spot from James Robb, who has been named associate dean for development and alumni relations. (Lawyers Weekly readers will recognize Robb as one of our 2008 In-House Leaders in the Law.)

This isn’t Thelen’s first time in the college arena, having served as assistant general counsel and assistant vice president for legislative affairs at Western Michigan University.

Over at Strobl & Sharp, P.C., Mark Solomon has joined of counsel role in its taxation and estate planning practice areas. He comes to the firm after 30 years of serving as chairman of the taxation and business law department and director of the masters of science taxation program at Walsh College in Troy.

In what could be the last of the Granholm administration landing a job, Steven Liedel, the former governor’s legal counsel, is now at Dykema Gossett PLLC’s regulated industries department. (Ex-Attorney General Mike Cox joined the same firm two months ago.)

And with former partner Kathryn Viviano now on the Macomb County Circuit Court bench, Mount Clemens-based Viviano Law has changed its formal name from Viviano & Viviano, PLLC to Viviano, Pagano & Howlett PLLC.

The name change took place when Jake Howlett, former president of real estate company Crown Enterprises, Inc. and former Bodman PLC business lawyer, was named as partner of the firm.

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Schools “capital”-ize on insurance opportunities

Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Olivet College last week announced an alliance aimed at supporting job growth in Michigan’s growing insurance industry.  

Representatives of the schools signed a partnership agreement for coordinated curriculum programs for Cooley’s new Master of Laws in Insurance Law program.

The partnership agreement will join Olivet’s risk management and insurance program with Cooley’s juris doctor and master of law programs, creating only the second such educational program in the nation. 

“Our goal is simple: to make Michigan and Lansing national leaders in the insurance industry,” said Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, called the move “a significant step forward in our community-wide efforts to make Lansing the Insurance Capital of Michigan.”

In the Lansing region, insurance companies are responsible for close to 8,000 jobs, and another 1,300 jobs are expected to be in by 2014. 

The schools also may created additional joint bachelor’s/juris doctor programs in the insurance area, and opened the possibility of establishing a paralegal program with an insurance emphasis.