Cooley Law School: ‘We’re number 2!’

From this morning’s Lansing State Journal:

In the most recent edition of “Judging the Law Schools,” Thomas M. Cooley Law School is ranked No. 2 in the nation, second to Harvard but solidly ahead of Yale (which came in 10th), the University of Michigan (12th) and Stanford (30th).

It is the first time Cooley has cracked the top 10. The last time the rankings were released, in 2009, it came in at No. 12. In 1996, the year Cooley founder Thomas Brennan began producing Judging the Law Schools, it ranked a modest 72nd.

In the ranking’s introduction, Brennan and Don LeDuc, Cooley’s president and dean, write

that while total objectivity is not possible in any comparison and that the selection of criteria on which to base a comparison is itself subjective, Judging was designed intentionally to use only objective data in its comparison. …

The intent is to provide an objective, data-based alternative to the subjectivity of the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Cooley is “unranked” in the 2010 U.S. News and World Report rankings. The publication explains that “School did not supply enough information to U.S. News to calculate a ranking.”

Cooley’s methodology and complete rankings are contained in
Judging the Law Schools.

Want to create your own rankings based on factors you select? Check out The Ranking Game.

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In the ballpark

Say what you want, but Thomas M. Cooley Law School president Don LeDuc stands by the school’s decision to buy the naming rights to the minor league baseball stadium in Lansing, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.

When the announcement that the school had agreed to pay nearly $1.5 million so that what was Oldsmobile Park will for the next 11 years be called Cooley Law School Stadium, LeDuc heard the same criticism as every other newspaper reader. Perhaps it was an extravagance that a school which has, like every other college and university, has had tuition increases (and LeDuc has not promised in interviews with the media that there won’t be more of those).

But the school is getting great bang for its marketing buck, LeDuc says. The naming rights, he said, cost less than the school spends on billboard advertising, and makes up just 0.15 percent of its entire expenditures.

And it’s just darn unique.

“It comes out to about $135,000 per year,” LeDuc said. “And I don’t think any other law schools have done this.

“In Michigan we want to have an identity here in Lansing. The building is probably the third-best known in mid-Michigan.”

Aside from exposure in four directions, including visibility from the city’s main thoroughfares, Michigan Avenue, Larch and Cedar.Four directions of frontage, including visibility from the city’s main thoroughfares, Michigan Avenue, Larch and Cedar, the law school does get some ancillary benefits, which include a suite, executive box seats, and four or five events folded into the package.

“Some of the events we would have at another venue or on one of the campuses, we now can have at the stadium,” LeDuc said. And this summer, the school’s Cooley for Kids program will take some 500 kids to the ballpark.

The biggest user of the suite will be the students,” LeDuc said.

“We had to establish a committee to determine who gets to use it and when,” he said. “Our thought is each of our sanctioned student organizations would get to use it. And we’ll be reserving some seats for employers and the like, we will send students there to mingle, which is the same kind of thing we’ve been doing at Comerica Park.”

The reality, he added, is that the law school got an excellent deal on naming rights. Since the stadium has been open, more than 5 million visitors, and 350,000 tickets for events sold last year.

And competition to attract new students is fierce. Law school enrollment is flat nationwide, LeDuc said. Cooley has had modest 1-2 percent growth per year during the last four years, but during uncertain economies, it should have been higher.

“Usually in an off economy like we have now, it’s a boom time at professional universities and colleges,” LeDuc said. “But this recession is so deep that we’re just not experiencing that. Applications are fairly flat nationally, and so is enrollment.”

So LeDuc is taking the raised eyebrows in stride.

“When you do anything novel like this you’ll always hear some pushback,” he said. “But this is not a big part of our total expenses.”

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.