There are now hundreds of news articles and entire blogs devoted to warning potential students of the perils of attending a low-ranked, high-cost law school.

We’re positive people here at Lawschooli, so we typically try and keep our message positive and upbeat. But sometimes we see things happening in the legal education industry that we simply can’t ignore. Today we’re going to talk about the dark side of the industry.

Admissions standards have been in a free fall at Tier 4 law schools over the past few years. One school, in particular, has sunk so low that we felt compelled to announce our pick for…

The Worst Law School in America

Most of our readers are very conscientious. Most of you take the LSAT very seriously. Over 300,000 of you have read Josh’s post on how he got a 177 on the LSAT, tens of thousands of you have followed his LSAT prep book recommendations, thousands of you follow our LSAT study schedules every year, and hundreds of you have joined the LSAT Mastermind Group.

In spite of our best efforts to convince people to take their LSAT prep seriously, our message doesn’t reach everyone. Every year I encounter scores of the uninitiated. They didn’t take the LSAT seriously, got a low score, and are ready to run head-long into a costly and potentially disastrous career choice by attending any law school that’ll take them. As a new law school admissions cycle approaches, it is worth a reminder why the advice to avoid certain schools is more apt than ever.

…and the loser is: Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Why pick on Cooley? There are a lot of terrible law schools out there, certainly. Cooley Law, however, has secured a deserved reputation as the worst of the worst, churning out scores of the most uncompetitive graduates into an extremely competitive profession that has nowhere near the ability to absorb them all. Cost of education is extremely high relative to expected salaries. Many graduates struggle to even pass the bar. Cooley has even been sued for inflating salary data.

By any reputable method of ranking ABA law schools, they would appear near the very bottom. Famously, however, for many years they tried to counter this by publishing their own rankings based on silly metrics such as total volumes in the library, law school square footage, and incoming class size. In their own estimation, they ranked 2nd, just behind Harvard!

As the recession hit and the legal market shrank, law schools have had a choice about how to handle it. Fewer good candidates are applying to law school now. In response, either you shrink class size and retain your standards, keeping incoming students GPA and LSAT numbers where they used to be, or you lower your admissions standards. Cooley has made some very, very bad choices. Here is a comparison of 2014 admissions data with 2015.

GPA25th %ileMedian75th %ile
 LSAT25th %ileMedian75th %ile

For those who aren’t familiar with law school admissions, I’ll tell you: this is extremely, extremely bad. Cooley was making a surprising good faith effort to keep their numbers from falling through the floor, but now they have, as one legal blogger put it, “abandoned all pretense of maintaining sound admission policies.” It might be more accurate to say that they’ve abandoned the pretense of having any standards whatsoever.

The 25th percentile at Cooley is now a shocking 138. Ninety percent of LSAT takers perform better on the test. Given that even very low ranked schools generally try to take only students that perform better than average (about a 152), you can see how Cooley has committed themselves to scraping the very bottom of the applicant pool.

It’s this recent move, combined with their commitment to keeping a huge class in spite of offering very poor job prospects, that earns Cooley the distinction of being the very worst law school in America.

If you want to find some truly harsh invective about Cooley and schools like it, it will just take a little googling. People feel strongly enough about trashing these schools that they have compiled accurate school profiles and decorated them with pictures of cow dung.

Instead of going off on a self-indulgent rant, I want to simply present the facts, as near as we have them, about Cooley Law.

Bear in mind that Cooley and schools like it do nearly everything in their power to obscure data about how poor employment prospects are for their graduates. Thanks to the efforts of those pushing for more transparency, only recently have we been able to get a somewhat clearer picture of how these graduates really fare. Let’s take a look at this and some other vital statistics on the worst law school in America.

Cooley Law Job Prospects

Here is the salient figure, which alone should scare any reasonably rational person out of attending Cooley: 


That is the percentage of Cooley’s 871 graduates who were able to secure full-time legal employment by one year after graduation. (Source: Law School Transparency)

In case you are wondering, close to 100% of those who attend law school want to secure full-time legal work. Even at top five law schools where there are potentially many other desirable options, some 95% of graduates go on to do full-time legal work that requires bar passage. By contrast, Cooley grads spend 3 years in law school, putting in a gargantuan effort on their part to secure a job as an attorney, but nearly 75% of them are unable to land themselves a law job.

In fact, with an employment rate of just 49.40% 9 months after graduation, chances are better than ever that you will end up completely unemployed if you happen to be one of the poor souls graduating from Cooley Law. It is a little hard to interpret this figure since most anything counts as “employment.”

Most of those that do not secure full-time legal employment are likely still looking or are forced to begin practice on their own, “hanging out a shingle,” as it is known in the legal world. Trust those who have done it: starting your own private practice is nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds.

Many more Cooley grads, burdened with a mountain of non-dischargeable debt and no prospect of securing legal work, simply give up the hope of practicing law and move on to other things.

Cooley Law Graduate Salaries

US News lists the following salary data for Cooley:

Median private sector starting salary: $45,000

Median public service starting salary: $47,916

It is worth remembering that a median gives you very little information. Of those relatively few students who secured private sector work, at least half make 45K or more.

While these figures are about expected for a low ranked law school, they seem especially low given the debt Cooley grads are likely to carry.

Cost of Attendance

Cooley’s costs, while a shade lower than those of the highest ranked schools, are still enormously high. Full-time tuition in 2015 was $47,890 per year (estimated total with cost of living: $65,474).


Average Indebtedness

Unlike most law schools, Cooley does not always reliably publish their average student indebtedness. For the last year I can find it, 2013, it was a whopping $122,395.

Take it from my own experience and those of my classmates at a high ranked school: $122K is hard to pay off when you are making $160K your first year. At $45k and lower, expect to be burdened indefinitely.

Admissions Statistics

Class of 20181,2221,072448
25th %ileMedian75th %ile

Cooley’s LSAT numbers are well below the average for test takers overall, which is about a 152 (on a 120-180 scale). With close to a 90% acceptance rate, Cooley has effectively an open admissions policy.

Bar Passage

Only 38% of Cooley Grads who took the Michigan bar exam in July 2018 got a passing score.

2018 Michigan BarCooleyEveryone ElseTotal
Pass148 (44%)529 (72%)677 (63%)
Fail189 (56%)204 (28%)393 (37%)

These pass rates are pretty shocking. Only 41% of Cooley grads passed the Michigan Bar, compared to a 74% pass rate for grads from other law schools.

And here’s the REALLY scary thing. These bar pass rates are from 2016, which means that these students were accepted back when Cooley’s median LSAT score was a 145. When their median LSAT score dropped 1 point from 146 to 145, their bar pass rate dropped by a few percentage points. This does not bode well for the class of 2018, whose median LSAT score is a shockingly low 141.

I can only imagine how bad things are going to get in a few years when these students graduate. If things are already this bleak for the class of 2015, we’re going to see some truly awful outcomes for the Cooley Law School class of 2018 (which is “statistically the worst entering class of law students in the history of American legal education at an ABA-Accredited law school.”)

Class of 20201391421462.592.943.27?
Class of 20191381411472.602.903.20?
Class of 20181381411472.512.853.19?
Class of 20171411451492.532.93.28?
Class of 20161411451502.492.963.3241%
Class of 20151421451512.573.023.3639%
Class of 20141431461512.613.023.3544%
Class of 20131441461512.612.993.3544%

Given that students with an LSAT below 155 are often considered at-risk for being unable to pass the bar, these stats are perhaps unsurprising.

By any plain reading, it seems that Cooley is running afoul of the ABA requirement that “a school shall not admit an applicant who does not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.”

It is honestly shocking that the ABA has allowed Cooley to keep its accreditation with bar passage rates as low as they already are. Now that Cooley has hit a new low in admissions standards for the Class of 2018, they are almost begging the ABA to pull their accreditation.

…To Sum Up

This seems to be the beginning of the end for Cooley Law School. 1L enrollment has tumbled from 1583 in Fall 2010, down to 445 in Fall 2014. Now that they appear to be unwilling to lower enrollment any further, they’ve resorted to slashing admissions standards, doing whatever it takes to fill those 450 seats.

Now they’ve got a ticking time bomb on their hands. Cooley already has a hard time attracting qualified students because of their miserable bar passage & employment rates. When this new crop of students graduate in 2018, its going to be a bloodbath. Cooley’s (already low) bar passage & employment rates are going to drop considerably lower once the 2018 numbers come out, making it even more difficult to attract even the most minimally qualified students.

I don’t see an easy way out of the downward spiral Cooley has leaped into.

25th50th75th25th50th75th# of 1Ls
Fall 20101441461512.612.993.351583
Fall 20111431461512.613.023.351161
Fall 20121421451512.573.023.36897
Fall 20131411451502.492.963.32582
Fall 20141411451492.532.93.28445
Fall 20151381411472.512.853.19448

The best thing that could happen to you if you attend Cooley is failing out before you run up a tremendous amount of debt. Around 20% do make the decision to drop out. The most likely outcome, however, for those who finish: you end up having significant debt, have difficultly passing the bar, and are unable to find a legal job of any kind whatsoever.

Plainly, you are simply better off not attending Cooley. I repeat: it is just not worth it. Save yourself the heartache and only attend law school under much much better circumstances. If you are thinking of attending Cooley, I’m willing to personally try to talk you out of it.

If you’re just starting to think about law school, the best way to avoid this fate is to crush the LSAT. I’ve spoken to thousands of students over the past couple years & I’ve never heard of anyone who has followed one of our LSAT study schedules & still ended up with an LSAT score so low that they couldn’t get into a better law school than Cooley.


University of Chicago, J.D., 2012 Ready to Kickstart your LSAT Prep? Join the LSAT Mastermind Study Group


  1. Jeff Kennelly on

    Cool numbers, Evan. There are a lot of bitter people out there about Cooley High. For me, it was a launchpad. I had a very successful career – based on me, not the school. Say all you wish. i took the bar exam 1x in 1993 and never looked back. People who matriculated there knew or should have known it was a shit school. I did. And I believed I could achieve after I left. I’m not a big fan of whiners.

  2. Cooley had a poor reputation in the eighties when I applied, and I knew it. Being a terrible test taker, I could not get into other schools. I really wanted to study law and Cooley gave me that opportunity. We can examine all the parts and find fault, or we can be grateful for the overall broadening of intellectual development and life experience. Who wouldn’t choose the latter?

  3. I went to Cooley in the 1980’s after working in Investment Banking.
    I wanted to do something more meaningful than just making money.
    I graduated on time and passed the PA bar exam on my first try at it.
    Although I was accepted at other similar Law Schools…
    Cooley was then the most affordable for me.
    Since I got in-state tuition and Lansing’s lower cost of living.
    Back then Cooley had an arrangement with the State for Michigan residents.
    And at the end of my 3 years my total student debt was just $15,000.00.
    What attracted me to Cooley besides affordability was its mission statement.
    Which was to prepare graduates for a solo or small firm practice of law.
    It was no secret then that few Cooley grads ever got hired at large law firms.
    But that was ok with me since I didn’t want to work for a large law firm.
    Moreover, most of my evening classmates already had professional jobs.
    Two of my classmates were practicing Physicians and another was a Veterinarian.
    Many were just looking to augment the credentials they already had.
    As such, Cooley was a good fit for mature working-class law students in central Michigan.
    And the Faculty was on the whole sound and the physical plant ample.
    Cooley’s law library alone was about the same size as all of New England Law School.
    Where Cooley failed in my opinion was having poor management.
    For instance, they admitted large classes and had high attrition rates.
    All the while denying they had imposed a downward grading scale policy.
    Until of course some insider leaked an internal memo which proved their policy.
    This created a lot of angst, turmoil and ill will among the students to this day.
    Which may explain why few alumnae make any meaningful contributions.
    And now Western Michigan (like Michigan State did) has ended their affiliation with Cooley.
    All of which could have been avoided in my opinion.
    Because rather than close down their Grand Rapids, Oakland and Ann Arbor campuses…
    They could have sought out having affiliations or mergers with area State colleges.
    Such as with Grand Valley State, Eastern Michigan and Oakland Universities.
    Because by becoming State institutions they could keep tuition lower.
    Thereby living up to their mission of providing working class people access to the law.
    Because if I had to pay $200,000 to go to Cooley – I wouldn’t.
    But I wouldn’t pay that to go to Harvard or Yale either.

    • I went to law school at Temple. I now run an agency with over 60 employees. We are considered the premier legal agency in our state. We are celebrated for our legal work in both the trial and appellate court exclusively in the federal arena. Our most celebrated attorney went to Cooley. He is the second in command and always ready to take the helm. He is the go to person for legal advice at the trial and appellate level. He is paid the second highest income in the agency , Right below mine. He has just turned 40. Yet, he got his position when he was 35. One of our worst employees, we had to let go, was a Harvard graduate. Go to the best law school you can but don’t worry if you don’t get into an Ivy League. I don’t know anything about Cooley. But I do know our best attorney went there. It is silly to think that a law school is going to make you great. It will merely help you get your first job. I am celebrated for the work that our office does. I hire fantastic people. I don’t care where you went to school. I care who you are and what your potential is. This tortured discussion of best and worst schools is silly. It shows how narrowminded and blind the author is. If an employer is equally blind and ignorant don’t work for them.

  4. Anthony Fazioli on

    I attended Michigan State University and graduated in 2001. I lived in a house while attending law school with 4 Cooley Law students. After graduating, I went back to my home state of NJ and take the bar.

    To this day, I keep in touch with my law school buddies and they are all doing great. In fact, NJ has a great deal of Cooley Law alumni as members of the bar. Those lawyers are excellent at what they do.

    I will never judge anyone on which law school they attended. The key is what you can do with that law degree.

    If you attend Cooley Law, you will succeed if you wish. It’s not about the school you attended, it’s about how you use the degree.

  5. Glad I read this blog since I am helping my grandson gather intel about law schools.
    BTW, many years ago a fellow who worked for me was having trouble passing the bar exam. So I took a stab at an old practice exam. Passed it having only taken only a contract law course while working on a master’s degree in engineering from George Washington University. Don’t know what this means. Certainly hope I couldn’t do this today!

  6. Honestly Evan, you can eat shit. You also have too much time on your hands.

    I went to Cooley. Passed MI with flying colours, and went on to pass the bar in Ontario. I run my own very successful firm.

  7. Tests were marked on a curve – so even if you received a decent grade on the exam, but most of the students taking the test did better, you may have failed. Think about that — if you received an 85 on an exam, but 2/3rds of the students received 86 or better, you still may have received a “C” or an “F.” As a student, I will admit, I can honestly compare it as a journey through hell, especially the first year and a half. The boards that the grades were posted were called the “weeping wall.” Especially after a student was flunked out after putting a year or more of hard work into their education. No, for many of them, it was not because they were not intelligent, it was either because they just did not “get it,” or they happened to have been in a class where they were in that 1/3rd of survivors.

    As another unfortunate Cooley grad (2005), I can confirm THIS is accurate…it’s almost as if there’s an unwritten rule that 1/3 of the class would get either an A or B, 1/3 would get a C and 1/3 D or F. If you were one of those C’s, you were on thin ice until your 2nd semester as a 2L where the grading seemed to level off. I did okay my first year but 1/2 my class was gone after the 2nd semester, another 10% after their first semester 2L.

    The only positive I can give Cooley (based on when I was there) were the professors. Sure I had a few that I didn’t like but the vast majority were awesome. In fact I still play chess with my products liability prof who once played against Garry Kasparov. Any success I’ve had in the legal field I can credit to those professors, but that’s where anything positive I can say ends. because just about the time I graduated was when everyone not associated with the Cooley admin started finding out that POS Don LeDuc and his cronies took a fat dump all over Brennon’s vision in the name of $$$. It was under his watch the school basically turned into the ABA accredited version of ITT Tech rendering the degree worthless.

    As for me, I ended up taking and passing MI, VA, DC, MD, & NC bars within 2 years of graduating, I started with a law firm in DC where the main partner was awful to work with and who filled positions with more incompetent morons than a trump rally. My experience totally turned me off from the law and I bounced around to 2 other firms because my ex-wife’s job until 2009 when I changed to my current career as a professional poker player.

    I do feel for those who graduated, took and passed a bar and can’t find employment but they should know it’s not their fault the Cooley leadership made their degrees as useful as tits on a boar. To those who are in this position, my suggestion, and coincidentally what I’m in the process of doing, would be to find an LLM program from a better school so they can just totally remove Cooley from their resume/cv as I did years ago. (actually I went a step further and shredded my diploma and sent it to them because I want nothing to do with that school)

  8. Tricia,

    It depends on where you have been accepted. If you have a choice between Michigan and Cooley I would pay the $20K per year because the odds of getting a good job out of Michigan are dramatically higher. If, in contrast, you were accepted by two other schools which are a few spots above Cooley and have similar placement rates, go to Cooley. Paying $60K more for a few spots higher ranking seems like a poor choice UNLESS one of those schools is in the area you want to work and place people in that location. For example, if you want to work in LA, you are better off going to even a low ranked school that places a lot of people in LA.

    It is important to always consider where you want to work and what type of work you want to do when selecting your school. For example, going to an elite law school may not been that valuable if you want to practice patent law and you have solid undergraduate credentials – such as an electrical engineering degree. Likewise, I have one acquaintance who attended a top 5 law school who got only 1 job offer when you looked for a job in Salt Lake City. I know several other attorneys who attended top 5 law schools. While most are doing well, they are no better off than attorneys who did well at the University of Utah or BYU.

    • Rand,

      I’d like to stay in the Detroit area as my family is moving there and I wouldn’t have to pay for housing. My other option in Detroit is UD Mercy where I have been accepted into a dual degree program with Windsor Law in Canada. I got a 50% scholarship, so my tuition there would be approximately $30,0000 a year. I ultimately want to practice healthcare law and like that WMU also offers a hybrid MPH (masters of public health) so if I were to attend Cooley, I could get a JD/MPH. My undergraduate degree is in public health. I have already been offered a legal internship in health law after my L1 with an insurance company I interned with this past summer.

      I was also accepted to DePaul, Ohio State Moritz, Loyola Chicago, and Cleveland Marshall Law, but think it would be best for me to stay in Michigan because that is where I would like to practice and the cost of living would be lowest.

      Another factor to consider is that Cooley just built a brand new Auburn Hills campus which is very close to my home and offers free parking in contrast to UD Mercy where parking is an additional 100 a month. Also, Cooley offers an accelerated JD. I finished both high school and undergrad a year early and like the option of graduating law school early.

    • Don’t forget the old saying- what do they call a person who graduated last in his class from the worst medical school?

  9. Hey Tricia, I’m currently about to enter my first summer semester at Cooley. I was in a similar situation as you last April. I was accepted into 23of the 25 schools I applied to. The best of which was Michigan, a top 10 school. Before I started lawschool I was fortunate enough to work at a large firm and a states attorneys office and both told me similar things. Unless you plan on working for a 500+ person firm, school doesn’t ultimately matter. Cooley’s stats may be low but that’s because of the amount of people who flunk out or barely hold on until the bar. The coursework is very similar if not harder than other lawschools. If you’re willing to put in the work it’s very similar effort to pass the BAR the first time even from a school with such bad stats.

  10. Would it be worth attending Cooley if I got a full scholarship? All of my other options are above $20,000 per year with scholarships and I am not receiving assistance. I understand it is not a reputable school, but is it so bad that I should incur $60,000 in debt?

    • William Behrens on

      I can’t speak for eveyone, but Cooley has a 100% passage rate on the only bar exam I care about, which is the one I took in Ohio in Feb. of 2015. I can also say that there was nothing on the bar exam that I had not been exposed to at Cooley. Go to whatever school offers you the best deal, but then from day one remember that when you sit for that bar exam, you are sitting alone, so it is entirely up to you whether you pass or fail. Approach your studies from day one as if it is all bar exam prep. Memorize your outlines and rule statements, take every practice test you can get your hands on, take every essay prep course you can, and you will be just fine.

  11. Is it true that there is only one law school in all of Nevada? I went to Cooley. I think it takes pride in admitting students who are unable to get into other schools. When I was there, it seemed like more than 30% of the class was unable to pass the first year, and each year, more students dropped out. I feel like only 50% of my class actually graduated. Students discussed it as being an “open admission policy” giving low LSAT scoring and/or low GPA students a chance to attend, but still maintaining standards required to pass classes. While I am relatively certain that any Cooley graduate can pass the bar of any state and do the work it takes to be a competent attorney, the school’s negative reputation restricts students from getting good employment. Of course there are exceptions, like with everything else, but it is difficult for the majority to find legal employment. Unfortunately, like so many other schools, the school inflated employment statistics; had I known that the statistics they provided were untrue, I would not have made such a huge investment in time, energy and money (debt) to attend and graduate.

  12. Wanda J. Roberts on

    After working 25 years for Michigan State University, the practice of law is my second career. WMU Cooley was my first and only choice for law school. I was looking for a law school that would prepare me to pass the bar exam and offer opportunities for me to be “practice ready.” Cooley simply fit. Initially I intended to continue to work full-time and attend law school evenings and weekends. It turned out that I was able to quit my job and focus 100% of my time on law school. My LSAT tutor was a U of M Law School graduate. She said that U of M didn’t prepare her to take the bar. She had to learn what she needed on her own after graduation. When I began my commercial bar prep course, I was completely prepared. There was no new information other than the Michigan specific areas of law we needed to know. I work with a young lady that graduated from MSU’s College of Law and she said she was not prepared for the bar exam after graduation. In fact, she failed the bar exam, but received a passing score after an appeal. I passed the MI bar exam on the first try.

    We all take the same multiple-choice (MBE) questions on the bar exam. Every law graduate must pass the same essay questions or Multistate Performance Test in their state. I am a proud, skilled, and ethical WMU Cooley Law School graduate and newly licensed attorney. Job prospects are good, and I will be employed when I’m ready to begin practicing.

  13. Another Cooley alumni here, although I had graduated back in the early-mid 1990s [No, I did not know Michael Cohen.]. I come from a family that did not have much money, and worked literally 50+ hours a week while in college (more during holiday weeks). With work and a social life, lack of study time kept my grades and LSAT grades down. For someone like me that had a great work effort, and wanted to get ahead in life, I applied to TM Cooley knowing that it was, even then, one of the last-chance schools that was accredited.

    Although the Internet/WWW did not exist as it does today, there were still a number of resources available for research. I began attending the school knowing that I was going to be in for a struggle – and was told that according to my LSAT score, I should have not made it past my first trimester. Early on it became apparent that the school did not weed out its applicants in their acceptance practice, but did so during their educational practice. On the first day of orientation, someone said look to your left, then look to your right, at least one of you will not be here next year. In actuality, both of my fellow students did not last the year – they were “kicked out” due to low academic grades.

    Tests were marked on a curve – so even if you received a decent grade on the exam, but most of the students taking the test did better, you may have failed. Think about that — if you received an 85 on an exam, but 2/3rds of the students received 86 or better, you still may have received a “C” or an “F.” As a student, I will admit, I can honestly compare it as a journey through hell, especially the first year and a half. The boards that the grades were posted were called the “weeping wall.” Especially after a student was flunked out after putting a year or more of hard work into their education. No, for many of them, it was not because they were not intelligent, it was either because they just did not “get it,” or they happened to have been in a class where they were in that 1/3rd of survivors.

    One thing I also must state is that most of those students that did flunk out have a very huge hatred towards the school, and even many years later continue to provide negative remarks about the school. Because the school admits many students, there are many students that flunked out and have pure hatred for the school. In many ways I do not blame them. The school did not make it easy for us. I have received another post-graduate degrees, and the experience was nothing like Cooley, nor like what my fellow colleagues from other law school had described as their experiences.

    I am very, very grateful for Thomas M. Cooley providing the chance to myself, and other students like me to provide a place to begin our journey in the legal (or related) professions. Yes, even then it was a 4th Tier school, and I knew that if I made it through, the struggle would not stop because any employer out there is going to hire a graduate based from a higher ranked school than me.

    Having a strong work ethic to begin with, and retained a full time job within a year of graduation, and have been gainfully employed ever since. I have had opportunities to hire individuals from a multitude of schools, and I can honestly say that although a T1 diploma looks good and will open doors to the big firms, their school’s pedigree had little bearing on their actual performance. I found that for practical matters, the graduates of lower tier schools perform better.

    I received an excellent education from Cooley, especially when it came to actual practice and knowledge of the law, where after the first year did not feel like all they wanted me to know were the rules of Common Law. I studied and worked hard while at Cooley, and not surprising (to those that knew me), I did graduate much closer to the top of the class than the bottom. Yes, I worked while at Cooley (whatever the maximum # of hours they allowed), and then worked full time while studying for the Bar Exams (I took, and passed a few). Although, I will note, as an alumni of the school, the low passage rates of the Bar exam are concerning. As mentioned, back when I attended, the focus of my education seemed to be practicing and not being taught for the Bar Exam – I learned how to take and pass the exam through study courses after graduating.

    You may not have intended the article to be insulting to Cooley students and graduates, the inference that we take is that you are calling us, as an above poster stated, “losers,” I, like many Cooley graduates did not have the opportunities to go through college and enjoy the college experience with a few hours of work a week and be able to concentrate on studies. If it was not for their low admission criteria, people like me would not have been able to pursue a career in law or related areas and have some affect on the world around us.

    Words are powerful, and an article like this does not provide a full context of what Cooley has to offer, or what the mission of the school is — not only to teach students to become lawyers, but to allow everyone, not only the elite, to get a legal education.

    Allowing a student with lower credentials into a school does not make it a bad school. It makes it a school that is willing to take a chance on an individual that due to life’s circumstances were not as lucky as others.

  14. From the Father of a Cooley (WMU) grad.

    I must say how much I appreciate the viewpoints (and statistics) mentioned above. Thank you.

    A different slant from a single dad (who lives up the street from U of Mich) whose son went to Cooley. Please accept that these are based upon my experiences.

    Side note. I am an engineer, so have a habit of writing itemized lists (my son and I laugh about this – lawyers like paragraphs). Some things below contain “fatherly advice”. I don’t want to offend anyone.
    A. My son passed the Illinois bar. First try.

    B. If you go to Cooley you have to go above and beyond what students from higher ranked ls’ will. My son volunteered for the PD office through undergrad and law school. This helped him enormously when it came to landing his first job.

    C. The one thing about Cooley. They have some of the best professors out there (sons opinion). They will push you. You have to want to be pushed.

    D. After graduating you must be willing to move. I think this may be where future grads lose out. Especially in MI…where you are competing against grads from Michigan and Michigan State. For a very limited number of jobs.

    E. I helped him a lot financially. And he is still in huge debt.

    F. Be the best! This is about getting experience. Experience (successful) trumps “where you went to school” as time moves on. I did not graduate from the best engineering school, today I have people from Purdue, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, etc working for me. There are a lot of “book smart” people in this world. The best end up being people you’d never expect (Tom Brady’s story is a great example…I know this isn’t an educational example).

    G. Be aggressive for that first job. Don’t take no for an answer. Call. Drive to the firm. Ask politely to speak to someone…make them say no to your face.

    H. Be ready for debt. If you truly love the law, then be a lawyer. The worst thing you can do is spend your life doing something you hate.

    I. Even people from top schools struggle. Not every one passes the bar on the first try, either.

    J. Most importantly. Whether you went to Harvard or Timbuktu College of Law, work for a big firm or small, you won’t make a lot to start. These firms are about making money for the partners – not you! Of course there is always the outlyer who makes the big bucks. But nowadays our young generation is just up against it.

    Be the best. Have the leverage. Be ready to move. I am in my 50’s. And I can tell you this, be loyal to no one but yourself/family. You will have to suck it up at that first job; but once you get experience and proven success, go where the money is.

  15. Bored Reader on

    Wel Evan, you really said nothing new that hasn’t already been said about Cooley. Your article seems to be a regurgitation or compiled information. Furthermore, you assume that everyone is a “worker bee” looking for a legal job. There are so many things one can do with a J.D. besides being a traditional, courtroom lawyer. I think it’s sad if someone goes to any law school, even Harvard, and thinks they are going to come out with an amazing job in this economy. No, no, you will come out working long hours and have no work/life balance. Cooley students who can’t get a traditional lawyer job should probably thank Cooley. At least they will have a life or spread their entrepreneurial wings. God forbid they aspire to do more than make the rich richer.

  16. David Levine on

    “If a student who did not do well on the LSAT really wants to be a lawyer, who are we to say they should not have the opportunity”
    The answer is the same people who say if you did not do well on the MCAT you should not have an opportunity to be a doctor.

  17. Renee,

    It is a logical fallacy to suggest that because a school has low pass rates and has a low average LSAT average that any particular attorney graduating from the school is some how inferior. As noted in some of the comments, some students have attended Cooley with reasonable LSAT scores and have chosen the school for a variety of reasons. Also, it is a fallacy to assume that someone is a great attorney just because the went to a T6 law firm or worked in BIGLAW. I have seen plenty of BIGLAW burnouts and T6 graduates that were not very good lawyers.

    Students should be provided with information about entrance qualifications, graduation rates, bar pass rates and employment rates and then should be allowed to decide for themselves. If a student who did not do well on the LSAT really wants to be a lawyer, who are we to say they should not have the opportunity. I have a friend who went to a law school ranked well below those in our area. He has a $3M book and is one of the leading shareholders in a one of the largest 10 firms in our market. Another friend went to a low ranked law school but had family connections to help land his first job. He is now doing well at a local midsized law firm. Yes, he paid a lot more for his degree than our state school would have cost, but he got his foot in the door and is making a name for himself as a lawyer.

  18. Update: Cooley filed a lawsuit against the ABA for publicizing its letter that Cooley was not in compliance with ABA accreditation standards (basically that it’s enrolling people who will never pass the bar and/or get a job as a lawyer). The ABA countered in a pending motion for summary judgment:

    –Cooley’s first-time bar pass rate dropped from 76 percent to 48 percent over a seven-year period and hovered between 15 and 22 percent below the state average from 2012 to 2015.
    — Many of the school’s students with low LSAT scores and grade-point averages were not even sitting for the bar.
    — The percentage of students coming to Cooley with LSAT scores of 143 or lower more than doubled over six years, accounting for more than half of the class.

    And Michael Cohen graduated from the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law. Mater semper certa est.

  19. The key is that you need to look at your particular circumstances to determine whether Cooley or other law schools work. I work in a big firm that has IVY league attorneys and attorneys who attended schools with much lower reputations. The key, they are all good lawyers. Going to a low ranked law school does not prevent you from having a successful career. It just makes it harder. If you just have to get a degree (i.e. Mom or Dad has their own firm) then the least expensive school you can get into may be the one to take. (Cooley is not that cheap however). Of course, this will make it harder to get a job your first 5 years. After that, most firms (other than the high end ones) do not really care where you went – they care how good you are.

    If you are planning on going on your own directly from law school, I would try and get a job doing anything in a law firm so you can see how things are done. While law school teaches you to think like a lawyer, very few actually prepare you to practice law. While you may be able to bumble along for a few years when you get out, you are doing your clients a disservice. Having started two law firms, I think everyone should work at a firm for 3-5 years before hanging their own shingle.

  20. If you are like myself and want to practice law for your own firm, who cares about the over-saturated economy for lawyers. Go to a school that you can afford, apply yourself, come out ready to compete, treat your clients right, and make a lot of money. Let’s not over think things. Yes, law school is a risk, but so is life. #DreamOnDreamer

  21. Go to the best Law School you can, unless you already have connections for a great position upon graduation. If you got into a top 25 law school, the job opportunities and summer opportunities will be totally different from going to Cooley. Top flight law firms are not recruiting at Cooley. Unless your rich Uncle is going to give you a job in his law firm, pass on Cooley. Free now will cost you big time later on.

  22. I think a lot of the Cooley success stories miss the point. The point is that “statistically”, attending Cooley is not a good idea due to the over saturation of lawyers vs. available law jobs. And since there few jobs for many graduates, Cooley graduates will have a much lower chance of securing employment. Ignoring the statistics, and using your “personal experience” is not a good counter-argument to the facts.

    Of course, there will be people who excel no matter where they go to law school. But tell that to the hundreds who are unemployed from lower ranked law schools doing document review all over the country and attempting to pay $200k in student loans. It is reckless to ignore these facts and fail to tell prospective students of the potential pitfalls. Your “personal” experience is your own, and do not reflect the statistical norm. I think that is where comments go astray.

    The author is 100% correct with his analysis. There is no debate about statistics. If you are considering a low tiered law school, you need to look at the facts and analyze the economic feasibility of the decision. As it stands, owing 200k in debt with low job prospects is a quick way to ruin the start of your career.

    • So after reading this I’m curious. I’m an oddball and don’t specifically want to work for a law firm and instead want to work for a Government Agency using my J.D. for a stepping stone in order to get promotions and potential work as a contractor in a Criminal Justice field. Do you think it would be worth my while getting a J.D. from Cooley considering they have offered me full ride and book money. I didn’t score super high(156) with a 3.9 GPA and a great Resume but have had several top 25 schools offer as well but nothing near full tuition. Do you think its worth paying loans off and attending a top 25 school or go the opposite direction and go to one of the lowest ranked schools for essentially free.

    • David Feldman on

      I made a very big mistake by attending Cooley way back in 1980.I didn’t even last a year.I studied at least 4 hours per day and couldn’t get more than a 1.0 average and I was withdrawn from the school .I went to every class and briefed every case and joined a study group but got hung up on the exams..Igraduated from college with a 3.5 GPA magna c** loud but I didn’t take an LSAT course.I used a review book instead and back in those days the lowest score was 300 and the highest was 800.I only got about a 325. I was never very good standardized test taker I didn’t even break 1000 on my SATS but I graduated from high school with an 87 average. Anyway when I first apply to Cooley I was actually rejected then my mom just happened to have an aunt out in Detroit who knew an attorney that had some connection to Cooley and they mentioned my name and I was accepted for the January 1980 class .looking back on those days I realized that that was a very big mistake .after flunking out of Cooley I wanted to try law school again. I wanted to take the LSAT again this time with a course but my father talked me out of it.he was a lawyer and he told me that based on my low LSat score and performance at Cooley that I don’t have the aptitude for law school and I don’t belong there and he kept on discouraging me so to this day I don’t know if my dad was right and I really don’t have the aptitude or was it just poor preparation
      I don’t know. I eventually found my way into the teaching field but unfortunately i didn’t do too well with that either. I always wanted that law degree but was never able to get it. But my experience at cooley taught me one thing :it’s better not to go to law school at all then to go to Cooley.

  23. When Cynthia went to Cooley in 1992, that was almost 30 years ago. There are ABA disclosures showing their own appalling employment rates. Things have simply changed in the legal profession, especially since the last recession. Going to a school like Cooley and succeeding makes you an exception to the rule; not the rule. You hear about all the self-selected people who tell you how they went there 20 years ago and did great, but there are hundreds of students every year who graduate and end up in a ton of debt jobless.

  24. Carl Watkins on

    Cynthia, great job! It’s amazing that Josh has not replied to your post, yet. I would presuppose that there is truth in your statement that they are trying to sell LSAT study prep, which I think is fine, but don’t bash a business in doing so; It’s not good business and creates a credibility issue. If a business wants to sell it’s products exponentially, they would do better focusing on their feature and benefits, what strengthens them, and not what flaws another has.

    • Carl, Cynthia is right. She did not bash businesses for attempting to sell LSAT products. Cynthia simply stated that her issue is with people, who try to rank them. Hi Cynthia, I am considering Cooley. God bless you all.

  25. Cynthia Brennan on

    Graduated from Cooley in 1992, Bird class. Finished early with honors. Law Review.

    I passed two bars on the first try. I got a job working in the private sector and have been doing litigation since then. I have done VERY well and earn far more than those of my same experience who graduate from schools like Temple, Villanova, Dickenson, Pitt, Georgetown, Columbia etc.

    Your dish on Cooley seems to be for purposes of selling your LSAT prep so that people like me don’t end up going to a school like Cooley. I did not take a prep course, still did well and am doing awesome.

    I believe in Thomas Brennan’s vision that anyone should be able to attend law school and become a lawyer. The best law school is one that offers students opportunities–a place to learn, books to read, and some structure in which to do it. Cooley had that in spades. The rest is up to the student.

    I believe that the problem is not with the school but with the people who attempt to rank them, then attempt to scare potential students in to thinking that if they don’t take an LSAT prep course they will end up going to a place like Cooley. I didn’t even know what LSAT stood for before I went to law school and it took me 6 months to find out the right way to say Prothonotary.

    Tomorrow I am giving a talk to 5th and 6th graders on what it is like to be a lawyer and will tell them that ANYONE can be a lawyer. And, if they happen to go to COOLEY, they can be as successful as me.

    • Interesting – I am a 1992 Thomas M. Cooley graduate – Passed the NY Bar the first time and found that when I was taking a NY bar review course – graduates from, what I believe the original author is advocating, “More Worthy Schools” were having a hard time with subjects that were required at Cooley. Not taking anything away from those graduate’s school, but at that time we had about 78 out of 90 credits as requirements – I did not necessary want to take them all, but that was the program. During my tenure at Cooley it had a reputation and was a tough law school – just because you got in did not mean you were going to graduate – I do not necessary agree the reason was based on economic decisions made by the school’s administration – I remember the Professors wanting student to know what they were doing once they were out in practice. No matter which law school you choose it’s truly up to the individual – you can only rely on the reputation of a school for so long – eventually your going to have to perform or the legal market is going to self correct and weed out those who do not. Consider, not everyone who graduates from law school wants to work at a large law firm – that’s not always the standard of success. There are those who choose and want to work in small or solo practice, become business entrepreneurs, military lawyers, go into politics, ect. A law degree from Cooley has a lot of value to those who know to use it. Do not let others put you in a box and define your success based on your decision to further your education.

  26. I attended Cooley in 1991 after starting a company while I was an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut (class of 1990). I worked for myself for a year and a half then got into Cooley, after finding it incredibly hard to get into local Law Schools. When I was applying, the economy was in the dumps, everybody was trying to get a advanced degree, and reverse discrimination was rampant. I actually thought about checking the box that I was a minority.

    I had decent grades and LSAT scores, but was also very involved with starting and growing a business while in college, so my time was limited to devote to grades and LAST studying. Cooley seemed to be a decent option, as I thought with my business background, and strong work ethic, I would be able to make something great out of the degree.

    The School was fine, the teachers were engaging and I really enjoyed the reading and learning the law, but I was not your average Cooley student. I was a business person who had won a prestigious Coop position with Procter & Gamble and an SBA award from UConn in small business consulting.

    I did not have my head in the clouds, I was a realist and quickly learned that Cooley grads were taught MI laws, had a had time getting jobs back on the East Coast and the starting pay was pathetic. I actually interviewed a couple of graduates who had made law review and in the 1990s were making in the low $20,000 range. I had started a company that was already making me about $40,000 and left to attend law school.

    Luckily for me, I was quick to realize the errors of my ways and after 2 months was able to “take a leave” from Cooley, as an opportunity to expand my business was presented to me.

    Flash forward 26 years, I am a multi millionaire and thankfully made the correct choice for myself. Does this mean that Cooley is a bad school, maybe, does is mean that I would not be successful with a degree from there, probably not. I was always an aggressive hard working person, so even with a degree from a marginal law school, I probably would have found a niche and become very successful.

    I have a friend who also went to Uconn and attended Cooley, and he has become very successful and I have other friends who have attended better schools who make crappy livings and are not happy with the state of the law. Going to law school does not mean being successful.

    In summary, some regrets about not finishing law school, I think I would have been a very good lawyer. The regret I have is quickly forgotten, now that I have financial freedom and probably make more than if I had become a successful attorney.

    In the uncertain times were are now in, I highly suggest that anyone thinking of any college or graduate program look at the ROI (return on investment). Cooley was cheap back when I attended, and the $2000 I lost in attending was the best $2000 lesson I ever had.

  27. Let me begin by saying I’m one of those “losers” who attended Thomas M Cooley Law School. I entered the school as part of the John Jay class set to graduate in 2000, but did a 2 year program and graduated with the Flannigan class in January 1999. I passed the California bar in 2000 and have practiced law on California since. I worked in a small firm for 5 years then opened my office in San Francisco in 2005.

    I have hired two Cooley grads, one of whom is now a public defender in Fresno County, the other in a solo practice in Oakland. I have personally litigated three precedential decisions on Federal court and by all metrics consider myself a successful lawyer in the most competitive market in the United States.

    What am saying? I am saying that it is easy to sit back and throw stones because you don’t see where they land. Articles like this go a long way toward making it impossible for a Cooley grad to get a job because you portray the legal education at Cooley as frivolous and worthy of disdain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Collwy law schoes DOES have a liberal admissions policy, but not everyone who goes to Cooley has a poor Academic pedigree I was a 3 point student at Portland State before I applied to Cooley. My 151 score in the LSAT was not earth shattering, but that would have gotten me into a lot of law schools had I bothered.

    But, my first semester at Cooley, I was so impressed by the school , I could never leave it. Cooley has some of the greatest professors in the United States. My torts professor Gerald Boston graduated from Harvard and published two treatises on torts. Professor Rooney graduated 2nd in his class from Princeton. The #1 graduate from his class was one William Rehnquist. #3 was some guy named Ralph Nader. He actually come into class and teaches Property law. Professor James Peden practiced criminal law for 20 years. Professor Dorean Koenig has published several books and treatise in human rights law. Professor Trotsky was a famous Wall Street lawyer who decided to teach. What was great about all these professors was that they actually did their own teaching.

    Again, I am Cot here to say everything about Cooley is great That would be burying my head in the sand. It IS expensive. They DO admit students a lot of law schools would not, but I don’t see why a prospective law student would want LESS opportunities. It is up to the student himself to be honest with himself whether law school is for him I interviewed the school’s founder, Retired Judge Thomas Brennan in 1998 for a series I did in Law and Society and I asked him if he was concerned that there were too many lawyers. He said this to me, and I always remembered that: “Every society is better if more of its citizens know the law”. That is Cooley’s mission, which I rather think is noble.

    • 1) We never called Cooley Law School graduates losers, as you are quick to imply. On the contrary, we’re very sympathetic to students. We’re actually on the side of the students and graduates… far too many of whom have been poorly served by Cooley.

      2) I’m glad your personal experience was different, but the legal market in 2017 is VERY different from the legal market in 1999. Many investments that were considered valuable in 1999 are no longer valuable… just like beanie babies & stock, a degree from Cooley Law School simply isn’t worth as much in 2017.

      3) In 1999, tuition at Cooley was around $7,000 a year. Today, that tuition has skyrocketed to nearly $50,000 a year. So while you only had to worry about paying off ~$20,000 in debt, today’s graduates are now saddled with as much as $200,000+ in student loans.

      While I do appreciate your feedback, I hope that you (and others who read your comment) realize that your anecdotal account simply isn’t representative of what today’s students can expect from a Cooley education.

      • I am a graduate of Cooley. I know most students do not pass the bar or find employment but a lot do. I landed a job and made partner at a medium size firm in 3 years. Found employment right away.

        Moral of the story: even if 20% just graduate or pass the bar. It does not hinder the legal proffesion. It was the students choice to waste their money. But for the 20% it gave them a chance to enter the profession and excell.

      • Josh, you overlooked a few things this amazing litigator, in the most competitive market in the U.S., mentioned. Lets see: One of his hires is now a Public Defender – that is an amazing job for a Cooley grad as most could only dream of a public service job that pays $46k (while owing $250k). His AMAZING professors??? I went down the list of Colley professors (on their website) and stopped in the “L’s”. What I found was “amazing” but I don’t think in the same way this guy meant…..90% were COOLEY GRADS! The “BEST” school I could find a professor graduating from was Syracuse. The next were 2 or 3 from Michigan State….you know, the school that got a law school about…..6 years ago. One of his professors went to….PRINCETON! Unfortunately, Princeton does NOT have a law school!! Rehnquist went on to STANFORD LAW and Ralph Nader went on to HARVARD LAW. My favorite line sums up this guy, in his own words: MY 151 WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ME INTO A LOT OF SCHOOLS HAD I BOTHERED. That’s why you went to Cooley….you didn’t BOTHER to do the least bit of work and you reap what you sow, in your solo practitioner firm, in the most competitive legal market in the U.S. Just like the school….a JOKE!

        • Who pissed in that boys corn flakes..I am a self employed 58 year old and Cooleys part time schedule is perfect for me .You see Jr, I have a job the day I graduate, even before I pass the bar, as I’m a realtor and self employed and will coninue as a realestate attorney with opportunities with many realestate offices as counsel. That’s just one area and there are many many more opportunities you have no idea . Cooley will meet my needs perfectly , so maybe seek a safe space in additon seek counseling and put a romper on Jr…

      • Michelle Sabatini on

        MR. Evans,
        Why are you so upset? Didn’t you get in? Don’t worry, there are plenty of careers that would be suitable for someone with your skill set and anger management issues. Perhaps the DMV or Comcast customer service.

      • Charlie Harper on

        From consumers stand point I have hired and before adjuncts that are worst of the worst in Lansing mi Detroit law not much better bad news won’t hire any. One from either sitting judges change of venue is in
        Order paper mill from my checking adjuncts do the class room they were horrible in bench
        How evere if you are persient overcomes a lot of hurdles there is room at the top the world is full of educated fools regards

        • This is the worst response to ANYTHING I have ever read. Do you know how to form a complete sentence? Do you know how to read? Are a life-long sufferer of Downs-Syndrome? Jesus, that was the poorest attempt at trying to relay an intelligent thought. You must have stroked out during your response, there, Sparky! 🙂
          Remember, punctuation is the key to communication

    • Wil Antonides on

      I am a current student at Cooley (Grand Rapids campus). I was a paralegal/legal assistant for 10-years prior to enrolling last fall.

      What a lot of people forget is that Cooley has a mission not only to provide solid legal education, but to open opportunities for students of the law who have a real passion for it but maybe not the best GPA and/or LSAT score. Contrary to the articles and image the LSAC present, LSATs are not a solid predictor of success (hence the increasing use of the GRE). And, as is true in my case, an undergraduate degree GPA does not reflect current academic prowess (my undergraduate GPA is 26 years old; my paralegal diploma GPA (10 years old) was significantly higher).

      We all knew of Cooley’s reputation when we enrolled (from the likes of this article to accusations by the ABA (who has never liked the idea of Cooley’s mission) which the school does not hide from us. These doom-sayers serve as an impetus to us to prove attitudes like this wrong. We work very hard — harder probably than the “average” law student (the old, “work twice as hard to get half as far” idea). Sure, some drop out, can’t hack it, even bomb the bar exam. But the same could be said of students at T1 schools.

      All this is to say that students at Cooley are not blind sheep — we know what we got ourselves into — both in terms of the odds and in terms of debt. But we also know that the limits are only as far as what we set for ourselves. There are judges, legislators, and many notable others who are Cooley grads. Being a graduate of Cooley does not mean to having to settle for scraps.

    • William Rehnquist did not graduate from Princeton. He graduated from Stanford. Professor Rooney graduated from the University of Illinois.

    • In support of Cooley you offer up as evidence that Professor Rooney graduated second in his class at Princeton behind the number one student William Rehnquist and ahead of Ralph Nader.. If you are using the late Supreme Court justice’s time at Princeton as an exemplar of how we should view Professor Rooney and Cooley then I find this troubling. First, Rehnquist never attended Princeton he is a Stanford graduate 1948..Second, your Professor Rooney did not attend Princeton he is a University of Illinois Graduate 1953. Third, while Nader did graduate from Princeton it was in 1955. So your proof of quality is the fictional ordinal ranking of your professor between two men at a college that he did not attend. Moreover had he attended Princeton he would have been in different class years than the other two men: 48, 53 and 55.

      Easily disproved assertions offered in evidence to support your school really doesn’t help your case.


    Great article. As a practicing lawyer for over twenty years, I’ve watched how opportunities in the profession have evaporated while law schools continue to churn out new law graduates. While the top graduates of top schools will still get paid top dollar in ‘Big Law’, the practical effect of the flood of new law grads is to drive salaries down for everyone else.

    When I went to law school at a regional school that is now a T2 the data regarding job prospects existed but nowhere near to the degree that it exists now. Looking back, I wish I would have known then what I know now. It astounds me that anyone would take a dive into the shark-filled waters of the legal profession without doing the basic research that this article advocates.

    At the end of the journey, the goal is to get a job in the legal profession. Why anyone would sacrifice three-plus years of their life and the very real potential for nondischargeable debt in excess of $200,000.00 with minimal job prospects is simply mind-boggling.

    That said, places like Cooley are just a symptom of a larger problem with the profession. At some point the ABA needs to step in to protect potential victims, established practitioners, as well as to preserve what is left of the legal profession’s integrity.

  29. Edward Saint-Ivan on

    If there is any chance you could help me I can e/mail you my story. Please understand that its really, really, hard to get a film made. As a law school drop out from Birmingham School of Law, I need all the help I can get.

  30. Edward Saint-Ivan on

    My short story “The Black Knight’s God” which appears in my published anthology “The Black Knights God: Horror Anthology” has a nexus to becoming a lawyer without law school. My character reads for the bar.
    I am BEGGING you to help get my story made into a short film.

  31. Questions
    Opinion on St.Thomas University in Miami. Also any value of their JSD in intercultural human rights?

    Any opinion on Emory, University of Arizona, ASU JD, Stetson Law, Florida Coastal?

    Is a SJD useful? Or do I have to go Harvard or Columbia?

  32. I wish I had this information before I attended Cooley. I started in 2007, and at the time there was very little on the internet detailing how bad Cooley was. I didn’t do well on my LSAT, but I wanted to go to law school. Cooley was the only option, so I went with high ambitions and great expectations. I graduated on time, passed the bar exam on my first try, but could not get a job because I went to Cooley. I couldn’t even get an interview. I ended up starting my own law office, but closed that down after a year because I didn’t make enough to pay off my ungodly high student loans. The only benefit of graduating from Cooley is that I got a J.D., which allowed me to get a good job outside of practicing law. I now have a great job, but I’m not doing what I love to do by practicing law. Take my advice and go to a law school that will actually benefit you. If you cannot get into a good law school, don’t waste your money because you won’t get a good job after you graduate.

  33. As a Pharmacist who has and still is, contemplating Law School… Here is what I think.. ALL law schools need to lower their standards of getting a bit lower because there are good strong students that wish to pursue a degree in law but just do not do well on LSAT type tests. Me for example, the PCAT I did horrible, but someone took A chance on me and I ended up in the Deans list EVERY year and the PRESIDENTS list my final semester and graduated Magna Cum Laude, almost Suma. My point is… why bash another school because they are trying to give some students a chance? Maybe just maybe the faculty should be changed up a bit.

    It sounds as if you are just slightly snobby. Just sayin

    • V10Associate2011 on

      These are not analogous. Law school is based on a curve, whereas Pharm school is straight A-F in most cases. Everyone can get an F if they study hard and do well on the test. A tight curve on a law school exam can mean very little different between an A and a C.

      I’m glad you did well, but the LSAT is used as the best determining factor of how students will do at their respective law schools. So, is there a chance that you could score low on the LSAT and then go on to do well at a top school? Yes. But the data as of now show that it is very atypical. As I’ve stated before, law school is graded on a curve and the LSAT serves to make sure students with similar capabilities are competing. Schools don’t want students failing out or not being able to pass the bar. Or perhaps, more importantly, not be able to gain JD retired employment after law school.

      This site, and myself, are not trying to “bash” schools. You don’t seem to get the point that these schools do not provide you with any reasonable chance of getting a job. These are statistics! Schools in the lower-tiers give you less than a coin flips chance at a job as a lawyer.

      I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think you are understanding the greater point here.

      Law schools are not like other graduates schools! It matters where you go. A lot. Take this from someone who graduated from a great school and still know people who didn’t get jobs. Take it from someone who knows of HUNDREDS of stories (verified by friends, family, associates, etc) of people who went to lower ranked schools, did great, and cannot find employment.

      There are too many lawyers for the jobs available. Why would any firm who has the choice not hire from a Top school? There could be 100 reasons…But, at the end of the day, clients that hire the firms care where the people they are going to be paying went to school. Students at better schools have the best professors, the smartest students to complete against, and access to more opportunities…

      Is some of this fair? No. However, I assure you all that’s how it is; like it or not.

      Going to a school outside the top14 (with the exception of a T1 regional school with full-tuition) is a bad idea. Often 0Ls will dig up anecdotes of people who went to a lower-ranked school and ended up doing great. The problem is the vast majority do not.

      • V10Associate2011 on

        Edit: I meant that everyone can get an “A” in my paragraph. Not F.

        I would just like to add: The fact that those who are interested in becoming lawyers are refusing to research, find evidence, and inform themselves of this is concerning. This will be a lot of what your job entails; research.

        Also, to stick your head in the sand when Josh, who graduated from a top school, and everyone else who has actually gone is telling you not to go to a lower-ranked school is baffling.

        The cognitive-dissonance is painful to watch.

        If I am being harsh and you don’t like the truth, then law is simply not for you no matter where you go to school.

        Good luck.

    • Medical school harder to get in this Law school. Also Medical school acceptance is just like Law school. They want the brightest student. Obviously you have no clue what you are even arguing about. Cause a simple Google will tell you acceptance rates and requirement for medical school of top 10 school. I rather a smart Pharmicst helping me then you since you arnt smart. 😉

    • I agree. While I think the school needs improving, I agree that some students deserve a second chance and can be the odds.

  34. What makes your opinion worth anything more than anyone else’s? You don’t know all the answers. It don’t matter where you go to school. Your reputation of working hard and getting the job done is what counts. You need to take your negative opinions to your grandmother. Maybe she will listen to your bullshit.

    • V10Associate2011 on

      That is factually incorrect Mr. Banks. I am a practice attorney who graduated from a T6 school and have many friends who graduated from the T14 and from every range of schools below. Saying it doesn’t matter where you go to law school is perhaps the most telling statement of how little you know about this subject. Where you go to law school is the most important factor of job prospects. BY FAR! Top Vault firms won’t even hire outside of the top schools typically. A firm that takes 100+ new associates a year may give offers to 1-2 students out side of the top 25 or so schools. Worth ethic will be important, but the problem with legal hiring is that your resume gets your foot in the door. Working hard and getting the job done will only come if you can find a job…

      There is a dearth of knowledge out there about the perils of going to lower ranked schools. LST posts job prospects, and they are nothing short of terrifying. Paying $200,000 + interest/opportunity cost for a 25% chance at a job is bad. Especially when those jobs are for low pay which make paying off your loans and establishing your life and family next to impossible.

      Beware, these are not opinions but facts.

      • I agree that the top 25 or so law schools are in the mix. It Good job prospects extend beyond the top 14. If you graduate from a school such as Boston University, Fordham, Boston College, George Washington, you have a respected law degree and reasonably good prospects. But, on the other hand, if your degree is from Cooley or from any one of about 50 or so schools that probably should not be accredited, your prospects are bleak.

    • “What makes your opinion worth anything more than anyone else’s?”

      A J.D. from the University of Chicago & 5 years of experience analyzing law school admissions trends.

      “You don’t know all the answers.”


      “It don’t matter where you go to school.”

      Tell that to the 74% of Cooley Law grads who can’t find a job.

      “Your reputation of working hard and getting the job done is what counts.”

      Necessary, but not sufficient.
      Getting the job done is impossible when no one will hire you.

    • It does matter where you go to law school, but it might not be the most highly ranked school. If you want to work in Portland, the University of Oregon is probably a better better than a highly ranked east coast firm. While Harvard, Yale, Columbia and a few others will open doors, once you get out of the top ten the benefit drops off quickly.

      Also, do you really want to work in BIGLAW? There are many attorneys who are very happy in their jobs at mid-sized firms who believe in having a life.

      The best research? Figure out the type of firm you want to work in and then research their attorneys. Where are they hiring their associates from. In some smaller markets a degree from the state’s law schol may get you more job offers than a Harvard JD.

      Now for tier 4 schools – those are for people who are related to someone who will give them a job as long as they have a JD.

      • When insulting someone – make sure you correct your spelling. Better yet there is no need to insult anyone. Some people find success through a T6 law school, but there are multiple roads to success. Some of the worst law students are making far more doing PI cases than the Summa Cum Laudes they went to school with. Putting information out for people to make an informed decision is one thing. Putting down people for where they chose to attend school is another.

  35. I got a 144 on lsat…graduated cum lauded in two years…passed the bar first time…passed Nevada bar first time…and hit the ground running at my first job…Cooley was the only school that would take me because I am horrible at standardized tests…but I excelled…

    • Bushra Shams on

      If you don’t mind me asking you, where are you working right now as a lawyer? Do you enjoy your job? Have you paid off your loans? Are you happy with your income now?

      As a rising senior in University considering law school, also very bad with standardized exams, I needed to know your opinion on all of this. It would be very beneficial as I get ready to sit for the September lsat exam and continue to weigh it as a possible career path.

      • Michelle Sabatini Fornaro on

        Just for clarification, the GRE, LSAT and other standardized tests measure different things. Tests like the GRE and LSAT do require you to have some knowledge about a variety of subjects, they aren’t knowledge based tests. These types of exams measure analytical thinking. There is no content to study, you can only study the test methodology. They really just test your puzzle solving ability. The Bar and other licensing exams are content driven exams and while they do require analytical skill, you can study for them. So the answer is that it is very possible to do poorly on one and well on another because they measure different attributes in different ways.

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