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A classroom in Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Lansing, Michigan campus.

ABA Gives Cooley Law Another Chance

The ABA has given Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law an extension to meet the required 75% bar passage rate.

Cooley Law School has struggled in recent years to meet the ABA’s required pass rate. In 2020, the law school had a bar passage rate of 66.01%. In 2021, that number dropped to 62.31%. This year, the law school fell even lower, with a 59.51% ultimate bar passage rate, the ABA Journal reports.


The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar requires all law schools to have pass rates of at least 75% under Standard 316.

Cooley Law, which for years has failed to meet that standard, has been given an extension under various conditions, which include working with faculty to improve teaching and learning, reviewing the effects of more rigorous grading policies, and making a “significant financial investment” in a “reliable plan” to ensure that the law school has resources to operate in compliance with the standards. The law school also will be required to adhere to a revised admissions policy that enables entering classes to have stronger success predictors for graduating and passing a bar exam.


Cooley Law officials say that the school’s declining bar passage rate is attributed to old admissions standards that Cooley Law used prior to Standard 316 being revised. James McGrath, the dean of Cooley Law, has stated that plans are already in place to meet the ABA’s conditions.

“I said at our last meeting with the ABA, I predict the two-year bar pass rate would go down before it goes up. We had a really big class in 2018 that was admitted under the prior credentials. I’m looking for a huge jump in bar pass rates this year,” McGrath, who joined Cooley Law in 2019, tells the ABA Journal.

Sources: ABA Journal, American Bar Association

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