Higher Education and Law

College and law school expand affiliation

January 22, 2016
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Don LeDuc, left, and John Dunn
Don LeDuc, left, president and dean of WMU Cooley Law School, and John Dunn, president of WMU, sign agreements. Courtesy WMU

Officials from a college and an independent law school have signed a series of agreements that build on their affiliation to continue the expansion of legal education in the region.

The three agreements signed earlier this week by John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, and Don LeDuc, president and dean of WMU Cooley Law School, covered topics such as use of facilities, parking, courses and programming.

“This is a great affiliation with a very fine law school,” Dunn said. “It is also, for the people of Michigan and locations well beyond, a great example of how to work our way through challenging times and expand opportunity for our students in a powerful way without relying on state resources.”

While the terms of the agreements have already allowed new classes to be offered at the WMU campus in Kalamazoo, additional agreements are being developed, as well as a series of new initiatives as a result of the schools’ affiliation in 2014.

New educational opportunities

Both LeDuc and Dunn indicated the agreements signal enhanced opportunities for students and new opportunities for faculty and staff: providing upper-level law classes in employment and environmental law on the WMU campus in Kalamazoo for the first time, as of Jan. 11; allowing a group of first-year law students to start their legal education on the WMU campus next fall; offering accelerated programs for students to complete both an undergraduate and law degree in less than seven years; dual courses team taught by faculty at both schools; and cross-listing courses to allow WMU graduate students to take credit-earning law classes and law students to take credit-bearing graduate courses.

Existing affiliation

WMU and Thomas M. Cooley Law School officially partnered in 2014 under an affiliation linking the private law school and the public university.

The affiliation allows both academic institutions to maintain their fiduciary independence and governance.

Cooley’s LeDuc indicated the affiliation also supports an American Bar Association directive encouraging private law schools to expand their ties to universities.

“It is different for us to be part of a university structure, and we’re appreciative of the complexity of a big, powerful and wonderful institution like WMU,” LeDuc said. “The relationship has already allowed us to enhance research and grant opportunities and for instance, secure support for the WMU Cooley Innocence Project, which works to exonerate people unjustly convicted of a crime.”

Cooley Law

WMU Cooley Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association and offers juris doctor and master of law degree programs for students.

It has campuses in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Auburn Hills and Tampa Bay, Florida. 

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