Monthly Archives: January 2013

Now’s a Great Time to Enter Law School

Cooley’s President and Dean, Don LeDuc, is publishing commentaries on the Law School, legal education, and related topics.  In this commentary, President LeDuc shows that now is a great time to enter law school.

If you have dreamed of going to law school, now is the time to act.  Your odds of admission have never been better, whether you aspire to get into an elite school, into the school of your choice, or just hope to get into a law school.

About 74% of 2013 law school applicants will enroll in law school, based on current 2013 application numbers and the law school admissions practices of the past two years.  In 2003, about 49% of law school applicants enrolled in law school, and that rate has been climbing steadily each year since 2004 to a high of 65% in 2012.  This enrollment trend is likely to continue in light of declining applications.  Over the past couple of years, most schools were making hard decisions between cutting entering class size and reducing minimum admissions standards.  Those who have reduced class size will find it more difficult to continue to do so in 2013.  Based on past performance, the schools are unlikely to reduce entering class size in proportion to their decline in applications.

So, the odds now strongly favor admission and ultimate enrollment.  But why go to law school now, given the current labor market?  Three answers.

First, the current labor market is irrelevant.  The employment market today will not be the same in three or four years, the time it takes for most students to get admitted, start classes, graduate, pass the bar, and go to work.  All indications are that the economy will slowly improve over the next few years, leading to more employment in business and government and more jobs for lawyers.  You should make your decision based on what is likely to happen by the time you graduate, not what is happening today.  Beginning with 2014, law school graduation numbers will drop considerably, resulting from the drop in first-year enrollment in 2011.  Competition for jobs among law school graduates will be less.

Second, the popular assessment of the current legal employment market is woefully inaccurate.  Over the past few years, employment of lawyers has been stronger than for nearly all other professions and occupations, and in 2012 was even stronger.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average unemployment of lawyers was 1.4% in 2012, and the number of unemployed lawyers was the lowest since 2007.  While there has been much media and blog stress on unemployment among law school graduates in their first year after law school, employment among those graduates far exceeds unemployment among them.  You should not be swayed by the critics, but make your own evaluation of the actual current situation.

Third, this decision should focus on the long term, not today.  If the first two reasons are not enough, think “reverse” Social Security.  Our nation confronts a retirement boom created by those who constituted the baby boom.  While we worry about how to cover the social security cost of the increasing boomer retirements, we lose track of how many jobs these retirements will create, including the likely surge from those who have delayed retirement during the recession.  And guess what?  Those retirees will include an increasing number of lawyers among them.  You should regard your decision in the context of law as a long-term career.

Want the details?  Read this commentary in full.       

Click here for all of President LeDuc’s commentaries.

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Serving the Homeless in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Brandon, Florida

Christina DanielewiczChristina Danielewicz is a second-term student at Cooley’s Tampa Bay Campus.  She proudly relates a wonderful volunteer experience she and other Cooley colleagues had while serving at the Portamento of Hope Café in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of Cooley students to the Portamento of Hope Café in Brandon, Florida to assist in the reorganization of their soup kitchen, garden, and thrift store.  As a former stay-at-home mom and an official “foodie,” I volunteered to direct my efforts towards the kitchen area. Upon arrival, about ten to fifteen of us were escorted into the kitchen area to assist in cleaning and rearranging the canned items. The task was simple: to sort out expired cans, clean the remaining ones as well as the shelving, and then restock them in alphabetical order according to expiration date. It wasn’t hard work, but very fulfilling in the sense that you are helping so many who rely on the Portamento for sustenance.


A couple of hours into this project, the Director, Lela Lilyquist (left, below), invited me to accompany her to make some runs to gather up food items from local businesses like 7-Eleven and GFS. Surprisingly, these businesses donate food items like sandwiches and salad on a regular basis. Incredibly, last year they collected almost 5,000 pounds of food donations from these donors!  In talking to Lela, I learned that the Portamento serves three meals each day to about 600 homeless people. They are incredibly busy and are very grateful to receive the charitable gifts donated by these establishments. While we were at 7-Eleven and GFS, Lela was kind enough to introduce me to the store managers. We only stayed a few moments, but in that time I spoke with them briefly and was able to familiarize them with Cooley Law School a little bit. They seemed genuinely impressed by our presence in the community and our charitable spirit. It was refreshing to see the vendors in the community spring into action to respond to the needs of so many who rely on Portamento for their meals. I was astonished to learn that if Portamento wasn’t taking the donations for redistribution, the food items would simply just be thrown away. Imagine that…!  Luckily, the community has Lela and her husband, Floyd, who are insightful enough to envision a much better use for those items.

Christina Danielewicz

I also had the opportunity to visit their Nature’s Health Food store which is conveniently located just a short distance away from the Portamento. There Lela’s husband, Floyd, was very busy organizing and preparing for the day’s patrons. I loved the store! Their shelves are stocked with an array of essential oils, teas, herbs, and spices and many other things associated with good health. While there, I was able to sample some of their homemade cinnamon sugar mullet chips.  They were fantastic!

Group 2

I can’t say enough about Lela’s energy level and the pride that radiates from her. I think it must come from the satisfaction of knowing that she is a crusader in the community fighting against hunger and homelessness in the best way she can. It’s so inspiring to see them succeeding in their efforts to reach out and provide for the homeless people of Hillsborough County. I must say that  they do an incredible job, and it was truly my pleasure to serve the Portamento of Hope Café along side all of my Cooley colleagues. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share this experience in celebration of Dr. King’s memory. I think he would have been very proud of our mission and the manifestation of our good will efforts in recognition of his birthday.


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Greetings From Hamilton, New Zealand

Prof. Otto Stockmeyer

Emeritus Professor Otto Stockmeyer is teaching this term in Cooley’s study aboard program in Hamilton, New Zealand.  He received the Socrates Award from the Hellenic Bar Association for effective use of the Socratic method of teaching and was the first recipient of the Cooley Student Bar Association’s Barristers Award for contributions to student-faculty relations.

 What a pleasure it is to be teaching in Cooley’s study abroad program in New Zealand this term.  Let me take you on a short photographic tour.

First is a photo of my Equity & Remedies students in the classroom we are using at the University of Waikato, where I also enjoy the use of a well-equipped office.


Next is the lovely entrance to the law school building.

Law School Entrance

Students enjoy lunch and the chance to relax on a patch of campus near the law school building.

Lunch on the Lawn

Outside our apartment on Victoria Street in downtown Hamilton, which is party central for the 30,000 college students who attend its three institutions of higher learning.


Our students enjoyed the Cooley-sponsored trip to the black-sand beach at Ragland on the Tasman Sea, which is renown for the finest left-curling surfing waves in the Southern Hemisphere — no, it has nothing to do with how water spins down the drain!


As Professor Terry Cavanaugh constantly warns me, one must always remember to look right, not left, for oncoming traffic before crossing the street.

Look for Cars

It is 80 degrees here today, a splendid early summer day.  All is well.  — Otto


Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, study abroad, The Value of a Legal Education

A Lawyer’s Lesson on Sandy Hook

Nelson P. Miller, Associate Dean for the Grand Rapids Campus and Professor of Law

Nelson P. Miller, Associate Dean for the Grand Rapids Campus and Professor of Law

By Nelson P. Miller

Associate Dean, Grand Rapids Campus

What should a lawyer think about the lesson of the horrific homicides of Sandy Hook? How does the law school’s mission connect, if at all, with the lesson of that nearly unimaginably violent and disturbing event in which 20 young schoolchildren died at the hands of a mad and suicidal gunman?

Reflective individuals and organizations–especially schools–across the country must find a lesson in Sandy Hook.  To ignore an event of its kind is to give up a piece of our humanity.  In ignoring the event, we may also miss an opportunity to serve our clients better or, in the law school’s case, to prepare students better for practice.

A lawyer’s mission includes the client’s prosperity, which includes the client’s protection.  In too many cases, a lawyer’s work involves encountering and overcoming Sandy Hook-like evil.  Lawyers are no strangers to violence.  With hundreds of U.S. children dying from abuse each year, the law school certainly has graduates who prosecute (and other graduates who defend) individuals who are charged with heinous crimes that look far too much like small Sandy Hooks. Lawyers deal daily with protective orders against sexual abuse and torture, civil orders addressing child abuse and neglect, and criminal responsibility and civil liability for murder, wrongful death, and rape.

We should not be blind to what we face.  The law profession helps its members fight and overcome Sandy Hook-like evil, both through prevention and through redress.  The law school prepares its graduates to join in that work.  If we cannot help one another fight the evil that we encounter in practice, and give one another a protective sense of mission in overcoming it, then we will have failed in something essential to our purpose as a profession.  As lawyers, we have peculiar means to perceive and disarm threats, and peculiarly redemptive means to address their awful consequences when we fail to perceive and prevent them.

That may be the lesson of Sandy Hook, a lawyer’s lesson to be sure, that we must act responsibly as vigilant guardians of the young, weak, and powerless.  The lesson of Sandy Hook is a call again to arms borne by the law school’s graduates every day.  Those arms, including justice, civility, care, foresight, prudence, protection, and (above all) law, are not the physical kind the killer used at Sandy Hook.  Yet in these and other violent times, they are arms nonetheless – and powerful ones at that.  I will call them “moral-arms.” May the school’s graduates bear those moral-arms securely, skillfully, and wisely that we not have another Sandy Hook soon.  May the law school prepare its students well to join graduates in that special work.

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Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Faculty Scholarship, The Value of a Legal Education