- What is the affiliation? The affiliation is a formal linkage between Western Michigan University and the private WMU-Cooley Law School. The affiliation between the two entities is focused on providing new professional education opportunities for students while adding value and new research and service initiatives to the programs both institutions offer. With both WMU and the law school retaining separate governance and financial responsibilities, the affiliation is similar to the relationship between WMU and the private WMU Stryker School of Medicine.
The Law School’s campuses in Auburn Hills, Tampa Bay, Lansing, and Grand Rapids
- When does the affiliation start? It already did, some time ago. The University and Law School executed the original affiliation agreement in August 2014 after approval by the Higher Learning Commission and American Bar Association (the accrediting agency for law schools). In the past year and half since, the University and Law School have proposed, and in many instances implemented, about 140 different initiatives involving about 140 faculty, staff, and leaders of both the University and Law School.
WMU-Cooley President Don LeDuc and WMU President John Dunn
- When will the Law School hold courses in Kalamazoo? It already is, having started in January 2016 with elective courses in Employment Law and Environmental Law in the Health & Human Services Building on East Campus. Also, a Constitutional Law Seminar jointly taught by WMU-Cooley Professor Devin Schindler and Western Professor Mark Hurwitz is taking place at the Law School’s Grand Rapids campus. The Law School hopes to hold certain first-term required courses for new law students on WMU’s Kalamazoo campus in Fall 2016.
WMU-Cooley Professor Devin Schindler
- What should we know about the Law School? With nearly 20,000 graduates licensed in every state and many foreign nations, the Law School’s mission—practice access—is similar to the University’s mission. While the Law School has students and graduates of the highest academic and professional achievement, the Law School ensures the success of a diverse student body through a rigorous instructional program providing intensive support, to prepare graduates for service in a global society. In recent years, the Law School has graduated more minority and African-American lawyers than any other U.S. law school. Learn more at wmich.edu/law.
WMU-Cooley Law students
- What are some affiliation highlights? The U.S. Department of Justice awarded WMU a $418,000 grant to expand the Law School’s Innocence Project in which WMU students are currently working with law students. (The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, investigating criminal-conviction files for DNA evidence, has already exonerated and freed three wrongly convicted individuals.) WMU’s Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine has approved a joint medical student/law student course on informed consent and risk communication. Law professors have spoken in WMU courses in Kalamazoo and for WMU’s Center for Ethics in Society. Dozens of other initiatives are ongoing.
Sen. Steve Bieda (blue tie) joins the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team on the Michigan Capitol steps after the press conference introducing Senate Bill 291 to provide compensation to wrongfully convicted persons.
- What’s next? That’s in large part up to students, faculty, and staff of both institutions. While University and Law School leadership certainly have ideas for the affiliation, the presidents of both institutions deliberately chose to let their students, faculty, and staff draw inspiration and expertise from one another in organic collaborations. The approach is working, with relationships formed in dozens of different areas and around many different activities and functions. Those who get involved will find other willing, inspired, and committed individuals sharing their own interests.
Law student at WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay
- Whom should I contact with affiliation ideas? Don’t hesitate to approach deans, directors, and department chairs with affiliation ideas. The Law School has a representative on WMU’s Provost’s Council to field affiliation interest through WMU’s leadership and management. If you don’t know who else to contact, then don’t hesitate to contact WMU Professor and Special Assistant to the President Mark Hurwitz or WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Professor Nelson Miller.
, Western Professor of Political Science