19:40, December 13 349 0 abajournal.com

2017-12-13 19:40:05
Cooley Law School loses request for temporary restraining order in lawsuit against ABA

“This case concerns a law school’s attempt to prevent current and prospective students from having access to accurate information about its accreditation status,” Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow wrote in his Wednesday ruling (PDF). “An order requiring the ABA to retract truthful information from the public will harm prospective law students who are in the midst of the application process.”

Cooley Law had sued the ABA in November, arguing a letter made public by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar about the school’s accreditation compliance violated the Higher Education Act and common law due process. The letter (PDF), dated Nov. 13, said Cooley was not in compliance with Standard 501(b), which states: “A law 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;” and out of compliance with Interpretation 501-1, which discusses factors to consider in admissions.

Cooley’s complaint argued that posting the letter could harm the school, particularly since the dispute arose in mid-November, when the next fall’s law students would be making decisions about where to apply. The decision was not final, the law school argued, and therefore the ABA had no legal obligation to publish it.

But Tarnow disagreed. The ABA’s decision is indeed final, the judge found; there’s nothing in Rule 4 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (PDF) that authorizes an appeals panel to review the council’s finding in Cooley’s situation. And because the decision is final, he said, the ABA was legally required to publish it under applicable Department of Education standards.

Tarnow also said that any harm to Cooley’s reputation was caused first and foremost by the lawsuit itself.

“Cooley’s argument ignores the reality that prospective students have already drawn conclusions about the school because of this lawsuit,” Tarnow wrote. “Cooley is free to try to mitigate any reputational injury by broadcasting its belief that the ABA acted illegally in the public arena.”

An ABA spokesman said the Council of the Legal Education Section said was “pleased with the decision of the court in denying the TRO.”

Cooley’s median GPA is 2.90, and the median LSAT score is 141, according to the law school’s 509 Report (PDF) for 2016. The school had 1,209 students, according to the document. Cooley’s website lists five campus locations.

Tuition at the law school is $1,770 per credit hour for the first 30 credits, and $1,695 per credit hour for “31 and more” credits, according to its website. Out of 462 graduates in the class of 2016, 141 had full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage, according to WMU Cooley Law’s employment summary (PDF).