Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the country's largest freestanding law school, will be henceforth known as Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, although the two will remain separate organizations, they announced Wednesday. The boards of the public Western Michigan and the private nonprofit Cooley approved the arrangement last year, but accreditors -- the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the American Bar Association -- signed off on it only recently. The two institutions have collaborated on joint programs for a decade, but said the new alignment -- which will not include any exchange of funds at the start -- will allow for greater collaboration.
Like many law schools, Cooley has struggled with enrollments in recent years, and it announced some layoffs and other kinds of retrenchment last year. It has also been criticized for low placement rates, among other problems.