Cooley Law School Logo
Ethics and Professionalism

Ethics and Professionalism

Culture of Professionalism

By creating a culture of professionalism within the law school, we want to inspire excellence, service, and integrity in the souls of the students we serve. Cooley fosters high caliber relationships between the Cooley community and the legal and local communities.

Cooley is dedicated to the following ideals:

  • Lead by modeling and teaching ethics
  • Foster and encourage service
  • Practice professionalism
  • Commit to our communities

Our professionalism principles:

Embrace Professional Behavior

  • Take responsibility for your own actions and words
  • Correct misunderstandings and misinformation
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Don't criticize without offering a solution
  • Volunteer to fix what is broken
  • Try to figure it out yourself, first
  • Follow appropriate channels in an appropriate manner
  • Treat others with respect and dignity
  • Work toward improvement, not destruction or the status quo
  • Anticipate the impact of your behavior
  • Behave in a way that will get a positive result
  • Take into account the demands on and limitations of others
  • Commit to personal growth and learning

Promote an Ethical School Community

  • Acknowledge that the school community is us-it is nothing more than a composite of all the people who associate with it and in it. Creation of an ethical community can only be accomplished through the ethical acts of its stakeholders.
  • Be Accountable: Acknowledge that each member of the Cooley community is accountable for their own development as a professional and for establishing and maintaining a professional school environment.

Serve the Community

  • Acknowledge that affiliation with the law profession entails public service as its primary purpose. That the profession may provide a means of livelihood makes it no less a public service (with credit to Dean Roscoe Pound, Harvard Law School).
  • Know that professionalism requires providing excellent quality service to your clients and participation in the work of the legal community.

Focus on Students

Acknowledge that all of us-staff, students, faculty, alumni, and community members-have a stake in educating the law student in the ways of professionalism.

Other featured programs, principles and honors

  • Professional Development Series - Every student at Cooley is enrolled in this online, no-credit, required, self-paced professional development program. Here are exercises you can expect in the program. Students have their school breaks and the first 8 weeks of each term to complete assignments in professional development including academic success, bar preparation, career preparation, and self-assessment. Assignments take students to the school's resource offices including the Academic Resource Center and the Career and Professional Development Office, among others. Students also interview attorneys about ethics and professionalism while building a professional network. They explore career options through mentoring and pro bono work. Throughout their enrollment, they also assess their development at three critical stages: before their first term, after their first year, and during their third year. 93% of students rate the exercises useful in their professional development.
  • Center for the Study and Resolution of Conflict - More about how the Center for the Study and Resolution of Conflict instructs clients and students in better ways to deal with conflict. 
  • Ethics Library - Cooley's Ethics and Professionalism Library maintains nearly 5,000 volumes of ethics materials. The Ethics and Professionalism Library is open to students, faculty, and attorneys to promote the research and study of ethics and professionalism.
  • E. Smythe Gambrell Award - Through Cooley's innovative, award-winning Professionalism Plan, which received the American Bar Association's highest recognition for professionalism, the E. Smythe Gambrell Award, Cooley created a culture of professionalism that permeates every part of the school.
  • Florida Professionalism - The Florida Bar's Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism offers a handbook on professionalism.  
  • School-wide Pro Bono Opportunities - Cooley offers its students the opportunity to serve the indigent, under-served, and deserving through programs at each campus. Students should contact the Career and Professional Development Office at their campus to take advantage of these opportunities and to log their pro bono hours through the Pro Bono tab on Symplicity. 
  • Commitment to Honor - At every orientation, our new students, along with faculty and staff, promise not to lie, cheat, steal, plagiarize, or tolerate those who do.
  • Integrity in Our Communities Lecture Series - Nationally and locally recognized speakers talk about issues, trials, and lawsuits touching on ethical and professional matters.
  • Professionalism in Action - A collaborative program between the State Bar of Michigan and Cooley bringing students, local attorneys and judges together to discuss the role and importance of ethics and professionalism in both the study and practice of law. Our newest campus in Tampa Bay has adopted this program as well, with attorneys and judges from Hillsborough and neighboring counties setting great examples for our students before they have even started law school