Welcome from President and Dean James McGrath

WMU-Cooley President and Dean James McGrath

Leader in Modern Legal Education

It is my great honor to be asked to serve as the leader of this venerable institution as we begin a new chapter in the history of WMU-Cooley Law School. Like many access law schools today we face many challenges – but as I tell my students, you need to embrace your challenges as opportunities. I am going to seize upon every opportunity to enhance the reputation of our school as a leader in using proven methods to prepare practice-ready, ethical lawyers. We must ALL RISE to meet the opportunities that are before us.

James McGrath

The legal profession is also experiencing significant changes. We must not just react, but also anticipate future trends and lead when those trends threaten to take us in the wrong direction. WMU-Cooley will position itself for not just the future of legal education, but also the future of legal practice. Although progress has been made, the legal profession has much work to do in being truly diverse. WMU-Cooley has embraced greater access to the legal profession since its founding and stands firm in its belief that the study of law should not be an esoteric pursuit, nor the law an elitist profession. The WMU-Cooley community will continue to build on this proud history as we lead by example.

In my short time as President and Dean, I have been impressed with WMU-Cooley’s loyal community of faculty, staff, students, and graduates.

Our faculty is dedicated to personally reaching each one of our students. Instead of waiting for law schools to adopt proven effective teaching techniques, our faculty pioneer what actually works in the classroom to better educate future lawyers. I plan to support and expand these efforts in making WMU-Cooley the epicenter of modern legal education.

Our staff are unwavering in their commitment to our students and their work in furthering our mission. Not just “support,” the staff is a proactive partner in finding ways to ensure our school achieves its goals. The longevity of so many of our staff members speaks volumes about their loyalty and passion for our school.

Our students are fiercely committed to social justice. Through hard work and engagement in the classroom they develop their legal skills for application in community minded externships and pro bono efforts that are building a more equitable world. Finally, our graduates – over 20,000 strong, have proven themselves in the courts, both as advocates and judges, and in many impressive careers across the nation and around the world.

The law school’s unwavering commitment to prepare a diverse group of practice-ready attorneys was very attractive to me when I was considering joining WMU-Cooley. Here, making a difference in the lives of others is not just a tagline. We don’t just say we train practice-ready lawyers, which many law schools have recently adopted as their mantra. We have actually been doing it as an integral part of our curriculum since we were first opened in 1972 – Not by recently adding a few extra faculty members and courses, but by having a faculty with significant practice experience, weaving these skills into every course. All of our graduates have practice experience PRIOR to graduation.

I will soon introduce new initiatives that will position our law school well to become a leader in modern legal education without losing our commitment to our core mission. We will build on our affiliation with Western Michigan University, a globally engaged, national research university, and continue to work with their education faculty to explore and test new ways to improve our teaching to better serve our students.

With a law degree from WMU-Cooley you will have the opportunity to be an influencer in our global community for many years to come. I am excited to be at the helm for this new chapter in WMU-Cooley’s history. Please join me in this journey.

Sincerely,

James McGrath
Professor, President and Dean

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WMU-Cooley Law School
300 South Capitol Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933 
(517) 371-5140

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Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School is an independent, private, non-profit educational institution affiliated with Western Michigan University. As an independent institution, the Law School is solely responsible for its academic program. Accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. In corde hominem est anima legis.

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