The Mission of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School is to prepare its graduates for entry into the legal profession through an integrated program with practical legal education as its guiding principle and focus. This mission includes providing broad access to those who seek the opportunity to study law, while requiring that those to whom that opportunity is offered to meet WMU-Cooley’s rigorous academic standards.
The preparation for practice mission means that WMU-Cooley graduates must:
- Master the fundamentals and basic skills required for the competent practice of law and representation of clients;
- Demonstrate the substantive knowledge and skills required for passage of a bar examination and admission to the bar; and
- Understand and embrace the legal, moral, ethical, and professional responsibility of lawyers.
WMU-Cooley Law School is a collaborative community of students, staff, faculty, administration, and alumni that work together to create an educational experience that transforms students into respected members of the legal profession. Our WMU-Cooley Community reflects the diversity of the communities in which we live, study, and work. As members of the WMU-Cooley Community:
- We embrace and encourage opportunity, inclusivity, fairness, and equality.
- We approach challenges with creativity and a commitment to innovation.
- We foster respect, tolerance, collegiality, open communication, and collaboration.
- We strengthen society through leadership, service, and dedication to the rule of law.
- We operate as a unified law school with multiple campuses.
A WMU-Cooley Legal Education is Holistic and Transformative.
WMU-Cooley challenges law students to go beyond classroom learning. To embrace the complex and vital role lawyers play in our diverse society, law students must examine their thinking, their work ethic, their beliefs, their lifestyle, and how their professional contributions and choices will impact not only their clients, but also our society.
To achieve this Vision, WMU-Cooley CREATES a supportive learning environment that cultivates student and graduate success, INSPIRES commitment to personal and professional growth and service to others, and STRIVES for continuous improvement.
1. Our Community Creates a Supportive Learning Environment that Cultivates Student and Graduate Success.
1.A. Seek Students Whose Credentials and Background Indicate both an Aptitude for Success in Law School and the Qualities of a Leader in the Law.
- We seek students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic success in law school;
- We seek students who don’t give up easily, who demonstrate a strong work ethic and a commitment to the law;
- We seek students who do the right thing for the right reasons;
- We seek students who are role models for excellence, tolerance, civility and respect;
- We seek students who reflect the diversity found in society and who embrace and support as important diverse identity, thought, and experience; and,
- We seek students interested in leadership in their community and improving the world in which they live and work.
1.B. Provide the Foundation for Academic Accomplishment
- Present students with superior teaching, while requiring students to commit to superior learning.
- Incorporate a comprehensive assessment system to evaluate student mastery of program outcomes throughout the curriculum.
- Offer innovative teaching and learning methodologies that are supported by research and have proven to be highly effective for graduate-level study.
- Provide superior academic support to enhance academic achievement, and instill in students the desire to use that support to succeed academically.
- Offer effective bar preparation programs, support, and planning.
- Integrate technology and library resources to enhance teaching and learning.
- Promote faculty use of technology in instructional methods and measuring student learning.
- Maintain high-quality facilities that support active, practice-based, and experiential learning.
- Deliver legal education with superior outcomes, including high bar passage rates and high employment rates among graduates.
1.C. Prepare Graduates for Contemporary Careers
- Assure that academic programs are integrative, interdisciplinary, and promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Provide course options and placement services that mirror the diverse career options available to those with law degrees.
- Engage every student in a meaningful, supervised field placement.
- Offer curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular programs that are student-centered, incorporate leadership development, and reinforce professional empowerment.
- Require students to attain working proficiency in technology most commonly used in contemporary legal careers.
- Involve alumni with students in the curriculum, co-curricular offerings, professionalism programs, and career development.
2. Our Community Inspires Commitment to Personal and Professional Growth and Service to Others.
2.A. Emphasize the Importance of Personal Responsibility
- Instill a commitment to professionalism and good character.
- Reinforce the need for and value of self-reliance, work ethic, and personal responsibility.
- Recognize that the pathway to success is a journey that begins in law school and continues throughout a lawyer’s career.
- Reward WMU-Cooley Community members who lead by example, demonstrate initiative, accept personal responsibility, and make a positive impact.
2.B. Perpetuate the WMU-Community Culture of Professionalism and Service
- Enhance current and develop new programs that will help graduates practice law with professionalism and good character.
- Build and strengthen the communities in which we live through leadership, community and professional service, and dedication to the rule of law.
- Help students find meaningful community service opportunities.
- Emphasize professional and ethical standards in our clinical internship and externship programs.
- Provide students with the tools to find rewarding and fulfilling career paths.
- Foster continuous commitment to professional and ethical behavior by all members of the WMU-Cooley Community.
3. Our Community Strives for Continuous Improvement.
3.A. Integrate the Law School into Western Michigan University
- Create a law school relationship that mirrors the WMU medical school relationship.
- Open a partner satellite campus in Kalamazoo in 2017 and offer the full law school program in Kalamazoo by 2019.
- Tie our marketing to the WMU Brand and jointly recognize student, faculty, and staff expertise and accomplishments.
- Explore joint enterprises in development, foreign study, employment, and externships.
- Foster opportunities and initiatives for students, faculty, and staff at both institutions to collaborate and benefit from the affiliation.
- Consider with WMU how to anticipate, adopt, and respond to changes that affect the legal profession and both legal and general education, such as globalization, diversity, technological change, educational theory and practice, and educational reform pressures.
- Emphasize integrative and interdisciplinary programs.
- Continue mutual education about each school’s attributes, shared values, and visions.
3.B. Be a Leading Educational Innovator
- Become the leading legal educational institution in outcome-based, data-driven admissions and curriculum planning, in the use of formative assessment in teaching and learning, and in promoting critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Push the envelope, adopting an aggressive approach to change.
- Introduce innovative methods to deliver education and improve student learning.
- Support faculty and staff professional development.
- Develop innovative graduate employment opportunities.
- Use a forward-looking approach to problem-solving that recognizes and values our institutional, operational, and innovative history.
- Identify data-based performance measures of success in Strategic Plan implementation.
3.C. Maintain Institutional and Economic Vitality
- Strategically allocate and prioritize our resources to align with and support our Mission, Values, and Vision.
- Improve affordability and improve cost competitiveness.
- Develop innovative strategies to increase revenue and reduce operational costs.
- Anticipate future challenges, opportunities, and market changes and ensure that institutional policies and practices continue to allow us to quickly and effectively respond to them.
- Increase philanthropic giving and alumni support.
- Promote the WMU-Cooley Mission, program of education, and institutional culture through effective marketing and communication.
3.D. Maximize Operational Efficiency and Institutional Effectiveness
- Evaluate our operational performance and use that evidence to improve institutional effectiveness, capabilities, and sustainability.
- Link assessment of student learning to the evaluation of operations, planning, and budgeting using a decision-making approach that is data driven and innovation-based.
- Follow a comprehensive strategic technology plan to govern the acquisition, implementation, and management of technology resources.
- Foster an organizational environment that promotes faculty and staff engagement, long-time service, and job satisfaction.
- Utilize administrative structures that support effective leadership, communication, and collaboration among all stakeholder groups.
Approved by Law School Faculty on October 11, 2016
Approved by Law School Board of Directors on October 22, 2016