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Online Legal Education: We’ve been doing it for a decade at WMU-Cooley

WMU Cooley has been offering online legal education for over a decade through our Graduate LL.M. Programs. Since 2010, LL.M. faculty have been teaching online classes, starting with the program in Intellectual Property Law, and then moving into other LL.M. degree programs in Tax, Homeland and National Security, and Corporate Law and Finance. We have also offered a Weekend Blended Learning Program for our J.D. students, allowing them to have 4 weeks of online instruction of a 15-week semester, since September 2017. 

Because of this in-house expertise; the vision of our President and Dean, James McGrath; and the dedication of our faculty and staff; our faculty were ready to move our J.D. program online during the spring semester when the pandemic forced schools to close their doors. Our faculty have used the summer semester to hone their skills and are now becoming experts in the finer aspects of truly engaged online learning. We do not strive for digital competence just to get through the pandemic; we work to deliver excellence in virtual education because our modern world demands it. Offering a quality online legal education in an increasingly digital world means holding true to values we cherish: excellence, inclusiveness, and tech-readiness in our teaching. Excelling in a digital world means offering constant training to faculty, staying on top of trends, and being aware of, and ready for, what is coming. We knew the impact of COVID-19 would be significant, but even before it hit, we were preparing our J.D. lessons, classes, and programs for an online world. We knew from our weekend students the tremendous benefits they received by being able to learn from their homes and offices for one-third of the semester. It’s not always possible for students to attend classes in-person, and we know that a student’s education should not interfere with life, but rather fit seamlessly into it.

When we saw what was coming from COVID-19—a change in the way students would need to learn and how we would need to teach—we looked at what we were already doing and identified the best solutions for our students. 

Our faculty know what works in the classroom (they offer classes year-round, three semesters a year). Building a better education and learning environment is at the core of who we are and what we do, while providing equal access to a legal education and teaching law students the practical skills needed to be successful attorneys.

Meaningful Virtual Classroom Experience

We use effective, science-based learning techniques to best educate future lawyers. Those strategies include synchronous and asynchronous online course work, small group assignments during class, discussion boards, chats, and live classroom meetings with all students and the professor engaged and actively participating, debating, and learning.  The classic give-and-take between faculty and students in a law school classroom is perhaps even more vivid and meaningful in a virtual world.  While one student responds, others are critiquing through the chat function, so no one is left out.

The values we work toward every day are the same values that we bring to you in our digital classrooms. Come join us for the challenge of your lifetime from the comfort of home. To estimate the cost of your legal education for a semester at WMU-Cooley, visit our Tuition Calculator.

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