Cooley Law School Expands In Florida, Hillsborough County

Michigan-based Thomas M. Cooley Law School began renovations on its new location in the Tampa Bay region on September 20th, creating its first campus outside of Michigan.

The school's new location at 9445 Camden Field Parkway in Riverview was purchased for about $6.3 million, including the adjacent lot, and was previously occupied by Progressive Insurance until 2009.

Cooley plans to renovate the 132,000-square-foot space into a state-of-the-art law school and will include a 25,000-square-foot library, a 336-seat auditorium, 24 classrooms with a total of 1,374 seats, 4 distance learning classrooms, a computer lab with 28 seats and two trial courtrooms, which will hold up to about 186 students.

“This really is going to be an exciting project. When classes are full, we're going to bring in about 700 students and roughly 80 to 100 employees,” says Cooley COO Bill Schoettle. “That's going to have a significant impact on Tampa because of the dollars the students and employees will bring into the area. Anytime you bring 700 people into an area, they're going to be buying houses, needing clothes and going to restaurants -- all of the things that people do within a community. It's quite a dynamic process.”

Founded in 1972, Cooley is the largest law school in the United States with four campuses in Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Approximately 60 percent of Cooley's students come from outside of Michigan. About 5 percent -- the second-largest portion of its students from any one state -- come from Florida.

“We already have a significant presence in Florida with a large number of both students and alumni living in the state and about 125 externship sites where students go down and work for lawyers for a term to learn about the profession,” says Schoettle.

With sustainability and keeping costs reasonable in mind, Cooley leaders intend to preserve anything they can within the building, including reusing 6,000 yards of existing carpet, a cost savings of approximately $200,000. In addition, all 1,200 of the energy-efficient overheard light fixtures in the building will be reused while all of the existing doors will remain in the building, as well.

“We'll also be applying for certification under the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities,” says Schoettle. “We're currently in the process of certifying all of our Michigan campuses so we're going to aim to certify the Florida campus, as well. We will be a totally SERF certified law school at all five different campuses.”

Cooley will begin occupying a portion of the building in January 2012 to provide offices for employees who are working in administration and student recruiting. Evening classes at the new Tampa Bay location will begin in May 2012 followed by morning classes in September 2012 and afternoon classes in January 2013.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Bill Schoettle, Thomas M. Cooley Law School
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