William W. Cook

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William W. Cook
William W. Cook.jpg
Born (1858-04-16)April 16, 1858
Hillsdale, Michigan
Died June 4, 1930(1930-06-04) (aged 72)
Port Chester, New York
Alma mater University of Michigan (B.A. J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Known for Legal Scholar, benefactor of Hillsdale College and the University of Michigan Law School

William Wilson Cook (1858 – 1930) was an attorney and legal scholar who wrote extensively on matters of corporate law, including the seminal text, “Cook on Corporations”.[1][2][3] Cook was also an early, major benefactor of the University of Michigan, particularly the University of Michigan Law School.

Cook was born in Hillsdale, Michigan, to John Potter Cook (a founder of Hillsdale)[4][5] and his wife Martha. Cook attended the University of Michigan from 1876 to 1882, earning his undergraduate (1880) and law (1882) degrees from that institution. He practiced law for many years in Manhattan, primarily for the Mackay telegraph and cable companies, and amassed a substantial fortune. In 1915, Cook constructed the Martha Cook women’s dormitory on the Michigan campus and donated it to the University. In 1922, Cook announced his intention to construct a lawyers club at dormitory at Michigan.[6] Cook hired the architectural firm of York and Sawyer to design the Lawyers Club, the first of several buildings built in the English Gothic style (all paid for and constructed by Cook) which would come to comprise the Law Quadrangle at the University of Michigan.[7][8] When the Lawyers Club was completed, the New York Times described it as "one of the finest buildings of its kind on any campus in the world."[9]

Cook left his entire estate to the law school. The estate, valued at $20 million in 1930, would have been equivalent to about $260 million in 2006 dollars.[4]

The law library constructed by Cook is today named the William W. Cook Legal Research Building. In addition, several law professors at law schools abroad hold the position of William W. Cook Global Law Professor at Michigan, visiting the law school regularly and teaching courses.[10]


  1. ^ William W. Cook's Written Work, University of Michigan Law Library
  2. ^ Cook and the Corporate Shareholder: A Belated Review of William W. Cook's Publications on Corporations, Alfred F. Conard, University of Michigan Law Review, Vol. 93, No. 6, May, 1995.
  3. ^ A Full Block of Elegant Houses by Christopher Gray, New York Times, July 27, 2008
  4. ^ a b Brief Biography by Margaret A. Leary, Director and Librarian, University of Michigan Law Library
  5. ^ A Brief History of 'Hillsdale County', Hillsdale County
  6. ^ The Lawyers Club, 1925, University of Michigan Law School
  7. ^ About William W. Cook’s gifts to the Law School, University of Michigan Law School
  8. ^ Michigan Law Benefactor William W. Cook Ensured School's Top Ranking, University of Michigan Law School
  9. ^ Donor of $2,000,000 Michigan Law Club Proves To Be W.W. Cook, New York Lawyer, New York Times, September 21, 1924.
  10. ^ Wm. W. Cook Global Law professors, University of Michigan Law School