Special Edition 2013 Benchmark Alumni Magazine
"Celebrating 40 Years of Excellence" - This special edition of Benchmark marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In this issue you will learn about where Cooley has been and where it is going.
Benchmark SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 THE THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL MAGAZINE COOLEY CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE This special edition of Benchmark marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Since its inception, Cooley has provided an outstanding legal education that focuses on the knowledge, skills, and ethics lawyers need to be competent and effective practitioners. Most of all, you will see that Cooley remains true to its founding principles while having also become the most innovative and diverse law school in the nation. In this issue, you will learn about where Cooley has been and where it is going. You will read features about Cooleyâ€™s great faculty, devoted staff, wonderful campuses, outstanding programs, and successful alumni. THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL BENCHMARK40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ISSUE The Thomas M. Cooley Law School Alumni Magazine Editor Terry Carella Co-Editor Sharon Matchette Contributing Writers SeyferthPR seyferthpr.com Design Image Creative Group imagecreativegroup.com Photography Brennan © Tim Boyles LeDuc, Mickens, Miller, Beck, Bain © Adam Bird Photography Call for Submissions The Benchmark is seeking story ideas from graduates. We are looking for stories on a variety of subjects such as graduate achievements, international experiences, cultural diversity, legal information helpful to practitioners, unique law practices, advice to prospective law students, and special events. If you would like to share a story idea, please write, call, or e-mail: Communications Office Thomas M. Cooley Law School P.O. Box 13038 Lansing, MI 48901 Benchmark LOOKING FORWARD When Cooley started, according to President and Dean Don LeDuc, we had the advantage of ignorance, youth, and optimism. We had a simple approach: we would be lawyers and judges teaching our students to be lawyers and judges. Who better to do so? And we had a simple philosophy: we would give people a chance. 2 VISIONARY FOR LEGAL EDUCATION From the beginning, the Hon. Thomas E. Brennan had a vision for what law school could be and how he imagined it could be made better – even if this path to legal education was different from most other law schools. 8 contents 14 COMMUNITY ADVOCATE Serving the community is not just a saying; it is a commitment deeply entrenched in Cooley’s mission of developing character and professional responsibility in future attorneys. And no one personifies this commitment better than Helen Mickens. Phone: (517) 371-5140 ext. 2916 Fax: (517) 334-5780 E-mail: email@example.com cooley.edu Postmark: Benchmark is published twice a year by the administrative offices of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, P.O. Box 13038, Lansing, MI 48901 18 UNWAVERING DEDICATION Ann Wood’s dedication and commitment to practical legal education has greatly impacted the law school experience for thousands of Cooley students. RISING UP THE RANKS The user name will always remain the word alumni. The password changes are disclosed in Benchmark on the inside front cover. Please call the Alumni Relations Office at 517-371-5140, ext. 2038, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any problems. The current password for this term is knowledge. ALUMNI DATABASE SALUTE TO OUR ALUMNI 26 When Cherie Beck started working as Polly Brennan’s personal secretary in 1979, she had no idea that the decision would lead to over 30 years with Cooley Law School. 22 24 COOLEY’S FIRST EMPLOYEE Marylynn Bain feels fortunate to be, not only Cooley’s first employee, but to be working for Cooley Law School. MILESTONES AND NATIONAL RECOGNITION 28 34 40TH ANNIVERSARY GRADUATION SPEECH BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 1 feature LeDuc Don LeDuc, Cooley’s President and Dean, sees the school’s bright future as an extension of its founding philosophy and history of preparing students to be outstanding practitioners of the law: educated in the law, trained in its ways, mindful of the law’s role in society, committed to service, and adherent to its ethical principles. 2 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 Looking Forward Don LeDuc, Cooley President & Dean feature LeDuc BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 3 feature The Vision — EDITOR’S NOTE — Continues When Don LeDuc became President of Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2002 upon the retirement of the school’s founding president,Thomas E. Brennan, he already had 27 years of experience at Cooley as a faculty member, including two terms as dean.With 1,778 students, Cooley was already among the largest law schools in the nation. The School had just signed an agreement to establish its first relationship with a university: a shared J.D./ Masters of Public Administration degree with Western Michigan University. The School was considering its first formal strategic plan to guide future efforts, a plan that called for establishing branch campuses in other cities to make legal education more accessible. With the Brennan era ending, LeDuc, who came to Cooley with a planning background, knew that Cooley was poised to enter a new era of improvement and growth, while facing a host of new challenges, and he had no intention of letting the plan languish on the shelf. As Cooley celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first entering J.D. class and the 10th anniversary of its first entering LL.M. class, the progress made at the school is astonishing.Where we started with 76 students in an evening program, we now have more than 2,500 students, including 145 graduate students.Where that inaugural class convened in 1973 above a print shop in rented premises in Lansing, we now have five campuses and the largest physical plant in higher legal education. Where that first class was an evening section, we now offer classes morning, noon, and night, on the weekends, and year-round. Here is LeDuc’s assessment of where Cooley is today and where it will go in the future. — WRITTEN BY DON LEDUC, COOLEY PRESIDENT & DEAN — When Cooley started, we had the advantage of ignorance, youth, and optimism. We had a simple approach: we would be lawyers and judges teaching our students to be lawyers and judges. Who better to do so? And we had a simple philosophy: we would give people a chance. We had faith in the inherent goodness of people. We believed that, in America – long known and admired as the land of opportunity – a law school committed to giving people a chance to succeed, to realize a dream to better themselves by continuing their higher education in a law school venue, would be applauded. We also believed that, while the opportunity to obtain a law degree should be freely granted, graduation from law school should be earned by meeting a high standard of academic performance. We felt that the use of one standardized test to decide who can attend law school and who cannot was inherently wrong and that the imposition of academic rigor was inherently right. We still do. From the outset, we addressed problems as they arose, but we began to face hurdles we did not then, and do not now, understand. Rather than receiving admiration for giving people a chance to prove themselves, we faced prejudice, not just 40 years ago, but still. Elitism, a caste system, and the inexplicable antipathy toward opportunity that should, but does not, embarrass educators continues. The disparate impact of exclusionary admissions policies on minority groups remains ignored. Legal education has failed to address the discrimination practiced in the name of academic “standards.” The legal profession asserts a desire to broaden access and increase minority membership, but continues to deny support to the law schools that can help it do so. Yet, the resistance from the legal profession and academe does not deter us. As we enter our fifth decade, we have remained, and we will remain, true to our founding principles. WHERE WE STAND TODAY Cooley’s strategic plan, adopted in 2002 and expanded in 2009, defines our mission and governs all that we do. It has allowed us to improve our curriculum and teaching, expand our services, ensure continued access to legal education, and stay financially strong. Cooley operates the largest clinical program in America, requiring all its students to participate in practice at one of its 11 clinics or at one of over 3,000 externship sites throughout the United States and the rest of the world. Cooley has one of the oldest and best legal writing programs in the country. And it offers extensive simulation courses with excellent results. We have become one of the top schools in ethics and professionalism. Cooley’s Professionalism Plan has been the model for other schools, has won the American Bar Association’s highest honor, and has been integrated into every aspect of our legal education program. We lead the nation in pro bono service. Practice Preparation Mission Preparation of our graduates for practice has continued to improve since 2009. Our graduates today are better educated and better prepared for practice than at any time in our history. The quality of our teaching is excellent, perhaps best evidenced by the selection of two of our faculty members as the best law teachers in America by Harvard Press in What the Best Law Teachers Do. Only 25 schools employ these exemplary teachers, and only Cooley has two. Access Mission Due to our access mission, we have become the national leader in minority enrollment. According to ABA figures published across the last five editions of the ABA-LSAC Official Annual Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, Cooley has graduated more minority law students than any other law school. While our goal is to provide access to all who want the opportunity to study law, our approach counters the pervasive admissions challenges presented to minority applicants. Cooley has not dropped its minimum academic profile requirements, unlike what many schools have done as they face diminishing applications. 4 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Cooley’s strategic plan, adopted in 2002 and expanded in 2009, defines our mission and governs all that we do. It has allowed us to improve our curriculum and teaching, expand our service, ensure continued access to legal education, and stay financially strong. Best at Practice Preparation Vision Strategy Saying that a school is the best at practice preparation involves a fair amount of subjectivity and considerable hubris. While I cannot say that we are the best, it is only because I am not sufficiently familiar with the results at all other schools. I can attest that we have improved, and continually will seek improvement in readying our graduates for practice. We continue to hear from externship supervisors how superior is the preparation of our students to undertake the tasks expected of recent law school graduates, often compared to those from other law schools. And we hear how the alumni felt themselves to be better prepared than their contemporaries following graduation. Largest Law School Vision Strategy Despite enrollment declines of the past three years, which have occurred at nearly every law school, we remain the largest law school in J.D. enrollment. A particular bright spot is the recent growth in LL.M. enrollment, which is now increasing above our annual projection. With expansion of our online opportunities, we will be able to offer LL.M. instruction to far more lawyers in the future. Opening the Ann Arbor campus in 2009 and the Tampa Bay campus in 2012 attracted many students who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to study the law. Lead in Innovation Vision Strategy Today, schools are recognized as innovative for doing things we have already done or, indeed, have always done. Since the appearance of the Carnegie report on legal education, focus on practice preparation is now the rage. Of course, we have done that for 40 years. Externships are now considered cutting edge, but we have operated ours with great success since 1996. All of a sudden, two-year law school is being touted — something that Cooley students have had available since 1996. Yearround part-time legal education is almost the sole province of Cooley, and three-year, yearround legal education is our sole province. Weekend education began at Cooley in 1996 and remains the only program that allows a student to complete a full program in three years, exclusively on the weekends. KEY STRATEGIC ALLIANCES Institutions of higher education must work more effectively to provide education and services to their students. The smartest institutions are joining forces to combine programs, broaden their offerings, and make education more widely available, and at a lower cost. Cooley is at the forefront of this effort. We already have shared-degree programs with Western Michigan University, Oakland University, Olivet College, Davenport University, and Eastern Michigan University. One of these is a “3+3” program in which students may obtain their undergraduate and J.D. degrees in reduced time and at lower cost. And Cooley is about to take an even bigger step. We have formalized an affiliation with Western Michigan University. Subject to review by our accrediting agencies – the ABA and the Higher Learning Commission — we will operate as Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The affiliation is not a merger, and the schools will remain separate and independent. Yet the affiliation will allow for a deep connection between Cooley and WMU, a top-100 public university that shares our commitment to access, teaching, service, and professionalism. Few university-based law schools effectively collaborate with other disciplines within their institutions. Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School will be the exception. We hope to build a wide assortment of joint programs, collaborative teaching and research initiatives, and new opportunities for students and faculty alike. (continued on page 6) Remain Financially Strong Vision Strategy Despite the challenges of the economy, Cooley is one of the strongest schools financially. We have done this through budgetary foresight, prudent management of our resources, economies of scale, and the dedication and hard work of our 382 full-time employees and 292 part-time employees. WHERE WE ARE GOING Remain Affordable Vision Strategy Of late, our hardest challenge has actually been affordability. Despite the effects of the economy, we remain under the median private law school tuition rate. Meanwhile, our scholarship program continues to ameliorate the cost of education for more than half of our students. The challenge of constantly thinking ahead is losing touch with the present. Uninformed commentators, malicious bloggers, ignorant media, and agenda-driven politicians spread the false notion that legal education, and the legal profession itself, is a losing proposition. Shrill people with no credentials, no experience, and no understanding of the facts regularly cloud the debate with nonsense which the mainstream media, and even the organized bar, mindlessly republish as if it were authoritative. Yet, through all the din, we hear the demand for high quality, accessible legal education. Through all the smoke, we see a successful future for our school and indeed the profession. We will not be deterred. Here is where Cooley is going. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 5 feature ACCESS AND DIVERSITY IN LIGHT OF SOCIETAL NEED Institutions of higher education, being important members of society, must do better at reflecting that society by expanding access, improving diversity, and providing educated and skilled graduates. Cooley again is at the forefront. We provide the most accessible legal education there is. At what other law school can students take classes all year round or during only the mornings, afternoons, or evenings, or solely on weekends? Where else can students begin law school not only in September, but also in January or May? Or graduate in two years? What other school has multiple campuses, thus reducing the time students must commute or be away from their families to pursue their studies? How many schools have top enrollments of African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Native-Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders? How many schools have students from, and alumni located in, all 50 states and dozens of countries? And guess which school has the most foreign national J.D. students? Cooley’s access mission is important for several reasons. Lawyers and the legal profession play a key role in an orderly society. To be effective, their racial and cultural makeup should closely mirror society. The public needs to be able to trust the legal profession, and the profession must understand the public it serves. Plus, law students who learn in a diverse environment are better prepared to act within the diversity that already permeates our society. Demographers tell us that by the year 2040, the so-called “minorities” in the United States will constitute the majority of Americans. Yet the racial and ethnic composition of the legal profession runs way behind. African-Americans and Hispanics combine to be a large segment of society but constitute only a small percentage of the profession. Indeed, those two groups face continued discrimination in American legal education today. This is so because the educational model of the legal profession and the law schools – partly in blind deference to the invalid yet commercially influential U.S. News and World Report’s rankings – values exclusivity and demeans opportunity. That Cooley rejects those elitist values is the consistent rap against us. Because we do not exclude students with lower credentials — students who the critics say should not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming lawyers – we are “ranked” far below other law schools whose teachers, staffs, programs, and facilities are objectively inferior. That we have consciously chosen to be outside the mainstream makes us subject to bullying by the legal education elite. And it likely will remain so. But we will continue to respond with the question, “who are they to say that our students don’t deserve a chance to be great lawyers?” We also know something else about the legal profession that bears importantly on the future of our society, something that the critics, including the organized bar, either do not know or refuse to acknowledge. Within a very short period of time, the numbers of lawyers leaving the profession through retirement or demise will exceed the numbers entering the profession. That is because the demographics show that the profession grew at its greatest pace 30 to 40 years ago, but now those lawyers are leaving the practice. State Bar of Michigan data show that the average age of a lawyer in active practice is 53. More than 56 percent of all active Michigan lawyers are over 50 years of age, and 32.5 percent, nearly one-third of our lawyers, is aged 60 or older. This aging of the profession, if not addressed, will have serious, but largely unappreciated, repercussions for certain segments of society. In 80 of Michigan’s 83 counties, 50 percent or more of the lawyers are aged 50 or over. In one quarter of Michigan’s counties, lawyers aged 60 or more constitute at least half of the lawyer population, while 27 counties have no lawyers under age 30. This may soon impact the range of legal services available to Michigan’s rural citizens. Indeed, one Great Plains state recently passed legislation providing a subsidy to lawyers who move to rural areas where there is no lawyer, no one to write wills, draft trusts, advise small businesses, or resolve family disputes. For centuries, society has relied on lawyers to help citizens conduct their affairs in orderly fashion, promoting peace and stability and facilitating family life and commerce alike. Continued access to legal education – resulting in a replenished, better-trained, and ultimately strengthened legal profession – should be seen as an important societal goal. A NEW STRATEGIC PLAN Since our School was founded and our philosophies were implemented, things have changed. Indeed, since our strategic plan was written, the very thought process of America has changed. As a law school, we have evolved in sophistication, but the frame of reference in which we operate has been replaced by something very foreign. Fact has given way in the public mind to perception. Now, perception drives reality, opinion trumps facts, and emotion overwhelms rationality. Critical and careful consideration has been replaced by impulse. Recognizing that our crystal ball may not be as clear as it once was, we nevertheless look forward while honoring the founding philosophies that allowed us to educate our students into the successes they have become. As we develop a new strategic plan leading us through our next decade, we will, of course, recognize and adapt to the changes in society and the legal profession. But we will also continue to stress our founding tenets of access and opportunity, coupled with excellence, rigor, and practice orientation. And we certainly will incorporate the strategic alliances from which our students and alumni will benefit. Our greatest opportunity is to redefine what good legal education is, to get away from what magazines think makes for a good law school, and to define how we assess what good lawyers do. The affiliation with Western Michigan University will help us take advantage of that opportunity. % of all active Michigan lawyers are over 50 years of age percent 56 minority graduates Cooley ranks number one in minority graduates in the 50 states 2008-2012 # # 1 6 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature A New Era In sum, we will be inquisitive and open-minded in looking at ways to improve the School as we launch ourselves into a new era of preparing students to be outstanding practitioners of the law, students who are educated in the law, trained in its ways, mindful of the lawâ€™s role in society, committed to service, and adherent to its ethical principles. We will refine and improve our curriculum, stressing the importance of proficiency on the bar examination. We will learn and understand where the practice of law is heading as well as where it is today. We thus will recognize evolving practice requirements and the expectations of outside entities, not just the law firms, about legal skills training. But we will do this mindful that our philosophy of hiring practitioners means that we hire those who know the past and may not know the future, a challenge for the profession and for an aging faculty. We will develop our Professionalism Plan even further, continually reinforcing its principles and involving as many outside entities in its implementation as possible. We will work to develop a common conception of integrity and ethics in our incoming students. We will seek to involve more alumni in the School. We need more philanthropic support, alumni association membership, moot court judges, mentors, and volunteer pro bono attorneys. We will innovate by foreseeing future trends and having the resources and the courage to act on them. We will offer an affordable legal education, while keeping in mind that the Schoolâ€™s financial strength is a key factor in meeting our mission. We will continue to recognize that a diverse learning environment is profoundly important to the education and training of a new generation of lawyers. In sum, we will be inquisitive and open-minded in looking at ways to improve the School as we launch ourselves into a new era of preparing students to be outstanding practitioners of the law, students who are educated in the law, trained in its ways, mindful of the lawâ€™s role in society, committed to service, and adherent to its ethical principles. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 7 THOMAS E. BRENNAN v i s i o n a ry f o r l e g a l e d u c at i o n To the 17,000-plus graduates of Cooley Law School across this nation and worldwide, Thomas E. Brennan has most certainly made his mark on history. Retired, but still going strong at 83, Brennan is notable for being the youngest Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. But his greatest legacy – the Thomas M. Cooley Law School – is the result of the kind of vision that people of greatness and high thinking possess. As founder, president, and dean of a fledgling law school that grew in only about 30 years to become the nation’s largest, Brennan proved to be a visionary in legal education. He imagined what could be, and he made it happen. HONOR A B L E Written by Terry Carella feature *Excerpts from Thomas E. Brennan’s 1986 Report to the Board of Directors (in orange) F ROM the beginning of Cooley Law School in 1973, the school’s founder, Thomas E. Brennan, had a vision for what law school could be and how it could be made better – even if this path to legal education was different from most other law schools. “I believed in an environment where everybody would just be ordinary folks, people who had ambition,” stated Brennan. “These people wanted to achieve something in their lives, and we wanted to provide that kind of opportunity.” Providing a legal education to every qualified college graduate who had the desire to go to law school was very important to Brennan. He believed that a legal education was for more than just those who were privileged and considered special, but for those who had what it would take and were willing to work hard for that education. He realized that an educated citizenry that understands the law is critical to the strength and progress of the nation. In his 1986 Annual Report of the President to the Board of Directors, Judge Brennan eloquently described his vision for Cooley Law School. He also outlined the struggles of the law school and the environment of legal education in general – a report that could have been written today, nearly 30 years later. “I believe there is a need for lawyers in our nation which runs deeper than merely providing enough hired guns for all plaintiffs and defendants who are lined up to sue each other. The popularity of the law as an avenue to personal wealth will ebb and flow as the fees of lawyers go up and down. I have no great concern, nor should our nation, with educating those who view the practice of law merely as a way to get rich. But I do believe that lawyers are the ministers of civil justice. We cannot permit the great traditions of our legal system to be preserved and promulgated or buried and forgotten as the marketplace dictates. A law school is a temple of jurisprudence. There ought to be one in every city of substantial size, and it ought to be accessible to working people, to ordinary people, to every man and woman who thirsts for legal knowledge and is willing to pursue the study of law with dedication and perseverance.” Taking his vision to heart, Brennan created a law school, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which is today the largest law school in the nation. Cooley educates a wide variety of people from all walks of life including more minority lawyers than any other law school in the nation. It made perfect sense to Brennan then, as it does now. “If you open the front doors wide enough,” stated Brennan, “you will get a cross section of the American people.” Brennan felt that the report could serve as a history of the law school and at least “a history of the shifting sand of our fears and schemes, our hopes and dreams.” He recalls that, “In the life of any institution there are years of great achievement and accomplishment, banner years, whose numbers are etched in cornerstones or remembered as turning points. 1985 was not one of those years for the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.” 10 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Not unlike today, law schools were being challenged. “Like most of the 175 A.B.A. approved law schools, Cooley has spent the last year trying to stay even,” Brennan wrote in that 1986 report, “and trying to cope with declining enrollments, declining revenues and a declining public enthusiasm for legal education. There are plenty of shadows dancing on the wall to keep us awake at night with worry if we are so disposed.” “During the past year, I have had occasion to lay before our faculty, and today, I present to this Board of Directors what I believe to be the four main policy choices which lie before us: 1. Trim The Sails 2. Pray For Rain 3. Sell The Farm 4. Go To The Whip” Brennan thoroughly examined each avenue in the report. To “trim the sails” would not allow the law school to grow. To “pray for rain” would need to be a long-term goal where “a law school’s contribution to society, like the value of its impact on the life of an individual graduate, is more likely to be felt cumulatively, after a long period of time.” And to “sell the farm,” and be taken over by another university, would ultimately change what Cooley is and what it stands for. “There remains deep in the bones of the Cooley Law School family a fierce pride in our accomplishment here and in our independence,” stated Brennan. “We have gone it alone from humble beginnings, and built an institution in which we all take great satisfaction. “This Board, our faculty, the administrative staff, the students and alumni: We are Cooley Law School. We have made it what it is, and we can make it whatever we want it to be in the future.” Therefore, not surprisingly, his recommendation to the board was the fourth choice: Going to the whip – “and the one on which I place the greatest reliance. Going to the whip is nothing more nor less than trying harder.” “Going to the whip means doing more of what you do, and doing it better.” Cooley Law School grew from an acorn to an oak in a dozen years. There had to be a reason. We must have been doing something right. (continued on page 12) THERE REMAiNS dEEp iN THE BONES OF THE cOOLEy LAW ScHOOL FAMiLy iN OuR AccOMpLiSHMENT HERE ANd iN OuR iNdEpENdENcE. WE HAvE gONE iT ALONE FROM HuMBLE BEgiNNiNgS, ANd BuiLT AN iNSTiTuTiON iN WHicH WE ALL TAkE gREAT SATiSFAcTiON. HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN “ A FiERcE pRidE BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 11 feature The mission of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is to provide an accredited, affordable, accessible, nationally recognized and ethically oriented, professional program of practical legal scholarship in the law to as many qualified students as possible. That is a mission to which our commitment has never faltered. “But if we are going to do what we do, and do it better – it is important for us to know what it is we do. I would define it this way: The mission of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is to provide an accredited, affordable, accessible, nationally recognized and ethically oriented, professional program of practical legal scholarship in the law to as many qualified students as possible. That is a mission to which our commitment has never faltered. I believe it is a mission which remains as viable in 1986 as it was in 1973. It is said that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Surely difficult times command us to return to first principles, brush up on our fundamentals, stick to basics. At the same time a reasonable acumen suggests that we must look around and see how our basic mission can best be adapted to changing circumstances.” What Brennan outlined in his report back in 1986 is a reality today. He said that Cooley’s future viability as a big school depended on its ability to attract out-of-state students. Cooley Law School now attracts students from across the nation and worldwide. He talked about Cooley’s unique year-round, three divisional program. Cooley offers three entering classes a year, in September, January, and May. He talked about creating an affiliation with other institutions of higher education. Cooley has formed partnerships with Western Michigan University, Oakland University, Davenport University and Olivet College, and built numerous community ties and relationships with many other businesses and educational institutions. Also in 1986, Brennan talked about how Cooley, to be the law school of choice, needed to be a multi-campus national law school in a number of cities throughout the United States. Cooley now has five campuses, in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor, Mich., and in Tampa Bay, Fla. 12 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Brennan’s view of the legal profession in 1986 was equally prescient. “The law practice is becoming nationwide,” stated Brennan. And Brennan’s words in 1986 ring out in what Cooley states is its role in legal education today: “Cooley Law School teaches students the knowledge, skills, and ethics needed to be a success in the law and a valuable member of society. Cooley has developed a legal education curriculum and program designed to prepare its students for the practice of law through experienced-based teaching of lawyer skills. Students learn to apply legal theory to situations they may encounter as practicing attorneys. As part of Cooley’s Professionalism Plan, students are also taught the professionalism principles adopted by the Thomas M. Cooley Law School community.” The Hon. Thomas E. Brennan’s legacy to society is grounded in his commitment to providing a legal education to aspiring lawyers from all walks of life. That legacy now benefits not only many thousands of Cooley graduates, but likewise benefits people of all different races, cultures, and social backgrounds – citizens who reflect the vast diversity of today’s world. “Cooley already offers practice courses geared to other jurisdictions. Its diploma hangs on the walls in every state. A presence in many different cities would help to strengthen the national prestige of its diploma. A national faculty would generate among its members a greater appreciation for the laws and practices of other states, and a broader perspective of the application of the law and the role of our profession nationally.” Without question, Thomas E. Brennan had the long vision of what Cooley Law School should be and what it would become. Yet, the mission of Cooley is the same today as it was 40 years ago: “The mission of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is to prepare its graduates for entry into the legal profession through an integrated program with practical legal scholarship 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 meet Cooley’s rigorous academic standards.” His contribution is significant, but Brennan remains the same down-to-earth, familyoriented man he has always been. So what is important to him? A father of six and grandfather of 19, Brennan smiled and noted, “If I’m remembered by my grandchildren, that’ll make me happy.” “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 meet Cooley’s rigorous academic standards.” HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN HigHLigHTS Judge Brennan was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1953, and practiced law in Detroit for nine years. He was elected to the Detroit Common Pleas Court in 1961, advancing to the Wayne County Circuit Court and finally to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served as Chief Justice in 1969 and 1970. In 1972 Judge Brennan founded the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In 1974 he resigned from the court to become the school’s first full-time dean. During his decanal tenure, Judge Brennan founded the Cooley Legal Authors Society, the Student Bar Association, the Scholastic Review Board, the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review, and he designed the school’s year-round, three-times per year enrollment system. Judge Brennan served as president of the law school from 1979 until he retired on January 19, 2002, and also served on the board of directors from 1972 until 2002. The Honorable Thomas E. Brennan Law Library is named in his honor. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature 14 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature ALL ROADS LEAD TO COOLEY’S COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: HELEN P R AT T M I C K E N S It seems like a daily occurrence. You meet someone in the Lansing area, share that you work, attend, or have graduated from Cooley Law School, and the person typically responds with, “Do you know Helen Mickens?” We sure do. Helen Mickens (Bushnell Class, 1980) is quite possibly Cooley’s biggest community advocate, devoting nearly 35 years of her life and professional career to a region that she treasures deeply, celebrating its accomplishments and helping to strengthen it wherever possible. An avid world traveler with husband Charles, Helen holds Lansing as a cherished destination. Serving the community is not just a saying. It is a commitment deeply entrenched in Cooley’s mission of developing character and professional responsibility in future attorneys. And no one personifies this commitment better than Helen Mickens. As a longtime Lansing resident, Helen’s love for the region and all of the communities Cooley serves is clear. Not only does she attend many cultural events, she frequents museums and parks, participates in downtown programs, and has served on numerous community boards. She has also been instrumental in Cooley’s support of the arts and education throughout Michigan. Her enthusiasm for Cooley is tireless, first fueled, no doubt, by her experience there as a law student. Following her graduation in 1980, she returned to Cooley in 1982 as its assistant dean and has dedicated her career to Cooley ever since. Today, Mickens is embracing her associate dean emerita status, investing her talents and experience in Cooley’s expansive alumni community. The Benchmark recently caught up with Mickens to learn more about her future plans, and have her reflect on her accomplishments, rich memories, and inspirations. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 15 feature “ Makes Me Most Proud “Every so often a former student will tell me that something I said in class or said to them or did for them years ago greatly impacted their life. It’s all about the people. Knowing that I’ve had a positive impact on even one person’s life is what makes me most proud.” How did growing up on a farm give way to a legal career and such active community involvement? I grew up on a 100-acre farm just outside Kalamazoo with my two older brothers, Charles and Jim, and our cousin, Sonya. I recall when I was a 4-year-old child, before we moved to the farm, neighborhood friends would seek me out to resolve their backyard conflicts, even if I was the youngest. It was interesting to me that they would turn to me to resolve their conflicts. My father, Charles Pratt, was Kalamazoo County’s first African-American judge. My mother, Thelma, actively volunteered for decades for the Red Cross and at Borgess Hospital. My parents both listened well, and people from the community often came to them to ask for assistance or advice. What are some of your fondest memories as a Cooley student, albeit attending a far smaller law school than it is today? I enjoyed every aspect of my Cooley education. While it was hard work, my undergraduate studies at Kalamazoo College prepared me well. I also earned a master’s degree in Higher Education from Michigan State University. My father always said that learning is never wasted – you never know how, when and where it will be useful. I found my law school classes interesting and thought of them as an extension of my liberal arts education. Because our class had only 150 students and met as only one section, I got to know everyone. I met many wonderful people from all over the country and look back fondly on times with my classmates. Every single day was different, and each day brought its own challenges and excitement. I commuted five days a week to the Lansing campus from Kalamazoo in my Toyota Corolla that I bought brand new the week before law school began. By the time I graduated, that Corolla had over 100,000 miles on it! Tell us more about the path that led you to become Cooley’s associate dean. Just after passing the Michigan bar exam, I accepted a position in the Michigan Court of Appeals with Judge Michael Cavanaugh and spent two years enjoying that incredible experience. While I was at Kalamazoo College, many of my friends studied abroad and came back telling stories about places that I had never experienced. After completing my time with Judge Cavanaugh, I decided that I wanted to experience more of the world, and moved to Senegal, West Africa, for six months to learn French and teach English. When I returned to the States, I moved to New Orleans to get ready for the Louisiana bar exam. That’s when I received a call from Dean LeDuc asking me if I’d like to interview for the position of assistant dean. I was offered the position and was happy to be back in Michigan. I took and passed the Louisiana Bar later. What were those first years like? Early on, I coordinated graduations and standardized the exam procedures. I also had the privilege of working with students to find solutions for both personal and academic problems, ranging from substance abuse to learning challenges. I remember one student who was confined to bed because of her pregnancy, so I administered her exams at her home. And yes, I created the “no tobacco products” exam rule after one student complained about a young man incessantly chewing and spitting tobacco during an exam. I also created the “no unauthorized persons in the exam room” rule after one woman insisted on taking her five-year-old son to an exam. Looking back on your 30-plus years as assistant and, most recently, associate dean, what accomplishment makes you most proud? Every so often a former student will tell me that something I said in class or said to them or did for them years ago greatly impacted their life. It’s all about the people. Knowing that I’ve had a positive impact on even one person’s life is what makes me most proud. You’ve been associated with Cooley for 34 of its 40-year history. What do you appreciate most about Cooley Law School? First, I respect that Cooley has been true to its mission of practical legal education since the day it was founded. I appreciate and fondly recall my students. Second, the people I work with are smart, kind, generous and thoughtful. They have been wonderful. I have enjoyed working with Dean Don LeDuc and seeing the progress he’s brought to the law school over the years. I also enjoyed working with deans Michael Cox and Peter Kempel. Third, I’m proud that Cooley has given and continues to give so much to the community at every campus. 16 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Charles Mickens, Jean Michel, and Helen Mickens During a Visit to Beaune, France Your list of community involvements is both wide-ranging and long-serving. What are you passionate about? In my involvement with the Capitol Region Community Foundation and the Lansing Rotary, I’ve had a great opportunity to learn about and advocate funding for innovative community projects that make a long-term difference in the community. Following my 12 years of riding the bus nearly every single day during the 1990s, I greatly appreciate public transportation and the rich and diverse conversations those rides provide. So often people in comfortable lifestyles don’t realize the deep impact that a lack of transportation can have on someone’s life. I am a strong advocate for Lansing’s CATA (Capital Area Transportation Authority). More recently I’ve been involved with ePIFany (PIF Pass It Forward) Now, an organization that works to create a positive community “revolution” through small, random acts of kindness. Last summer, my husband, Charles, and I went to a local gas station where we paid for a stranger’s gas. One woman began crying tears of thankfulness, as she had been out of work for the last two years. This was a special moment. What challenges have you overcome during your time at Cooley? I’ve had multiple sclerosis (MS) for the past 10 years. My mother’s sister was bedridden with MS at a time when medications and other treatment tools weren’t available. I knew that my mother would have been devastated if she found out I had MS, so I didn’t share my diagnosis with many people until her passing. I have some discomfort and other problems including fatigue, but I consider myself very lucky overall compared to some with this progressive, debilitating disease. What is your guiding philosophy in life? Be nice. You never know what kind of day someone is having, so always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. One kind word or helpful hand can greatly impact others’ lives. People remember the little things. I hope that is how people remember me – as someone who was helpful as well as nice. How do you like to unwind? We enjoy old as well as new, eclectic, locally owned restaurants. We are particularly fond of contemporary art and enjoy visiting art museums, especially MSU’s new Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum. And travel is a passion of ours. Charles and I especially enjoy New Orleans, France, and China. Are there any books that you have read and enjoyed recently? • Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip, by Peter Hessler “ • A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson • Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young English Woman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, by Paul French • The SharperYour Knife the LessYou Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears in Paris at theWorld’s Most Famous Cooking School, by Kathleen Flinn What’s ahead in your new position as Associate Dean Emerita? I’d like to reacquaint some of Cooley’s early graduates with the school that Cooley has become in 2013. In the 34 years that I’ve been associated with Cooley, I’ve seen the school go through many changes, and I think many of our 17,000-plus graduates would be astounded to see all that Cooley is today. Like a lot of things in my life, it will be another great adventure. Words To Live By “Be nice. You never know what kind of day someone is having, so always try to give them the beneﬁt of the doubt. One kind word or helpful hand can greatly impact others’ lives.” BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 17 feature 18 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 PLANNING AND ASSESSMENT ARE KEY TO COOLEY’S SUCCESS ANN MILLER WOOD Gaining approval of Cooley Law School from the American Bar Association and Higher Learning Commission • Establishing accreditation for Cooley’s joint degree programs with other universities • Creating 11 new experiential education clinics • Building one of the largest externship programs in the world Not many could accomplish any single one of these feats. Ann Miller Wood has accomplished all of them, and many more. feature 3,000 When you ask the longtime Cooley Associate Dean of Planning, Programs, and Assessment about her career, she quickly steers the conversation away from herself and instead focuses on the students she serves. Her unwavering dedication to practical legal education has greatly impacted the law school experience for thousands of Cooley students. Additionally, her passion for helping individuals access legal services has changed the lives of many clients and inspired students to work for those in need. As she moves to senior emerita status, Ann will continue building Cooley’s clinical internship and externship efforts, including its new clinic in Tampa Bay. “It is rare to find someone who takes on every single challenge with the passion, poise, and hard work that Ann does. Cooley proudly salutes Ann for her years of dedication to the school,” stated Cooley President Don LeDuc. Ann reflects on her 22-year Cooley career and her future plans. + 20 + 11 CLINICAL PROGRAMS Since 1986, you have served the Cooley community as a professor, director of legal clinics, and associate dean. Why did you choose to dedicate so much of your career to Cooley? In my time at Legal Aid of Central Michigan, I had the privilege of coaching Cooley students who volunteered to work with me. I loved watching their skills develop through complex cases and always respected the training that Cooley graduates received. Because of this, when Cooley announced an opening in the Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic, a clinic that always intrigued me, I was thrilled to join Cooley first as a visiting professor, then a faculty member, and later as the clinic’s full-time director. Throughout the years, I have always been extremely proud to work at an institution that provides extensive opportunities for students to receive a practical legal education. Since the day it was founded, Cooley has recognized the importance of an education that allows students to jump directly into the workplace. The rest of academia has recently seen the benefits of this type of education and are now beginning to adopt similar programs themselves. In this sense, Cooley has been a groundbreaker. Looking back on your 20-plus years as associate dean, what specific accomplishment makes you most proud? When I came to Cooley, I shared the goal of readying graduates to enter the work force. They had to be able to carry a case through from beginning to end, so I decided it was imperative that we continue developing our experiential education programs. I am proud of the way these programs have grown. We now offer 11 Cooley clinics and over 3,000 externships around the world. No matter what area of law students are interested in, or where they are located, Cooley can offer practical legal experience in practice areas that they enjoy. I believe this is the best kind of education in the world. EXTERNSHIP SITES AROUND THE WORLD YEARS AS ASSOCIATE DEAN “It is rare to find someone who takes on every single challenge with the passion, poise, and hard work that Ann does. Cooley proudly salutes Ann for her years of dedication to the school,” stated Cooley President Don LeDuc. After studying history and English at New York’s Binghamton University, you entered the journalism field as a copy editor. What made you change career paths and switch gears from the news business to law? I realized journalism wasn’t for me the night of a horrible traffic accident. I saw everyone else in the newsroom light up as they discussed how they’d cover the story. Meanwhile, I couldn’t get past how terribly tragic this accident was. That night, I decided that I wanted my career to be about preventing disaster, rather than waiting for it to happen. As a journalist, I also saw issues that needed legal experts to help address them. One of the motivating factors that sent me to law school was the Attica Prison riot of 1971. In covering a story, I met several survivors of that riot and realized that many of the issues remained to be addressed years later. Throughout your career, you have always focused on serving people without the means or understanding of legal representation. What motivates you to do this? Following my work as an assistant clerk at the Michigan Court of Appeals, I did some reflecting on practicing as a traditional lawyer or as a legal aid attorney. While I could have had a high-paying corporate job, my true passion has always been for serving low-income clients. In my first case as an attorney at Legal Aid of Central Michigan, I represented a client who had been accused of food stamp fraud after an unintentional mailing error. While the case was settled for a few hundred dollars, for this client it was the difference between having money to eat or not. I experienced the joy of being a good advocate, and this truly is something no amount of money can buy. 20 Ann Miller Wood with Clinical Students BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Is there a program at Cooley that you’re particularly excited about right now? I’m excited about Cooley’s latest clinic, now open at our Tampa Bay campus. The reception we’ve received from the legal community there has been wonderful. This clinic will be a great service to the community. As you transition to your new position, on what do you hope to focus, particularly as you work on clinical internship and externship efforts? I’m eager to continue working on the externship program. I’m looking forward to working with Chris Church, associate dean of practice and performance skills, on how Cooley can enhance its experiential education for remote students. Tell us about your family. My husband, Jim, is recently retired from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Trained as a fisheries biologist, he remains curious and full of wonder at the natural world. Since the day I met him, he’s always been exploring and we are looking forward to doing more of this together. Our daughter Abby, 21, is a senior studying English and theatre at Kalamazoo College. Growing up as an only child, she had to keep up with the dinner conversations, so she’s always been adept with words. And of course I cannot fail to mention our German short-hair named Ruby. Ruby has boundless energy and loves to play by the river and in the woods on our property. Keeping up with her keeps us all active. What types of activities do you enjoy in your free time? Our family has always enjoyed the “roughing it” thing. In our free time, you’ll usually find us doing something outdoors. Last summer we went up to the Quetico Provincial Park in Canada for a week of canoeing, portaging and fishing. And we are all scuba divers. Some of our favorite places to dive are the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Greece. My family has a cabin in the Upper Peninsula, and we hope to spend more time up there as I have more free time. Are there any particular books that have stood out to you or influenced you throughout your life? What is on your bookshelf or Kindle right now? As far as legal books go, I’ve always enjoyed books that grapple with the ethical challenges and questions that all lawyers face. Two of my favorites are To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and Anatomy of a Murder, by Robert Traver. My husband is part Native American, so my daughter always asked lots of questions about her heritage. I began reading lots of books about Native Americans that dealt with issues of travel, justice and cultural challenges. Louise Erdrich and Barbara Kingsolver are two of my favorite authors in this genre. Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar has also been very influential. I am a yoga teacher and have been involved in spiritual training for over 15 years. I highly recommend yoga to law students as a way to handle stress in a healthy manner. What advice do you have for Cooley students? Don’t worry about following a set path for your career or for your life. Make yourself available, be open to new opportunities, and follow wherever these opportunities lead. When you do this, you’ll find that things work out wonderfully in the end. Throughout the years, I have always been extremely proud to work at an institution that provides extensive opportunities for students to receive a practical legal education. Innocence Project Mock Trial Program Externship Program BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 21 CHERIE BECK Corporate Secretary, Executive Assistant to the President, and Associate Legal Counsel feature “Thinking back, I can’t imagine where the time has gone,” Cherie Beck said. “But I can say that working for the president, the board of directors, and the general counsel’s office has been extremely fulfilling.The work has been challenging and diverse, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” When Cherie Beck started working as Polly Brennan’s personal secretary in 1979, she had no idea that six months later she would become the executive secretary to her boss’ husband, the president and founder of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Thomas E. Brennan. “After Justice Brennan interviewed me and offered me the job, I asked him when I would begin, and I will never forget his words,” she said. “He pointed and said, ‘There is your desk. You begin now.’ So I did.” Thirty-three years later, Beck now serves as executive assistant to Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, corporate secretary, and associate legal counsel. She staffs Cooley’s Board of Directors and handles legal affairs for the school. Her journey to these roles began right after she graduated from what was then Davenport College with a legal secretary degree. “The placement office at Davenport told me that Cooley Law School had an opening for a secretary,” Beck said. “The position was to support Mrs. Brennan, the wife of the Hon. Thomas E. Brennan, who at the time was working on the school’s first oratory contest and needed secretarial assistance. I applied, the interview went well, and I accepted the position. It was a decision I have never regretted.” In addition to her work assisting Polly, Beck supported the directors of personnel, communications and operations. She proved to be a diligent and committed worker, and, after six months, Polly recommended her for the position of executive secretary to the president of Cooley. She was offered the job immediately, but as a recent college graduate, she had some reservations. “I knew Justice Brennan was a former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and now the president of a law school, and I was only six months into my first job out of college,” Beck said. “But I was so thankful for the opportunity, and, between working for Justice and Mrs. Brennan, I learned so much about working in business, for a graduate school and about professionalism.” Beck decided to return to Davenport and get her bachelor’s degree, and Justice Brennan then pushed her to consider law school. “He constantly told me how valuable a legal education was; not just to practice law, but for any profession,” she said. “He kept encouraging me to go to law school. So after graduating from Davenport University with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to take the LSAT to see if I qualified to get in to Cooley. I did, so I applied and was accepted.” Beck followed Cooley’s standard three-year program and attended classes in the evenings, the afternoons, and the weekends. In addition to her coursework, she continued to work full-time as Justice Brennan’s secretary and spent all of her spare time studying. It was hard, but she pushed through and graduated with the Richard C. Flannigan Class in January 1999. “I would say going to law school was the most challenging and satisfying thing I have ever done and it changed me as a person by giving me more self-confidence,” she said. After Beck passed the Michigan bar exam, Justice Brennan appointed her Cooley’s assistant legal counsel. In addition to this new position, she remained his executive assistant. Following Justice Brennan’s retirement, Beck began working as President Don LeDuc’s executive assistant. LeDuc, like Justice and Mrs. Brennan before him, recognized Beck’s potential and recommended to Cooley’s board of directors that she be elected as the school’s corporate secretary. As Beck’s duties increased within the general counsel’s office, LeDuc promoted her from assistant legal counsel to associate legal counsel. Now serving in all three of these positions, one could certainly say that Beck has come a long way since her days as Mrs. Brennan’s personal secretary. With the recent celebration of her 33rd anniversary with Cooley, she had time to reflect on that journey. “Thinking back, I can’t imagine where the time has gone,” she said. “But I can say that working for the president, the board of directors, and the general counsel’s office has been extremely fulfilling. The work has been challenging and diverse, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” decision The best CHERIE BECK BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 23 feature Cooley— It’s my MARYLYNN BAIN “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for Cooley,” Marylynn Bain said. “The school is such an important part of my life, and I am thankful every day for how much it has helped me grow both as a person and as a professional.” “It’s my life. I have been met with significant challenges and opportunities and am forever grateful for everything Cooley has afforded me, but it’s all the people and the family atmosphere that make working at Cooley so special.” These are the words of Marylynn (Curtis) Bain, Cooley Law School’s first employee. Cooley Law School has had few days during which Bain did not report for duty. Her lifelong career at Cooley began on March 19, 1973, just months after the school opened its doors. “I interviewed with both Justice Thomas Brennan (Cooley’s founder) and his wife Polly,” recalled Bain. “After meeting the Brennans and visiting the law school, I was extremely excited at the opportunity to work at Cooley.” Bain has done it all during her time at the law school. The early days were filled with a multitude of tasks including managing law school applications, registering students, assisting with exams, recording grades, and day-to-day contact with faculty and students. Her responsibilities even included filling the pop machines. While working at Cooley, Bain attended Michigan State University and graduated with a bachelor of arts in business administration. Over the years she has held positions as: registrar, manager of Cooley Lawyers Credit Union, director of placement and alumni relations, and special assistant to the president, among other responsibilities. As the years passed, Bain’s responsibilities continued to evolve. She is now director of enrollment data systems and led the effort to implement Cooley’s first comprehensive student information system. She works closely with many departments to help meet their data management needs and provides critical information to Cooley leaders as they make decisions to move the law school forward. “Because of her knowledge, skills and expertise, Marylynn is an invaluable resource,” said Paul Zelenski, Cooley’s associate dean for enrollment and student services. “Beyond her work, she is a friend to many and a trusted colleague.” Bain has seen Cooley grow from a fledgling law school to a driving force in legal education. And while the size of the school has increased, the Cooley family atmosphere remains the same because of people like Bain. She is quick to point out that Brennan created the family culture. “There have been a number of moments over the years that have made me proud to work at Cooley, but the oldest and most significant was when Justice Brennan resigned from the Supreme Court to become the full-time dean of the law school,” said Bain. “I was there with his family and the reporters when he announced his resignation.” In the simplest terms, Bain loves Cooley Law School, and that love is evident in her work. Every day she puts the interests of the institution and its students at the forefront of her daily duties. She even met her husband John (Smith Class, 1985) while he was a student at Cooley. Marylynn and John raised three great children, Jennifer, John and Laura. “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for Cooley,” she said. “The school is such an important part of my life, and I am thankful every day for how much it has helped me grow both as a person and as a professional.” life 24 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature M A R Y LY N N B A I N Director of Enrollment Data Systems and Cooley’s First Employee BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 25 feature WE SALUTE 26 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature YOU. The following pages depict just a small sample of a growing list of Cooley Law School graduates who have gone on to do great things. Find out more at cooley.edu/leaders As we mark Cooley’s 40th anniversary, we salute and pay tribute to Cooley’s successful alumni from across the nation and around the world. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 27 Bill Cox Law Texas WILLIAM D. COX III Lobbyist and Director at Governmental Consultant Services Inc. Michigan NELL KUHNMUENCH Judge of the 36th Judicial District Court Michigan HON. KEVIN ROBBINS Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP Washington, D.C. ERIC BREISACH U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Michigan COL. RODNEY WILLIAMS (RET.) Zelman & Hanlon, P .A. Florida SHARON HANLON Nolan,Thomsen & Villas, P .C. Michigan LAWRENCE P. NOLAN Former U.S. Congressman; Partner, Venable LLP Washington, D.C. HON. BART STUPAK President & CEO, Liberty Partners New York G. MICHAEL STAKIAS Chief Communications Officer for the Big Ten Conference Illinois DIANE DIETZ General Partner, Focus Ventures California KEVIN MCQUILLAN Smulders Law Office, PLLC Michigan VALERIE SMULDERS Kent Law Firm, LLC South Carolina SHAUN C. KENT New York State Senator New York HON. MARK GRISANTI Member of the House of Councillors, The National Diet of Japan Japan HON. RUBY MAKIYAMA Former Governor of Michigan and President of the Business Roundtable Washington, D.C. HON. JOHN ENGLER Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals Michigan HON. JANE MARKEY John C. Heugel Attorney at Law Wisconsin JOHN C. HEUGEL Cline, Cline & Griffin Michigan JOSĂ‰ BROWN Former Judge of the Berrien County Circuit Court and International Judge in Kosovo and Bosnia Michigan HON. JOHN FIELDS New Jersey State Senator New Jersey HON. NICHOLAS P. SCUTARI President and CEO, Sparrow Health System Michigan DENNIS SWAN Judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court Missouri HON. ELIZABETH HOGAN Kahloon Pasic & Lewis Law Firm Kentucky KHALID KAHLOON Senior Legal Officer for International Justice in the Open Society Justice Initiative New York DR. KELLY ASKIN Senior Director at Alvarez & Marsal Washington, D.C. EDWARD GIBSON Member of the Michigan House of Representatives Michigan HON. RASHIDA TLAIB They have become leaders. We are proud of them. Chief Judge of the 63rd Judicial District Court Michigan HON. SARA J. SMOLENSKI Martinez & Odom Law Group Florida DR. NICK MARTINEZ Member, Bodman PLC Michigan JAMES J. VLASIC Senior Counsel, Whirlpool Corporation Michigan DAVID GRUMBINE Chang Law Firm California SZU-YU CHANG Diversity & Inclusion Counsel, Varnum LLP Michigan ELIZABETH JOY FOSSEL NHL Head Coach,Tampa Bay Lightning Florida JON COOPER Former U.S. Congressman; President and CEO, Club for Growth Washington, D.C. HON. CHRIS CHOCOLA President and CEO, Northwood University Michigan KEITH PRETTY Senior Vice President and General Counsel, CMS Energy and Consumers Energy Michigan CATHERINE M. REYNOLDS Director of Industry Outreach, Microsoft Corporation Washington BILL NIELSEN Judge of the Wayne County Circuit Court Michigan HON. VONDA EVANS Friedman & Associates PATRICK BAKOS Toronto, Ontario, Canada Senior Legal Advisor, U.S. Army JAG Corps, Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands (APH) Program Afghanistan MAJOR ERIC A. JONKER Founder and Partner, Benner and Piperato, P.C. Pennsylvania DENNIS BENNER Senior Vice President, PGA TOUR Florida ROSS BERLIN Lansing City Attorney Michigan JANENE MCINTYRE Executive Vice President and Special Counsel to Donald J.Trump at the Trump Organization New York MICHAEL D. COHEN feature Grand Rapids Campus Tampa Bay Campus Lansing Campus Tampa Bay Campus l milestones. Cooley Law School Celebrates Milestones and National Recognition 10 20 30 40 Ann Arbor Campus feature Auburn Hills Campus Lansing Campus Grand Rapids Campus Throughout 2013, Cooley Law School celebrates its 40th anniversary. In addition to this major milestone, Cooley is also celebrating the 10th anniversaries of its Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids, Mich., campuses, plus its LL.M. Programs. Auburn Hills Campus Ten years ago, the school expanded to Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids to accommodate the rising demand for a Cooley education. The school’s innovative approach to legal education had prospective students from not only Michigan but around the world taking notice. The success of the Cooley model, which includes courses taught by real-world practitioners and flexible, year-round scheduling options, easily took hold in these new locations. “Cooley is about offering the highest quality legal education experience,” said Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. “The school stresses legal knowledge, practice skills and professional ethics; concepts that are now receiving much attention in legal education, but have been in place at Cooley since its founding.” The school continued its expansion with the opening of a campus in Ann Arbor, Mich., in September 2009 and a campus in Riverview, Fla., in May 2012, making Cooley the only American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law school in the country with five campuses. Each campus has had a significant impact on the community it calls home. Cooley Temple Conference Center / Lansing BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 29 feature AUBURN HILLS CELEBRATES ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY But perhaps the greatest impact felt by the Auburn Hills community has been the campus’ 2008 move from Oakland University to its own 67-acre LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silvercertified location, making the city home to only the fourth law school in the nation with LEED status. The 132,000-square-foot facility is the most technologically advanced law school in southeast Michigan, with wireless Internet access throughout the building, two high-tech courtrooms, four high-definition distance-education classrooms, two computer labs, and class podcasting capabilities. Nine months after opening its Auburn Hills campus, Cooley opened another campus in Grand Rapids, Mich. In May 2003, the school began offering courses to law students at Western Michigan University’s Grand Rapids campus while Cooley constructed a new, 100,000-square-foot facility in the city’s Heartside District. The addition of Cooley’s campus to the once downtrodden district encouraged other development, and the area is now a dynamic, urban neighborhood that boasts a thriving business sector and lively arts and entertainment culture. “The impact began with the campus’ $25 million facility in the redeveloping district just south of the Van Andel Arena,” Associate Dean Nelson Miller said. “The campus’ location encouraged the development of other vacant sites nearby and the location also gave the Heartside District the benefit of the school’s pro bono services and its Access to Justice Clinic.” Cooley students and faculty continue these community revitalization efforts by maintaining pro bono and community service projects near the campus at soup kitchens, missions, cultural centers, chambers of commerce, courts, nonprofits and schools. GRAND RAPIDS CAMPUS TURNS 10 The Auburn Hills campus, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in September 2012, began offering classes on the campus of Oakland University in 2002. At that time, there was only one other ABA-approved branch campus in the entire country, and no law school had successfully started one since 1989. The campus opened with just 28 students, three offices and one 40-seat classroom.Ten years later, the student body has grown to nearly 600 students, which would rank the campus in the top third of all ABA-approved law schools in terms of enrollment.The campus is also one of the most diverse in the country, with women comprising 44 percent of the population and African Americans and Hispanics comprising 24 percent. The total student population has had a substantial economic impact on the Auburn Hills community. “Because of the influx of students we attract, the city is redeveloping its downtown area to become a ‘college’ town, including the construction of a 100-unit downtown apartment and retail complex for our students and medical graduate students from Oakland University,” said Associate Dean John Nussbaumer. “The community has really embraced our students and we are thankful for that.” The Auburn Hills community has also welcomed Cooley’s volunteer programs and outreach efforts. For example, the 10CORE Law Society, which was established by Cooley Associate Professor Florise Neville-Ewell, seeks to educate the public about housing issues in an effort to protect them from fraudulent and unfair real estate practices. GREEN ROOF / AUBURN HILLS CAMPUS USGBC “Our outreach to the community grew organically from the pro bono and community service interests of our faculty and staff,” Nussbaumer said. “We allowed them to pursue their passions, and the students followed their lead. This culminated in November 2012 with a proclamation of appreciation from the Oakland County Board of Commissioners, which honored the campus because it has ‘aided the greater community through its exceptional outreach efforts led by faculty and supported by students.’” Cooley’s Auburn Hills 67-acre location is one of only four law schools in the nation with LEED status. “It was important to the Auburn Hills faculty, administration, and student body that the new location incorporate technology and sustainable practices because we have big plans for the future of our campus,” Nussbaumer said. “In 10 years, I think the campus will be an even more established and respected member of the southeast Michigan educational community, known for the quality of our graduates and our service to those less fortunate than ourselves. We will also continue our longstanding tradition of providing access to a high-quality and affordable legal education to thousands of students who otherwise would never have had the chance to become a member of the legal profession.” “Community involvement has been both the plan and a natural result of the campus’ growth, as the school’s strategic vision includes creating and sustaining key community partnerships,” Miller said. “The campus carried forward the school’s partnering strategy at several levels. In addition to partnerships with area government agencies and the professional community, the campus developed service community partnerships with Mel Trotter Ministries, the Justice for Our Neighbors immigration program, the Hispanic Center of West Michigan and many other organizations. Students come to the campus with admirable service commitments. We want them to preserve, carry out, and expand those commitments while here in Grand Rapids.” Above all else, the campus’ strong commitment to educating the next generation of lawyers will have the greatest impact, one felt not only in Grand Rapids, but across the country. distinguished faculty • practical skills • community outreach 30 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature Faculty Members for Cooley’s LL.M. Programs (Front Row Left to Right); Lisa Demoss, Gina M. Torielli, E. Christopher Johnson, Jr., Joni Larson, (Back Row) Michael C.H. McDaniel, James Carey, David C. Berry, and Gerald T. Tschura (Left) Associate Dean and Professor Nelson Miller, and (Right) Professor Phillip J. Prygoski “Over the past 10 years, the campus has successfully educated hundreds of graduates who have passed bar exams here in Grand Rapids and in states across the country and now practice law for the benefit of their home communities,” Miller said. “In the next 10 years, the campus will be even more closely connected with the community and its government, educational and private community partners. It will also have graduated more lawyers who, because of cost, schedule, and other access issues, might not have had a chance elsewhere, and it will have prepared those lawyers even better for the kind of generative law practice that enriches communities.” COOLEY CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF MASTER OF LAWS PROGRAMS to grow personally and professionally and to broaden their career opportunities.” Cooley’s LL.M. programs are offered at any of its Michigan campuses, with a number of the programs offered online.The seven programs include: Tax, Intellectual Property, Corporate Law & Finance, Insurance Law, Homeland & National Security, Self-Directed Study, and U.S. Legal Studies for Foreign Attorneys. COOLEY FACULTY MEMBERS SELECTED AS “BEST LAW TEACHERS” IN THE NATION Each chapter in What the Best Law Teachers Do focuses on a theme common to all of these outstanding law teachers, including: how they relate to students, prepare for class, teach, provide feedback and assess their students’ learning, as well as what they expect of their students, and the personal qualities they share. Prygoski is credited in the book as being passionate and told the authors, “I think a big part of motivation. . . is the passion for the subject . . . and if they (the students) see that you’re passionate, you’re jacked up about it, and that you care, they’re going to buy into it.” 2013 is full of celebrations and anniversaries at Cooley Law School. In addition to the school’s 40th anniversary of its founding and the 10 year milestones at the Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids campuses, Cooley celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Master of Laws Programs. Thomas M. Cooley Law School has the distinction of being the only law school in the country with two members of its faculty featured in the recently published book What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013). The book names Associate Dean Nelson Miller and Professor Phillip J. Prygoski as two of the 26 “best law teachers” in the United States. Created in 2003, the Master of Laws Programs (LL.M.) provide recent graduates and practitioners with an innovative education that combines theory and practice while enhancing an individual’s area of specialty, benefiting the professional community at large. In the 10 years since its founding, the LL.M. Programs have helped numerous J.D. graduates improve their legal knowledge and career opportunities. “Cooley’s LL.M. programs target both complex and developing areas of law,” said Associate Dean of Faculty and LL.M. Programs Charles P. Cercone. “I am most proud of the tremendous lawyers who left their prestigious law practices to become professors here and to lead these programs. Over the last 10 years they have provided our LL.M. students with the opportunity Authored by Professor Gerry Hess, of Gonzaga University School of Law; Professor Sophie Sparrow, of the University of New Hampshire School of Law; and Michael Hunter Schwartz, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, the book is the culmination of a four-year study that sought to identify extraordinary law teachers. The study details the attributes and practices of professors who have a significant, positive, and long-term effect on their students. As part of the research for the book, the authors visited each of their 26 subjects at their respective law schools so they could observe classroom behavior and conduct lengthy interviews with professors, deans, colleagues, students, and alumni. Most often, according to Sparrow, the authors left these visits feeling moved, inspired, and excited to make changes to their own teaching methods based on what they observed and heard. A student of Miller’s is quoted in the book as saying, “At the end of the term he gave this 20-minute talk about the importance of torts and the relevance today, and I left feeling really fired up because he was fired up about it…It’s like, here’s something to get excited about; here’s a way to make a difference in the world.” “It comes as no surprise that Cooley has two professors listed as the best in their profession. Cooley is extremely fortunate to have Nelson Miller and Phil Prygoski named as two of the ‘best law faculty’ in the country,” said Cooley Law School Associate Dean of Faculty Charles Cercone. “Cooley has strived to bring only the best practitioners into the ranks of the school’s professors since its beginning in 1973. We are honored to have both Phil and Nelson on our team.” According to Hess, “All of the teachers we studied are regarded as being among the most rigorous professors at their law schools, that have high expectations of every student, yet they also are known for their kindness to their students.They foster self-confidence in their students and inspire in them a belief that they are capable of great things. They get to know their students as people and manifest caring and respect for their students. These teachers model hard work, creativity, and humility.” • five campuses •award-winning professionalism program BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 31 feature ABA OFFICIAL GUIDES SHOW COOLEY WITH THE MOST MINORITY STUDENT GRADUATES “The two largest racial and ethnic groups that face the greatest discrimination in American legal education today are African-Americans and Hispanics,” Nussbaumer continued. “During the first decade of this century, nearly two-thirds of all African-American applicants, and nearly half of all Hispanic applicants, were denied admission to every ABA-approved law school to which they applied, compared to less than one-third of all Caucasian applicants. Among these two groups, Cooley ranked third nationally in African-American graduates, and eighth in Hispanic graduates.” through strategic writing. Abraham was the founding faculty advisor of Cooley’s Law Review in 1981, and also taught Torts and Legal Research for the law school. Data from the last five annual editions of the American Bar Association (ABA) Official Guide to Law Schools show that Thomas M. Cooley Law School graduated 958 minority law students during the five years covered, more than any other law school in the country. Cooley’s minority graduation total was first, followed by Harvard with 865 graduates, Loyola Marymount with 784 graduates, Georgetown with 775 graduates, and American University with 747 graduates. Associate Dean John Nussbaumer discussed Cooley’s access to legal education programs and diversity initiatives at the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession’s State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession speaker series.The series visited Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Washington D.C. The focus was on relevant diversity data and statistics, the various facets of diversity in the legal profession, and promising strategies, programs and initiatives from around the country. “Cooley’s mission includes ‘providing broad access to those who seek the opportunity to study law, while requiring those to whom that opportunity is offered to meet Cooley’s rigorous academic standards,’” stated Nussbaumer. “One major benefit of this part of Cooley’s mission is the extent to which we are helping to diversify the legal profession, and this is an extremely important task.” The ABA Official Guides track graduation numbers in several different minority graduate categories, including African-American graduates, Hispanic graduates, Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander graduates, and American Indian/Alaskan Native graduates. Dean Nussbaumer’s research shows that only four schools in the country made the top 20 list in all four of these categories – American University, George Washington University, Harvard University, and Cooley Law School. Data showed that Cooley had 439 African-American graduates, 222 Hispanic graduates, 238 Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander graduates, and 17 American Indian/Alaskan Native graduates. “Cooley is working to reverse this discrimination by providing a high-quality and affordable legal education to thousands of students who otherwise would never have had the chance to become a member of the legal profession,” said Nussbaumer. “I think this is one of our school’s most significant accomplishments.” “ “Having the foremost expert on English usage, Bryan Garner, and the foremost expert on plain English, Joe Kimble, made this a special conference that the law students won’t soon forget,” Charles said. Students also gained important judicial viewpoints about the use and value of law review articles during a panel presentation given by Hon. Richard Suhrheinrich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Hon. Stephen Markman of the Michigan Supreme Court, and Hon. Jane Markey (Dethmers Class, 1981) of the Michigan Court of Appeals. As the finale, all the law review students were entertained and amazed by Joe Castillo, the world’s best sand artist and finalist on America’s Got Talent.® The four-day conference included a choice of more than 20 sessions. Law Review students listened to Cooley Professor Joseph Kimble, editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing and the longtime editor of the “Plain Language” column in the Michigan Bar Journal, discuss word usage and how to be an expert on the subject.They were enlightened by nationally renowned speaker Bryan Garner, the prolific author, founder of LawProse and editor of Black’s Law Dictionary. “Secretary Abraham’s talk at the conference was uplifting,” said Bradley Charles, Cooley Law School assistant professor and chair of the National Conference of Law Reviews. “He helped the students understand that their work on law reviews is important. And he was very entertaining as well.” In January 1973, Cooley Law School opened its doors in downtown Lansing, Mich. to Cooley’s first entering class of students. Forty years later, Cooley welcomed over 250 law review students from 62 different law schools as host of the 59th Annual National Conference of Law Reviews. Cooley put together the best of legal writing and entertainment to create an outstanding experience for law review students.With the theme “Best Practices,” keynote speaker, former U.S. Secretary of Energy and former U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham spoke to the students about the importance of what they do on law review, engaged them in stories from his career experience, and provided students with tips to improve law reviews COOLEY LANSING CELEBRATES 40 YEARS BY HOSTING NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF LAW REVIEWS outstanding facilities • affordability • vibrant communities 32 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 “ The National Conference of Law Reviews offered law review editors the opportunity to share ideas and discuss issues related to student-edited law publications. The annual conference included panels of faculty advisers, law review editors and academic authors. Conference attendees had the opportunity to hear from various members of the legal community, meet with publishing editors and socialize with diverse groups of law review editors. “Law reviews and journals are being forced to transition to a more digital world, and the National Conference of Law Reviews is the only forum for them to get together and share solutions,” Charles said. “That’s why we were able to get 62 different law schools to attend this year’s conference.” feature ANN ARBOR CAMPUS ACHIEVES FULL ABA APPROVAL DEDICATION CEREMONY FORMALLY MARKS TAMPA BAY CAMPUS OPENING Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus also had reason to celebrate. On June 20, 2012, the American Bar Association, Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, granted full approval to the campus and determined that both Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus and the law school itself were in full compliance with ABA standards. Most Minority Student Graduates On Oct. 31, 2012, over 250 people attended Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting at 9445 Camden Field Parkway, Riverview, Fla. The Florida campus is Cooley’s fifth campus and the first outside of Michigan. “We are pleased that the council saw fit to grant both provisional approval and final approval at the same time,” said Cooley President Don LeDuc. “The ABA’s approval reflects the outstanding work of Ann Arbor Associate Dean Joan Vestrand and her dedicated faculty and staff.” In recommending approval, the Council’s Accreditation Committee noted the diversity of Cooley’s student body (29 percent minority) and faculty (21 percent minority), Cooley’s clinical programs and externship placement sites, the wide variety of pro bono opportunities for the Ann Arbor students, and the quality of Cooley’s teachers, staff, and facilities. “I am so proud of the way Ann Arbor has embraced Cooley and our students and welcomed us into its courtrooms, law firms, businesses, and the community,” said Associate Dean Vestrand. “It is an honor to have the council recognize our efforts in providing great legal education and public service.” Additionally, Cooley Ann Arbor’s Immigrant Rights and Civil Advocacy clinic, under the leadership of Associate Professor Jason Eyster, was wholeheartedly embraced by the Ann Arbor community in January 2012 after many discussions and focus groups with legal community leaders in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County determined the need for this type of legal service. The clinic was designed to give students real-life experience in an area of the law that is currently underserved locally as well as nationally. Ann Arbor Campus Don LeDuc, Cooley president and dean, and the Hon. Thomas E. Brennan, Cooley’s founder, attended the event, along with an impressive number of leaders from the community and across the state of Florida. Speakers included Al Higginbotham, Hillsborough County Commissioner; Sharon Hanlon, attorney Zelman & Hanlon P.A. and Cooley Board member; the Hon. Emiliano Jose Salcines of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal; Gwynne Young, president of the Florida State Bar; Robert Nader, president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, and Jeff Martlew, associate dean of the Cooley Tampa Bay campus. “We’re excited to begin a new chapter for Cooley Law School in Tampa Bay and dedicate a campus for our growing student population outside of Michigan,” said LeDuc. The Tampa Bay campus began offering evening classes to 109 students in May 2012.The full curriculum for the campus will be rolled out over a three-year period. Once it is in place, Cooley will employ approximately 53 full-time faculty and staff and about 35 part-time faculty in the Tampa Bay area. “This campus is an exceptional learning environment because it has been tailored to meet the educational needs of today’s law students,” said Martlew. “We are pleased with the enthusiastic reception of the local bench and bar, and we look forward to building a strong relationship with the Tampa Bay community.” In addition to its large alumni base of nearly 1,000 graduates throughout Florida, Cooley has a growing presence in the Tampa Bay area through its Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program and its involvement with the ABA’s Military Pro Bono Project, where it, along with the Hillsborough County Bar Association, offers a complimentary training program aimed at preparing local attorneys to represent members of the military in legal issues ranging from child custody concerns to housing rental disputes. National Conference of Law Reviews “In the United States, all individuals have certain protections regardless of their immigration status,” said Eyster. “Here in southeast Michigan, we have people from all over the world, including Russia, China, Africa, and South America. Immigration law is a field that needs attorneys, and I’m excited to offer my skills, not only to clients but to the students who will gain valuable experience by working in this clinic.” • flexible scheduling • scholarships Tampa Bay Dedication Ceremony BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 33 feature A GRADUATION TO REMEMBER 40th Anniversary Graduation Speech by Hon. Thomas E. Brennan “ 34 On January 20, 2013, the Hon. Thomas E. Brennan marked the 40th anniversary of the school with his memorable comments in this speech Cooley President Don LeDuc, Board Chairman and member of the inaugural Cooley Class, Larry Nolan; Board Member Emeritus and surviving member of the first Board of Directors, Jack Cote; distinguished members of the board of directors, learned and beloved members of the faculty, graduates of the Alfred Moore Class, mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, wives and assorted relatives, friends and …creditors of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen: This is a great day for all of us. For you graduates, it’s a day of achievement, satisfaction, accomplishment, relief, survival, escape. Whatever you call it. You feel good today. And so do I. I want to thank President LeDuc for inviting me to speak here this afternoon. I’m complimented to be called the founder of Cooley Law School, but in truth, Don LeDuc has provided the academic and executive leadership which has earned Cooley a special place in the hierarchy of American education. He invited me to speak because, this month, the law school celebrates the 40th anniversary of the meeting of the first class on January 12, 1973. President LeDuc and the entire Cooley faculty and staff deserve our special congratulations. For 40 years of service to the legal profession, and to the nation. On this day 40 years ago, Richard Millhouse Nixon was sworn in for his second term as the 37th President of the United States. Today, Barack Obama begins his second term as the 44th President. Forty years and eight presidents. It’s one heck of a long time. I told the class that night that someday, Cooley would be known for its campus, for its buildings, for its alumni. And when that day came, I said, it would seem that Cooley Law School always was. I remember browsing in the state archives some years later and stumbling across a three-by-five index card about Thomas McIntyre Cooley. It said that Thomas M. Cooley was a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court in the 19th century who founded the law school in Lansing that bears his name. So much for the pride of being the founder of Cooley Law School. You know, standing up here looking out at this vast auditorium, and at literally thousands of people, I can’t help but remember the night we met with our very first class. It was a cold, wintery Friday evening. We gathered in a rented upstairs room. Seventy-six nervous and excited students, each of whom had signed an acknowledgement that Cooley was not accredited. We had no library, no dean, no full-time faculty, no blackboard, no chalk.We had nothing but hopes and dreams and determination to make something out of nothing. I wonder how many of you graduates of the Alfred Moore Class were walking around back then. I wonder. Would all those graduates who were born after January 12, 1973 please stand up. There they are, ladies and gentlemen, the happy faces of the Facebook generation. Let’s give them a hand. I suppose when you were young your grandfather told you that, when he was your age, he had to walk five miles to school every day. Rain or shine. Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways.You probably didn’t believe him either. No sir, you didn’t come here to listen.You came here today to walk.You came to walk up onto this stage and receive your diploma.You’ve earned that piece of paper and you’ve come here this afternoon to claim it. To feel it in your hand. To show it to your family and your friends. And to hang it on the wall and show it to the world. So I am going to talk to you today about that diploma, and I’m going to tell you just three things: It is a Doctor of Laws from Cooley. Now the first point is that your diploma is a doctoral degree. It represents 90 credit hours of postgraduate education. But you didn’t come here this afternoon just to hear me talk about the good old days. Or hear me tell you that when I was your age, we thought a lap top was where you put a napkin at dinner. Or Googling was what young men did when a pretty girl walked by. Or that an iPad must be something prescribed by an opthalmologist. You know, there’s a lot of talk these days about the economy. Folks are questioning the value of a college education.Young people are graduating from college and they can’t find a job. Some folks are beginning to question whether the cost of higher education is worth it. Graduates are often saddled with huge student loans, and there’s a lot of gloom and doom out there. But let’s take a moment to get things in perspective.When I graduated from law school in 1952, I worked as a title examiner at an abstract company for about two years. I jumped at a chance to work in a law firm. Took a 27 percent pay cut to get into the practice of law. My secretary at that law firm made more money than I did. So did my wife, who was a substitute teacher in the public schools. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature After two years at the law firm, I went out on my own, and I never looked back. So maybe you can see why I tell people that there is no such thing as an unemployed lawyer. If you are a member of a learned profession, you have knowledge and skill that have value in the market place.You never hear any talk about medical doctors or dentists being unemployed. If you can hang out a shingle, you can find work to do. It’s a funny thing. Everybody wants a job, but nobody wants a boss. If you have a profession, you can be your own boss. There are over 311 million people in the United States. Less than half of 1 percent of them are lawyers.That means there are over 250 potential clients for every lawyer. It ought to be some comfort to you graduates, as you sit here this afternoon to know that there are 250 people out there waiting to give you money to do what you learned to do in law school. Of course, first, you have to pass the bar exam. Of course, if you just want a job … if you want a boss, and a paycheck and a 401(k) and health care, and paid vacations and a chance to get promoted, I can tell you that the piece of paper you are going to get up here will be your boarding pass on the flight to security and success. Think about it.There is hardly a job description in the business world that you are not qualified — maybe even overqualified — to do. The American Bar Association tells us that medical doctors have their most productive years between their 12th and 20th years in practice. And lawyers have their best years between their 20th and their 40th years in practice. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but my guess is that if you work as hard at your profession as you did at your education, you will make a decent living over the next 40 or 50 years. The second point I want to leave with you is this: Your diploma is a doctor of laws. The law is the most interdisciplinary science. It touches on everything people do, on everything that happens in life. When Judge John Fitzgerald, God rest his soul, taught the first class at Cooley, he began by writing a quotation from Chaucer on the blackboard, “The life so short, the craft so long to learn.” One thing you surely understand by now is that nobody knows all the law. A lawyer is defined as a person who is learned in the law. To be a person learned in the law is to be a person who studies the law, reads the law, contemplates the law, discusses the law, knowing that the journey takes more than a single lifetime. Does a bank want to hire a loan officer? Does an insurance company want a claims adjuster? Does a manufacturer want a personnel officer? Who wouldn’t choose an applicant with a law degree over someone with a four-year college education? And consider this: Your law degree tells more about you than how much you know. I got an email a few weeks ago from a fellow named Jim, who graduated from Cooley about 25 years ago. I remember him well. He failed the bar exam three times. When he came to see me back then, I told him he didn’t have to be a licensed attorney to be successful. I suggested he talk to some of our alumni who were doing very well in business. He just smiled and said, “You’ll see.” And walked out of my office.Today, he is a Chief Assistant Prosecutor in New Jersey with eight younger lawyers working for him. Bar examinations aren’t easy. They’re not supposed to be. But your diploma entitles you to sit for the exam, and your education at Cooley has prepared you to pass it. I can assure you that if you really want it, you will have a license to practice law to hang alongside your diploma. So the first point is that after today, you will be a doctor. A doctor of laws. It testifies to your work ethic, to your commitment, to your dedication and perseverance. It tells an employer that you will show up. That you will be prepared. That you know how to get a job done.That you know how to meet a challenge with guts and grit and come out a winner. Your diploma says that you are learned in the law. It says that you are a lawyer. And it is a very BIG, impressive and credible document. It has the familiar Cooley logo prominently displayed. That logo features the crown of a pillar and the Latin motto, “In corde hominum est anima legis.” (continued on page 36) Hon.Thomas E. Brennan greets graduates after the ceremony. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 35 feature These graduates are what America is all about. They are exceptional men and women who have worked and risked and sacrificed to earn their diplomas. They will join a virtual army of nearly 20,000 lawyers living and working from Poland to American Samoa; men and women who are proud of their Cooley diplomas, proud of their superior professional education and practical training, proud to be associated with like-minded graduates of Thomas Cooley. Forty years ago, we didn’t have a logo. I went into the class one day and showed the students some drawings and asked them to vote for the logo. They picked the one with the Ionic column. We bought the old Masonic Temple a year or so after that. It looked like a law school. Had pillars out in front. Unfortunately, they were Doric and not Ionic columns. But we never changed the logo. Every religion known to man proceeds from a belief in an intelligent creator. Even the folks who believe we originated from a big bang would have to concede that before the bang there was the idea of the bang. If the bang was inevitable, then the bang was not the beginning, being preceded by the conditions that led to the bang. And if it was not inevitable, then it was the result of choice or decision. The words of Justice Cooley announce from the side of the Temple Building in downtown Lansing, “Law students must always remember that they are preparing themselves to be ministers of justice.” Justice is defined as giving to every man his due. To be a minister of justice, then, is to be concerned with the oughtness or the shouldness of things. Common law judges do it all the time. Who ought to win the case? What ought to be done in these circumstances? What should happen in this factual situation? Right and wrong are not determined by the flip of a coin, but by reason, logic, experience, knowledge and tradition.You’ve read a lot of old cases in these last three years. Heard a lot of lectures and spent a lot of time debating with classmates and professors.You know that there is more to law than you will find in Wikipedia. I came up with the Latin motto for the school. “In corde hominum est anima legis.” I told the students that it meant “the spirit of the law is in the hearts of men.” A couple days later a committee of women students came to my office. They called themselves CATS. An acronym for Cooley Action Team Sisters.They let me know that the spirit of the law is also in the hearts of women. I assured them that the Latin word hominum means mankind in the generic sense, and not just the male of the species.That got me off the hook. To tell the truth, there is no such Latin word as ‘hominum.’ But I figured since I made up the word, I was also entitled to make up the definition. So we settled on the translation “The spirit of the law is in the human heart.” And so it is. Human beings are said to be made in the image and likeness of their creator because we have the two faculties that are always ascribed to the creator of the universe: intellect and free will. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness. The never ending chase.The striving. The searching. The climbing up. The reaching out. The quest for the Holy Grail. The journey to the promised land. That motto is more than just a catchy slogan. It is a statement of philosophy. It is an affirmation of the existence of natural law. It testifies that there is such a thing as objective truth. It reminds us that deep within the very heart and soul of every human being there abides the faculty of conscience which strives to understand the meaning of our lives, to distinguish between good and evil and to chart a course for the pursuit of true happiness.The spirit of the law is within us. California, you may know, is the only state that claims to be heaven on earth. That’s true. The constitution of California says that all people have the right to pursue and to obtain happiness. That might explain why so many people move to California. And why the Golden State has a budget deficit of $16 billion. Too many people think that freedom means being able to do whatever you want to do. But the pendulum of human history that swings back and forth between anarchy and dictatorship, as it does today in the Middle East, teaches the hard truth that there can be no true liberty without the rule of law. And the massacre of innocent women and children at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut reminds us of the horror that lurks when freedom is disconnected from sanity. The law, they say, is a jealous mistress. But if you really love the law, I can promise it will be good to you. It has been very good to me. Which brings me to my third and final point. The diploma you will receive today is from the Thomas Cooley Law School. Forty years ago, nobody had ever heard of the Thomas Cooley Law School. Today it is the largest accredited college of law in the United States. Over the years, Cooley has built a reputation that, frankly, I’m very proud of. It has always been known as the easiest law school to get into, and the hardest law school to graduate from. A couple of weeks ago, I got a nice letter from a fellow who graduated in September of 2000. He is now the senior attorney for the New York State Education Department, making four times his former salary as a police officer. His letter said, “By the end of my first year, all of my close friends flunked out or left school. I used to joke that at Cooley, it’s not ‘look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t be here next year,’ it’s ‘look to your left and look to your right, all three of you won’t be here next year.’” The Ten Commandments that Moses carried down from Mount Sinai are etched in our hearts as surely as they were written on tablets of stone. And the Codes of Hamurabi are emblazoned on our instincts as surely as they were on the pillars of Babylon 4,000 years ago. President Dwight Eisenhower urged Americans to act in their “enlightened self interest.” Pope John Paul II wrote that freedom is the right to do what we ought to do. At its core, the science of law is the accumulation of human knowledge and experience about what people ought to do, how we ought to live. 36 BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 feature It’s not quite that bad, but I do remember a dermatologist telling me that Cooley is an excellent law school. I asked him how he knew that. He said he had a patient who went to Cooley and she was so nervous about her examinations, she was losing her hair. Of course, I was never in favor of making our students go bald, but it didn’t bother me when students complained about the difficulty of our program. It was great public relations. We began that first session when Lou Smith, the secretary, read the roll call, and asked each student to rise and tell us what degrees they had. When he finished, I had a few words to say, and now as we celebrate 40 years of legal education, I ask your indulgence as I read those few words: “With unspeakable joy, I welcome you to the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Others will come after you.There will be many, many other first days and first nights. There will be many other times to remember and to relish and enjoy. But none so sweet — none so sweet as now. We are here, all of us, because we believe. Because we believe in ourselves. Because we believe in each other. And because we believe, whether we realize it or not, in a spirit which gives purpose and meaning to the things that men do quite beyond our poor capacity to understand or appreciate. In time, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will be a great and distinguished institution of higher learning. And in that time, it will seem always to have been. It will seem to have a life of its own, independent of its officers, its faculty, even its student body. It will be seen and known in terms of its real estate, its library, its pension plan, its alumni, its publications, its corporate resources. But the genesis of human achievement does not lie in corporate resources, or tangible, physical things. It lies in the unique and God given capacity of the human spirit. To envision what is not, but can be. To embrace what is unfulfilled, and cause it to happen. To make an act of faith and turn unreality into reality. It is given to all of us here tonight, as it is given to few men and women, to taste and feel and to know the power of human purpose. And we shall remember. But we shall remember too, despite our pride and satisfaction this night, that a long and difficult road lies before us. As we go down that road, let us ask or permit no excuses of each other. It was, I must say now, as I look back, a rather prophetic night. What I didn’t realize or expect that night was that three years later, the Cooley class would have a better passing rate on the Bar examination than the graduates of the University of Michigan. One of the chores I took on in the early days was to compose a song; the Cooley Alma Mater. It’s printed on the back of your programs and later you’ll hear a recording of it by the Michigan State University Chorale. I don’t have any musical talent or experience. I had to number the keys on the piano with a magic marker in order to plunk out a tune. But if you are going to compete with the University of Michigan, you need a song. They were making the case in the community that Cooley was tough, demanding and professional, in spite of our liberal admissions policy. Beginning that very first day, we were determined to make the American dream of opportunity a reality.We very intentionally threw the front door wide open to every qualified college graduate who wanted to go to law school. And from the very first day we always assured our students that no one would graduate from Cooley who did not measure up to the standards of professional excellence that were exemplified by our namesake,Thomas McIntyre Cooley. You know, Cooley Law School educates more minority lawyers than any other law school in America. And we have always done it without the kind of favoritism and discrimination that some schools use to create an artificial sense of diversity. How do we do it? Cooley has no football team, no marching band, no cheerleaders, but it does have a spirit that reflects the bonds of affection and dedication that have tied your class together over the last three years. I like to think that the words of the song I wrote somehow reflect the way most of the members of the Alfred Moore Class feel today: The answer is simple. If you open the front door wide enough, you will get a cross section of the American people. As you watch these graduates walk across the stage and hear their names announced, you will see what I mean. These graduates are what America is all about. They are exceptional men and women who have worked and risked and sacrificed to earn their diplomas. They will join a virtual army of nearly 20,000 lawyers living and working from Poland to American Samoa; men and women who are proud of their Cooley diplomas, proud of their superior professional education and practical training, proud to be associated with like-minded graduates of Thomas Cooley. Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, Mighty Temple of the Law Where first we sought the face of justice Full of wonder, full of awe. Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, Reservoir of truth sublime Where first we tasted sweetest reason Learning wisdom grows with time. We came to you in Michaelmas Different as the Autumn trees And working grew in friendships through quiet Snowbound Hilaries We’ll say goodbye to Trinities Treasuring our memories Of Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater As we wear your white and blue We proudly sing our highest praises Thomas Cooley, Hail to You. Get on your computer and Google “Cooley Pride.” You will see what I am talking about. Forty years ago, Cooley was a Mom and Pop, do-it-yourself, storefront operation. My dear wife, Polly, sat behind a card table answering the phone and processing applications while I was out buying books and hiring law teachers. About four in the afternoon on January 12, 1973, Polly decided to admit one more student. So I had to run out and buy another student desk. You have a right to expect that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School will embody all of the excellence in legal education that the great judge, scholar and teacher, Thomas McIntyre Cooley represents in the history and tradition of Michigan and American jurisprudence. And we will expect no less of you than total absorption in the study of the law, total dedication to this institution, and a fierce, unyielding pride in what you are doing for yourselves and your future. And in what all of us, together, are doing for those who will come after us. BENCHMARK SPECIAL EDITION 40 YEARS 2013 Since its inception, Cooley has provided an outstanding legal education that focuses on the knowledge, skills, and ethics lawyers need to be competent and effective practitioners. Non Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Lansing, MI Permit No. 241 300 South Capitol Ave. P.O. Box 13038 Lansing, MI 48901 Change Service Requested