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Western michigan university Thomas M. Cooley Law School Alumni magazine | SUMMER 2016

Jon Cooper

Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach

How law school led to coaching in the NHL

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School alumni Magazine | Summer 2016

Letter from

WMU-Cooley Benchmark Editor Terry Carella CO-Editor Sharon Matchette contributing writers SeyferthPR Design Image Creative Group Photography Tom Gennara Scott Audette/Tampa Bay Lightning submissions Benchmark seeks story ideas from graduates 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 WMU-Cooley Law School 300 S. Capitol Ave. Lansing, MI 48933 (517) 371-5140 ext. 2916 Fax: (517) 334-5780 Benchmark is published twice a year by the administrative offices of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, 300 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing, MI 48933 ALUMNI DATABASE 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 if you have any problems. The current password for this term is practice.

Passion in Our Lives This issue of Benchmark focuses on Law School alumni and faculty who live and work with particular dedication, drive, and enthusiasm – with passion. Jon Cooper parlayed his legal education into success at the highest level of professional sports. Community activists Iqra Khalid and Ruby Sahota got themselves elected to Canada’s Parliament. Russell Kavalhuna’s love of flying landed him as executive director of WMU’s College of Aviation. Natalie Alane and Mary Chartier represent their clients with uncommon zeal. Student Robert St. Cin fights Flint’s water crisis, while recent graduate Alicia Prygoski protects animals from abuse. Gayle Kemp protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, while entrepreneur and public interest lawyer Jacqualine Lombardo helps needy children and families stay warm during cold winters. Christine Welton faced down cancer to attend law school and excel in her own law practice. Professors Gary Bauer, Marla Mitchell-Cichon, and David Tarrien won prestigious awards, while recent graduate Elizabeth Devolder was named a Law Student of the Year by a national magazine. These and the others highlighted in this issue define the quintessential WMU-Cooley lawyer. Involved. Competent. Capable. Caring. Driven. Successful. Passionate. Sincerely,

James D. Robb Associate Dean of External Affairs and Senior Counsel

WMU-Cooley Board of Directors Lawrence P. Nolan Chairman of the Board Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, P.C. Eaton Rapids, Michigan Hon. Louise Alderson Vice Chairman of the Board 54A District Court Lansing, Michigan James W. Butler, III Urban Revitalization Division Mich. State Housing Development Auth. Lansing, Michigan Thomas W. Cranmer Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC Troy, Michigan

Scott A. Dienes Foster Swift Collins & Smith St. Joseph, Michigan

Ho​n.​Stephen J. Markman Michigan Supreme Court Lansing, Michigan

Hon. Bart Stupak Venable, LLP Washington, D.C.

Sharon M. Hanlon Zelman & Hanlon, PA Naples, Florida

Kenneth V. Miller Millennium Restaurant Group, LLC Kalamazoo, Michigan

Dennis A. Swan Sparrow Hospital & Health System Lansing, Michigan

Don LeDuc President and Dean Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Lansing, Michigan ​ on​.​Jane E. Markey H Michigan Court of Appeals Grand Rapids, Michigan

James C. Morton Morton Karrass LLP Toronto, Ontario, Canada Edward H. Pappas Dickinson Wright PLLC Troy, Michigan Hon. Richard F. Suhrheinrich U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Lansing, Michigan

Contents Features Summer 2016

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Jon Cooper: Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper, “lawyer coach” (Fellows Class, 1997), took the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning by storm to the Stanley Cup final.

New Agreements with WMU Expand Legal Education in West Michigan New agreements bring classes in employment and environmental law to the WMU campus during spring term. In addition, first-year law students can begin basic legal education on the WMU campus in fall 2016.

Capt. RusselL Kavalhuna: New director for WMU College of Aviation WMU-Cooley Law graduate and former federal prosecutor is named executive director of flight operations for the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, located at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Alane and Chartier: From Michigan supreme court clerkships to a women-owned law firm A women-owned law firm headed by two WMU-Cooley graduates, Mary Chartier (Johnson Class, 2002) and Natalie Alane (Chase Class, 2002), began with a friendship at the Michigan Supreme Court.


jon Cooper, Fellows class, 1997

Tampa Bay Lightning Head coach Jon Cooper discusses how law school led to a career coaching in the National Hockey League.

When Jon Cooper (Fellows Class, 1997) took the National Hockey League (NHL) by storm, leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup finals in 2015, the WMU-Cooley graduate was instantly referred to by sports reporters and commentators as the “lawyer coach.” 2

Cooper landed the top job with the Lightning near the end of the 2012-13 season. One season later, in 2015, Cooper led the Bolts to the Eastern Conference Championship, only to miss hoisting the cup by two games in the Stanley Cup finals. This season, Cooper and the Lightning fell one game short of their second consecutive Stanley Cup final, losing to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games during the Eastern Conference final. Cooper, a former collegiate lacrosse player, recently shared with Benchmark Magazine how his path from being a college athlete led to a job on Wall Street, then to a job as a public defender, and, ultimately, to his career as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cooper’s coaching start was humble. His first taste of coaching hockey was for a local high school team, but he caught the coaching bug when he led the Lansing Catholic Central Cougars hockey team to the state regional championship – a feat that high school hadn’t claimed in 25 years. That experience made him step back and reflect upon his goals. He made the difficult decision to pursue his love for sports and, especially, his passion for coaching. Cooper went on to coach a number of junior hockey teams in Michigan before getting his first full-time coaching job in Texarkana, Texas. He continued his climb to the NHL by coaching teams in St. Louis, Missouri; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Norfolk, Virginia; and Syracuse, New York.

Q: Knowing you played lacrosse, how did hockey fit into your life as a child and why did you choose lacrosse during your collegiate years? A: Being from the small town of Prince George, in Northern British Columbia, there wasn’t a ton to do, but I was always into sports. Naturally, being from Canada, everyone plays hockey. A little known fact is that lacrosse is actually Canada’s national sport. I remember lacrosse being a spring and summer sport, so when hockey was done, I chose to play lacrosse over baseball. I’ll never forget my mom. In lacrosse, you don’t wear anything on your legs. All of your pads are on your arms, and when we first got the pads, my mom was putting all the pads on my legs. We didn’t know; we had to have a gentleman come show my mom how to do it. I think I was six years old. But they were complementary sports, and I played them in different seasons. I loved them both. Ultimately, I went on to play lacrosse in college because I was a little better at it than hockey. Q: After your undergraduate studies, you began a career working on Wall Street. Tell us a little bit about your work in the securities industry. A: I have lived a few different lives; that’s for sure. But when you are at Hofstra University on Long Island in New York, a lot of people work on Wall Street; you either become a lawyer or go to work on Wall Street. I was very fortunate to get a job with Prudential in their mutual funds department. I worked there nearly two and a half years. That was my introduction to the working world – waking up at six in the morning and taking the train and the subway into the city. Q: What was your motivation to leave your career on Wall Street? A: Well, ironically, when I worked in the mutual funds department, I had an opportunity to move into

Success has followed Jon Cooper throughout his professional coaching career. 007 and 2008 Cooper’s St. Louis team won the North American Hockey 2 League championship. 2010 Under Cooper’s leadership, the Green Bay Gamblers were crowned the United States Hockey League champions. 2012 In Cooper’s second season with the Norfolk Admirals, the team won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup championship series. 2014 In Cooper’s first full season with the Lightning, the team placed second in the Atlantic Division, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2011. 2015 Cooper led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference Championship and NHL Stanley Cup final. 2016 Cooper led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference final.



Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach

“I never dreamt about being a coach in the NHL. I always believed that athletics would be in my life in some way – whether I was going to go be an agent and represent players or be on the coaching side.” Jon Cooper

the legal department. I was always interested in the legal aspect of things. I really was interested in sports and I knew at some point I would be back into sports. I decided to enter law school to become a player agent as I had connections with a firm doing that type of work. Q: You grew up in Canada and you worked on Wall Street. How did you decide to attend WMUCooley Law School? What was it that made you go there? A: Being from Canada and going to college on the East Coast, I didn’t know anything about WMU-Cooley Law School. There was a friend of mine named Sal who was applying to law schools at the same time I was. We were gathering information about law schools to find schools with programs that could potentially help us. He said, “You should apply to this school (WMU-Cooley Law School).” Cooley had a sports law program and classes that were centered around that, so it drew my interest. He (Sal) was the one that gave me the idea. When I was accepted, I chose to attend WMU-Cooley.

Q: While you attended WMU-Cooley, you joined an adult recreation league hockey team named the Legal Eagles. Tell us about the team and how playing with the legal professionals helped you during and after your time at WMU-Cooley. A: I would have to say law school, the Legal Eagles and hockey are a big part of why I’m where I am today. WMU-Cooley had a lot of clubs, whether it was moot court or some other kind of club. The school also had sports clubs, and one was a hockey team. There were a couple kids who were passionate; it was amazing how many people at law school

played hockey. I eventually took over the club hockey team. Word got around Lansing pretty quickly about the lawyers who played hockey. There was a team called the Legal Eagles. It was an adult rec team and they heard there were a couple decent hockey players at the law school. I don’t want to call myself a decent hockey player, but at the time, I was younger than some of the guys playing so I probably looked half decent. Anyway, we were approached by a gentlemen with a name we’re all familiar with, Judge Brennan (Thomas E. Brennan, Jr.). He was a district court judge in Mason, Michigan, at the time, and we all know what his father

“Cooley had a sports law program and classes that were centered around that, so it drew my interest.” Jon Cooper

Jon Cooper signs autographs following Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.


(Thomas E. Brennan Sr., WMU-Cooley founder) did with the law school. He asked us to be on the Legal Eagles and we did it. We had a blast together. We weren’t the greatest team, but I’ll tell you we had the most fun. There are connections you can make through sports, and that’s what I did. The story has been well documented; I met Judge Brennan from the Legal Eagles and clerked at his court after I graduated law school. I passed the bar and then worked as a public defender. Eventually, he asked me to coach his kid’s high school hockey team at Lansing Catholic Central, and everything took off from there. Q: Can you share a little bit about your path into the NHL from coaching high school to the Tampa Bay Lightning? Was coaching athletics always in your life’s plan? A: I never dreamt about being a coach in the NHL. I always believed that athletics would be in my life in some way – whether I was going to go be an agent and represent players or be on the coaching side. I realized early on that I wasn’t going to be a player.

When I was growing up, my mom always thought I was going to be a teacher. And I guess she was partially right because, ultimately, I became a teacher in athletics. Whether it was going to college, going to law school, working in the financial district, being an attorney, it all led down the path of coaching. Q: How does having a law degree help you as a coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning? Are there any WMU-Cooley classes you still find helpful today? A: Trial work – not only in law school but when I was a practicing attorney – standing up and talking in front of people, having to think on your feet and then making an argument to persuade, it’s not that much different from what I do in the locker room when I address 23 players and present them with a plan. There are a lot of similarities. I believe my trial skills helped me to think on my feet as I transitioned into a coach. It even helped with public speaking, not only to the team, but when I speak at seminars or address fans and the media. Q: When you look back at your time at WMU-Cooley, what would be a couple of your most memorable moments? A: First, I would say the very first day when the president addressed the school. It was the well-known law school speech. “Law school is not for everyone and you have to work your tail off to get through it. Look to your left and look to your right. You want to make sure you’re the one who can get through this. You need to work extremely hard to

Jon Cooper with United States Silver Medalist Anne Schleper at a Lightning practice.

“I didn’t know I was going to be an NHL coach. It was how I was able to grow the skills I was given, and that’s what I gained through my legal education and my practice of law. And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.” Jon Cooper

Q: Tell us a little bit about get through this and there’s your family. no guarantee you will.” That speech put a fear in me, a A: Honestly, without my mom drive that I wanted to succeed. and dad who gave me the opportunity to attend college Second – fast forward three years later to graduation – just and law school and really pushed me to do that, I don’t seeing how proud my parents were, and how excited I was to know if I could have done that graduate and just being able to on my own. I’ve got a brother who has been my guy, and the say I did it. four of us will always remain Those were two big defining really close – except I’m the moments for me. WMU-Cooley one who lives 3,000 miles really instilled a work ethic in away now. me because of how demanding In my journey, I met Jessie. the classes were and how you We have been married 10 have to prepare to take and years. She went to Michigan pass the Michigan bar exam. State for undergrad and law school so we always have a good debate about which law school is better. She has been so supportive during my journey. I couldn’t have

done this without her. And I’m always in debt to her because, when I met her, she had graduated law school and was studying for the Michigan bar. During my journey in coaching, she kept taking bar exams in each state we moved to ­— Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Finally, when we got to Wisconsin, I told her to stop taking bars; it was hard on her. That’s why, when I sit here today, I say it’s not what Jon Cooper did, it was what the two of us did because she was such a support to me. And now, we have three beautiful kids and it’s been a pretty cool journey. Q: Finally, you decided to change career paths from the securities industry and law. You are now a successful coach in the NHL. What advice would you give anyone studying law or interested in studying law about the value of a legal education? A: When you think about the broad spectrum of life, how many different forks in the road you come to, and the decisions you make on your direction, I couldn’t be happier with the one I took. It wasn’t just going to law school, but the people I met along the way, the education I received, and how it molded me into who I am today. I didn’t know I was going to be an NHL coach. It was how I was able to grow the skills I was given, and that’s what I gained through my legal education and my practice of law. And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.


Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach

Jessie Cooper shares her experience as an attorney, wife to AN NHL coach, and mother Jessie Cooper, attorney and wife of Jon Cooper, spoke this past year at WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus about her career, family life, and best practices when in the public, community and media. She spoke to the group of local attorneys, faculty, staff and students about her equally interesting journey of being an attorney and how she and her husband have learned to balance career, family and life. “I would like to share a brief history of all of my different moves and what I learned along the way about civility, professionalism, marketing, keeping it all together, and keeping a job,” started Jessie. Following her husband from state to state was at times rough, but some of the toughest things for her included taking that state’s bar exam every time they moved, and then finding legal work in a new place where she didn’t know anyone.


She remembers with a smile about their move to Texarkana, Texas, which was Jon’s first full-time job as a coach. “Jon was gone all the time,” said Jessie. “He was building this small team in a nonhockey market, so he had to do a lot of work just building the fan base and selling tickets. We literally painted the lines on the ice ourselves. It was not glamorous. My job was more glamorous. And at this time, I made more money than he did. So I was the one who was keeping us afloat, so to speak. And I learned so much at that job.” “My boss at that time was previously a partner with a federal judge, so I actually did a ton of court-appointed work in the federal

“And my boss believed that, if that case was never pursued or even if they didn’t have a case, the personal connection was the best advertising you could ever give yourself – because those people would tell their friends.” Jessie Cooper

court system,” said Jessie. “He was an old country lawyer from the deep South who did not believe in advertising. He believed the best advertising was every single person that walks through that door. It was my job to greet them, treat them like they were the most important person in the world.” Coming from Michigan, this was a new way of looking at things for Jessie. “I had to learn to take a step back and show genuine concern for someone. And sit and talk to them like you would talk to a family member about one of their problems. And my boss believed that, if that case was never pursued or even if they didn’t have a case, the personal connection was the best advertising you could ever give yourself – because those people would tell their friends. And ironically business was booming. Our firm won a ton of money and my boss gave me a huge bonus and I thought I was rich!” Jessie’s career was going gangbusters, but then Jon’s career path changed, requiring another move for the two of them. The couple lived in five different states after moving from Michigan; Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, and New York, before they settled, along with their children, in Tampa, Florida, as Jon took over the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

never me, my work, or my husband’s work; it was great child care,” laughed Jessie. “Having to hire child care and moving around was the worst thing ever!” Jessie expressed the importance of communication in her relationship, and how they are able to keep it together despite everyone’s hectic schedules. “For me, I think that you have to communicate. I talk to Jon about everything. We plan to be together. We plan time to be together – just like I plan time to work out. Even when we’re tired and we’d rather stay in bed and watch reruns, I plan to go out and get dressed up and spend time with him, just the two of us.” As a working mother, Jessie learned quickly the importance of balancing her work life and home life in an attempt to maintain her sanity. She shared four things that help her keep life in balance. First, health and overall well-being should be a priority. Many professionals do not make enough time for exercise, she stated. “I mean getting fit,

not sitting around,” said Jessie. “It is very helpful to have a set hour and go lift, run, or do something.” Her second point addresses meditation as a form of stress relief and as another way to keep your life in check. “It is important to be able to keep focused when you are in stressful situations,” said Jessie. “Self care is one of the best things you can do to prevent health scares and to be good at your job.” Jessie’s third point emphasizes the importance of sleep, especially after having children. “I really struggled with getting sleep,” recalled Jessie. “I believe in having dark space to sleep properly.” Jessie’s final point includes prioritizing time commitments with children and work. “I was raised in the Midwest,” said Jessie. “My parents were working class. We didn’t have a yard man or a cleaning lady. My parents always did that stuff. I always assumed in my life that, when I had a family, I would do those things too, and enjoy them.” But you only have 24 hours in a day. Jessie was quick to point out that hiring a person to help her with cleaning the home was a choice. “You can complain and say that you’re tired and overwhelmed and you can’t do it, or you can take action. I took action and I made choices.”

“When you have three kids, and you’re working full time, my number one concern was


WMU-Cooley Law School President and Dean Don LeDuc (left) and WMU President John M. Dunn

WMU Inks New Agreements As Law Classes begin in kalamazoo 8

Advancing the Affiliation With law classes already underway on the Kalamazoo campus, Western Michigan University (WMU) and WMU-Cooley Law School officials signed a series of new agreements that will continue the expansion of legal education in West Michigan. The terms of the new agreements signed in January and May enabled the start of two upper-level law classes on the WMU campus in Kalamazoo during the law school’s spring term and set the course for an incoming first-term class in the fall. Classes in employment and environmental law were the first law classes offered on the WMU campus. In the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017, the Law School will offer Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, and Introduction to Law in WMU’s Schneider Hall. The four new agreements allow for expanded academic programs, facilities use, student and employee services and benefits, and parking. They were signed by WMU President John M. Dunn and WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. These agreements

Both presidents praised the agreements as developments that signal enhanced opportunity for students and new opportunities for faculty and staff. For the law school, LeDuc noted, the affiliation also fulfills a directive from the American Bar Association that private law schools should expand their ties to universities. Pictured (left – right) are WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller, WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, WMU President John M. Dunn, WMU Professor Dr. Mark Hurwitz, and WMU Provost Dr. Timothy Greene.

facilitate numerous new initiatives triggered by the affiliation the two schools launched in August 2014. The affiliation formally links the private law school and public university, but allows both to retain their governance and fiduciary independence.

“This is a great affiliation with a very fine law

school,” said Dunn at the signing. “It is also, for the people of Michigan – and locations well beyond – a great example of how to work our way through challenging times and expand opportunity for our students in a powerful way without relying on state resources.”

“It is different for us to be part of a university structure, and we’re appreciative of the complexity of a big, powerful and wonderful institution like WMU,” LeDuc said. “The relationship has already allowed us to enhance research and grant opportunities and, for instance, secure support for the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, which works to exonerate people unjustly convicted of a crime.”

Among new opportunities that are a result of the agreements are such initiatives as: • Accelerated programs that will allow WMU students to complete both an undergraduate and law degree in a time frame shorter than the traditional seven years-saving the students time and tuition dollars;

• Cross-listing of courses that will allow WMU graduate students to take law classes and law students to take graduate courses, with each earning credits toward their respective degree programs;

• Dual courses that will be team-taught by faculty at both schools; and • WMU courses taught at the law school’s campuses.


Graduate soars as Executive Director at WMU’s College of Aviation

Capt. Russell Kavalhuna, Brickley class, 2007

At 13 years old, Capt. Russell Kavalhuna (Brickley Class, 2007) felt the exhilarating power of the Northwest DC-10 airliner as it raced down the runway and ascended full-tilt toward the clouds – soaring through the sky at accelerated speeds. It was Kavalhuna’s first solo trip aboard an airliner, flying from Detroit to San Francisco to visit family. In the eyes of a teenage passenger, being transported from the Eastern time zone to the Pacific time zone within four hours was a remarkable revelation. Kavalhuna remembers the now retired Americanmade airliner jet as massive, yet beautiful. It was then that his air travel fascination became a lifetime voyage.

Now, Kavalhuna is taking his aviation passion to new heights. The WMU-Cooley Law School graduate and former federal prosecutor has been named the executive director of flight operations for the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, located at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Michigan. The college offers bachelor of science degrees with majors in aviation maintenance technology, aviation flight science, and aviation science and administration.

“As a 13-year-old boy, that was the most exciting thing I had done,” recalled Kavalhuna, now 37. “It was an adventure.” Capt. Russell Kavalhuna

10 10

to new heights

Kavalhuna, former Captain for U.S. Airways

As a 2001 graduate of WMU’s aviation college, Kavalhuna is proud to continue the program’s world-class status. “Aviation is the glue that keeps our world going,” said Kavalhuna, who was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and raised in nearby Marshall. “We have a myriad of opportunities through our aviation program that will grow student enrollment and increase job placement among our graduates.”

About Kavalhuna Following that four-hour flight from Detroit to San Francisco as a teen, Kavalhuna knew he wanted to be in the airplane cockpit, piloting passengers to their desired destinations. He enrolled at WMU’s College of Aviation and graduated with a degree in aviation science in 2001. Following graduation, Kavalhuna became a pilot for U.S. Airways where he earned the rank of captain. However, in the aftermath of

Justice Cavanagh and Kavalhuna

9/11, he was laid off a few months into his first post-college job. As Kavalhuna began exploring alternative career options, his intrigue with the law was compelling and guided him to WMUCooley Law School. Shortly after taking the LSAT exam, U.S. Airways called him back to work. For the next four years, Kavalhuna piloted planes during the week for U.S. Airways and attended law school part-time on the weekends. During his final year, Kavalhuna took a hiatus from flying and went to law school full time. He earned his Juris Doctor in 2007. Kavalhuna worked as a clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh, but he wasn’t ready to retire his “wings” yet. His appointment to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2009 allowed him to keep his feet planted in each of his respective passions. He earned the trust and respect of his

Kavalhuna at the White House

colleagues and commissioners and was reappointed to the commission by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013. Toward the end of his clerkship with Justice Cavanagh, Kavalhuna applied and was accepted into the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program. The prestigious and competitive program accepts law school graduates with entry-level judicial clerk experience. Kavalhuna’s law career skyrocketed from clerk to Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, where he served for six years through November 2015. “I hit the lottery getting that job, but I wouldn’t have been able to achieve it without the Honors Program. I had to prove myself quickly,” Kavalhuna said. “It was extremely satisfying to be on the cutting edge of prosecution. The system of justice works as a whole to serve the public, and that is infectious.”


Graduate soars to new heights

Returning to his WMU roots

Returning to his alma mater in this new role, Kavalhuna will oversee the expansion of a WMU flight school near the Punta Gorda Airport in Florida, scheduled to open in 2017. This will be the first extension outside of Michigan for WMU’s College of Aviation, according to Kavalhuna. The expansion will provide aviation students – in Michigan and Florida – flight opportunities in optimal weather conditions during the winter months.


Kavalhuna at the White House

“I still love aviation and have a passion for it,” Kavalhuna said. “The expansion is going to be transformational for the College of Aviation. If we do our jobs well, we’ll see growth for our aviation program, our university and the industry as a whole.” In addition, Kavalhuna is among 61 scholars who have been selected to participate in the second class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program. Throughout the six-month program, participants will focus on in-depth case studies and develop a personal leadership project as they visit the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, the William J. Clinton Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. The class will graduate in July at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. “We will conduct collaborative research into the case studies of how former presidents and cabinet members handled various crisis and policy challenges,” Kavalhuna said. “This unique executivestyle program provides an opportunity to

examine various leadership styles exhibited by historical commanders-in-chief, key administration officials and academic professionals.” For his leadership project, Kavalhuna plans to develop a safety reporting system at WMU’s aviation college. This webbased system enables flight schools to collect and track safety data in order to mitigate risks and support safety policies.

“It is a humbling honor to be selected for this leadership course which gives scholars an elite opportunity to learn from past presidents and cabinet members,” Kavalhuna said. “I aim to enhance my leadership skills and broaden my exposure to diverse opinions and methods of problem-solving.”


Natalie Alane, smith Class, 2002 and Mary Chartier, Johnson class, 2002

Alane & Chartier

Nearly 10 years ago, WMU-Cooley graduates Mary Chartier (2002, Johnson Class) and Natalie Alane (2002, Smith Class) left their staff attorney positions at the Michigan Supreme Court to start a law firm together. The path to opening their firm, Alane & Chartier, P.L.C., was forged by their individual passions and interests that intersect at helping others through the practice of law.


“I’m from an immigrant family. My grandmother signed her name with an X. It was a big deal to leave home.” Mary Chartier

Mary Chartier: From an immigrant family to Michigan Supreme Court staff attorney Mary Chartier grew up in a working class community in New England and was the first woman in her neighborhood to go to college.

Mary Chartier

“I’m from an immigrant family,” she said. “My grandmother signed her name with an X. It was a big deal to leave home.” Chartier attended Michigan State University and graduated with degrees in English, women’s studies and advertising. She then worked at a nonprofit before attending law school at WMU-Cooley and pursuing criminal law. It was here that Chartier first met Natalie Alane. “Natalie was a term or two behind me but we took a class together,” she said. “Natalie would sit in the front row of class while I sat in the back. She was a great student. So when I was leaving the editor position at the law review ahead of graduation and Natalie interviewed, I knew she would be the perfect fit. She was so impressive.”

Natalie Alane: An alternative path to law Natalie Alane hails from Florida but has traveled extensively in pursuit of education and service. She attended Central Michigan University for her undergraduate studies in classical voice performance and went on to graduate school at the University of Kentucky for a master’s degree in rural sociology. During her time in Lexington, Alane volunteered at several nonprofits and educational centers. Following graduation, she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Zambia, Africa. “We live in an incredibly diverse universe in which every individual has a unique set of skills and talents,” Alane said. “Our skills and talents are meant to be shared. So if we use these to help another person, we make the world a better place.” During her two years in Africa, Alane learned to speak Bemba, the local language, and lived in a hut with no electricity or running water. She taught village leaders and local women health, small business, and financial skills. (continued)

Chartier was impressive too. She graduated first in her class and went on to work at the Michigan Court of Appeals and the East Lansing City Attorney’s Office. A position clerking for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh at the Michigan Supreme Court followed.

Natalie Alane


Alane & Chartier

“Our skills and talents are meant to be shared. So if we use these to help another person, we make the world a better place.”

Natalie Alane

Nicole Hughes (left) and Takura Nyamfukudza (right).

“The Peace Corps philosophy really impacted me,” she said. “It taught me not to form opinions about what I believe others need, but to spend time listening to what they believe they need. I also learned that empowering people to problem solve makes a more lasting and sustainable impact than problem solving for them ever can.”

After graduating magna cum laude, Alane reunited with Mary Chartier, her former WMUCooley classmate, at the court of appeals and then as staff attorneys for Justice Cavanagh at the Michigan Supreme Court. The two became fast friends and, after a period of working together, decided to go into business and open their own law firm.

After returning to the United States, Alane picked up work in the legal field as she had done during her undergraduate years. The words of her grandfather, spoken to her when she was 15, kept echoing in her ears. Observing her in passionate argument with authority, he said, “That girl is going to be a lawyer.” Ultimately, she applied for law school. She chose WMU-Cooley, where she excelled academically and received numerous awards, including Outstanding Woman Law Student from the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

Getting down to business Alane & Chartier, P.L.C. opened its doors in September 2007 and clients came knocking. As with starting any business, there were challenges, but as a woman-owned business, the firm faced some additional bumps in the road. “Some people had a hard time believing that we owned and operated our own firm and that our husbands weren’t involved,” Chartier said. “In some meetings where I was the only female attorney present, I was even asked to take notes.” Despite these challenges, Alane & Chartier established itself as one of Michigan’s top law firms. Its focus is traditional


litigation and advocacy services, with Alane specializing in appellate law, family law, mediation and collaborative practice. Chartier specializes in constitutional law and criminal defense litigation. On the criminal defense end, the firm has built a reputation for excellence in litigation based on Chartier’s work, winning acquittals in numerous trials and successfully reversing convictions for those wrongfully convicted. For example, she is currently working on the case of Lacino Hamilton, a Detroit man who was found guilty of the murder of his foster mother in 1994. His conviction was based solely on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed that Hamilton had confessed to the crime while awaiting trial. New evidence makes it clear that this conviction should be vacated. Cases like Hamilton’s have recently begun to gain national attention due to true crime documentaries like Netflix’s “Making a Murderer,” a film that focuses on two Wisconsin men who claim they were falsely convicted and imprisoned for rape and murder. “Films like this bring to the public eye what happens every day in every county everywhere,” Chartier said. “We are battling government lawyers and a court system that doesn’t always respect the rights of the accused. It is hard work, but I see value in this type of publicity in that it educates the public about our criminal justice system.”

“You have to be passionate about what you do. You have to get excited for every opportunity, every case. That’s how you succeed.” Mary Chartier

“Nothing makes me prouder than watching two spouses end their marriage in a respectful, dignified manner with their children at the pinnacle of their considerations,” she said. “When other family law attorneys dismiss the idea of collaborative practice by telling me that they work all their cases collaboratively, I think about the trust and unique bond that forms among the team members in a collaborative case, including that bond between a collaborative attorney and the opposite spouse. It’s something I’ve never seen replicated in traditional family law litigation.” Chartier and Alane’s growing caseloads have allowed them to expand their law firm and hire WMU-Cooley graduates Takura Nyamfukudza (Moore Class, 2013), who was recently named the State Bar of Michigan’s Outstanding Young Lawyer for 2015, and Nicole Hughes (Johnson Class, 2013). The two associate attorneys have already left their marks on the practice, with Nyamfukudza specializing in criminal defense litigation and Hughes focusing on family law.

Another recent hire is Chartier and Alane’s former boss, Michigan Supreme Court Justice and former WMU-Cooley board member Michael Cavanagh. Cavanagh retired from the high court in January 2015 after 32 years of service. His tenure is recognized as one of the longest in Michigan history. “Every law firm wanted Justice Cavanagh on their team, so it was a huge coup for us to bring him in,” Chartier said. “He is a fantastic mentor whose experience and insight is a great resource for us. In fact, he’s been critical to the success of appellate cases that he has consulted on. That says a lot about what he has to offer.” Winning cases is a point of pride for Alane & Chartier. The firm closed out 2015 with two huge criminal defense victories, the latest in a long line of successes over the past nine years. This all ties back to the skill of the firm’s founders and their drive to do the best work they can for their clients.

Alane also sees value in each case she represents, and her collaborative practice is highly sought after for its holistic and unconventional approach to family law. She moves divorce proceedings out of the courtroom and into a supportive team environment where agreements are reached in a non-adversarial manner. In this practice, she gives keen awareness to the mental and emotional aspects of a family separation by bringing in a mental health coach for each partner as well as an advocate for any children involved. This often results in more positive outcomes for families. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh


Robert St. Cin, WMU-Cooley Student

Auburn Hills Student answers the call during

FLINT WATER CRISIS Months before the Flint water crisis hit the national spotlight, WMU-Cooley Law School student Robert St. Cin was already clued in that something wasn’t right in his hometown.

St. Cin’s parents-in-law, who have been Flint residents for more than 40 years, began filling up water bottles at St. Cin’s Grand Blanc, Michigan, home about five miles down the road. The routine visits began early last fall and continued long after the world awakened to Flint’s water crisis.

“It was never something we talked about,” St. Cin said. “They just told us ‘we can’t use our water right now.’” St. Cin, who grew up in Flint, graduated from the University of Michigan in Flint before attending WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. While attending law school, 29-year-old St. Cin works as a paralegal at Chowning, Edgar and Wagner, a law firm in Grand Blanc.


“Flint is resilient in every sense of the word,” St. Cin said. “The people are strong and dedicated to overcoming every obstacle that is placed in front of them. I, like most, take pride in the character that comes from that spirit of perseverance.” Robert St. Cin

Grand Rapids Campus BLSA Students Join Forces and Deliver Water to Flint Members of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus also held a water drive to support Flint residents. Students, faculty and staff donated 353 gallons of water, which students delivered to the YWCA of Greater Flint.

As St. Cin conversed with friends who reside in downtown Flint, he became aware of the city’s water issue and immediately stepped in to help.

When Flint’s water crisis catapulted into the national media, Cooley students became even more cognizant of the oncampus effort to help Flint.

“It’s awful. It’s a basic human tenet to have water that’s safe for drinking and bathing,” St. Cin said. “When I hear that drinking water for family and friends isn’t suitable for pets, it’s shocking. It rattles you a bit.”

“It opened up more dialogue across campus,” St. Cin said. “As soon as it became public and national news, you could sense more interest on campus.”

In early October, St. Cin organized an on-campus water bottle drive for Flint. He placed two sizable containers for water donations at various hightraffic access points on campus. Within a couple days, one of St. Cin’s professors took notice of the effort and promoted the water bottle drive to school administrators.

Within six weeks, students collected hundreds of water bottles, which were donated to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to distribute to Flint residents. St. Cin’s organized water drive on campus also spurred additional efforts that generated water filter and cash donations for Flint. “I saw students on campus as an untapped market

to help Flint residents, so people like my family and friends didn’t have to drive five miles to get clean water. I thought it was a practical thing to do,” he said. “The Auburn Hills campus is a small, but very caring campus. Everyone is willing to help when in need.” While his organized effort generated a movement across campus, St. Cin remains humble.

“BLSA wanted to demonstrate that although we are not a part of Flint’s community, we still understand and feel their misfortune,” said Kenyata McGill, WMU-Cooley law school student.

“We hope our actions prompt others in the Grand Rapids community to take action as well.”

“I don’t consider myself an activist,” he said. “It just feels natural to help people when you see them in need. It’s not anything above and beyond in my mind. It’s just what you do.” Members of the Black Law Student Association at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus delivered 353 gallons of water to the YWCA of Greater Flint that were donated by the law school’s students, faculty and staff.



Iqra Khalid, Washington Class, 2012 and Ruby Sahota, Fitzgerald class, 2007

IQRA Khalid A child immigrant from Pakistan via England, Khalid is a graduate of York University in Toronto. In 2010, she enrolled at WMU-Cooley and moved away from her family for the first time.

Two WMU-Cooley graduates have each other’s backs in The

Canadian Parliament Two Canadian-born Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School graduates are looking out for each other after being elected to the Canadian Parliament last fall.

Canadian Liberal Party politicians Iqra Khalid (Washington Class, 2012) and Ruby Sahota (Fitzgerald Class, 2007) defeated their respective district incumbents in the country’s House of Commons election last October. While the pair did not attend WMU-Cooley together, they now work together within their newly-elected Parliament positions. “She’s phenomenal,” Khalid said of Sahota. “Ruby is a team player and always willing to help.” “As young women in politics, we have to have each other’s backs. She’s someone I can rely on and use as counsel,” Sahota said of Khalid. “She’s very bright and already very accomplished. She’s dedicated and a sincere person – and that is rare in politics.”

“Quite honestly, it was the best learning experience of my life,” the 30-year-old Pakistani-born Canadian said. “The hands-on experience helped me learn and understand the law and negotiations in a practical way.” Khalid finished her coursework at the Lansing campus within one and a half years and moved back to Ontario for a three-month externship with the city of Mississauga’s legal department. She remained with the city on a contract basis upon graduating from WMUCooley in 2012. She became a full-time employee the following year, working on civil lawsuits involving the city, including real estate and property law claims. After a couple of years practicing municipal civil law, Khalid decided to run for the Liberal Party in the Canadian House of Commons.

“I have a lot of love for the law,” she said. “There’s the enforcement side of the law that’s exciting, but the side of creating laws fascinates me even more.” After winning her district’s Liberal Party’s nomination in December 2014, Khalid resigned from her position in Mississauga to focus on her election campaign. She ran on the platform of increasing cultural equality in Canada and strengthening the middle class – a demographic familiar to Khalid due to her upbringing. “Canada is the land of opportunity,” Khalid said. “We should have equality with regard to what we may look like and what language we speak.”

Iqra Khalid


Iqra Khalid, second on right, opens her constituent office in February.

Khalid’s campaign platform was a hit with voters as she defeated the conservative incumbent for her district in the October 2015 election. “I was shocked. It felt really good,” said Khalid, who immediately cried and hugged her mom upon learning the election results. “It was something that gave hope to Canadians and reinforced who we are as Canadians. I hope to understand all the issues and concerns of my district, and I’m happy to represent our constituents.” During her next four years in office, Khalid wants to enact positive change throughout her country.

“I appreciate the experience I’m getting and the differences we Ruby Sahota make individually and collectively as members of Parliament,” she said. A few years after returning to her “I’m very humbled.” RUBY Sahota Sahota recalls always having a keen interest in politics – ever since she was a little girl. Whether it was voicing concerns regarding school or communityrelated issues, Sahota’s passion for politics grew during her high school and college years. Born in Toronto and raised in Brampton, Sahota graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, with a major in political science. A year later, she enrolled at the WMU-Cooley Law Lansing campus.

“It was definitely a good experience to have lived in the United States and gain an understanding of our American counterpart,” Sahota, 36, said. “WMU-Cooley gave me the opportunities that other schools didn’t give me. It was a great challenge and helped build character in my life. I felt at home at WMU-Cooley.” After graduating WMU-Cooley in 2007, Sahota moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she practiced commercial litigation. In 2012, she moved back to Brampton to be close to her family.

hometown, Sahota – now a new mother – decided to pursue the political path she had pondered her entire life: she sought her district’s Liberal Party nomination for Parliament. “I felt that at that point, if I don’t do it, I’ll always wonder, ‘what if,’” she said. After acquiring the Liberal Party’s nomination, Sahota ramped up her campaign, focusing on health care, youth unemployment, and making secondary education affordable in Canada. She also made a promise to be available and stay connected to her constituents if elected to office. Voters supported her campaign platform as a stunned Sahota defeated the Conservative incumbent in the October 2015 election. “I always thought I was going to pull through, but I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself,” Sahota said. “It was definitely overwhelming.”

“They had the passion and dedication and that’s what took us through,” she said. “They will make a difference in this world.” During Sahota’s four-year term, she promises to remain accessible to her constituents, motivate young women and encourage young women to be involved in politics.

“What’s great is we’re all in this together,” Sahota said of joining other new Parliament members. “We’re all learning new things for the first time, and we’re learning them together.” Ruby Sahota

Sahota is grateful for everyone who dedicated their time and energy to her campaign – especially the young students.


Gayle Kemp, MUNDY class, 1986

Gayle Kemp:

Standing up for the underdog In her 30-year legal career, Gayle Kemp (Mundy Class, 1986) has strived to work for the underdog. It started with her internship helping residents in Chicago’s public housing system and continued with her work as a public defender. Most recently, she helped train law enforcement officers in North Carolina to uphold the Fourth Amendment and protect citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. “I went to law school to do what was needed in the community,” Kemp said of her motivation to enroll at WMU-Cooley Law School as a young mother in the early 1980s. “My philosophy always was that if you have a gift, you have to use it.” While an undergraduate student at Spring Arbor University, Kemp worked at CabriniGreen development in Chicago, assisting underprivileged people with housing issues and criminal defense. Those experiences as a young adult helped guide her career in the decades to follow. “I’ve always believed that to whom much is given, much is required. I felt a duty to help others,” she said.


Upon graduating from WMU-Cooley Law School in 1986, Kemp worked for three years as a clerk for the Michigan Court of Appeals. “When I went to the court of appeals, I was one of the first WMU-Cooley graduates to work there. I was much more prepared to do the varied work than graduates of other law schools,” she recalled. “Cooley made me a well-rounded student with a broad understanding of the law.” As a research attorney with the court, Kemp worked extensively on criminal cases. “If you were a research attorney, people usually went to big firms and focused on business,” said Kemp. But she wasn’t motivated by the promise of a large salary at a private practice, instead staying focused on helping the less fortunate.

“Cooley made me a well-rounded student with a broad understanding of the law.” Gayle Kemp

In 1989, Kemp moved to the public defender office in Grand Rapids as a staff attorney, often representing the poor. There she used personal experience as a female attorney to relate to her clients.

“The part that I loved was teaching and interacting with law enforcement officers. I felt like this was an extension of my prior work. I was explaining and training officers to enforce the Fourth Amendment.”

“I had a few brushes with sexism in my career, once with a prosecutor who called me his ‘little Irish princess’ and wouldn’t stop,” Kemp recalled. “I also demanded and got an apology from another prosecutor who asked me if I was menopausal after a hard-fought motion in a murder case.”

At the North Carolina Justice Academy, Kemp also taught officers ways to decrease tension between law enforcement and the community. “De-escalation tactics are so important. We don’t want to make it officers versus civilians. The more each group can understand about each other, the better it is for both sides.”

Kemp said these experiences offered her a unique sensitivity. “I would say to clients, ‘I can’t put myself in your shoes, but I know what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace. I know what it feels like to not always be seen as equal.’”

Recently retired, Kemp continues to stay active in the Asheville, North Carolina community, speaking at college forums and working to improve the community as a member of a steering committee in her city.

In the public defender office in Grand Rapids, she earned a reputation as a go-getter. “‘Gayle can do it,’ I remember a judge would often say,” said Kemp. But after 15 years, she chose a different path following a battle with breast cancer. “What can I contribute that doesn’t impact my health, but allows me to do what I like?” she wondered. That led to a move and work as an associate attorney general at the North Carolina Justice Academy, training criminal justice personnel to be professional and effective.

For students considering a career in law, Kemp offers this guidance, “You need to feel that fire in your belly. Don’t go to law school because you think you’re going to be rich some day. Go to law school because you love the law and want to see the rule of law in our society.” Gayle Kemp


Jacqualine lombardo, Marshall class, 2013

Jacqualine Lombardo: Staying Focused and Dreaming Big A few years later, a teenaged Lombardo found herself adrift from the mainstream and decided to take a break from high school with only a semester remaining. Her very young parents did everything they could to make sure she lived up to her potential. Her dad applied his logical and pragmatic approach while her mom encouraged her to dream big. Both steadfastly supported her imagination, goals and dreams.

As a young girl, Jacqualine Lombardo (Marshall Class, 2013) would walk past the historical Albany Law School building, in Albany, New York, on her way to the family-owned businesses nearby. She’d tell her grandmother,

“I’m going to grow up and go to school there.” Although she was then too young to understand what going to law school meant, the unique architecture with its stone and metal gateway captivated her attention.


After an exchange with a guidance counselor, Lombardo completed high school and earned her diploma. After a few more life hiccups, she decided to get serious about her education. In 2005, Lombardo enrolled at a local community college where she obtained her associate’s degree. By 2009, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from State University of New York in Albany. Ready for a challenge and still embracing her long-held dream of going to law school, Lombardo decided to apply. In 2010, she received her acceptance letter from WMU-Cooley and knew that the foundation of her future had been laid. “I couldn’t believe that I had actually been accepted,” Lombardo remembered. That fall, she packed up, and along with her trusted kitten sidekick, Portia, moved to start classes at the law school’s Grand Rapids campus. She admits she was very nervous. “I had always felt that lawyers were stuffy, unapproachable people. I don’t think I talked to anyone the entire first month,” Lombardo recalled. “As time went on, I began to realize that it wasn’t the case at all. The professors

“I would sit in my study area and remember all the things WMU-Cooley professors taught me: ‘stay focused, dream big and you can do this.’” Jacqualine Lombardo

were approachable and willing to help me with anything. They really made the experience unforgettable. My fellow students were just like me. These realizations made my experience at WMU-Cooley that much better. The relationships I forged with the professors and fellow law students made it an incredible experience.” Her internship experience in circuit court with the Access to Justice Clinic and externship with the ACLU in Hawaii gave Lombardo experience in legislative and advocacy work. In May 2013, she returned to New York from Hawaii and began studying for the New York Bar Exam.

In 2013, after passing the New York bar, Lombardo resolved to make a difference in her community and to pursue her passions. As part of that resolve, Lombardo, two childhood friends, and her brothers started Twill, an Albany-based buy-one/give-one organic cotton blanket company. To date, the organization has donated approximately 3,000 blankets to children and families in need. “We have been fortunate to send our blankets as far as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and New Zealand’s Ronald McDonald House,” she said.

learning how to focus my attention on the things that are important to me helped shape what I have done since law school. No one else gave me the chance, but that one acceptance letter from WMU-Cooley changed who I became and what I could do,” Lombardo added.

In 2015, Lombardo opened The Law Office of Jacqualine C. Lombardo, which she uses as a platform to help those who may need pro bono services. Aside from her case management job and practice, Lombardo teaches yoga at two locations and is enrolled at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy where she is pursuing a certificate in nonprofit management. In that same year, Lombardo became a certified yoga instructor, a pursuit that came from her passion to help others who might need a way to deal with life’s ups and downs. Lombardo is working on branding her own yoga business – BendedYogi. The brand emerges from the idea that “we are all a little bent, or broken, not perfect,” Lombardo said.

“I would sit in my study area and remember all the things WMU-Cooley professors taught me: ‘stay focused, dream big and you can do this.’ I was determined to take the exam only once and pass,” she said. Her hard work paid off and she got her wish, passing the tough New York bar exam on her first try.

“If the professors hadn’t believed in me and given me those words of encouragement during finals preparation, I’m not sure that I would have been able to do that. They gave me the confidence to move forward in my life. I think

In addition to practicing law part-time, Lombardo is a case manager for the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company, which offers housing and employment services to veterans.

Jacqualine Lombardo with the Twill blankets. Jacqualine Lombardo (right) in her role at Twill.

“It’s just been an incredible ride and an incredible experience,” Lombardo said. “I know I do a lot, but the truth of the matter is everything I do fills my heart with so much joy that I can’t stay with just one.” To learn more about Lombardo, go to or


Christine Welton, John Marshall Class, 2013

Cancer Survivor Embarks on Journey to Become a Lawyer Cancer is one of the most feared medical diagnosis one can receive. Following the initial diagnosis, it’s difficult for most people to think about anything else every day. In October 2006, when Christine Welton’s (John Marshall Class, 2013) doctor told her the diagnosis was thyroid cancer, her life came into focus. She immediately learned how to deal with her cancer, how to battle it, and how to

move beyond it. Following a successful cure of her cancer, she reflected on her life and changes she wanted to make.

“Cancer has an impact on your life and how you interact with others,” Welton said. “It helped me realize what is important in my life and, at the time, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do with my life. You also realize that time isn’t guaranteed to us. It was that experience with cancer that inspired me to go to law school.” Welton had dreamed of becoming a lawyer when she was in grade school. Now, married and a mother of two children, she wanted to fulfill that dream. In the years following her high school graduation, Welton had built a strong educational foundation, beginning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and later attending Northwest Michigan College in Traverse City working toward a legal assistant’s degree. Eventually, Welton earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Davenport University in 2000. After embarking on a career as a paralegal, Welton continued her education, completing her master’s degree in organizational management at Spring Arbor University in 2009.


“It was that experience with cancer that inspired me to go to law school.” Christine Welton

Christine Welton and family

To go after her long-held dream, in January 2010, Welton enrolled at WMUCooley’s Grand Rapids campus with a five-year plan to earn a law degree. She chose the five-year plan because she was commuting from her home in Traverse City. Near the end of her first year of law school, Welton moved to Grand Rapids where she “picked up the pace.” Discovering a passion for appellate advocacy, she joined teams that successfully competed in two national moot court competitions. “We had some very competitive teams, advancing to the quarterfinals ahead of tier-one teams,” Welton said. “Our professors were great coaches who helped us go over the material. I was proud of us for doing as well as we did. By beating those top-ranked law schools, we learned it was less about where you go and more about what you do with the opportunities you have.” In addition to competitive teams during her tenure at WMU-Cooley, Welton served as teaching assistant in advanced appellate techniques, scholarly writing, and civil procedure. She also served as an ARC graduate assistant and introduction to law instructor. In May 2013, she earned her Juris Doctor magna cum laude.

Following her admission to the State Bar of Michigan in November 2013, Welton worked as a solo practitioner and a contract attorney. In August, 2015, she joined Bolhouse, Baar & Hofstee, P. C. in Grandville, Michigan where her practice focuses in the areas of family law, employment law, general litigation, real estate, collections/creditors’ rights, and civil rights/disability law. As a cancer survivor, Christine gives back by volunteering her time at Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids. She also enjoys spending time with her family, paleo cooking, reading, and traveling.

“I was proud of us for doing as well as we did. By beating those top-ranked law schools, we learned it was less about where you go and more about what you do with the opportunities you have.” Christine Welton


FACULTY experts WMU-Cooley Law School professors are often featured as legal experts in the media. Our professors are called upon to comment and clarify the legal ramifications of local, state, regional or national issues in the news.

Don LeDuc and Nelson Miller discussed the law school’s latest affiliation agreements with Western Michigan University Don LeDuc, WMU-Cooley Law School president, and Nelson Miller, associate dean, appeared on WMMT 3 to talk about the law school’s affiliation and expansion with Western Michigan University. The story was also featured in The Grand Rapids Business Journal, Detroit Legal News, Macomb County Legal News, WMU-News, and on WMMTTV3, WKZO, WKFR, WMLI, and WNWN-FM.

Lewis Langham featured in the Detroit Free Press Lewis Langham, professor emeritus, was quoted in the Detroit Free Press regarding the law school’s panel discussion, “Death by Police: Justifiable Homicide or Excessive Use of Force.”


Tony Alvarado featured in the Tampa Bay Free Press Tony Alvarado, WMUCooley student service coordinator, was featured in the Tampa Bay Free Press for volunteering with professors and law students at Everyday Blessings, a foster care organization, in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

WMU-Cooley Lansing campus students and faculty featured on WLNS 6 In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, WMUCooley students and faculty from the Lansing campus volunteered at the Greater Lansing Food Bank. The campus also hosted a presentation in honor of Dr. King that was featured in The Lansing State Journal.

Tracey Brame APPEARED ON WZZM 13 about the history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tracey Brame, WMU-Cooley Law School assistant dean, spoke to WZZM about the history of Dr. King and the law school’s essay contest which commemorated him. The essay contest was also featured in MLive and the Grand Rapids Legal News.

Victoria Vuletich SPOKE about ethics in the courtroom Professor Victoria Vuletich spoke to Michigan Lawyers Weekly about how an attorney’s use of social media in the courtroom can be hurtful and lead to possible ethical violations. Vuletich’s story was also featured in the Macomb County Legal News.

Jeff Martlew quoted in The Tampa Bay Free Press Associate Dean Martlew was quoted about the 2016 January WMU-Cooley graduation ceremony in the Tampa Bay Free Press. The law school’s graduation was also featured in The Florida Bar News and The Detroit Legal News.

Karen Fultz COMMENTED to ABC News in Tampa Bay Professor Karen Fultz spoke to ABC News about Hulk Hogan’s recent legal victory. She commented that his win “means a lot in regards to celebrity cases.” Fultz was also featured on WFLA 8 about a new ordinance which decriminalizes the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana.

in the media

Many times professors and administrators are acknowledged for the work they are doing in the community. Since the beginning of this year, more than 30 faculty members have been featured by numerous media outlets. Chris Hastings featured in the Associated Press

David Tarrien tapped by the media on several topics

Professors discussed President’s actions on gun control

Professor David Tarrien was featured on WZZM 13 to discuss the legality of speed limits in the city of Grand Rapids.

Professor Devin Schindler appeared on WZZM 13 to discuss the constitutionality of President Obama’s recent gun control action. He also appeared on WMMT 3 to explain the misunderstanding between people’s constitutional rights and the term “a right to bear arms.” Additionally, Adjunct Professor Steve Dulan spoke to WDET-FM about gun control efforts and their correlation to mental health.

Professor Tarrien spoke to MLive about real estate issues in Flint during the water crisis. He was quoted in the media clarifying that rumors were false regarding whether it was illegal to sell houses in Flint. spoke to Professor Tarrien about legal arguments over software licensing principles. Additionally, Tarrien was featured in Michigan Lawyers Weekly about data collection on smart watches and fitness trackers and how wearing the devices can lead to security risks.

Ayda Rezaian-Nojani named staff attorney for the WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project Ayda Rezaian-Nojani was featured in Michigan Lawyers Weekly for being named staff attorney for the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. RezaianNojani’s appointment was also featured in the Detroit, Jackson County, Ingham County, and Flint-Genesee County Legal News.

Ret. Brigadier General and Professor Michael McDaniel helped lead Flint through water crisis Professor Michael McDaniel provided WILX 10 with a projected timeline of how long the Flint water investigation could take. Additionally, McDaniel was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to be a part of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee, which was featured in MLive, Upper Michigan Source, Michigan. gov, Michigan Lawyers Weekly, Michigan Radio, WKZO and Fox 47.

Professor Chris Hastings was identified as an expert in the Flint water crisis Court of Claims issue and was featured in the Associated Press. He explained that the Court of Claims is handling the Flint water crisis lawsuit because it’s the only court in the Michigan state judicial system that has subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims against the state. He spoke to MLive, Vice News, The Detroit Suntimes, The Muskegon Chronicle, and was featured on WGVU and WKZO.

“Defense lawyers aren’t going to come in and say these cases don’t have any merit based on the facts. They’re going to come in with narrow, technical defenses that exist regardless of those issues. Courts are good at setting the emotions aside and looking at the law.” chris hastings

McDaniel also appeared on Fox 2 Detroit as part of a panel discussing current events like the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Flint’s water crisis.


legal experts in the media

Richard Henke quoted in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today

Lisa Halushka and Joan Vestrand featured in Detroit Legal News Professor and Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka and Associate Dean Joan Vestrand were featured in the Detroit Legal News with incoming law students during WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus “Professionalism-inAction” orientation program. The story was also featured in the Oakland County Legal News and Macomb County Legal News.

Brendan Beery interviewed by Michigan radio outlets Professor Brendan Beery was featured on WZOX, WNWN, and WTVB regarding Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. Beery provided his expert opinion on the political risk Republican presidential candidates made by calling on the U.S. Senate to stall filling his seat until after the election.

Professor Henke was quoted in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today regarding funding for the Flint water crisis victims. Henke noted that when the BP oil spill occurred in 2010, a finance compensation fund was established to assist victims. He stated that 98 percent of those people who were eligible joined and were compensated. Henke was also quoted in The Detroit Free Press and WTSP 10 News.

“The state is better off accepting responsibility and moving the focus to how are we going to fix this, compensate the victims and prevent future damage from happening. The worst strategy is for the state to fight… the state shouldn’t be spending its resources fighting residents who are seeking compensation for the harm they suffered. It should facilitate them getting compensation.” richard henke

The investigative piece has been nominated for an Emmy Award. 30

Associate Dean Nelson Miller and Joseph Muha, student recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Student Award, were featured in the Grand Rapids Legal News about being role models.

Curt Benson shared legal perspective following the death of Justice Scalia. Distinguished Professor Emeritus Benson appeared on WXMI Fox 17, WOOD TV 8, WZZM 13, and WOOD Radio to discuss the impact of Justice Scalia’s death.

Diversity in the law field

TonyA Krause-Phelan interviewed by WOOD TV Tonya Krause-Phelan was recently interviewed by WOOD TV reporter Koco McAboy and photographer Joe Prince Jr. in a Target 8 Investigation called “People of Color Underrepresented on West Michigan Juries?”

Nelson Miller featured in the Grand Rapids Legal News

Erika Breitfeld spoke to the Oakland County Legal News Professor Erika Breitfeld was featured in the Oakland County Legal News on judicial misconduct.

Associate Dean Nelson Miller and Assistant Dean Tracey Brame were featured in Rapid Growth Media regarding diversity in law. They spoke about what the city of Grand Rapids can do to keep and expand the number of diverse attorneys in the region.

Christine Church quoted about hosting the ABA’s Client Counseling Competition Associate Dean Christine Church spoke to the Legal News about WMU-Cooley as the host site for the ABA Client Counseling Competition.

Gerald Fisher featured in the Detroit Legal News Professor Gerald Fisher was featured in the Detroit Legal News regarding his presentation during the Public Corporation Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan’s seminar, “Local Control Challenges.”

Charles Toy and Mark Cooney Career Week coverage Charles Toy, associate dean of career and professional development, and Mark Cooney, professor, spoke to the Detroit Legal News about WMU-Cooley’s Career Week events. They were also featured in the Oakland County Legal and the Macomb County News.

Renalia DuBose, Jeff Martlew, and Amy Bandow featured in the Tampa Bay Free Press Professor Renalia DuBose, Associate Dean Jeff Martlew, and Amy Bandow, assistant director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism were featured in the Tampa Bay Free Press regarding the campus’ Black Law Student Association’s black history month event. The story was also featured in The Florida Sentinel.

Media has filed several motions to try to damage Hulk Hogan’s image.

Marla Mitchell-Cichon wrongful conviction coverage Professor Marla MitchellCichon, director of WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project, was featured on Fox 17 for her dedication to reform the criminal justice system.

Aaron Cook in The Grand Rapids Business Journal Aaron Cook (Story Class, 2015) was featured in The Grand Rapids Business Journal regarding his appointment to staff attorney for the law school’s Access to Justice Clinic.

Ron Bretz offered expert analysis regarding prosecutor’s charges Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ron Bretz was interviewed by WILX 10 TV regarding potential charges and various ethical legal standards concerning original charges facing the local Lansing prosecutor.

Swartz was also interviewed by Politico Florida about the legal issues facing Donald Trump’s campaign manager, referring to the case as “easily prosecutable.”

“Most cases like this get resolved without a trial, by plea agreement. But Lewandowski and Trump might not know what’s good for them by allowing the situation to reach this level.” Jeff Swartz

Gary Bauer ABA award highlighted by multiple media outlets

Additionally, Mitchell-Cichon was featured in Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a 2016 “Leader in the Law” and in the Detroit Legal News for her involvement in the 2016 Law Review Symposium.

Professor Gary Bauer was featured in Michigan Lawyers Weekly for receiving the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division’s Solo and Small Firm Trainer Award. He was also featured in The Alpena News, Detroit Legal News and Ingham County Legal News for receiving the award.

Joan Vestrand’s Coast Guard presentation to cadets featured Associate Dean Joan Vestrand was featured in the Detroit Legal News about her presentation at the U.S. Coast Guard Ethics Forum in New London, Connecticut.

Christopher Trudeau and Devin Schindler offered prospective law students advice Professors Christopher Trudeau and Devin Schindler spoke to the Western Herald about advice they had for students during their college careers.

The National Jurist honored Tampa Bay student Associate Dean Jeff Martlew was quoted by The National Jurist about WMU-Cooley Law School student Elizabeth Devolder. Devolder was named by The National Jurist as a “Law Student of the Year.”

Jeff Swartz GAVE insights on two major legal issues in Florida Professor Jeff Swartz spoke to ABC Action News about the Hulk Hogan v. Gawker trial. He spoke about the fine line between a public figure’s life and their privacy. He commented that Gawker


Alicia Prygoski, Hughes Class, 2016

State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section honors Alicia Prygoski for

animal rights advocacy Alicia Prygoski (Hughes Class, 2016), who graduated in May from WMU-Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus, received the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section’s 10th Annual Wanda Nash Award. The award is presented to Michigan law students who exhibit outstanding dedication to learning and promoting animal law issues. “Alicia’s heart is completely committed to this work,” said Associate Dean Christine Church. “She recently completed an externship with the national offices of the Humane Society in Washington D.C. and has testified on state legislation related to the treatment of animals. We truly cannot think of a better candidate for this award.”

Alicia Prygoski with her dog Patches

Prygoski founded the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALD) chapter at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus and served as its president. The organization has held several fundraisers and works with the Capital Area Humane Society to raise awareness about pet adoptions. The law school’s Student Bar Association honored SALD as the Lansing campus’ Best New Organization. Additionally, Prygoski has volunteered at Michigan’s Political Action Committee for Animals and served as the volunteer district leader for the Humane Society of the United States.


While attending law school, Prygoski focused her academics on improving animal rights. Her elective credits were concentrated on the legal treatment of animals. In 2015, Prygoski was one of four students in the nation to receive the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Advancement in Animal Law Scholarship. She also competed in the National Animal Law Competition at Harvard Law School and had the Best Bill and Fact Sheet. The SBM Wanda Nash award is named for the late Wanda Nash (Miles Class, 1986), founder of the Animal Law Section. Michigan was the first state bar association to establish an animal law section.

2016 Alumni Memorial Scholarship Winners The WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association awarded its annual 2016 Alumni Memorial Scholarship to two outstanding students this year. The Past Presidents Committee of the Alumni Association interviews and selects the winners from those nominated by peers, faculty and staff.

Jamie Panzerella; Denise Sylvester; Connie Bell; Nina DiPadova; Michael Marcum; Andrew Mincheff. Not pictured: Sakinah Tillman; Phil McCrae (both WMU-Cooley graduates).

Team WMU-Cooley Alumni and Friends participated for the third straight year in the Walk to End HIV held in Washington, D.C. The Walk to End HIV is a fundraising walk and 5K run sponsored by WhitmanWalker Health. The non-profit, communitybased health organization provides comprehensive and accessible health care to those infected with or affected by HIV/ AIDS. Pro bono opportunities are available for law firms and individual attorneys. One of the ways WMU-Cooley alumni in D.C. have gotten together and given back to the community since 2011 is through events such as the Walk to End HIV and the Annual SOME (So Others Might Eat) Turkey Trot. Volunteering in these events is a great way to enjoy the sights of D.C. and also catch up with fellow graduates living in the greater Washington, D.C. area.   

Julie Lawler-Hoyle resides in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, and attended the Ann Arbor and Lansing, Michigan campuses. Christine Galustians is a native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and attended the Lansing campus.

“We congratulate Julie and Christine for their stellar academic performance and their community service. Both were awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Law School.” Pamela Heos, Director of alumni & donor relations

2016 Distinguished Student Awards The Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Alumni Association also awarded the Distinguished Student Awards for the 2016 Hilary Term. This award is presented to graduating students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, service to others, and student involvement while at WMU-Cooley. They are nominated by their peers and faculty and are interviewed and selected by the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association.

Five outstanding students were selected this term to receive awards presented at their respective campus honors convocations. The recipients were Elizabeth Devolder (Tampa Bay), of Tampa, Florida; Dalton Carty (Lansing), of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Sarah Colling (Auburn Hills), of Brown City, Michigan; Zeno Toscas (Grand Rapids), of Crestwood, Illinois; and Kirstyn Wildey (Grand Rapids), of Northville and Wyoming, Michigan.

“The alumni association wishes these recipients our sincerest congratulations for their academic success at WMU-Cooley, contributions to the school and service to their communities.” Pamela Heos, director of alumni and donor relations


WMU-Cooley Law School Professors receive Honors for Marla MitchellCichon: Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Leader in the Law”

Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon was honored as one of 30 “Leaders in the Law,” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. The 2016 “Leaders in the Law” class also includes two WMU-Cooley graduates, a former adjunct professor, and a former board member. Mitchell-Cichon is the director of WMU-Cooley’s Innocence project and has been involved in legislative reform to improve Michigan’s criminal justice system since 2002. She works to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, to improve DNA testing laws, and to educate lawmakers about pending legislation to compensate victims of wrongful convictions. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project has successfully exonerated three clients. The project has also successfully litigated cases on appeal, obtaining DNA testing in almost 100 percent of its cases. In addition to her commitment to improve the criminal justice system, Mitchell-Cichon has dedicated her career as a professor to the success of her students. Mitchell-Cichon developed the Access to Justice Clinic located on 34

Dedication WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus. The clinic allows students to assist individuals with the collateral consequences related to their involvement with the criminal justice system and family courts. The clinic also focuses on expungements and removal from the Central Registry and Sex Offender Registry. Michigan Lawyers Weekly stated, “Chosen from dozens of nominations, the 2016 Leaders are attorneys who are changing the law, expanding access to justice and improving the profession and their communities.They are the lawyers in Michigan setting the example for other lawyers.” Other WMU-Cooley representatives honored as 2016 “Leaders in the Law” include: Cooley graduates James Cambridge of Kerr Russell & Weber, and Paul L. Mitchell of Paul L. Mitchell PLLC, former WMU-Cooley adjunct professor Karen Bush Schneider, and former WMU-Cooley board of directors member W. Anthony Jenkins.

David Tarrien: Michigan Academy of Science Arts and Letters “Cohn Prize”

The Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters (the Academy) awarded Professor David Tarrien with the prestigious Cohn Prize in Law and Public Policy Scholarship. Tarrien received the honor for his paper, “The Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School IEP Project: Engaging Students and Empowering Families.” Tarrien’s paper explains how one program, the Individualized Education Plan Project at WMU-Cooley Law School, achieves specific goals in special education services for children, while developing in law students a sense of responsibility to the community by serving its most at risk members. “It’s an honor to have been chosen to receive the Cohn Prize, while at the same time raising awareness for needed changes to special education services locally, regionally and nationally,” said Tarrien. “Determining appropriate special education service for children is complex. The arcane statutes and rules surrounding IEPs often seem at odds with a caregiver’s eagerness to ensure academic success for a beloved child.”

to Service At WMU-Cooley, Tarrien teaches Introduction to Law, Advanced Writing, Research and Writing, Federal Disability Law, Law of Cyberspace, Education Law, and Special Education Law. He has been a member of the boards of directors for both the Dyslexia Center of West Michigan and Arts in Motion. He is the founder and current board president of Friends of Dyslexia Education for West Michigan Children, which raises funds for area reading programs. Tarrien also served as a volunteer researcher for the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition in East Lansing. “Professor Tarrien’s dedication in this area of special education is at the heart of legal scholarship and the reason the Cohn Prize is bestowed,” said WMUCooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller. “WMU-Cooley has always placed an emphasis on practical legal education, and through Professor Tarrien’s efforts, law students are being exposed to the ideals of service to community.” The Cohn Prize is awarded in recognition of Judge Avern L. Cohn for his patronage of the Academy and support for legal scholarship. This year brought the second time a WMU-Cooley professor has been awarded the Cohn Prize. Norman Otto Stockmeyer was honored in 2012 for his paper, “The Tortuous History of the Mutual-Mistake Doctrine in Michigan Contract Law.”

Gary Bauer: ABA “Solo and Small Firm Trainer Award”

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division awarded WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer with the Solo and Small Firm Trainer Award. The award recognizes attorneys who have made significant contributions to educating lawyers or law students regarding the opportunities and challenges of a solo and small firm practice. Professor Bauer has devoted his career to promoting solo and small firm practice and training law students to plan for that kind of practice. He is a founding member and contributor of the “Solo Institute,” a continuing legal education conference held once a year in Michigan, sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education, and now one of the most heavily attended CLE programs in the state.

Bauer also created the WMU-Cooley class, Solo by Design™, to educate students on managing clients and operating a law firm as a solo practitioner. He recently launched a website and blog, sololawyerbydesign. com™, to provide law students, recent solo practitioners, and seasoned professionals who wish to go solo with information and resources to be successful in the legal business. “Professor Bauer has mentored hundreds of students over decades of teaching,” said Christine Church, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean. “Because of his influence, WMU-Cooley created a General Practice, Solo and Small Firm concentration for our students.” Bauer practiced law as a criminal defense attorney before joining WMU-Cooley Law School in 1997. He served in the U.S. Air Force before earning his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School.

The Academy is a regional interdisciplinary professional organization that facilitates scholarly exchange through annual meetings and a quarterly journal of outstanding papers in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.


elizabeth devolder, WMU-Cooley graduate

Elizabeth Devolder Named a Law Student of the Year by National Jurist Magazine

The National Jurist Magazine has named WMU-Cooley student Elizabeth Devolder a Law Student of the Year. Devolder was a non-traditional student who graduated in April 2016 from WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. She is one of 25 law students, nationally, selected to be honored by the publication. Devolder received the law school’s Certificate of Merit for the highest grade in 10 classes and served as the editorin-chief of the WMU-Cooley Law Review. She holds a national championship title in the American Bar Association’s 2015 Law Student Division Client Counseling Competition in which she competed with her husband, Bryan, besting 108 teams. She was a WMU-Cooley teaching assistant as well as a mentor for students who are balancing work, school, and family.

In addition to her involvement at WMUCooley Law School, she also serves as a board member for Blaze of Hope, a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide financial assistance to families of children with a life-threatening medical condition while hospitalized. The complete listing of those honored by The National Jurist can be found in the publication’s March issue, or online at

“Elizabeth has proven herself as a smart, hardworking, dedicated and determined leader and learner,” said Jeffrey Martlew, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean. Elizabeth Devolder

“Elizabeth has proven herself as a smart, hardworking, dedicated and determined leader and learner.” jeffrey martlew


WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Jeff Martlew recognizes Elizabeth Devolder for being named a National Jurist Magazine Law Student of the Year during the law school’s honors convocation on March 16.

Thank You to Alumni Hosts WMU-Cooley hosts roughly 35 alumni networking events nationwide each year. Many alumni have stepped up and answered the call to underwrite and host the events. We thank them for their generous support. Underwriting one of these events is considered a donation to the law school, tax-deductible, and is an important way to give back to WMU-Cooley while improving our alumni networking and support. If you are interested in underwriting an event in your city, please contact Pamela Heos, director of alumni & donor relations at heosp@ or (517) 371-5140 x 2014. The following events have been generously supported by our alumni hosts.  • Scott Harcus (Carpenter Class, 1993) Coral Gables, Florida • Jose Torres (Wilkins Class, 2011) Miami, Florida • Jason Guari (Steere Class, 1995) Palm Beach, Florida • George Pressler (Blair Class, 2001) New York City, New York • Darin Portnoy (Witherell Class, 1990) Princeton, New Jersey • Charles Doolittle (Sherwood Class, 1986) Grand Rapids, Michigan • Tony Kalogerakos (Starr Class, 2005) Chicago and Lincolnwood, Illinois • Hon. Patrick McGraw (Goodwin Class,1982) Saginaw, Michigan • Hon. Timothy Kelly (Blair Class, 1983) Saginaw, Michigan • John Heugel (Bushnell Class, 1980) Green Bay, Wisconsin • Sharon Hanlon (Goodwin Class, 1982) Naples, Florida • Patrick Griffin (Riley Class, 2009) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Jeremy Goodman (Fitzgerald Class, 2006) Phoenix, Arizona • Jamie Leavitt Vamvakas (Johnson Class, 2001) Chicago, Illinois • Hon. Joseph Farah (Weist Class,1979) Flint, Michigan • Hon. Michael Hatty (Butzell Class, 1979) Brighton, Michigan • John Nocita (Turner Class, 1991) Chicago, Illinois

2016 admittees pictured left to right: Philip Proctor (Pratt Class, 1988), James Heos (Cooley Class, 1976), Anthony Fatemi (Sharpe Class, 1998), Debra Blews (Durand Class, 1992), Rose Yazdani (Boston Class, 2007), Fener Deonarine (Sharpe Class, 2008), Sarah Pixler (Ellsworth Class, 2012) and Steven Ramey (Green Class, 1988).

WMU-Cooley Group Admission to the United States Supreme Court The annual WMU-Cooley group admission to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. was held on March 2, 2016, hosted by Pamela Heos, director of alumni & donor relations, and Patrick Griffin (2009 Riley Class), alumni association president.

Our next Supreme Court admission ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29, 2017. If you are interested in being placed on the waiting list, please contact Pamela Heos at

A Washington, D.C.-area alumni networking event was held the previous evening where many admittees also attended. Congratulations to all our newest admittees.


Graduations Winter Ceremonies

The January 2016 class is named after William Howard Taft. President Taft was the only person to serve as U.S. President (1909-1913) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1921-1930).

John T. Berry presented the Tampa Bay keynote.

William Howard Taft Class: Winter 2016

“This degree is a wonderful tool you can use to help and care for others.” John T. Berry, director of the Florida Bar’s Legal Division and former executive director of the State Bar of Michigan, presented the keynote during Tampa Bay’s winter graduation. He advised members of the William Howard Taft class to enjoy the work they do practicing law and understand the impact an attorney’s action may have on others.


Tampa Bay graduate Samantha Adams presented the valedictory remarks.

Speaking to her 54 fellow classmates, Samantha Adams provided the graduation valedictory remarks and said, “Law school is by no means easy. It is a process where we had to essentially isolate ourselves, learn to change our perspectives, find the law in absolutely everything, and learn how to be objective.” While sharing her reasons for attending law school, and how she learned working smarter made her stronger and got her through law school’s difficulties, Adams said,

“When we made the decision to come to law school, we made the decision to perch on that mountain top and go through a painful process; but we grew, we got smarter and stronger.”

During the commencement ceremony for the 171 graduates of Michigan’s campuses, graduate Benjamin Schirm presented the valedictory remarks. In the speech, he shared how hard work and hope kept him on task to achieve his goals and serve in the profession.

“Our collective hope lives in three forms. What it took to get us here, how we persevered through the challenges and struggles of law school, and our hope to serve the profession and to serve those in times of need,” stated Schirm.

Michigan graduate Benjamin Schirm presented the valedictory remarks.

Megan Norris, principal with Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone, presented the keynote in Michigan.

Presenting the keynote during the Michigan graduation, Megan Norris, principal of Miller Canfield Paddock and Stone, PLC in Detroit, spoke to the graduates about advice she wished she received before practicing law. “No matter how good you were in law school, there is a steep learning curve. This was my hardest lesson,” said Norris. “While your time in college and law school is measured in a handful of years, your career is measured in decades.”

“It took me 15-20 years, but I found my lane, and I’m happy driving in it. Find yours.”

Spring Ceremonies

The spring 2016 graduating class is named after Charles Evan Hughes. Hughes served as the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice from 1930-1941. WMU-Cooley Law School President and Dean Don LeDuc presented Alexandria Solis-Mullen with the President’s Achievement Award. Sara Graber was honored as a summa cum laude graduate.

(left-right) WMU-Cooley’s graduation keynote speaker Kevin Cotter, Michigan’s Speaker of the House; and Don LeDuc, WMU-Cooley’s president.

what I would end up making of it, I couldn’t be happier with my education and every experience I had here at Cooley,” said Cotter.

Michigan summa cum laude graduate Sara Graber.

Charles Evan Hughes Class: Spring 2016 During the ceremony for the 183 graduates of the Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Lansing campuses, Kevin Cotter (Edwards Class, 2006), Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, spoke about his experience graduating from WMU-Cooley Law School 10 years ago during the ceremony’s keynote address. “Even though I didn’t know

“The opportunities I had to grow and challenge myself set the stage for everything that has come after.” Similar to Cotter, graduate Theodore Wallace, who presented the valedictory remarks, shared how his family, classmates, and professors challenged him to work hard and achieve the goal of graduating from law school. “What I learned at

WMU-Cooley Law School is that the people who surround you, affect you,” said Wallace. “These people supported you from the days of the Model Penal Code all the way to the electives. They have made sacrifices for us and we owe it to them to pass the bar.” John Badalamenti, judge of the Florida Second District Court of Appeals, provided keynote remarks to the 41 graduates at the Tampa Bay campus. “I don’t want anyone to ever let you feel out of place in litigation or in life for any reason. The fact is that you are right there with them,” said Badalamenti.

“Your journeys were all different and had different obstacles along the way. But remember, it’s less about where you started and much more about what you do during life’s journey.”

Tampa Bay graduate Mark Patterson delivered the valedictory speech.

Selected by his fellow classmates to present the graduation valedictory remarks, Mark Patterson reflected on the road to law school graduation.

“This journey has been exciting and amazing, but most of all encouraging. As Cooley grads, we leave here today, and there is one thing that is certain – this is just the beginning of what will be great careers for all of us.”

Graduate Zakiyyah Jackson-Bey receives her diploma at the May ceremony.

Graduate Theodore Wallace presented the valedictory remarks in May.

Tampa keynote speaker, John Badalamenti, judge on the Second District Court of Appeals


Michigan Campus News Michigan Campuses Host Discussions on Judicial Misconduct and the Wrongfully Convicted Bieda said that if funding were legally available for Michigan’s 60 exonerees who were released from prison between 1989 and 2015, the cost to taxpayers would be nearly $16 million. Pictured (left-right) Norman Fell, professor emeritus and founder of WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project; Marla Mitchell-Cichon, director of the Innocence Project; Kenneth Wyniemko, Innocence Project exoneree; Steve Bieda, state senator; and Don LeDuc, WMU-Cooley Law School president and dean.

The popular Netflix series, “Making a Murderer” introduced the country to the idea of judicial misconduct and raised awareness to issues facing the wrongfully convicted. In response to this timely topic, WMU-Cooley’s three Michigan campuses hosted public discussions regarding the work of WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project.

Lansing: Wrongfully Convicted Topic of Symposium Hosted by Journal of Practical and Clinical Law and WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project WMU-Cooley Law School’s Journal of Practical and Clinical Law and the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project hosted the 2016 law symposium at the Cooley Center in Lansing, Michigan. Panelists discussed wrongful convictions, life after exoneration, and the needs of the wrongfully convicted after being released from prison. Panelists included Kenneth Wyniemko, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project exoneree and criminal justice reform advocate; Valerie Newman, State Appellate Defender’s Office assistant defender; Laura Caldwell (via video), Loyola-Chicago University Law School’s Life After Innocence Project director;


Zieva Konvisser, Wayne State University adjunct professor; and Steve Bieda, state senator. Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon, director of WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project, moderated the discussion. Senator Bieda, who has introduced Senate Bill 291 to offer compensation to Michigan’s wrongfully convicted, spoke about the 30 states in the nation that already offer the exonerated some kind of compensation. He acknowledged that in Michigan, cost is a chief difficulty in getting the state legislature to approve compensation to those wrongfully convicted.

Caleb Foerg, WMU student, addresses the panel.

Konvisser, Wyniemko, Newman, and Caldwell spoke about how crucial the bill is to assist exonerees with their mental and physical well-being. The struggle to re-connect with family, to find jobs and insurance takes a toll on exonerees’ mental health. Wyniemko discussed his personal experience of knowing exonerees who could not adjust to life after prison and ended their lives because of the lack of assistance. “The symposium brought together qualified experts to talk about the daily challenges of the wrongfully convicted,” said MitchellCichon. “It is critical that Senate Bill 291 pass and that we begin to develop programs in our state to address the physical and psychological needs of Michigan citizens who went to prison for crimes they didn’t commit.” The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project works to secure the release of factually innocent Michigan prisoners through post-conviction DNA testing. WMU-Cooley established

“The criminal justice system is problematic and needs to be fixed. When someone gets convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, they carry a stigma with them for the rest of their life. Valerie Newman

At WMU-Cooley, it is not enough that our graduates know the law. We want them The event was moderated by to conduct themselves with Zeno Toscas, FBA president. the highest integrity at all Panelists included Tracey times.” Brame, WMU-Cooley Law School assistant dean; Auburn Hills: “Making a Following the symposium, Victoria Vuletich, Murderer” Discussion Senator Bieda and DistinWMU-Cooley professor; Held at Auburn Hills guished Professor Emeritus Ayda Rezaian-Nojani, Campus Norman Fell, founding Innocence Project staff The Criminal Law Society executive director of the attorney; and Jonathan at the Auburn Hills campus WMU-Cooley Innocence Paasch, WMU-Cooley law held the discussion “Making student and Walker police Project, were honored for a Murderer,” addressing officer. The discussion was their contributions to the criminal misconduct in also streamed live to other project’s work. the justice system. The campuses. discussion was led by Grand Rapids: Criminal “The panel was a great veProfessor Erika Breitfeld and Justice Misconduct hicle for bringing real world featured speakers Valerie Discussion Held at criminal misconduct to the Newman, state appellate Grand Rapids Campus law students to realize how defender, and Tommy The Student Federal Bar critical the legal principles Highers, an individual who Association (FBA) at the and ethics they study are,” was wrongfully convicted Grand Rapids campus said WMU-Cooley Professor and then exonerated after 25 presented the panel Victoria Vuletich, who teach- years in prison. discussion, “When the es courses in Professional Highers, who, along with Ethical Boundary is Crossed: Responsibility and Ethics his brother Raymond, was Potential Misconduct in at the law school’s Grand wrongfully convicted in 1987 the Steven Avery Story.” Rapids campus. “Often, the of murder, reflected on his The Steven Avery trial was only thing standing between transition into society after recently highlighted in an innocent person and a being released from prison. the TV series, “Making a miscarriage of justice is an Newman represented the Murderer,” and the panel attorney or judge’s personal Highers brothers in their discussed the trial’s integrity and self awareness. retrial when new evidence appeared in a Facebook post after 18 years. She presented the process of the exoneration case and spoke to students about the misconduct in the justice system that affects exonerees long after being Pictured (left-right) Victoria Vuletich, WMU-Cooley Law School professor; Jonathon Paasch; Walker police officer and WMU-Cooley Law School student; released. the program in the wake of a 2001 Michigan law permitting post-conviction DNA analysis of biological evidence when that evidence is material to the identity of the perpetrator.

potential misconduct in the criminal justice system.

Pictured (front row, left-right) Kami Misch, student; Valerie Newman, state appellate defender; and Megan Leyva; student. Pictured (back row, left-right) Nadia Chami, student; Erika Breitfeld, WMU-Cooley professor; Tommy Highers, wrongfully convicted exoneree; and students Brandon Mungo, Eric Langton, and Alison Brajich.

“The criminal justice system is problematic and needs to be fixed,” said Newman. “When someone gets convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, they carry a stigma with them for the rest of their life. We need to get Senate Bill 291 passed and begin providing Michigan exonerees the help they deserve.” Newman has been proactive in reforming the justice system. She served as the State’s Custodial Interrogation Task Force committee co-chair and lobbied for the custodial interrogation law to be passed. The law requires that all law enforcement agencies make a time-stamped, audiovisual recording of custodial interrogations for certain felonies. “Valerie is a teacher and advocate for improving the criminal justice system,” said Breitfeld. “WMU-Cooley Law School brought this program to our students to show them the importance of how powerful the job of an attorney can be, and Valerie provided students with an instructional example of how to bring a case to justice.”

Ayda Rezaian-Nojani, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project staff attorney.


Tampa Bay Campus News Tampa Bay Campus Hosts All-Women U.S. Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently held an all-women naturalization ceremony at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. During the ceremony, 75 candidates from 36 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. Attorney and Campus Director Dionnie Wynter gave the opening remarks. Kathy Redman, U.S. Immigration Services regional director, administered the oath and presented the keynote.

Donations Collected to Support Human Trafficking Survivors The Tampa Bay campus held a donation drive to benefit Selah Freedom, an organization that supports survivors of human trafficking in the Tampa Bay region. Professor Stevie Swanson and students held the drive to raise awareness of human trafficking and to supply basic needs to survivors. During the drive, monetary and gift card donations, wireless phone chargers, toiletries, paper products, and gently used clothing were collected. Pictured (left-right) WMU-Cooley Professor Stevie Swanson; Connie Rose of Selah Freedom; and Erika Martinez and Abby Fakhraie, WMU-Cooley Law School students.

Florida is ranked third in the nation for highest number of human trafficking victims. Human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion industry.

Blue Jeans Brunch Promotes Women Empowerment and Encourages Women to Socialize and Network Over 60 WMU-Cooley Law School women dressed up in their best blue jeans to join Professor Karen Fultz during the Second Annual Blue Jeans Brunch in honor of Women’s History month. The event was held in Ulele’s 2,100-squarefoot spring brewery. Women enjoyed native Floridian fare as they mixed and mingled. The casual, fun gathering in downtown Tampa was designed to bring women together to  network with their colleagues and to meet other female professionals in the community. 42

“The kick is you have to wear blue jeans to feel comfortable as you get to know other women in the legal community. This is for the female students – for them to come and meet judges and lawyers in the legal community and learn how to socialize and network as they endeavor into their legal career.”

Professor Karen Fultz (center) with Sonja Greenidge (left) and Viengphone Vongsyprasom (right), winners of Getting to Know You Bingo

The conversation started with a robust game of Getting to Know You Bingo, and continued with a number of inspiring women speakers sharing their ideas, thoughts and words of wisdom.

Class Notes 1978




Marston Class

T.M. Kavanagh Class

O’Hara Class

Bacon Class

Hoort, The Hon. David, has retired after 25 years on the bench. He was a judge with the Ionia Circuit Court.

Bos, Carole D., was named to the Grand Rapids Business Journal list of the “50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.”

Peacock, Peter W., managing partner of the Mt. Clemens, Michigan, office of Plunkett Cooney, was named a 2015 Michigan Super Lawyer in Government by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Steinberg, Michael L., delivered a presentation on Evidentiary Issues in Domestic Violence Cases at the spring conference of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM). He is a fifth-term member of the board of directors for CDAM. He operates The Law Offices of Michael L. Steinberg in southeast Michigan, specializing in criminal defense.


Wiest Class Baird, The Hon. Laura, was named president of the Michigan Judges Association. She has been a judge with the Ingham County Circuit Court since January 2001. 1980

Potter Class Bean, Brett, Of Counsel to the Hackney Grover Law Firm, was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was named a Fellow. He is a former shareholder and past president of Fraser, Trebilcock, Davis & Foster, P.C. and a former shareholder and managing member of Hackney, Grover, Hoover & Bean, PLC, both in Lansing, Michigan. Casey, Nan Elizabeth, won the Camille S. Abood Distinguished Volunteer Award presented by the Ingham County Bar Association on Nov. 19, 2015. She is the owner/ manager of Nan Elizabeth Casey, P.L.L.C., in Lansing, Michigan. 1980

Bushnell Class Otis, David K., a partner in the East Lansing, Michigan, office of Plunkett Cooney, was named a 2015 Michigan Super Lawyer in Government by Super Lawyers Magazine.


Wing Class McKeen, Brian, managing partner of McKeen & Associates of Detroit, was recognized for his leadership from the Personal Injury Institute at the 2015 Primerus Global Conference in Amsterdam in October 2015. Mr. McKeen also received the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award Honorable Mention for his work on behalf of children with birth injuries. Paupore, Jeffrey, is an Arizona Superior Court Judge in Yavapai County, in Prescott, Arizona. Transeth, Steven A., of Transeth & Associates PLC, was named a Fellow of the Ingham County Bar Association. 1982

Goodwin Class McGraw, The Hon. Patrick J., authored a chapter in the December 2014 update Michigan Guardianship and Conservatorship Handbook entitled “Establishing Guardianship of Minors.” He was also elected president of the board of directors of the Saginaw County 100 Club on Jan. 20, 2016. This is an organization of Saginaw, Michigan-area residents who contribute money each year for the benefit of families of police officers, firefighters, and state or federal agents who have given their life in the line of duty.


Pratt Class Forbush, Audrey J., a partner in the Flint, Michigan, office of Plunkett Cooney, was named a 2015 Super Lawyer in Government by Super Lawyers Magazine. 1988

Martin Class


May, Berton, joined the law firm of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C., in the firm’s Grand Rapids, Michigan, office, in January 2016. He practices in the areas of civil litigation defense, insurance defense, personal injury defense, professional liability and ethics. Phone: (616) 742-5500; e-mail:

Wilson Class


Douglass Class Potestivo, Brian A., president of Potestivo & Associates, P.C., was named a 2015 Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. Potestivo & Associates, P.C., founded in 1990, recently opened a new office in Rochester Hills, Michigan, which joins offices located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois.

Harb, Adel, was appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to the bench of the Wayne County Circuit Court. 1991

Turner Class Blinderman, Craig H., a partner with the law firm Kurkin Brandes LLP in Aventura, Florida, was appointed to Nova Southeastern University’s Ambassador’s Board. He is a civil litigator who has practiced in state and federal courts in Florida for the past 24 years. Pasteur, Michelyn E., has joined the new law firm of Buhl, Little, Lynwood & Harris, PLC, in East Lansing, Michigan. She practices in the field of elder law, Medicaid planning, and estate planning. She was named by Best Lawyers as Lansing’s Elder Law Lawyer of the Year in 2012.


Class Notes





Lawrence Class

Bird Class

Fellows Class

Rutledge Class

Turetsky, Donna, was named to the Top 10 Legal Eagles List for 2016, in the area of Trusts and Estates, by Long Island Pulse Magazine. She is a partner in the Trusts and Estates and Elder Law practice groups for Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP, in the firm’s East Meadow, New York office. She concentrates her practice on trust and estate administration, elder law, estate planning, special needs planning, and guardianships. She was also recently honored by Hofstra University School of Law Center for Children, Families, and the Law, as one of their Long Island Outstanding Women in the Law. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of estate tax planning and has been quoted extensively in Newsday, Mutual Funds Magazine, and many other publications.

Corl, Christina L., has joined Plunkett Cooney in the firm’s Columbus, Ohio office, as a partner in the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group. She focuses her litigation practice primarily on employer liability issues. She also serves as associate general counsel to the National Fraternal Order of Police and the USA Track & Field Association. She also serves as special counsel to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, representing Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati in employment and Title IX disputes.

Young, Gary, of Robert K. Young & Associates, P.C., in Merrick, New York, obtained an award of $1.35 million for a 43-year-old man who was attacked by a dog. This award was the highest award given to a dog-bite victim in the state of New York in 2015, and the third highest award ever given to a dog-bite victim in the state. Other victories include a $500,000 resolution in a construction accident case and a $586,000 resolution in a motor vehicle accident case.

Acho, Jim, was the keynote speaker at the 2016 NFL Players Association annual meeting where he delivered the opening remarks to all player reps. CBS Sports featured him in a piece in March for his work with retired players on NFL concussion cases. He is a partner with the law firm of Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, PLC, in Livonia, Michigan. He concentrates his practice on sports and entertainment law, labor and employment law, law enforcement defense, and plaintiff’s personal injury. Phone: (734) 261-2400; email



Hooker Class

Stone Class


Chalgian, Douglas G., of Chalgian & Tripp Law Offices PLLC, was named a Fellow of the Ingham County Bar Association.

Weadock Class

Kolasa, Mike, vice president and trust officer at The Stephenson National Bank & Trust in Marinette, Wisconsin, presented donations to the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter strategic fund, to the Republic Community Service Organization, and to the Quincy Mine Hoist Association. The funds are part of the bank’s year-end contributions to local non-profit organizations in the community.



Steere Class Jason, Molly, was appointed as the Attorney General’s designee to the newly created State of Michigan Retirement Board.


Black Class Wojcik, LTC. John J., was appointed to the newly created State of Michigan Retirement Board. He serves as general counsel for the Michigan National Guard.


Flannigan Class Manley, Jennifer McKellar, was elected to the district court bench in Genesee County, Michigan. She is a judge for the 67th District Court in Michigan for a six-year term expiring on Dec. 31, 2020. Watkins, Cecil, is the Rowan County Attorney in Rowan County, Kentucky. He represented the county government in the case of April Miller, v. Kim Davis, et. al.

Donovan, Michelle, was named a shareholder of Plunkett Cooney. She is a member of the firm’s Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, office and focuses her practice in real estate litigation, including title insurance claims. She is a former president of the WMU-Cooley Alumni Association, and is an adjunct professor at WMU-Cooley, teaching Modern Real Estate Transactions.


Swainson Class Hope, Kara Henigan, was elected chair of the Ingham County (Michigan) Board of Directors. Thornburg, Jennifer L., opened the Law Office of Jennifer L. Thornburg LLC, 206 E. Main St., Greenfield, Indiana 46140. She practices in the area of consumer bankruptcy, representing individual debtors in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases. Phone: (317) 462-0694; email: jthornburg@




Boyles Class

Edwards Class

Boston Class

Knights, Stephen N., was appointed as a judge to the Clayton County, Georgia, Magistrate Court Bench in 2012. He has previously held the positions of auxiliary police officer, assistant solicitor general, assistant district attorney, and criminal defense attorney. He is a lecturer at Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Southern Crescent Technical College, Johnson and Wales University, and previously at Strayer University.

Brush, Michael P., received the Ohio State Bar Foundation’s District 2 Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under. He operates his own firm and is a partner in Miller Walker & Brush, in Dayton, Ohio. Previously he worked for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. He donates his time to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley and in 2013 received the Dayton Volunteer Citizen of the Year Award for his fundraising and mentoring work. He also is a member of Snuggled Up, Inc., and the Mark A. Kreusch Memorial Fund. He is a national alumni board member for the WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association.

Harris, Raymond, and three others have opened the new law firm of Buhl, Little, Lynwood & Harris, PLC, at 271 Woodland Pass, East Lansing, Michigan. He practices in the fields of elder law, Medicaid planning, special needs trusts, estate planning, probate and trust administration, and trust and estate litigation. Phone: (517) 853-6910.


Starr Class Densham, Sandra J., was named a shareholder of Plunkett Cooney. She is a member of the firm’s Grand Rapids office and focuses her practice in general defense litigation, including product, premises and motor vehicle liability, as well as marine and recreational boating law. She also represents clients in Fair Labor Standards Act and wrongful discharge claims. 2006

Reid Class Douglass, Michael T., is a magistrate in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Hall, Lisa A., an attorney with Plunkett Cooney in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was named a 2015 Rising Star in Creditor Debtor Rights by Super Lawyers Magazine. 2007

Fisher Class Latuszek, Jodi M., was appointed as the Region 2 Director for the Michigan State Court Administrative Office. Sahota, Ruby (Singh), was elected as a member of parliament to the House of Commons in Canada.


Brickley Class Hepburn, Kaley L., was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in Ontario, Canada. She has been a solo practitioner of criminal law in Hamilton, Ontario since 2013. She also works as a criminal duty counsel panel member at Legal Aid Ontario, and has been involved with the Hamilton Pro Bono Legal Project. O’Neill, Anthony J., was appointed by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) as its new general counsel, in Chicago, Illinois. The ISFA was created by the state of Illinois to construct and renovate sports stadiums for professional sports teams in Illinois. In addition, he was married to Emilie Suckow on Sept. 5, 2016, in Chicago. Phone: (312) 810-5091; e-mail:

Ross, Codie J., joined the Fort Wayne, Indiana office of Reminger Attorneys at Law as an associate. He is experienced in all aspects of litigation, as well as bail bond and surety law, and general insurance defense issues. Previously he was a civil litigation attorney in Fort Wayne. 2008

Adams Class Roby, Kyle, has been named partner at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He practices primarily as a civil litigator in the areas of medical malpractice defense and personal injury law. He concentrates most of his personal injury work on tractor-trailer accidents. He was previously an attorney with Broderick & Davenport, PLLC, in Bowling Green. 2008

T.G. Kavanagh Class Capalbo, Teresa, was named partner with Kenny, Brimmer & Mahoney, LLC, in Wethersfield, Connecticut. She practices in the areas of personal injury, real estate, estate planning, contested probate, and workers’ compensation. She has been a member of the firm since beginning her externship there in May 2008. E-mail: tcapalbo@


Class Notes 2009


Coleman Class

Woodward Class

Dennis, Robert, is a certified NFL Agent in Sports International Group (SIG) NFL practice in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. An NFL agent for the last three years, his practice is focused on the negotiation of player agreements with NFL teams and the drafting of marketing and endorsement agreements for SIG NFL clients. He also counsels clients on off-the-field legal matters.

Askren, Daniel L., of O’Connor & Askren Law Office, was elected to the Indiana State Bar Association Board of Governors. He is president of the Fountain County Bar Association and a member of the Indiana State Bar Association (Class of 2014 Leadership Development Academy), coaches the Attica Junior High football team in Attica, Indiana, and serves as chairman of the Fountain County Republican Party.



Riley Class

Sibley Class

Griffin, Patrick, and his wife, Arpeeneh, announce the birth of their son, Alexander Hatam Griffin, born on Dec. 25, 2015. Patrick is the president of the WMU-Cooley Alumni Association, and is an attorney with Cantor Colburn LLP, in Alexandria, Virginia.

McCleary, Ryan, was elected a shareholder in the law firm Young Basile Hanlon & MacFarlane, P.C., in Troy, Michigan. He concentrates his practice on intellectual property and litigation matters. Previously he managed the information technology and human resources functions at a Tier 1 automotive supplier.


King, Stephanie A. (Garcia), joined King Law Firm, LLC, in Alton, Illinois, in January 2016. She was previously an appointed Assistant State’s Attorney in Madison County, Illinois.

Chipman Class Getty, Steven, joined Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, in Chicago, Illinois, as an associate. He represents employers in workers’ compensation claims. He previously worked in that State’s Attorney’s Offices in Winnebago and McHenry counties.

Washington Class

Patel, Rahul B., with the law firm of Patel Gaines in San Antonio, was named to the San Antonio Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list. He has also recently expanded the law firm to Fort Worth, Texas. Wojtowicz, Ryan, is celebrating two years of solo practice at Wojtowicz Law, PLC, a general practice law firm with a focus on criminal defense and family law, in St. Joseph, Michigan. Phone: (269) 281-1244; e-mail:



Wilkins Class Bauman, Brandon, has joined Machinima, a digital production studio, as senior counsel and director. He also had an article, “Corporate America should act on drones,” published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Nov. 6, 2015.

Studley, Lauren M., joined Plunkett Cooney, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as a member of the firm’s Medical Liability Practice Group. She focuses her practice primarily in the area of medical malpractice defense. 2012

Hilligan Class Engel, Paul T., was named shareholder in the firm of Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC., in Royal Oak, Michigan. He concentrates his practice in intellectual property law, with a particular emphasis on patent preparation, prosecution and opinion work in the chemical and mechanical arts.

Gardner, Jaebadiah, is founder and owner of Onpoint Real Estate Services in Seattle, Washington, which was recognized by the Seattle Human Rights Commission as the Seattle Human Rights Business Award winner. Khalid, Iqra, was elected as a member of parliament to the House of Commons in Canada. Mennie, John A., was promoted to Associate at The Law Offices of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., in Waukegan, Illinois. He concentrates his legal practice on personal injury and medical malpractice. He first started working with the firm in 2014 as a contract attorney.


Moore Class Steffani, Kristy, joined the firm of Potestivo & Associates, P.C., in Rochester, Michigan, as an associate attorney, primarily in the Bankruptcy Department. She has spent over two years representing creditors in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy proceedings and Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees. Previously she served as an attorney/partner for Foundations Legal Group PLLC. 2013

Marshall Class Murad, Jacob, is a barrister and solicitor in Ontario, Canada. He is general counsel for Mill Street & Co., Inc., a diversified investment firm. He also obtained a Global Professional Master of Laws degree at the University of Toronto. 2014

Livingston Class Lacambra, Gavin, has joined Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, in Southfield, Michigan, in the firm’s Asbestos and Toxic Tort practice group. He focuses his practice on the defense of asbestos and toxic tort litigation. 2014

Duvall Class Schaedig, Christopher, has joined the law firm of Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, in Southfield, Michigan. 2015

Trimble Class Perez, Leticia, joined the Kent County Office of the Defender, practicing criminal defense.

WMU-Cooley encourages all graduates to contribute information to the Class Notes. We want to learn about your law career and other accomplishments in the legal profession. E-mail 46

Notices 1977



Graves Class

Wing Class

Rutledge Class

Morris, The Hon. Donna T., 84, died Feb. 6, 2016. She served as Probate Court Judge in Midland, Michigan, 1979-2001. Judge Morris was a member of the board of directors and secretary of the board for WMU-Cooley Law School, 1982-2004. In 1981, she was appointed to sit on the first Judicial Council of Michigan, and also served as chair of the Probate Judges’ mental health committee. In 1982, she was appointed to the faculty of the Michigan Judicial Institute to teach juvenile case workers at their annual training seminars. She was a member of the faculty for the New Probate Judges School, 1995-2000. She was the recipient of many awards, including Outstanding Achievement Alumnae Awards from both Hillsdale College (1982) and WMU-Cooley Law School (1983).

Campbell, Jane F., of Houston, Texas, died Feb. 8, 2015.

Tolle III, Richard P., 63, of Muskegon, Michigan, died Friday, April 1, 2016. He was a member of the Muskegon real estate and legal community, and was well-known for his pro bono work assisting area veterans in need of legal advice.



Marston Class

Turner Class

Lukey, Nancy Lynn, 67, of Okemos, Michigan, died April 19, 2016. She operated a solo practice in Okemos, Michigan, 2005-2014. Previously she was with Cook, Goetz, Rogers & Lukey in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she helped healthcare providers with licensing, contracting, and regulatory compliance. She formerly drafted legislation for the Michigan Legislative Service Bureau and then the Public Service Commission. She continued working on gas and electric utility matters after joining the Hill Lewis Law firm, first as an associate and then as a partner. Reid, Grace S., of Lansing, Michigan, died Aug. 14, 2015.


Johnson Class Reittinger, Richard J., 52, died Dec. 30, 2015. He founded and owned Wealth Management, Inc., in Florida, and was actively involved in the practice of tax law with his brother, Robert, as managing partner of Reittinger & Associates through 2014. Previously, he practiced in the state of New York, where he was an associate attorney with Calli, Calli & Cully Law Firm of Utica, 1990-1998; an assistant district attorney in Herkimer County, 1992-2000; and a partner in Reittinger & Reittinger, LLP 1998-2004. He was also co-owner of the Mountainside Restaurant and Lodge in Eagle Bay, New York, 2000-2004. He was also a member of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity.

Elders, Telford E., of Monroe, Michigan, died Aug. 19, 2015.


McAllister Class Davis, Matthew Garrett, 51, of Williamston, Michigan, died Feb. 3, 2016. He was a noted attorney specializing in civil rights, election and campaign finance law. Previously, he was a journalist with the Observer-Dispatch in Utica, New York, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Detroit Free Press. He then became the communications director for the Michigan Department of Corrections. 2012

Ellsworth Class Nichols II, Anthony “David,” died Dec. 19, 2014. He was an associate attorney with the firm of Duffield, Lovejoy, Stemple & Boggs in Huntington, West Virginia.


Wallace, Beveraly Ann Hebron, 55, died Oct. 10, 2015, in Houston, Texas. She was the EEOC commissioner for the city of Jackson, Texas; a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Beta Delta Omega Chapter, a former election commissioner for Hinds County, Texas, and an officer in the Democratic Party.

Jay Class



Steere Class Sheikh, Khalid M., of Mt. Clemens, Michigan, died Aug. 11, 2015.

Richards, Jr., Ronald D., 43, died Nov. 28, 2015. He was a shareholder with Foster Swift Collins & Smith Attorneys. He was also an adjunct professor at WMU-Cooley for several years. He was previously a research attorney in the Pre-Hearing Division of the Michigan Court of Appeals and a judicial law clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly.

Livingston Class Heiman, Justin Uri, 34, died Jan. 29, 2016. He was also a graduate of Oberlin College, where he majored in psychology and neuroscience. He worked in research for seven years at the University of Cincinnati and Vanderbilt Medical School before attending law school.


Faculty Briefs Gary Bauer, Professor Presented, to the Lansing Community College, Health and Human Services Division, on Feb. 26, “Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney, What You Need To Know!” Presented, to the Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union and the Alpena Senior Center, on March 1314, “Life and Death Planning Considerations for Estate Planning,” and on April 10-11, “What Is A Will, Do I Need One?” These were the first four of a series of 12 presentations over a period of 12 months covering estate planning essentials for non-lawyers.  Awarded, the ABA Solo and Small Firm Trainer Award which recognizes attorneys who have made significant contributions to educating lawyers or law students regarding the opportunities and challenges of a solo and small firm practice. The winners were honored at a luncheon on Friday, May 13, during the 2016 Joint Spring Meeting, in Key West, Florida. Featured, in the Purdue Connections publication as a Mentor under one of their programs.

Brendan Beery, Professor Appeared, on Bay News 9, to discuss the death of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia.

Participated, in board meetings for the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society’s Advocates Guild. Edited, and posted student-authored summaries of Sixth Circuit opinions for the ABA’s Media Alerts website for which he serves as the circuit supervisor.

Appeared, on Tampa Bay’s local ABC affiliate, to discuss the “Hulk Hogan” jury verdict.

Spoke, at the Auburn Hills honors convocation, delivering the keynote address.

Wrote, a WMU-Cooley blog article on the death of Antonin Scalia.

Moderated, the Auburn Hills Environmental Law Society’s panel discussion on careers in environmental law, which featured attorneys from prominent Detroitarea firms and Chrysler-Fiat.

Wrote, a WMU-Cooley blog article on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Appeared, on numerous radio programs throughout Michigan to discuss the death of Antonin Scalia.

Mark Cooney, Professor Spoke, at the Scribes 2016 Continuing Legal Education seminar and attended the annual board meeting in Chicago. Published, an article called “The Architecture of Clarity” in volume 73 of The Clarity Journal, a publication of Clarity International. Spoke, at the moderator and reporter training day for the upcoming 2016 Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference. Judged, for the 2016 ClearMark Awards, sponsored by the Center for Plain Language, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that helps government agencies and businesses write clearly. Professor Cooney served as lead judge for the legal category and later served on the panel deciding the overall winner.

Participated, in various meetings of the Planning Committee for the 2016 Michigan Appellate BenchBar Conference. Invited, by the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan to speak on legal writing at the Section’s Annual Summit this summer. Judged, the preliminary round of the Scribes Law Review Award, reading and scoring eight studentwritten articles. Collaborated, with Professor Joseph Kimble to redraft the WMU-Cooley Law School bylaws in a more plainlanguage style.

Richard C. Henke, Professor Serving, as a media liaison for the Flint water crisis. He has appeared on WKZO radio in Kalamazoo, and has been cited in articles in the Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, and MIRS News.

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Published, an article called “Ejusdem Generis: What Is It Good For?” in Judicature.  Published, an article called “What Plain Language Is Not” in the Michigan Bar Journal.  Published, an article called “The Puzzle of Trailing Modifiers” in the Michigan Bar Journal.  Cited, twice in Judge Richard Posner’s new book Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary. The two articles cited are critical of certain canons of construction as guides to interpretation.  Spoke, at the annual meeting of Meritas, a global alliance of law firms, in Las Vegas.   Invited, to speak at the 2016 conference of Clarity — An International Association Promoting Plain Legal Language, in Wellington, New Zealand. Professor Kimble is a former president of Clarity.  Began, his 28th year as editor of the Plain Language column in the Michigan Bar Journal. Attended, The Rocky Mountain Legal-Writing Conference, held at the University of Arizona College of Law. Attended, the annual meeting of the Board of Directors of Scribes — The American Society of Legal Writers. Professor Kimble has been a Scribes board member since 2001.

Invited, by Wallet Hub, an online financial magazine for consumers and small-business owners, to comment on improving financial literacy. His remarks were published as part of the site’s April 5 article “2016’s Most & Least Financially Literate States.” 48

Marla MitchellCichon, Professor Wrote, a WMUCooley blog: “Sun Has Finally Set on Limiting Post-Conviction DNA testing in Michigan.” Featured, on Fox 47 News Online, on the need for a compensation law for wrongfully convicted Michigan citizens. Honored, by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly-2016 Leaders in the Law where she was named one of the top 30 Michigan lawyers for 2016. Moderated, the WMU-Cooley Journal of Practical and Legal Scholarship symposium, “Is A Wrongful Conviction a Life Sentence? What Really Happens After an Individual is Exonerated?” Wrote, a WMU-Cooley blog: “Curing the Ills of the Criminal Justice System: What Can We Do to Support Wrongfully Convicted Men and Women?” Attended, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorney’s Postconviction seminar on April 8 in San Antonio, Texas. Attended, the Innocence Network Conference April 8-9 in San Antonio, Texas.

Kimberly O’Leary, Professor Directed, the WMU-Cooley “down under” program in New Zealand and Australia during the Hilary Term 2016. Highlights included working with wonderful students, meeting and collaborating with talented faculty and staff at the University of Waikato and Monash University, visiting the Maori Land Court, and wearing a barrister’s wig.

James Robb, Associate Dean and General Counsel Testified, before the Birmingham City Commission about pending amendments to that city’s code of ethics on March 28.

Devin Schindler, Professor Presented, on March 18, 2016, “Cognitive Overload and Pharmaceutical Advertising,” at the Western Michigan University Bioethics Conference. 

Discussed, on March 16, 2016, on WOOD AM/FM: “Article II and the Appointment Power.” Discussed, on March 16, 2016, on WZZM-TV: “Politics and  Supreme Court Appointments.” Discussed, on March 17, 2016, on WKZO-AM, “The Appointment of Judge Garland.” Discussed, on March 29, 2016, on WOOD AM/FM:  “Supreme Court ‘Ties.’”

David Tarrien, Assistant Professor Authored, the article “The Legacy of Justice Scalia: Liberal Lion? An Examination of Chevron Deference, Net Neutrality, and Possible Outcomes of a Supreme Court Decision on the FCC’s Open Internet Order” in the 17th volume of the Texas Tech Administrative Law Journal in Spring 2016. Wrote, “The Law Student as Mediator IEP Project: Encouraging Legal Services Outreach in the Community and Empowering Families,” which won the Cohn Prize for Scholarship in Law and Public Policy and is published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Michigan Academician in Summer 2016.

Joan Vestrand, Associate Dean and Professor Served, as a Session Speaker at the United States Coast Guard Academy’s 27th Annual Ethics Forum in New London, Connecticut, in March 2016, her sixth year as a speaker at the forum. She presented on “Principled Leadership: A Road from Good to Great.” Served, as a Session Speaker at the Annual Conference of University Counsel in Las Vegas, Nevada, in March 2016, on Principled Leadership and the Importance of Ethics and Attitude to Success. Served, as a Session Speaker on Ethics and Principled Leadership at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Professional Landmen, in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016. Served, as Keynote Speaker at the Annual Midwest Peacemaking Conference, in Manistee, Michigan, in June 2016, on “Empowering Youth to Build Character and Community in Our Schools.”

Discussed, on January 11, 2016, on WOOD-AM/FM, “Gun Control and the Second Amendment.”

Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Weiner Elected, to a second term on the board of directors of the Michigan chapter of the Fulbright Association.

Discussed, on January 20, 2016, on WOOD-AM/FM: “Natural Born Citizens and the Presidential Race.”

Organized, a dinner event for Fulbrighters in the mid-Michigan area April 2016.

Discussed, on January 10, 2016, on WZZM-TV, “Presidential Power and Executive Orders.”

Discussed, on February 3, 2016, on WMMT-TV, “Gun Culture and the Second Amendment.” Discussed, on Feb 21, 2016, on WOOD-AM/FM,  “A Tribute to Justice Scalia.”


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Benchmark | Summer 2016  

This issue of Benchmark focuses on Law School alumni and faculty who live and work with particular dedication, drive, and enthusiasm – with...

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