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Judge Rosemarie Aquilina Judge Janice Cunningham Giving a voice to victims and handing down justice.


Letter from

WMU-Cooley Benchmark EDITOR Terry Carella CO-EDITOR Sharon Matchette ALUMNI RELATIONS Pamela Heos Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Helen Haessly Coordinator of Development and Alumni Services CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SeyferthPR, InVerve Marketing, Terry Carella DESIGN Image Creative Group PHOTOGRAPHY Tom Gennara, Gennara Photography Josefina Photography, Terry Carella 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 communications@cooley.edu 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 DIRECTORY The alumni directory is located in the WMU-Cooley portal. You will need an individual user name and password to access the database. Please call the Alumni Office at 517-371-5140, ext. 2045, or e-mail alumni@cooley.edu with questions.

Righting Wrongs When innocent people fall victim to horrible crime, negligence, or oppression, we as lawyers are in the enviable position to help them seek redress. Three times a year, I tell the incoming students about our alumni—who they are, what they do, and where they live and work. The successes of our 20,000-plus alumni span an astonishing array of career fields. At the end of each presentation, I tell the students I hope they “do well” by succeeding in school, passing the bar, and having fulfilling careers. But more importantly, I challenge them to “do good,” by helping people in need, representing those who can’t get representation, or championing a cause. I commend to you this issue of Benchmark in which we highlight many alumni who meet that challenge in fascinating ways. But I am especially proud to salute Judges Rosemarie Aquilina (Carr Class, 1984) and Janice Cunningham (Mundy Class, 1986), who did the extraordinary in response to an atrocious crime. As the judges who sentenced disgraced former Michigan State University sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, they have given hundreds of women the courage and the voice to speak out against violence and abuse. They certainly have done a lot of good—not just for the victims but for us all. Sincerely,

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

WMU-COOLEY BOARD OF DIRECTORS Lawrence P. Nolan Chairman of the Board Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, P.C. Eaton Rapids, Michigan

Scott A. Dienes Of Counsel Barnes & Thornburg, LLP Grand Rapids, Michigan

Hon. Louise Alderson Vice Chairman of the Board 54A District Court Lansing, Michigan

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

James W. Butler, III Urban Revitalization Division Michigan State Housing Development Authority Lansing, Michigan Thomas W. Cranmer Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC Troy, 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

Ho​n.​Stephen J. Markman Michigan Supreme Court Lansing, Michigan Kenneth V. Miller Millennium Restaurant Group, LLC Kalamazoo, Michigan James C. Morton Morton Barristers Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Edward H. Pappas Dickinson Wright PLLC Troy, Michigan Hon. Bart Stupak Venable, LLP Washington, D.C.

Hon. Richard F. Suhrheinrich U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Lansing, Michigan Dennis A. Swan Sparrow Hospital & Health System Lansing, Michigan

Contents Features Summer 2018

2 8 10 14

JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA Judge Aquilina made news worldwide for her work over a high profile case, but mostly for being an advocate and empowering survivors of abuse by giving them a voice. Making sure everyone is heard. Something she does every day in her courtroom and classroom.

JUDGE JANICE CUNNINGHAM Judge Cunningham has been a catalyst for change her entire career, not only as an attorney in her own firm, as a law professor, and as an accomplished judge, but as a mentor to women seeking to join the legal profession.

CHARLIE PICKETT AND PENNY MARTIN Second time is the charm for this law school love story. Charlie and Penny share how their love grew during their time in law school and how their life and fulfilling careers have blossomed ever since.

JASON GUARI The mission: Making victims whole again. That's what get's Jason up every morning and shapes his family life, his career, and his dedication to service.



A Voice for All 2


Rosemarie E. Aquilina, Ingham County, Michigan, Circuit Court Judge and adjunct WMU-Cooley professor, made news worldwide for her work presiding over the sentencing of disgraced former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar. Yet, for those from the Lansing area, her reputation for outspoken advocacy was already solid. For Aquilina, giving those in her courtroom a voice was simply business as usual. STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT Aquilina has built her career and arguably, her life, on the premise that having a voice is essential to being an individual; someone able to define who they are, what they stand for, and how far they are willing to go to support their position. This commitment began in college at Michigan State University when she was an English major. Aquilina was planning to use her degree to become a writer, but her physician father questioned her on how she planned to support herself.

“I don’t just listen to the case in front of me, but to all the people who are affected by that case. There’s a rippling effect in many ways. I like to touch one person at a time and make sure that I am effective, that I have listened in each case and that everyone has had their day in court.” JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA

“I looked at (my father) and, knowing he’s a doctor and that doctors hate lawyers, I said, ‘I’m going to law school,’” she laughed. “My father has a tendency to use a big loud male voice, and not that I don’t love my dad, but I felt like I was going to be drowned out unless I shouted out, ‘I’m me, I’m going to be a lawyer, and I am going to continue speaking.’ And I have never stopped.” When it came time to follow through on that law school commitment, Aquilina was

once again certain of her path. Although her father may have wanted her to go to Harvard, Aquilina decided to attend WMU-Cooley Law School (Carr Class, 1984) simply because she loved Lansing and everything about living there. “I loved the Lansing area, I loved that there was a law school here in downtown Lansing, and the only law school I applied to was Cooley,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to Detroit. I didn’t want to go to Ann Arbor. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

WALKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED Aquilina enrolled at WMU-Cooley Law School in 1980, one of few women there at the time, which led to the inevitable comments like, “Why are you going to law school?” “Why aren’t you having babies?” But she was not deterred. In fact, such stereotypical chatter only reassured her she was on the right path. Moreover, while she found herself among just a few women in her classes, she appreciated that women who had gone before helped to smooth the rocky road. “In 1980, women were just breaking into those careers that men had. It was very challenging, but I wasn’t the first and I had it easier because of other women,” she said. “WMUCooley really embraced that I was a woman and accepted me, but said, ‘And you will prove yourself.’ And I did!” Of all the things her years at WMU-Cooley have (continued)



“You could immediately tell that her main focus was on protecting those that needed to be protected, to the fullest extent possible. Judge Aquilina exuded a confidence that made it evident that her goal of providing justice would not be impeded by the fear of public perception and backlash. It was for these reasons that Judge Aquilina was able to handle the Nassar case with such determination and poise.” ZACHARY STEMPIEN

given her — either as a student or as an adjunct professor — Aquilina said the skill that has proven the most valuable is survivorship; knowing how to get along in the world, make the system work for you and help you excel. This, she said, is a uniquely WMU-Cooley gift to its graduates. “I think WMU-Cooley, more than any other law school, prepares you to survive in the world,” said Aquilina. “To be on point, to be on time.”

BUILDING A BETTER LAW SCHOOL Aquilina found that being listened to during school, and after she began working in the real world, really made a difference in her life. And as it turned out, it has also made a difference in the lives and careers of hundreds of WMUCooley graduates ever since. “When I was a graduate out in the workforce, I came back (to WMUCooley) and said, ‘You didn’t teach me the legislative process and that’s where I am working now. I had to have a state senator teach me the legislative process and that’s a hole in my legal education,’” she recalled. Then she told the dean, “I want to teach a class in legislative process.” That was just the beginning of Aquilina making her voice heard concerning legal education at WMU-Cooley. She was given the dean’s blessing to teach that class and eventually came back with more class ideas that were also included in the curriculum, including elder law, animal law, and more. As the law school


witnessed the success of the classes, Aquilina found it was ever more willing to take on new ideas. “As WMU-Cooley grew, they recognized and listened to the needs in the community and the world,” she said. “So, whenever I brought a new class, like family law trial practice, they said, ‘Sure, what is it you want now? Ok, let’s get that information to our students.’”

THE CONSUMMATE TEACHER The key to the success of all these new classes wasn’t just their addition to the mix, but that Aquilina also committed to teaching them. In so doing, she knew she could help students develop and strengthen their voices, which in turn could give even the most silent a chance to be heard. “I keep coming back as an adjunct professor for the students. It’s the spirit of WMU-Cooley, it’s that survivorship. It’s not just the lawyers we breed, but that those lawyers are out there. I know they are well trained, helping others have voices and making a difference in the world.” Also of importance to her students is how she zeroes in on ways to teach what they should know on the bar exam, ways they can remember things that can help them pass with less stress. “I give them little jingles like in family law and prenups. ‘Beyoncé gets it wrong. What it should be is: If you like it you should put a prenup on it,’” she said. “And they always write me back and say, ‘I remembered that! I remembered the elements! I remembered why it made a

great record and I got 10 points on the family law section!’” One lawyer and former student, Zachary Stempien, also noted how Aquilina’s teaching style and demeanor in the courtroom consistently showed her to be someone determined to protect and serve. “Judge Aquilina was one of my instructors at WMU-Cooley Law School. From the very first class, I could tell that she was a very conscientious judge. She always considered and explained issues that may have seemed collateral to most,” recalled Stempien. “You could immediately tell that her main focus was on protecting those that needed to be protected, to the fullest extent possible. Judge Aquilina exuded a confidence that made it evident that her goal of providing justice would not be impeded by the fear of public perception and backlash. It was for these reasons that Judge Aquilina was able to handle the Nassar case with such determination and poise.” Not surprisingly, Aquilina, the mother of five and grandmother of two, loves children, and through her teaching passes that love along to her students as if they were her family. “I feel like all the WMU-Cooley graduates who I have taught, mentored, or had the honor of just being a small part of their lives are like my children,” she said. “So, to me that is the most tremendous gift, and it is worth more than any paycheck.”

doesn’t punish them for being unprepared, but instead works on preparation with them.

touch one person at a time and make sure that I am effective, that I have listened in each case and that everyone has had their day in court.” And it’s not only allowing, but encouraging, those who are silent to have a voice, to be heard, that Aquilina considers the court’s responsibility. “I will hear a case, whether criminal or civil or court of claims, and I listen and let everybody have their voice,” she said. “So, the lawyers get to speak, and the parties get to speak, and the victims get to speak. The victims turn into survivors that way. I have watched that happen!”

Danielle Lofton, a third-year senior who will graduate in September, took Family Law from Aquilina and said she appreciates the way Aquilina uses anecdotal information to help students be prepared for the many realities of legal practice. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

LIFELONG RELATIONSHIPS That love and respect is returned many times over by those students who were lucky enough to be in Aquilina’s classes. Aquilina’s students and graduates have always reached out and stayed in touch. To Aquilina, it’s the result of something very simple — she listens. “I listen to them, not just in the class but personally,” she acknowledged. “There’s a lot of stress in law school, so I give them my take on whatever’s going on, whatever the question is. I become their other mother.” And she adds, more than once, when she was unable to make it to graduation, she has had students bring their mothers to her chambers and ask to take a photo of both “mothers” together. Another key element that helps forge strong bonds with her students is that she

MAKING A MARK Considering that Aquilina’s history includes a decade working for a state senator, 20 years as an officer with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. and the first woman officer in Michigan Army National Guard history, adjunct professorships at two law schools, being named as WMU-Cooley's 2011 Frederick J. Griffith III Adjunct Faculty Award recipient, publishing two novels, and raising five children, what could she possibly feel is left for her to achieve? Plenty! Look for Aquilina to continue to make her mark on this world.

“Judge Aquilina requires students to complete in-class assignments that test their understanding and application of material to real-life scenarios that we may encounter with clients,” she said. “She motivates us to think outside the classroom, not just as students, but also as future attorneys.”

TURNING VICTIMS INTO SURVIVORS Aquilina’s style as a judge has been called unique by some, but in her mind, she simply runs her courtroom the way she thinks every courtroom should be run. Key to her service as a judge for the people, is her ability to listen to everyone. To Aquilina, everyone affected in each case deserves to be heard, to have a voice. “I don’t just listen to the case in front of me, but to all the people who are affected by that case,” she said, adding, “there’s a rippling effect in many ways. I like to

Josefina Photography

Josefina Photography

“Every case that we present, we work on together. So, I feel like we are a team and the grade they earn as a student is the grade I earn as a teacher. And I know it.”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina with her second published novel.

“I want to make a difference in the world for those who do not have a voice. There are children who are abused in multiple ways who do not have a voice; there are minorities who don’t have a voice; there are the disabled who don’t have a voice; there are veterans who don’t have a voice; and there are the mentally ill who don’t have a voice. Let’s start listening and taking action for everyone who cannot speak for themselves.” JUDGE ROSEMARIE AQUILINA



Janice K. Cunningham, Eaton County, Michigan Circuit Court Judge and long-time adjunct professor, was the second judge to sentence disgraced sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar. In giving voice to


A Catalyst for Change


the victims in her county, Cunningham held to her conviction that, in turbulent times that try our patience, good people go about the business of making change — for the good. Growing up a fan of Perry Mason, Cunningham was fascinated with the law and the system of justice that always won the day for Mr. Mason. In ninth grade Cunningham’s class was assigned the task of writing a paper about what they planned to do after high school. Her topic of choice was the law and her findings sealed the deal for her.

“I spent a lot of time researching lawyers and what they did, and I concluded that was what I wanted to do. And when I graduated from law school, my mom had saved that paper and gave it to me.” JUDGE JANICE CUNNINGHAM

Cunningham attended Michigan State University and then WMU-Cooley Law School. During her third year in law school, she took a clerking position at a law firm where two of the partners were WMU-Cooley graduates. Working closely with them created a bond that deepened her appreciation for how WMU-Cooley prepared students to be both knowledgeable and practical in their practice of the law. It proved a great start for a woman on her way up.

CHANGING PERCEPTIONS In 1996, Cunningham decided to start her own law firm, along with fellow graduates Susan Mallory and Thomas Lapka. Back then, fewer women than men attended law school, and it was unusual for a woman to start her own law firm. But thanks in part to her great WMU-Cooley connections, Cunningham defied the status quo, helping change the perception of women as leaders in the legal profession. (continued)



Cunningham said the firm supports the original mission of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. Brennan, who founded the law school in 1972. “So here we had a law firm in downtown Lansing and all the partners were Cooley grads … and I think we epitomized what Justice Brennan had in mind when he started the law school,” said Cunningham. “And most of our associates were also Cooley grads, not because we only wanted Cooley grads, but because we knew if somebody graduated from Cooley and did well there, they were prepared to be good lawyers in private practice.” During that time, WMU-Cooley invited Cunningham to instruct a class about law office management and how to start a practice. Soon she was also teaching family law and realized she really enjoyed the interaction of teaching and speaking. Thirty years later, she remains an adjunct professor who continues the WMU-Cooley tradition of putting practicing attorneys and judges in front of students to bring reality into the classroom and changing the way law students learn. “Justice Brennan’s idea was that we would learn the academics — the black letter of the law — but also the practical side,” said Cunningham. “That’s significant because it brings to what you learn much more than the academic part: How does this translate when I go to do it? It’s a really unique approach that’s continued today, and I think it gives students a very well-rounded education.”

Award, which is given each year to one outstanding professor who best exemplifies the qualities of Rick Griffith – dedication to the law school and legal education, excellence in teaching, passion for persuasive advocacy, and compassion for law students.



“Starting out, everything was maledominated so I don’t know that I was intimidated because you didn’t make the decision to go to law school if you were intimidated.”

From law school, to law firm, to classroom, Cunningham made her way, building a career and a reputation as an ethical and exacting lawyer. So, in 2012, when she was elected the first woman circuit court judge in Eaton County, it was no surprise. And today, as she prepares to run again to retain her seat on the bench, Cunningham continues to uphold the unwavering principles she brought to the court on day one. “My judicial philosophy is based on the three P's: be prepared, be professional, and be patient,” she explained. “On my first day on the bench I wrote the three P's on a piece of paper and I put it on my bench. I still look at it every day.” It’s safe to say the three P's have served her well. Now one of the state’s most respected and accomplished lawyers – male or female – Cunningham’s list of accolades, awards and recognition is long. Among the most significant are her regular appearances as lecturer at the prestigious Michigan Judicial Institute and the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), the top legal resources for continuing education for judges and attorneys, respectively. While always honored to contribute to her profession, Cunningham is particularly proud of something that happened in 1994, something she never saw coming.

In 2004, Cunningham became the first graduate of the law school to receive the Frederick J. Griffith III Adjunct Faculty


“I was counsel of record and I filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court as representative of a group of women contractors who believed they were being discriminated against,” she recalled. “I never thought that would happen and I actually got to go to the Supreme Court for the oral argument. It was pretty big for me then, and it still is!”

But the Supreme Court experience didn’t intimidate her. Few things intimidate Judge Cunningham. She’s already been there and done that. From deciding to go to law school to presiding over the circuit court, she set her sights high.

And, she noted, she just happened to begin law school the same time that Ingham County elected its first woman Circuit Court judge. That woman, Carolyn Stell, was one of only four female practicing attorneys in the county when she started out. Stell became known not only as an accomplished judge, but as a mentor of women joining the legal profession, something Cunningham says is an essential part of creating change for women in the law. “Judge Stell was very active with women lawyers, as were a lot of women attorneys who had reached levels of recognition and who actively mentored younger women like myself,” she said. “And I think that is an obligation that I have and that I take very seriously. I think we all have that obligation.” As the judge who presided over the Eaton County sentencing hearing of former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, Cunningham also feels the obligation to address the insidious scourge of sexual violence and is encouraged by recent movements to bring it into the bright light of day. “Over the last two years, a dialogue has opened up between the various movements where people are talking more about sexual abuse, sexual assault, and inappropriate behavior,” she said. “And that dialogue is long overdue.”

CHANGE FOR THE BETTER Today she applies her skills, ethical values and humanity to what are called specialty courts or problem-solving courts in Eaton County. This work is in addition

to her hours on the bench and serves to address societal problems like mental illness, substance abuse and the human repercussions of war. “One of the things that is evolving in our society is that for individuals who have drug problems or mental health problems, and sometimes both, the right answer isn’t always, ‘Let’s put them in prison,’” she explained. “The answer is to take a team approach and get them the help they need because we all benefit when they become productive members of our community.” In Eaton County, Cunningham oversees the Veterans Treatment Court that manages veterans in the criminal justice system, and the drug court program for people who are in trouble due to drug use.

Those who end up in either court quickly find that they are not considered just a docket number; rather they are recognized as people with problems to solve and are provided the help they need to reestablish their lives and start again. “In both of these courts, the judge works with probation, defense attorneys, mental health providers, and doctors in a team approach to find out what we can do to help,” said Cunningham. “I think as a society we have now realized it is worth putting time and money into, and I am proud of the work we have done, even though we still have a long way to go getting the resources to make the change.” Cunningham is also on the advisory board of Families Against Narcotics (FAN), which is modeled after the Ingham County

program and provides help to families caught up in the opioid epidemic. She is proud of her 32-year marriage and says that her husband, Steven Transeth, also a WMU-Cooley graduate, has supported her every step of the way.

INTO THE FUTURE While she sincerely hopes to continue to serve the people of Eaton County for years to come, Cunningham is pretty clear about how important her life’s work is overall. When considering her legacy, she first looks at it personally and acknowledges that raising her three sons and one daughter is the most important accomplishment of her life. From the professional side however, Cunningham says helping to prepare the next generation of lawyers is at the top of her list.

“If I’ve helped any young lawyer to be prepared, to be professional, to live by the ethics and the oath that they swore, to enjoy being a lawyer, practicing law and helping people, if there is just one person who said I did that, that’s a legacy to me.” JUDGE JANICE CUNNINGHAM

“My judicial philosophy is based on the three P’s: be prepared, be professional, and be patient.” JUDGE JANICE CUNNINGHAM






law school

You never know when and where you’re going to meet the love of your life. Some find love in law school, like Charlie Pickett and Penny Martin (Williams Class, 1994). But it wasn’t love at first sight. Or the second or third. Or even the first time around. Love in law school grew over time and after many study sessions and attending plenty of law school graduations together as marshals. But that was only after failed marriages and entirely different lives.

MAKING IT IN A BAND – ALMOST For Charlie Pickett, that first life was coming very close to making it big in a punk rock band. “When my first marriage broke up in the '80s, I knew I needed to start anew. My first thought was I should go to law school, but my second thought overpowered me. I always loved playing guitar, and the idea of being part of a band really appealed to me. The whole punk rock thing was happening at the time, and Miami was just behind L.A. and New York. Amazingly, with a little help from some pretty smart people, it all took off. We played our first show, and 40 people came. We played our second show, and 60 people came. We played the third, 80 people came. It was a wonderful start.”

Charlie Pickett and the Eggs made their first record that year, which allowed the band to “leave town without ever leaving town,” as they used to say back then in the music business. England newspapers like Melody Maker and New Music Express picked them up and wrote some nice reviews. Next was a live album that got them more glowing reviews, and even more notoriety. That gave Charlie and the band what they needed to take it on the road. The band traveled extensively, all over the country, between 1984 and 1988. But that wasn’t enough for Charlie. “The reason I stopped doing it wasn’t from lack of enjoyment,” he stated. “I was enjoying myself all the time and the band was wonderful. We had our following and we could have continued doing it indefinitely. But every year we made the same money – and we didn’t get any bigger. “We’d tell each other ‘maybe next year,’ but it never happened for us. No regrets though. We got to do lots of things, like playing encores with REM and being onstage with some greats. What I usually tell people is that we did everything but get the money.” After his last tour in 1988, Charlie decided that this was his time to go

Charlie Pickett and the Eggs

to law school. He applied and was accepted to WMU-Cooley, but was wait-listed, like many aspiring law students at that time. His seat opened in 1991.

A GEM OF A CAREER Penny Martin grew up on Long Island, and followed her father’s lead becoming a graduate gemologist, learning the ropes at his jewelry appraisal business in New York’s gold district. That led her to a plum position with Black, Starr & Frost in New York City where she was an assistant buyer, and also represented the store as a spokesperson. She really enjoyed her work and especially liked doing treasure hunts around the country for the store’s estate pieces, with finds ranging between the 1900s to the 1950s. After that, Penny married and moved to New Jersey – but not for long. She suddenly found herself newly divorced, (continued)



Charlie and Penny live in West Palm Beach, Florida.

and feeling the need to be near family. She gravitated to Florida where her parents had retired. For a few years, Penny worked for a gold manufacturer, until she decided it was time to take her next big step – a legal career. Thinking back, Penny believed it was her mother’s war stories, along with her own divorce, that spurred her on to law school. “My mother was an attorney,” Penny pointed out, “and that was unusual at that time. It wasn’t even something I thought of for myself growing up. But I remember her stories; the ones where attorneys would mistake her for the stenographer, or the judges in the courtroom would make comments like ‘what do you want little lady?’ I was impressed with her determination, and grit. My mother was a forerunner in the women’s movement. She never stopped fighting for her place. And she even managed to make it as the president of her county women’s bar association. What an inspiration and a role model.

“That was it. I just decided, OK, I know I can do this. I applied to WMU-Cooley in 1991 and was accepted.”

DIVINE INTERVENTION So how was it that these two connected in law school? “We were both graduation marshals,” smiled Charlie. “I was a graduation marshal all the years I was there, and so was Penny. I was one term ahead of her. I remember my first graduation as a marshal. In walks Penny and another woman. Immediately all these guys stop what they’re doing. We were in the robing room, and every one of them started barking out orders, jockeying for attention and trying to impress them. “I thought to myself, there are 15 guys here, and there’s no way I’m going to stand out, so forget getting involved! That was the first time I saw her. We didn’t talk that day, but I knew her friend and that turned out to be my in. It was through her that I gradually got to know Penny. It wasn’t until the second term, when Penny filled an opening in my

five-person study group, that we really grew to know each other. It was nice because instead of someone saying, ‘Here, go out with this girl,’ and the whole world is being thrust on you, you get to gradually know somebody on your own terms.” The more the two got to know one another in law school, the more they grew to share a mutual admiration and respect that is still evident today. “What Charlie leaves out in his stories is how smart he was in law school,” Penny points out with pride. “He was one of the top people in his class, getting book awards in many of his classes. And my girlfriend, the one who lived across the hall from him, always told me how ‘This guy is so smart and so nice.’ “What I remember is that we would always get into deep discussions. In fact, we could talk law for hours. I remember when we would go on a trip or something, we would get so engrossed in our conversations then suddenly we’re in Wisconsin instead

of Michigan! We have that kind of common interest and respect for each other.”

ADMIRATION AND RESPECT That affection for each other in law school flourished and turned to love. Charlie and Penny got married right after finals during their third year in law school. As much as it all seemed hard and stressful at the time, they both look back upon their law school experience with joy and gratification. “Going to law school is intense,” stated Penny. “You have one goal and that is to get through it. You want to do well, get your degree, and pass the bar. WMU-Cooley is a very tough school. They require you to take classes throughout your first two years; that frankly, most people wouldn’t pick to take, like Sales & Negotiable Instruments or Tax. Most law schools only have required courses in the first year. But it’s those tough classes that have helped us time and time again throughout our careers. It grounded us. Cooley was a really great school to go to,

“But I remember her stories; the ones where attorneys would mistake her for the stenographer, or the judges in the courtroom would make comments like ‘what do you want little lady?’ I was impressed with her determination, and grit.” PENNY MARTIN


but I can tell you it certainly wasn’t easy. “Seriously, there is no BS behind that,” agreed Charlie, emphatically. “It is so true. I saved a multimillion dollar case just by knowing Article 9. It wasn’t even my case – 40 percent of the work was already done. But after spending some time reviewing the case, I said, ‘wait a minute, this is a secured transaction case, not a leverage case.’ That piece of knowledge changed the whole complexion in court. All their defenses were reduced to nothing. That was because of WMU-Cooley. Nobody else saw it.”

LAW SCHOOL NOSTALGIA Charlie recalled those first weeks in law school when “you didn’t know if this whole law school thing was really going to work out. You didn’t have any idea of whether you were the stupidest person in the class, the smartest, or somewhere in between. “I was already 38 years old,” said Charlie, “and here I was taking my first law school exam. My motto was ‘overguarantee the A’ in studying, but not knowing how I would do. Two weeks after the test, one of my friends came down saying ‘Palmer’s up!’ meaning

Professor Palmer’s Property grades were up on the board. I ran upstairs. My heart was beating a hundred miles per hour. I didn’t know if I would see an F, C or A. I couldn’t even focus on my name, I was so excited. But I finally found it. My mind was blown. Not only did I get an A, but I got the Book Award. All I could think was how great it felt to know my efforts had been rewarded. I called my parents that day just to say thank you for giving me the brains to do this!” Reminiscing more on his law school experience, Charlie choked up over an experience he will never forget. “I was asked as a graduation marshal to help a blind student during commencement, and especially to assist him crossing the stage to receive his diploma. I sat next to him during the ceremony. Then it was time for him to walk. I stood up and he held onto my elbow. We started walking and when we were only halfway across the stage, we stopped because the whole auditorium got up and gave him a standing ovation – students, parents, everybody. It filled me with such emotion, thinking about how this man’s law school experience was

immeasurably harder than anybody else’s. That was a pivotal moment for me – the one where the light bulb goes off and you realize that anyone, if they want it badly enough, can persevere.”

FULFILLING CAREERS Today, Charlie is a partner with Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell in West Palm Beach, Florida, and practices a wide range of areas, including violations of federal and state securities laws, wrongful death, breach of contract, dissolution of marriage, appeals, litigation in federal court, and the defense of companies and individuals targeted by various federal and state regulatory agencies. Penny, on the other hand, “wears the white hat every day” as Charlie described her role for many years as a Guardian Ad Litem attorney, advocating on behalf of the best interests for children. She is passionate about her work in Family Law and Collaborative Law, and wants to continue her work in these areas to help facilitate cooperative efforts across the table between spouses as a team, with attorneys, mental health professionals, and neutral financial professionals.

“Even when I get to the point where I may retire part time, I still see myself doing this type of work because I love doing it,” stated Penny. “I’ve never stopped being an advocate for children. I’ve done it in many ways, including developing a grant program to help relatives when they take in children who have been removed from a parents’ home. I did this because it always seemed like they were the least noticed in the dependency process. And I love working on adoptions too. It’s such a happy time for everybody. “Most recently I have been involved in a Florida State program designed to help children with special needs. These range from kids with developmental delays to those involved in human trafficking. What I am most proud of in my career is knowing that my work made a difference in a child’s life.” In 2017, Penny received The State of Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program’s Best Advocate Award for Palm Beach County, for Special Needs Children.

RETIREMENT? What does retirement look like for the couple? Both Charlie and Penny don’t have a firm date in mind for their retirement, but one thing they both wholeheartedly agree on. “When we retire, we intend to be on a plane somewhere, and to travel the world. We’ve seen a lot of it, but we want to see an awful lot more!”


Ahmed Salim, Washington class, 2012




Trial law is a challenging, stressful and just plain demanding career path that isn’t for everyone. But for WMU-Cooley graduate Jason Guari, it’s a passion turned mission to assist others at the worst moments in their lives, and to give them hope for better times.

Gratitude and Giving




Guari is a partner in Murray & Guari Trial Attorneys, PL, a highly successful Palm Beach, Florida-based law firm specializing in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Unlike many such firms though, Murray & Guari does not advertise, depending instead on reputation and word of mouth referrals. So Guari is able to take a very personal interest in making clients feel at home, cared for and well served. In turn, he gets the gratification that comes with a job well done.

Despite a very busy and fulfilling work life, Guari makes time for another passion, helping promote cancer research and care for patients through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. But Guari’s introduction to the society was through the worst possible experience — his wife, Nicole, was diagnosed with leukemia.

“Probably the greatest satisfaction I get is when there is one person who is really grateful. It means the world to me as a lawyer to help someone, particularly when they are in a time of need,” Guari said. “When you get a nice note saying thank you from a client, that’s worth all the hard work.” There’s also the skill and expertise it takes to win on behalf of his clients that gives Guari the added fuel he needs to keep pushing forward. In one recent case, he exemplified what can really happen when pursuing a personal injury case with an insurance company. “We were just at trial in Broward County and about to get to verdict and the insurance company said, ‘Hey, no more, let’s try and get this thing resolved before it goes to jury,’” Guari recalled. “It was a rear-end accident where someone had to have a neck fusion. So, we had to make a decision to settle the case. It’s very exciting!” But it’s not about the thanks or the winning to Guari, it’s about the giving — giving people back something for all they have lost. “We have some very interesting cases, some catastrophic injuries where people’s lives have been changed or they have lost loved ones,” Guari said, adding, “We’re helping people get their lives back together and really the only way we can do that is to help them get monetary compensation.”

“We were married about three years and my wife was just pregnant for our second child when she was diagnosed. At first the doctor told her she was just tired, but her blood count was zero,” said Guari. It took multiple rounds of heavy chemotherapy and what Guari calls “control alt deleting” her bone marrow over the next year to annihilate the cancer cells in her blood. During the last treatment, Guari remembers the oncologist giving a frightening prognosis. “He was about our age then, and he told me, ‘The very thing that could be helping her could be the very thing that kills her.’” Miraculously, a few weeks later her blood count began to respond, and she has been in remission ever since. This, Guari says, is something that is improving across the board for leukemia patients, and immunotherapy is also on the cutting edge of cancer care. But what’s important about leukemia, Guari said, is that as a blood cancer, it’s so easy to test compared to cancers in tissue. That makes it a great starting place for researchers. “You see a lot of advances in leukemia treatment and those parallel into other forms of cancer. So, all the advancements you get with leukemia drugs transfer over to treating other types of cancer,” he explained. “There have been some real breakthroughs and it’s great to see these advancements, but there is still so much more work to be done and so much more money to be raised for leukemia research.” All the more reason, he says, to keep fighting the good fight. For his part, he has served as a (continued)



“The biggest thing at WMU-Cooley was that nothing was going to come easy and you were going to have to work for it — that was instilled.” JASON GUARI

board member and chairman of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Palm Beach Area Chapter and his firm actively promotes and supports the cause as well. Even more noteworthy, however, is that his passion has spilled over onto his daughter, Lily, who was just a toddler when her mother was diagnosed. Lily is now a young teen who is providing comfort to patients undergoing cancer treatment. With two of her friends, Mercedes and Johnny Cassidy, Lily started a 501(c)(3) called Blankets of Love, to bring blankets to people while they are getting their chemotherapy infusions. Sadly, the three share poignant cancer experiences in that they all recently lost people they loved to cancer, including Guari’s own mother who died after a brief battle with lung cancer. “They’re young children, just 13 years old, and they are seeing someone at their worst, and they realize it could happen to them, to their parents, to their loved ones,” said Guari. “So, they are just giving patients a little bit of hope. It’s about putting someone in a good mood. I once saw a Facebook post from a patient that said, ‘These three young kids just showed up like little angels with blankets and made us all smile!’”

ON THE HORIZON In light of his success, Guari might be tempted to rest a bit on his laurels,


and maybe play a little more tennis, his favorite athletic endeavor and one he shared with his mother. But when asked what’s next, Guari lights right up and it’s crystal clear he is nowhere near done. “I want to continue growing the firm and get in there and really fight with the insurance companies, get more cases resolved, go to verdict, and just do good work,” he said. Also on his career bucket list is developing some properties, maybe even the site of his current office, which is in a great location and includes land on the intercoastal. And, he concedes, he also would like to see Blankets of Love go national, but he asserts “We’ll see how it goes. It’s all been done by the kids and I cannot take credit for it.”

LIVING THE WMU-COOLEY LEGACY Now 23 years into his legal career, Guari can still remember the anticipation he felt before he began his first term at WMU-Cooley. “I had to wait a year before getting in and I just remember every day looking at the catalog and thinking, ‘This is where I am going to law school,’” he recalled. “And I remember my mom saying ‘OK, we’re going to drive you out there, we’re going to drop you off, and you’re going to do it.’ And I did!” Guari still appreciates the WMU-Cooley difference and how it shaped his career and his character. It wasn’t easy, and it

took plenty of fortitude, but he knows he is better for it. “The biggest thing at WMU-Cooley was that nothing was going to come easy and you were going to have to work for it — that was instilled,” said Guari. “There was never any guarantee that you were going to graduate, so we knew we had to buckle down, study and do well. And many of us have applied those principles to our practices. Have you ever heard the expression: the harder you work, the luckier you get? I think that’s really true!” In fact, Guari is lucky to have a lot of WMU-Cooley graduates as peers in Palm Beach, and he sees his experience and work ethic mirrored in many of them. “We all have a common thread; we all kind of work a little bit harder than most, and we work a little smarter, and it’s nice that we’ve all seen such success.” To stay in touch and share expertise and experience, Guari is always ready and willing to host WMU-Cooley alumni events at his firm and said he “feels it’s really important for WMU-Cooley grads to get to know each other and to know what we all do because we can all help each other. “I am extremely grateful to the school. Had it not been for WMU-Cooley Law School, I would not be where I am right now.”

Murray & Guari Trial Attorneys

Jason Guari

Nicole, Lily, and Jason Guari



Jones & Williams Friendships that last a lifetime are certainly not unique among law school graduates. But add in a military connection between two WMU-Cooley graduates, each earning the rank of colonel in the U.S. military, you then have graduates who truly share a special bond.

Even though Rodney Williams (Krinock Class, 1992), a Detroit, Michigan native, and Leonard W. Jones (Montgomery Class, 1992), from Queens, New York, both entered law school as members of the military, it wasn’t until Jones attended his first Black Law Students Association (BLSA) meeting that the pair became acquainted with one another. “I was a year ahead of Lenny and at that time there were not many African Americans in the student body. The mission of BLSA focused on students helping one another navigate through the rigors of law school,” said Williams. “We were a close-knit family that mentored the underclassmen to ensure that we all graduated and were successful.” As a result of their organizational and leadership skills, Williams and Jones ended up serving as president and vice-president of BLSA.

(From left) Colonel Leonard Jones and Colonel Rodney Williams


THE PATHS TO BECOMING COLONELS Colonel Rodney Williams Although they both obtained the rank of colonel, Williams and Jones took very different paths to success. Williams entered law school as an enlisted soldier in the Army Reserve after completing his undergraduate work at the University of Alabama. He served in the Army Reserves for eight years, some of which while he attended WMU-Cooley. He was later commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps assigned to the 177th Military Police Brigade in Taylor, Michigan. Williams later decided to switch branches, from the Army to the Air Force.

“You have friends who are only in your life a brief moment and that is quite alright, but then there are lifelong friends you can mentor and call on for advice. What he and I have is a lifetime friendship.” COLONEL RODNEY WILLIAMS

Williams remembered jokingly that “during a combined training exercise at Camp Grayling in northern Michigan with members of the Air National Guard, the Army officers had to sleep in tents in the woods, while the Air Force officers had rooms at the local Holiday Inn.” In response, Jones stated that in the Army “we focus on the mission and train to standard, and besides there’s nothing like the fresh evening air to keep you motivated.” After transferring branches, Williams was assigned to the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base as an assistant staff judge advocate, where he rose to the rank of major. In 2004, he was assigned to the 110th Fighter Wing in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. Williams later received orders to return to Selfridge by the general overseeing the Michigan Army and Air National Guard. (continued)



“While attending WMU-Cooley my experiences were challenging. The program was rigorous and left very little margin for error or excuses.” COLONEL LEONARD JONES

“JAG officers are lawyers, but Major General Thomas Cutler asked me to serve as the Commander of the 127th Mission Support Group, which was the largest mission support group in the nation leading over 600 airmen and six subordinate commanders,” said Williams. “Of course you cannot say ‘no’ to the major general.” After three years of serving as commander at Selfridge, Williams was promoted to director of human resources for both the Michigan Army and Air National Guard, where he managed the careers and personnel actions of over 3,000 civilians, airmen, and soldiers. During that assignment, Williams was promoted to the rank of Colonel. He retired from the military in 2013 after 28 years of service. Currently, Williams and his wife, Lisa Williams, Ph.D., operate a mediation firm in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. “Our firm is focused on social justice in the United States and abroad,” said Williams. “We pay particular attention to how one’s social identities may impact conflict and encourage individuals to explore these dynamics through storytelling in an effort to alleviate disputes in the areas of special education, civil rights, criminal justice, and employment discrimination.”

Colonel Leonard Jones Jones enrolled at WMUCooley after graduating from Norfolk State University, where he earned a commission as second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program. He funded his undergraduate education through an R.O.T.C. scholarship and was awarded an educational delay, deferring active duty to attend law school. Jones stated that “while attending WMU-Cooley my experiences were challenging. The program was rigorous and left very little margin for error or excuses.” After graduating, Jones returned to New York City and opened a private practice on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights. He began serving his military obligation in the U.S. Army Reserves as a transportation officer for the 773rd Transportation Company, Fort Totten, New York. In 1998, Jones was reappointed to the Army JAG Corps and served as assistant staff judge advocate for the HQ, 77th Regional Support Command and then as trial defense counsel for the 154th Legal Support Organization. Jones was later called to active duty to serve at the Defense Appellate Division in Ballston, Virginia. There he served as a defense appellate counsel representing soldiers on appeal from their convictions by military Courts-Martial.


“I did a substantial amount of appellate work in my private practice and was able to transfer those skills in defense of convicted soldiers,” said Jones. He credits Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ron Bretz for his success in handling appellate cases. “While at WMU-Cooley I clerked for Professor Bretz at the State Appellate Defenders Office in Lansing,” Jones remembered. “He taught me effective issue-spotting techniques and the art of dissecting legal issues to ensure just and equitable results. There were many of Professor Bretz’ red ink corrections/ suggestions on drafts of my legal briefs, but they were lessons learned that served me well in the future.” Jones’ other military assignments include serving as a deputy judge advocate, U.S. Joint Forces Command; deputy legal counsel, The Joint Staff (South), Army Reserve Element, Suffolk, Virginia; acting commander/deputy commander/cyber law team chief, 4th Legal Operational Detachment, Fort Totten, New York; deputy staff judge advocate, U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army, Fort Meade, Maryland; and operational law attorney, HQDA G-3/5/7, Army Operations Center, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. Currently, Jones serves as the commander of the 213th Legal Operations Detachment in Decatur, Georgia. Proudly, he noted that, “I currently have a fellow WMU-Cooley graduate, SSG Porsha O’Neal, (Todd Class, 2014), under my WMU-Cooley graduate SSG Porsha O'Neal command.”

Military and Education Accomplishments COLONEL RODNEY WILLIAMS

As a result of his military and legal accomplishments, Jones was recently inducted into the Norfolk State University R.O.T.C. Hall of Fame. He fully supports cadets in the R.O.T.C. program and encourages them to consider combining law in addition to the profession of arms.

Rodney Williams meets President Obama during his time as director of the 127th Wing Mission Support Group at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

Jones is married to Toni M. Jones, M.D., and remains in private practice in Camp Springs, Maryland.

A LIFE-LONG FRIENDSHIP Jones and Williams each point to their military careers as a bond that has kept them in touch with one another since graduating from WMU-Cooley. “We talk quite often and share military and legal experiences. Although, Rodney is more senior in rank than me, we have mentored and advised one another throughout our careers,” said Jones. “We are in a unique situation, having the opportunity to serve in the dual profession of arms and the law.” “It has been an honor for me to have known Lenny all these years, from the early days of law school through both of us earning the rank of colonel,” said Williams. “You have friends who are only in your life a brief moment and that is quite alright, but then there are lifelong friends you can mentor and call on for advice. What he and I have is a lifetime friendship.”

B.S.W., University of Alabama J.D., Western Michigan University Cooley Law School M.P.A., University of Michigan-Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies LL.M. in Labor and Employment Law, Wayne State University Law School Joint Forces Staff College (Advance Joint Professional Military Education) Air Force War College Meritorious Service Medal Army and Air Commendation and Achievement Medals National Defense Service Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Military Outstanding Voluntary Service Medal Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

COLONEL LEONARD JONES B.S., (Accounting), Norfolk State University M.B.A., St. John’s University J.D., Western Michigan University Cooley Law School LL.M., John Marshall Law School M.S.S., U.S. Army War College Transportation Basic and Advanced Courses Judge Advocate General’s Corps Advanced Course Command and General Staff College Joint Forces Staff College (Advance Joint Professional Colonel Leonard Jones during his induction ceremony into the Norfolk State University ROTC Military Education) Hall of Fame. U.S. Army War College Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal Army Commendation Medal Army Achievement Medal Army Reserve Components Achievement Award National Defense Service Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal Armed Forces Reserve Medal Army Service Ribbon Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Service Ribbon Joint Meritorious Unit Award Superior Unit Award Authorized to permanently wear the Joint Chief of Staff Identification Badge, Army Staff Identification Badge, and the Parachutist Badge



RAHUL PATEL CO-LEADS ONE OF THE FASTEST-GROWING LAW FIRMS IN THE COUNTRY WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Rahul B. Patel (Riley Class, 2009) never anticipated that, less than 10 years into his law career, he would have his own law firm. Even more impressive, his Texas-based firm is now the fifth fastest growing law firm in the United States after launching the business just five years ago. In 2017, the firm made the “Best Places to Work” list by the San Antonio Business Journal. As managing partner of the firm, Patel directs the firm’s business development strategies, and brings an assertive approach to client representation in the areas of commercial real estate, commercial litigation and property tax appeal litigation. Previous to working in the legal field, Patel was in the hotel development industry. When he decided to leave in 2007, and with his father’s encouragement, Patel applied to law school. During his search for the right law school, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus seemed to be the perfect fit. The moment his application was approved, Patel enrolled and never looked back. Patel, an Ohio State University alumnus, wanted to graduate as soon as possible in order to begin his law career. In addition to enrolling in an ambitious course load, he was


involved in several student organizations and extracurricular activities. “Honestly, law school was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I would say I was a smart kid. I did very well in high school, but I got into Ohio State and I got distracted a little bit – distracted from my goals, distracted from things that I really wanted to do,” Patel said. “But in law school, I really found myself.” While at WMU-Cooley, Patel was chairman of the Moot Court Board, and competed in two national Moot Court competitions. He received the Moot Court Service Award, and won first place in oral arguments. Patel, a recipient of the Melissa Mitchell Leadership Award, was also the scholarly writing editor for the Law Review and a teaching assistant and tutor for Property Law I and II.

Patel’s ambition and determination proved to be advantageous as he graduated from WMU-Cooley Law School cum laude in just over two years. He also earned a Leadership Achievement Award. Following graduation, Patel was hired as an associate attorney at one of the largest law firms in San Antonio, Texas. There, he was introduced to property tax litigation, which instantly became his passion.

The pair launched their law firm, Patel Gaines, in 2013. In just five years, it has become the fifth fastest-growing law firm in the nation.

Patel attributes their success to a number of factors. Most importantly, the pair make it a priority to get to know each of their employees. Patel and Gaines take the time to meet each person’s spouse or significant other, and include them in work functions. They view families as extensions of their Patel was then given the opportunity to work for Popp Hutcheson PLLC, a powerful property team members. tax firm in Austin, Texas, where he learned “We wanted to build a culture where people about developing quality teams, building wanted to work here and where people look leadership and fostering a work environment forward to working here,” Patel said. that does not “feel like a law firm.” During that time, Patel aspired to manage his own business and try things his way. While contemplating the idea of opening his own law firm, Patel sought the advice of friend and colleague, Grant M. Gaines. Through their “Yin Yang” relationship, the pair discovered they balanced each other’s strengths and weaknesses and decided to become law partners. Patel and Gaines spent many nights crafting and designing their vision for their law firm, defining their roles and ensuring they would stay true to those plans. The pair took into consideration what they valued in a firm, as well as what they liked and disliked when they were associates or law clerks.

A majority of the Patel Gaines team is social media and marketing savvy, and staff members encourage the firm to explore new software or applications that would benefit the company. Patel admires their outspoken candor when brainstorming new ideas – even if it’s in disagreement with him or Gaines. “We really have some ambitious people, and that has come from the fact that they continually know our expectations are to have a squad of A-plus performers,” he said. Additionally, Patel and Gaines broke down the pyramid workplace model many law firms follow. The pair works hard to ensure there is transparency, communication and a sense of camaraderie between all

employees, regardless of where they are in their career path. “We focus on how we can support our employees and help them become leaders in the company,” Patel said. “We also want to help each other grow so we can become better leaders, managers and true partners.”

PATEL’S ADVICE FOR PROFESSIONALS SEEKING A CAREER SWITCH Follow your passions. Do not chase a job or a dollar. “If I was doing something else that paid me very well, but was in an area I didn’t enjoy, then I’m going to be lackluster in that position,” Patel explained. Patel said you should ask yourself if you love what you do for a living. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ – then you’ve found your niche in the workforce. If the answer is ‘no,’ – then consider another line of work, one that brings joy to your life.” “It’s not a matter of having a job or making good money. It’s about whether you find yourself loving what you do. Then all the accomplishments you want to have in life will come with due time,” Patel said. “Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to be different.”

San Antonio, Texas, the location of of Patel Gaines Firm

Patel said you should ask yourself if you love what you do for a living. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ – then you’ve found your niche in the workforce. If the answer is ‘no,’ – then consider another line of work, one that brings joy to your life.”



A WMU-Cooley graduate has taken over the helm of the State Bar of New Mexico. Richard B. Spinello (Voelker Class, 1997) is the new executive director of the State Bar of New Mexico and its charitable arm, the New Mexico State Bar Foundation. The Board of Bar Commissioners announced its decision in December 2017. Spinello succeeds Joe Conte, who retired last year after serving 14 years as executive director.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Spinello graduated from the University of New Mexico and worked at a local law firm while on the waiting list at WMU-Cooley. Three years later, he packed his bags and headed crosscountry to Lansing, Michigan. “Cooley provided me that opportunity and kept me on the waiting list,” Spinello said. “It was a difficult transition as I had never been away from New Mexico.” While at WMU-Cooley, Spinello held externships assisting East Lansing city housing officials with the landlord-tenant helpline, and helping seniors in WMUCooley’s Elderlaw Clinic. Spinello said that the real-world, practical experience he received at Cooley was a step above what students from other law schools get. “I felt like I was gaining great hands-on work experience while studying law.”

“Joe Conte provided a stable, trusted organization during his term as executive director and I’m hopeful we can continue to build on his successes,” Spinello said.


Spinello graduated from WMU-Cooley in 1997 with a business concentration in family law, wills/estate planning and adult guardianship. He returned to New Mexico where he was admitted to the State Bar that same year, and opened his own law firm – sharing an office with a seasoned lawyer.

Richard Spinello with his trusty assistant, Winston.

“Surrounding myself with an experienced lawyer was key,” Spinello said. “The valuable experience and discipline at WMU-Cooley helped me gain confidence to start my own practice.” In 2000, Spinello began working part time for the State Bar of New Mexico’s elder law program – all while still managing his own private practice. A year later, he started becoming more involved with the State Bar and closed his practice. “My direct experience in practicing elder law shaped my decision to move to the State Bar and provided me the experience to set me on a new path,” he said. “I felt well prepared when I returned to New Mexico.” Before being named executive director, Spinello held myriad positions during his 18 years at the State Bar, including: staff attorney, managing staff attorney at the Lawyer Resources for the Elderly Program, and director of public and legal services. He also served as general counsel for the State Bar for the past

“It’s been a privilege to work on behalf of the legal profession in New Mexico over the past 18 years and I’m now excited to lead the organization during a time of change for the profession.” RICHARD SPINELLO

10 years, as well as its interim executive director. “Every day, I ask myself how the State Bar of New Mexico can be more relevant to the attorneys of this state and the public we serve. I look forward to establishing some new programs in the area of law office management that will benefit both attorneys and the public.” The State Bar of New Mexico has over 9,000 total members. As executive director, Spinello oversees day-to-day operations and programs of the State Bar and Bar Foundation with a combined budget of more than $4.5 million.



David Elder When David S. Elder (Lawrence Class, 1991) decided to pursue writing in the 1980s, the WMU-Cooley graduate recalled the wise words from one of life’s most influential writers, Ernest Hemingway: Write what you know. As an avid maritime historian and Merchant Marine serviceman who initially sought out to become an admiralty lawyer, Elder took his extensive knowledge about shipping vessels and the law and began writing. While that story, “The Will of the Wisp,” remains unpublished, Elder continued to write and recently released his fourth book, “The Sins of Icarus.” “The Sins of Icarus” is a murder-mystery novel set in Alpena, Michigan – the small Midwest town where Elder resides. It follows the events revolving around the intense prosecution of a retired Air Force major by the state of Michigan and the U.S. Air Force. Like many of his previous novels, “Sins” highlights the historic presence of Alpena, as well as other northern Michigan towns, like Gaylord. “I think it’s important – it’s a nice area up here and I think more people should know about it,” Elder said about the book’s local nuances. “Plus, it gives my characters a little more color.”


Born in Ann Arbor, Elder grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Ohio University in 1971 with a communications degree. He spent two seasons sailing the Great Lakes as a deckhand in the Merchant Marine Service – once while on college summer break and again after graduation. Shortly after college, Elder moved to Alpena and worked in various positions at National Gypsum Company for 13 years, including assistant safety director, production and distribution supervisor and shipping supervisor. When the plant closed its doors in 1986, many who worked in the Alpena cement mill had to start over, including Elder. At 39 years old, he began a fresh start and worked as a law clerk for then private practice attorney Michael Mack. That attorney, now a 26th Circuit Court Judge in Michigan, encouraged Elder to apply to law school. “My father was an attorney and when I worked with Michael Mack, I enjoyed it and thought it was something I could do,” Elder said. He applied and was accepted at WMU-Cooley in 1988.

While studying at WMU-Cooley, Elder took on a part-time internship at the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan where he researched criminal legal matters for about two years.

“Once I got back into writing, I remembered how much I really enjoyed it,” he said. Elder has a published article, “Any and All: To Use Or Not To Use?,” in the

“I enjoyed meeting people from all over the country,” Elder said of his experience at WMU-Cooley. “Law school was easier for me because I approached it as a job, working eight hours a day.” Elder graduated from law school in 1991, and returned to Mack’s law firm – this time as a practicing attorney. Now he is a self-employed general practice attorney in Alpena, and presents cases to his former mentor.

Michigan Bar Journal. He is also known as a photographer in his local town with his photographs appearing in many of Alpena County’s marketing materials. Elder’s first published novel, Tashtego, was released in 2010; followed by The Gingerbread Man in 2011; and The Belly of the Beast in 2014.

Writing has always been a passion for Elder. Throughout his years at National Gypsum, at WMU-Cooley, and in his 26 years as a practicing attorney, Elder continued to immerse himself in the adventures he would discover in books. He began writing in the 1980s, and took a long hiatus before diving back into it about 10 years ago.

Tashtego, 2010 The Gingerbread Man, 2011 The Belly of the Beast, 2014



Alumni News

Welcome back to Cooley weekend April 13-14, 2018 marked a “Welcome Back to Cooley Weekend” in Lansing. Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Pamela Heos planned an array of weekend festivities that were well-attended by alumni and friends.

“The Welcome Back Weekend was planned to highlight a variety of events appealing to our alumni in Michigan as well as out-of-state alums,” Heos said. “We were very pleased to have people travel to Lansing from California, Illinois, West Virginia, and Florida. It was a weekend of reminiscing, rekindling relationships and making new friends.” Heos added that the common theme was how WMU-Cooley Law School impacted so many alumni, developing great lifelong friendships and business partnerships and giving them the chance to pursue their dream of being a lawyer. The weekend kicked off with the annual Howard Soifer Lecture Series in Sports and Entertainment Law, established by the Soifer family to honor the memory of the late Howard Soifer (Christiancy Class, 1977). Featured speakers included Andrew Acker, Jeffrey Butler and Charles Dadswell (all Lawrence Class, 1991). See related story, Page 32.

Featured speakers at the Soifer event (from left) Andrew Acker, Jeffrey Butler and Charles Dadswell


On Friday evening, an alumni cocktail party was held in the Cooley Center Board Room in Lansing. Alumni gathered for welcoming remarks and a school update. Attendees ranged from the first Cooley Class of 1976 to current students and recent grads. An evening of good cheer was enjoyed by all. Saturday night featured the 12th annual Cooley Society Donor Recognition Gala at the Country Club of Lansing, with Associate Dean of External Affairs James Robb as emcee. Cooley Society members are comprised of alumni, employees, corporations and friends who are honored for their cumulative giving to the school, with a minimum gift total of $2,500. Each year this elegant gala event features a new theme and welcomes and honors new members and those who move to the next level through their generous gifts to the school.



James Robb speaks to attendees during the 12th annual Cooley Society Donor Recognition Gala at the Lansing Country Club.

Lawrence P. Nolan (Cooley Class, 1976), chairman of the WMU-Cooley Board of Directors, welcomed guests and spoke about his dedication and deep commitment to WMU-Cooley since he first enrolled and when WMU-Cooley first opened its doors. He shared his dream of going to law school, becoming a lawyer and staying connected with his law school for over 40 years.

Lawrence P. Nolan speaks at the Cooley Society Gala.

It was a wonderful weekend of stories, camaraderie, and fun for all those who attended. Next year's Gala is already being planned. Look for a new twist! If you are interested in more information or membership, please contact Pamela Heos at heosp@cooley.edu or call (517) 371-5140, ext. 2014.

WMU-Cooley Law School alumni tell us time and again that they find themselves well prepared to serve in a judicial career. They hail from all over the United States, from small towns to large metropolitan areas. Our esteemed judges who have identified themselves to us, are represented in the following states.  The states represented by our alumni judges include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. In addition, Ontario, Canada is also on the list for having a WMU-Cooley graduate on the bench. There may be many more states missed so we ask you to contact the Office of Alumni Relations to update information.



Pictured with past alumni association president Patrick Griffin (center) are WMU-Cooley graduates recently sworn in to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar (left to right): Anthony Johnson (Hilligan Class, 2012), LaToya Funderburk (Marshall Class, 2013), Stephanie Khan (Moore Class, 2013), Mary Ann Storm (Witherell Class, 2010), Mandi Bucceroni (Marshall Class, 2013), P. Pamela Davies (Johnson Class, 2013), Garvin Ambrose (Boyles Class, 2005), Katherine Gustafson (Rutledge Class, 2000), Ieisha Humphrey (Sibley Class, 2011) and Stacey Bradbury (Boyles Class, 2005).

Graduates admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Ten WMU-Cooley graduates were sworn in as attorneys recognized to argue cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during a ceremony in February. The ceremony was hosted by the law school’s director of alumni and donor relations, Pamela Heos. Appearing before the entire Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., former Alumni Association President Patrick

Griffin (Riley Class, 2009) successfully moved the admission of the law school's candidates. Graduates who participated in the ceremony were from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey.

Joy Fossel honored during Grand Rapids annual alumni reception WMU-Cooley graduate Joy Fossel (Grant Class, 1987) was honored during the annual alumni reception for her new role as Grand Rapids Bar Association president. Fossel, a partner with Varnum Attorneys at Law in Grand Rapids, is well-known in the community for her pro bono work. She has been recognized with the State Bar of Michigan’s John W. Cummiskey Award for her significant pro bono contributions, and has received

the Grand Rapids Bar Association’s President’s Award. “Since graduating, Joy has left a vivid positive mark on the Grand Rapids and Michigan legal community,” Professor Christopher Hastings said. In addition to her role as the Grand Rapids Bar Association president, Fossel serves as faculty on the “3R’s” program, a joint venture of the Grand Rapids Bar

Joy Fossel (left) receives a gift from Pamela Heos, WMU-Cooley director of Alumni Relations.

Association and the Grand Rapids Public Schools that brings lawyers into inner-city classrooms to teach constitutional law and personal responsibility.

“Joy is deeply committed to diversity, both inside and outside the legal profession. Aptly named, Joy brings a package of diverse interests. She’s a visible advocate for the value of what diversity brings.” CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS



2018 Distinguished Student Awards and Alumni Memorial Scholarship Winners The WMU-Cooley Alumni Association presented the Distinguished Student Awards (DSA) and the Alumni Memorial Scholarship at the spring 2018 Honors Convocation. The Distinguished Student Awards for Hilary Term 2018 were presented to Sara Marin and Mayra Puerta, both of the Tampa Bay campus. Marin, who graduated in April 2018, said, “I would like to extend my deepest thanks for this honor and your consideration. This is an achievement that I will always cherish.” Puerta, a native of Colombia, added, “Thank you to the committee for selecting me for this award. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that have been available to me during the course of my studies.” The DSA is awarded to deserving, high achieving students each term who are also involved in campus activities and community service. Recipients receive an elegantly matted diploma frame.

The Alumni Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to deserving students, with a cash award applied toward tuition. Students who have completed at least 30 credit hours are eligible to be considered for this award. The 2018 recipient is Kishnee Theus of the Tampa Bay campus who received an award of $5,000. Theus, from Wellington, Florida, said, “I am grateful and honored to have been chosen for the 2018 Alumni Memorial Scholarship. An intelligent heart acquires knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:25.”

Kishnee Theus

The Alumni Association selects the recipients by grade point average, campus involvement, financial need, and community service.

“We congratulate each of these deserving recipients for their work ethic, commitment and success while students at WMU-Cooley Law School. We wish them future success as they follow their dreams of becoming lawyers.” PAMELA HEOS, DIRECTOR OF ALUMNI & DONOR RELATIONS

Sara Marin and Mayra Puerta




WMU-Cooley Lawrence Class (1991) graduates Andrew Acker, Jeffrey Butler, and Charles Dadswell shared their quest to obtain the possessory rights of the famous lost “Betty Boards” Grateful Dead concert recordings.

HOWARD’S LIFE REMEMBERED IN LECTURE SERIES Howard Soifer (1949–2003) was a 1977 Christiancy Class graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School. He was an avid sports fan and represented several prominent professional athletes during his career as a shareholder with Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis & Gotting, P.C. Soifer was grateful for his legal education at WMU-Cooley Law School and his family, friends and partners have endowed the lecture series in his memory.

The trio explained the journey of returning the tapes to those having the copyright interests – Betty CantorJackson, the Grateful Dead, and Warner Music Group – and their hopes of merging those rights with the possessory rights so the music could be released for fans to enjoy.

possessions, including more than 1,000 tape reels from the Grateful Dead and other groups, were placed in a California storage unit and those contents were eventually sold at an auction.

Cantor-Jackson was a soundboard operator with production credits for a number of commercial Grateful Dead releases. She spent close to 20 years working with the band. From 19711980, on her personal recording device, she captured hundreds of hours of twotrack, reel-to-reel recordings, which she is credited for the production, mixing, and recording.

Acker, Butler, and Dadswell formed a friendship during their three years at WMU-Cooley, which included them studying together. It didn’t take long for Acker, a self-proclaimed “Deadhead,” to turn Butler onto the music of the Grateful Dead.

In the mid-1980s, Cantor-Jackson’s


“We spent a lot of time studying together, outlining together and hanging out,” said Butler, who is now an attorney with Lansing-based Clark Hill. “I had

(Left-right) are Andrew Acker; Charles Dadswell; Sandy Soifer, wife of the late Howard Soifer; and Jeffrey Butler.



heard of the Grateful Dead but didn’t have the level of knowledge Andy had. It soon became our bond when needing a break away from the law school.”

Andrew Acker

Years later, while traveling, Acker learned about Cantor-Jackson falling on hard times and losing the recordings. He decided that he wanted to help her recognize that she was entitled to the copyrights of those lost tapes. Eventually an opportunity to acquire the missing reels began to emerge. “I had been trying to figure out a project to do with Jeff Butler for years and when this project arose and the issues started presenting, because it involved music and the Grateful Dead, Jeff was immediately engaged,” said Acker, an attorney with Storino, Ramello & Durkin in Rosemont, Illinois.

Dadswell, a senior vice president and general counsel for a Nasdaq 100 corporation, was tasked with creating a corporate structure as the group began its mission of finding Cantor-Jackson’s missing works of art. He worked to gain partnerships within the music industry and entice investors to help finance the purchase of the tapes. However, due to lack of interest from investors, the partners agreed to press on with the project and create their own corporation. Jeffrey Butler

“When it actually started happening we got Chuck involved and I quickly realized that we were getting the study group back together again, which was really cool.” ANDREW ACKER Charles Dadswell

Acker, who practices municipal law, and Butler, who has extensive knowledge in education law, enlisted Dadswell for his experience in corporate and intellectual

property law. The trio, along with Prescott Carter, another fan of the Grateful Dead, joined forces to find the recordings that had been missing since 1986 and formed ABCD Enterprises, LLC in 2012.

“We thought about partnerships, we thought about LLCs and we talked about different joint ventures with various groups,” said Dadswell. “Simply to protect our own personal assets, each one of us as individuals created an LLC as a holding company and those four holding companies are members of ABCD Enterprises.” The members of ABCD estimate 1,500 hours were spent getting the recordings back into the hands of the rightful owners. Their time included researching, traveling to gain possession of the recordings, and restoring and digitizing each tape, all of which is estimated to have a value of nearly $500,000 in time and material costs. They believe that their travels would be equivalent to five trips around the planet. (continued)



“We believe we successfully completed our task and now everyone can enjoy the incredible music from the missing ‘Betty Boards.’ I consider this project my good deed to the universe.” ANDREW ACKER Grateful Dead CDs that have been distributed following the return of the lost “Betty Boards.”

THE TAPES ARE RETURNED “From the tapes that we discovered, we restored them and digitized them,” said Butler. “We then took those tapes, gave them back to Warner Music, and through the Grateful Dead, they have been released for public purchase.” Since May 2016, there have been eight Grateful Dead releases using recordings provided by ABCD. Each release contains a credit thanking ABCD for its assistance in providing the recordings. “Although ABCD did not receive a profit for returning the Grateful Dead Betty Boards, we do recognize pride and satisfaction of doing the right thing and getting the job done the right way,” said Acker. “The music recovered is nothing short of amazing and the recordings, in

my mind, are pure works of art by Betty Cantor-Jackson.” Realizing how close this music was to being forever buried, Butler and Dadswell each said they are humbled to hear the long-lost melodies of these talented musicians. Originally, ABCD didn’t set out to obtain the reel-to-reel recordings, but once they did, other than the Grateful Dead and the Garcia family, ABCD had the largest collection of master reel-to-reels of Grateful Dead and Garcia music than anyone on the planet, noted Acker. “With that came a tremendous responsibility to do the right thing with the recordings, or else they would once again be lost,” said Acker.

MORE HOWARD SOIFER MEMORIAL LECTURES IN SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT LAW Previous Soifer Memorial Lecture speakers include: Russ Granik, Deputy Commissioner of the NBA; Steve Smith, broadcaster and former NBA all-star basketball player; Charlie Ward, Heisman Trophy winner and retired NBA basketball player; T.J. Duckett, former running back in the National Football League; Tom Izzo, Michigan State University men’s basketball coach; Kevin Poston, president and CEO of Detroit-area based DEAL Elite Athletic Management; and Steve Garvey, former Major League Baseball all-star and MVP.

Sandy Soifer

Howard was grateful for his legal education at WMU-Cooley Law School. The Soifer Committee endowed the Lecture Series in his honor. 34


Professor John Scott retires after serving 40 years

Professor John Scott taught his first class at WMU-Cooley in 1978. Four decades later, on April 10, the respected law professor said farewell to the institution after teaching his very last class. Before joining WMU-Cooley, Scott began his legal career with a general trial practice near Kalamazoo, Michigan. There, Scott specialized in family, criminal, property and bankruptcy litigation. He started teaching at WMUCooley’s Lansing campus in 1978, and moved to the school’s Tampa Bay campus when it opened in 2012. “I’ve enjoyed my time immensely at WMU-Cooley. I will greatly miss the students and my WMU-Cooley

colleagues – both in Michigan and in Florida,” Scott said. “I’m looking forward to experiencing a new chapter in life.” Throughout his 40 years at WMU-Cooley, Scott administered the school’s Trial Workshop program and coached the school’s teams in the ABA, ATLA, BLSA, and NACDL national trial competitions. He was also a member of the WMU-Cooley Legal Authors Society. In addition to teaching, Scott was a member in various legal organizations, including the Association of Trial Lawyers of America; Real Property, Local Government, Litigation and Legal Education sections of the American Bar

Association; the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; and the State Bar of Michigan. He also co-chaired the NACDL Criminal Trial Competition with WMU-Cooley Professor Gerald MacDonald. The pair co-authored case-file problems for the annual competition. Scott, who taught Evidence and Property at WMU-Cooley, is the author of “Evidence Illustrated: Cases to Illustrate How All the Rules Work.” The book, published in 2000, is often used in today’s law classes. Scott’s current Evidence students got together during their last class and gave him a memorable retirement

send-off, complete with his favorite cake: chocolate.

“Professor Scott has been a remarkable faculty member at WMU-Cooley and a tremendous mentor and role model to our students,” said Ronald Sutton, associate dean of the WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay campus. “He will be missed dearly by all of us. We wish Professor Scott the best in his retirement.”



St. Michael’s Legal Center for Women and Children, Inc. relocates its pro bono law clinic to Tampa Bay campus The Tampa Bay campus has become the new host site for St. Michael’s Legal Center for Women and Children, Inc. (SMLC). SMLC serves low-income families in matters such as child support, visitation and custody disputes. Foreclosure defense, immigration, bankruptcy and probate pro bono services are also offered. The pro bono law clinic now shares space and resources with WMU-Cooley’s Debt Relief Clinic, which provides debt-related legal assistance for underserved individuals in Hillsborough County. Students have the opportunity to represent clients in transactional matters, alternative dispute resolution and pre-litigation resolution, all under the supervision of practicing attorneys.

Mike Shea, director of St. Michael’s Legal Center for Women and Children, Inc., speaks to WMU-Cooley students about opportunities to gain legal experience at the pro bono law clinic.

“Both clinics have a long cross referral history, which will now be streamlined in real time to benefit our Tampa Bay area consumers,” said Victor H. Veschio, (Sharpe Class, 1998) director, WMUCooley Law School Debt Relief Clinic.

SMLC provides WMU-Cooley students with access to additional internship and externship experiences. Law students can now select between a concentrated bankruptcy practice in the Debt Relief Clinic or a more general practice with SMLC providing family law, probate, landlord tenant and foreclosure defense. “When the directors of each clinic approached the WMU-Cooley administration about creating a potential collaboration, we were excited to help make this idea become a reality,” said Ronald Sutton, associate dean of the law school’s Tampa Bay campus. “This collaboration not only allows our students an opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience right on our campus, it also allows us to teach our students about the importance of serving their communities through pro bono service.”



With support from Christ the King Church in Tampa, SMLC was formed in 2006 by a group of volunteer lawyers who joined together to offer legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford an attorney. The center serves over 4,000 individuals each year in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

“Through this collaboration, we will be able to serve those in our community needing legal services more efficiently,” said Michael Shea, director, SMLC. “We are grateful for this opportunity to work even closer with Victor Veschio and WMU-Cooley’s students to provide pro bono services to some of the most vulnerable in the Tampa region.” Since its inception in 2014, WMU-Cooley’s Debt Relief Clinic has provided nearly 6,000 hours of counseling and representation to underserved indigent communities in the Tampa Bay area. In 2016, the clinic was honored by the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee for Outstanding Pro Bono Service.

Victor H. Veschio (middle), director, WMU-Cooley Law School Debt Relief Clinic.



Campuses Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and WMU-Cooley Law School’s Equal Access to Justice Day, each campus organized a variety of events to commemorate King’s civil rights efforts and to reflect on the role of the law and lawyers in assuring equal access to justice. Equal Access to Justice Day, as initiated by WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, suspends classes in observance of MLK Day. The law school’s Lansing campus Student Bar Association hosted a discussion with Mike Karl from Cardboard Prophets, a street-based outreach program in Lansing. Cardboard Prophets’ goal is to tell the stories of those living on the streets and give them second chances through creative ideas. The organization focuses on involving the community to achieve real change for the homeless, as well as helping to restore faith in humanity. During his time on campus, Karl shared the story of when he was homeless, and how his life was changed by the kindness of a man who did not give up on him.

SBA President Charles Hickman

Following the presentation, WMU-Cooley students, faculty and staff volunteered for Cardboard Prophets’ “Laundry Thy Neighbor” service project at All Washed Up Laundromat, where they washed and dried the laundry of those in need from the Lansing community. WMU-Cooley students and staff also donated coats, gloves, hats and blankets. Additionally, volunteers sorted seeds for the Garden Project – Greater Lansing Food Bank. The Garden Project provides access to land, how-to education, free seeds and plants, tool lending, a networking hub and more so that all community members can have access to fresh healthy food through gardening opportunities. The organization supports a network of nearly 125 community gardens and 400 home gardens, helping to feed over 7,000 people. WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus hosted an Equal Access to Justice Day program about implicit bias. “Learning to See Clearly: The Presence and Power of Implicit Bias,” was presented by Dr. Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Additionally, sociologists from

Executive Board Member Lemontré Taylor

Mike Karl, Founder of Cardboard Prophets



Foster children at Everyday Blessings in Thonotosassa, Florida, were visited by WMUCooley Law School students to help honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Students and staff volunteered at the facility for the fourth year in a row as part of the law school’s Equal Access to Justice Day.

Martha Moore, Auburn Hills BLSA Facility Advisor, speaks during Implicent Bias event.

Oakland University used the board game “Monopoly” to demonstrate the negative impact that racial and gender bias has on success.   The Grand Rapids campus Black Law Students Association (BLSA) organized an event to decorate brown paper bags for Kids’ Food Basket. Kids’ Food Basket, which is a nonprofit organization attacking childhood hunger in West Michigan, delivers nearly 7,500 sack suppers to students each weekday. In addition to providing a nutritious meal, the brown paper sacks are decorated to help brighten each child’s day. Several faculty, staff and BLSA members shared thoughts about Dr. King throughout the Grand Rapids program, including BLSA President Esko Peterson, who played the “I Have a Dream” speech for participants. He encouraged them to draw inspiration from it, and decorate the paper sacks with messages of hope, diversity and equality in line with the values espoused by Dr. King.

Each year, WMU-Cooley Enrollment and Student Services Coordinator Tony Alvarado works with leaders from the law school’s various student organizations to prepare for the annual service project on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Alvarado and students purchase items to make a special lunch for the residents at Everyday Blessings and create age appropriate activities.

(Left-right) WMU-Cooley Law School Grand Rapids campus students Millicent Southern, Kenyata McGill, Asha Gilmore, Black Law Students Association President Esko Peterson, Osinachi Onukogu, Marisa Bondi and Derrick Griffith.



Lansing campus Opioid Epidemic Conference In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump discussed the devastating impact of opioid addiction in the United States. The opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in October 2017, a designation the President renewed on Jan. 23. In response to the urgency of the addiction crisis, WMUCooley Law School hosted “The Opioid Epidemic: Finding Solutions to a Public Health Emergency,” a free, half-day conference at the law school’s Lansing campus.

The event featured six expert panelists who provided presentations about various addiction-related issues, including health implications, legal concerns, overcoming addiction and the effects of addiction. They also responded to questions from the audience about what federal, state and local governments are doing about the crisis, and how the epidemic is impacting communities, including the legal community. Featured presenters included: Hon. Linda Davis: 41B District Court judge, chair of Governor Snyder’s Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission, president of Families Against Narcotics Kristen Lee: graduate of Eastern Michigan University and the University of Toledo College of Law, and a person who is in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder Ashton Marr: program manager of the Washtenaw Recovery Advocacy Project at Home of New Vision, Certified Peer Recovery Mentor, and a person who is in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder Brandy McMillion: Assistant U.S. Attorney specializing in opioid fraud abuse and detection Lauren Rousseau: WMU-Cooley law professor and president of the Northwest Wayne Chapter of Families Against Narcotics Tish Vincent: director of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program of the State Bar of Michigan


Rousseau, a frequent speaker on the topic of addiction, kicked off the conference with her presentation about how she became involved in tackling the issue. She shared her personal story about a young man named Jake for whom she was the legal guardian beginning in 2010. Jake had developed an addiction to heroin. Upon discovering the issue in 2011, Rousseau helped the 19-year-old seek professional support and treatment. Throughout that time, he had multiple stints of going in and out of rehabilitation, counseling and recovery homes, but in 2012, he was brutally murdered at the home of a friend. Learning that Jake was the victim of a homicide catapulted her into advocacy for change in how addiction is perceived and treated in communities and by political leaders. “I feel like if I had known more than I did at the time, looking back on it there are certain things that I would have done differently. Would those things have changed the outcome? Of course I’ll never know, but I do, looking back, have regrets that I didn’t do things differently. So one of the goals that I have, and a lot of the community organizations that work in this area have, is to educate,” Rousseau said. “Educate the community, educate families, educate people even in recovery so they can make better choices about


“He was not killed directly as a result of drug addiction, but certainly he wouldn’t have been in that place or circumstance if it hadn’t been for his addiction to heroin.” LAUREN ROUSSEAU how they deal with this situation if they’re faced with it.” Davis spoke next about her journey getting involved in the fight against opioid addiction and Families Against Narcotics, an organization which works to increase access to treatment. After prosecuting drug-related crimes for many years, she started to look at drug addiction through a different lens when she noticed an increase in the use of prescription drugs and heroin in Macomb County. At that time, she also learned one of her children was struggling with drug addiction.

that I was going to be an activist and change the system, and I’ve pretty much devoted the last 11 years of my life to doing that.” Now, Davis speaks at over 200 venues each year to raise awareness of drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. She is passionate about discussing issues such as the lack of funding for recovery programs and detox facilities, pharmaceutical companies’ involvement in the opioid epidemic and the stigma associated with drug addiction.

Vincent, who is a licensed therapist and attorney in the state of Michigan and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, discussed lawyers who become addicted to opioids and what resources the State Bar of Michigan provides through the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program (LJAP). The goal of the LJAP is to support Michigan legal professionals to optimize their general wellness and to facilitate involvement in the organization’s monitoring program.

McMillion, who specializes in opioid fraud abuse and detection, spoke about the severity of the opioid epidemic, and what she as an Assistant U.S. Attorney views as the problem. McMillion’s office focuses on how they can reduce the supply of opioids on the streets. She said the work of her opioid fraud abuse and detection unit is now exceeding that of the gun crime unit. Ashton Marr

Hon. Linda Davis

“I decided based on my experience in dealing with my loved one’s addiction that we were living in a very broken world with a very broken system, and that almost every piece of literature I read led me to five more things that needed to be fixed in the system of brokenness,” said Davis. “I knew that if we ever got through this horrible situation,

“Overdose deaths from commonly prescribed opioids continue to be involved more than any other drug that we are seeing come across our office. Our office prosecutes other types of drug crimes, and the opioid epidemic is literally taking our office by storm,” said McMillion. “The number of Michigan deaths from opioid overdoses, including heroin, has far exceeded anything else we’ve ever seen – traffic accidents, gun fatalities – in total, in 2015, I think there were 1,275 people in Michigan that died from opioid overdoses, as compared to 840 traffic fatalities and 1,164 gun deaths.”

Marr is the program manager for the Washtenaw Recovery Advocacy Project (WRAP) at Home of New Vision, an addiction treatment agency in Ann Arbor. She is also a Certified Peer Recovery Mentor and a person in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder. During her presentation, Marr told her story of her struggles with addiction and her recovery experiences. She said if it were not for the nonjudgmental supportive love she was given when she told her parents what she was going through, she would not be here today. Lee, another person who is in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder, shared her story as well. Lee entered a methadone program while pregnant with her second child in 2007, and has since continued with methadone maintenance, which has helped her graduate from college, raise her children and graduate from law school at the University of Toledo College of Law. She is preparing to sit for the Michigan bar exam in July.

Lauren Rousseau (left), WMU-Cooley law professor and president of the Northwest Wayne Chapter of Families Against Narcotics, shares how heartbreak has motivated her to tackle the opioid epidemic and addiction on many fronts.



Women’s History Month TAMPA BAY CAMPUS The Tampa Bay campus held two events honoring Women’s History Month. On March 9, 58 women completed the path to U.S. citizenship during an allwomen naturalization ceremony hosted at the law school’s Tampa Bay campus. The ceremony included candidates from 25 countries.

Hon. Rosemarie Aquilina speaks at WMU-Cooley’s International Women’s Day Luncheon.

LANSING CAMPUS The Hon. Rosemarie Aquilina of Ingham County’s 30th Circuit Court was the featured speaker during the International Women’s Day Luncheon at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus. The event was sponsored by the law school’s members of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. Hai Bui, a WMU-Cooley student in Aquilina’s Family Law class, provided introductory remarks.

Assistant Dean Katherine Gustafson welcomed the women as new citizens, sharing the story of her grandfather immigrating to the U.S. over 100 years ago. “Although much has changed in the last century, I believe that the American dream is still alive and well,” she said. “I firmly believe that this is still the land of opportunity.”

Karen Fultz speaks to more than 60 women from the legal community and WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus.

BLUE JEANS BRUNCH On March 10, former WMU-Cooley Law School Assistant Dean and Associate Professor Karen Fultz spoke about women empowerment during the third annual Blue Jeans Brunch honoring Women’s History Month. More than 60 women from the legal community and the Tampa Bay campus participated in the event, dressing up in blue jeans to celebrate current and future female lawyers.

“Throughout her life, Judge Aquilina’s accomplishments sent ripples of positive change towards the progressive movement of equality. Recently, her craft was showcased in a paramount case in which she gave voice to women who had voices, but didn’t know how to use them,” Bui said. “You can’t counterfeit integrity or virtue and this woman is a woman of both.” During her presentation, Aquilina told those in attendance to stand up for their beliefs and to use their voices to make a difference. “That is one of the joys of being a lawyer, that voice, for yourself first and foremost, and then for others. Never forget that mission; never lose that voice,” Aquilina said. “It is kryptonite to the rest of the world. It is absolute power to you. Use it wisely and use it well, and remember that you define yourself.”


Women from the legal community and WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus mingle during the annual Blue Jeans Brunch honoring Women’s History Month at Ulele Restaurant and Brewery.


Albanian Ambassador Floreta Faber discussed international democracy and foreign relations at the Auburn Hills campus Albanian Ambassador to the United States Floreta Faber visited WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus for a discussion regarding international relations.

During her time on campus, Faber spoke about Albanian history, America’s involvement in Albania’s judicial reform and current struggles of the country’s judicial system. She said the judicial reform began for several reasons, noting the desire to have a more secure country, and to encourage investments in the country. She also emphasized how Albania must have a full judicial reform, including the vetting of judges and prosecutors, in order to become a member of the European Union.

Albanian Ambassador to the United States Floreta Faber.

WMU-Cooley Law School Auxiliary Dean and Associate Professor Erika R. Breitfeld also spoke during the event. She discussed young lawyer training programs she believes could benefit communities that are rebuilding their judicial systems. Faber offered to visit the law school following the work of WMU-Cooley student Laura Ivezaj. In November 2017, Ivezaj was selected by the Albanian Embassy in the United States to take part in “An Albanian Day in Washington D.C.,” a program which introduces graduate students to government organizations, institutions and representatives who contribute to and influence relations between Albania and the U.S.

Matt Hotchkiss, Devin Blue win ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition Matt Hotchkiss (left) and Devin Blue (right).

Students Matt Hotchkiss and Devin Blue won the Region 6 American Bar Association Law Student Division Client Counseling Competition in Akron, Ohio, in February. Blue and Hotchkiss advanced to the national competition at North Carolina Central University Law School where the pair ranked 10th out of 111 teams.

The Client Counseling Competition addresses fundamental skills necessary for all attorneys, namely the ability to interview, counsel and support clients through their legal issues. Competitors conduct an initial interview with a person playing the role of the client and then address both the client’s legal and non-legal needs. Each team must explain various aspects of the attorneyclient relationship, build rapport,

determine client goals and consider applicable law and options that may be available to the client. Other WMU-Cooley competitors included Ashley Jacobson, Babak Alavi, Chantal Eid-Mekhayel and Eric Choi. The teams were coached by Christine Zellar Church, associate dean of Academic Programs.




MICHIGAN CAMPUSES WMU-Cooley Law School presented juris doctor and master of laws degrees to graduates during the law school’s commencement ceremony for the Michigan campuses (Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Lansing) at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.

graduates, were honored for accomplishing perfect 4.0 grade point averages throughout their law school careers; and Andrea Muroto Bilabaye was presented with the President’s Achievement Award for the highest increase in GPA during her three years at WMU-Cooley.

Markman spoke to the graduates about the The Hon. Stephen J. Markman, importance of continuing chief justice, Michigan their legal education after Supreme Court, provided graduation and throughout the keynote, and valedictory their careers. He noted remarks were presented by that Abraham Lincoln often Lynn Mason, who was selected told lawyers to take it upon by her classmates. themselves to “read, read, read” all they can on the During the ceremony, law – the Constitution, trends Katie Sabo and I. Eric in the law, innovation, the Nordan, summa cum laude human condition and the ills that plague society.

here today. We have laughed together, cried together and we have studied together.” Quoting the entertainer Eminem, Mason asked her classmates, “If you had one

shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip away?” While responding to the question she put forth, Mason told her classmates, “We have

captured it. [This is] our moment. We are writing our own stories. We are turning the page today and starting a new chapter.”

During the valedictory address, Mason said,

“We have come a long way. We have worked hard and sacrificed so much to get Lynn Mason gives the valedictory remarks.

The Hon. Stephen J. Markman, chief justice, Michigan Supreme Court, provides the keynote.


WMU-Cooley Law School President and Dean Don LeDuc presents Andrew Hendra, magna cum laude, with his diploma.

Graduates Katie Sabo (left) and I. Eric Nordan (right) were honored for accomplishing perfect 4.0 grade point averages throughout their law school careers.

WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc presents Andrea Muroto Bilabaye with the President’s Achievement Award for the highest increase in GPA during her three years at WMU-Cooley.


TAMPA BAY CAMPUS Graduates from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus were presented with juris doctor degrees during the law school’s commencement ceremony at the University of South Florida’s Marshall Center.

Chosen by his classmates to represent them, graduate Robert Johnson presented valedictory remarks. Judge Miriam Velez Valkenburg, of Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit presented the keynote address. Professor Dan Matthews was presented with the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching.

During the valedictory remarks, Johnson told his classmates,

“As future attorneys, what we do today, matters tomorrow. The compassion toward our clients and how we approach and handle each case sets the precedent for outcomes thereafter. The work you do now will have impact for years and years to come.”

Graduate Robert Johnson presents the valedictory remarks.

Associate Dean Ronald Sutton (left) presents graduate Janice Burton with her diploma.

Judge Miriam Velez Valkenburg, of Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit, presented the keynote.

Professor Dan Matthews is presented the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching

(Left-right) President and Dean Don LeDuc; Judge Miriam Velez Valkenburg; graduate Robert Johnson; and Associate Dean Ronald Sutton.


FACULTY EXPERTS More than 350 local, regional and national sources have featured our professors in the last six months, representing WMU-Cooley Law School as subject-matter experts on a variety of issues in the news. Topics they have been interviewed about include the sentencing of former


was quoted by the Detroit Free Press and Oakland Herald. Flores was featured on WLNS 6 News and WILX News 10. Hastings was featured by New York Daily News, Lansing State Journal, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. Hastings’ remarks about the case included parallels he noticed between the MSU and Penn State University sexual assault case. ases.

Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ronald Bretz and professors Victoria Vuletich, Gerald Fisher, Anthony Flores and Christopher Hastings were all called upon to respond to developments in the sentencing of former Michigan State NELSON MILLER’S University and USA Gymnastics COMMENTS REGARDING doctor Larry Nassar.

won at least $800,000 under a capped medical malpractice claim, but the case is now over. The article featuring Miller’s response to the surgery blunder was picked up by multiple news outlets across the United States.


Ret. Brigadier General/ Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel, Professor Jeff Swartz, and A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Adjunct Professor Andy Krause-Phelan was interviewed CLAIM WENT NATIONAL Arena were tapped by various by WZZM 13 before the WMU-Cooley Associate Dean media outlets to discuss FBI sentencing about whether Nelson Miller spoke to the surveillance authority abuse it was likely Nassar would Associated Press about a allegations in the memo plead guilty. Bretz responded medical malpractice claim released from the GOP and to various legal questions that caught the nation’s House Intelligence Committee about the case on Michigan’s attention. Bimla Nayyar, an Chairman Devin Nunes. Big Show, WILX News 10 81-year-old woman with a McDaniel and Arena were both and WSYM Fox 47. Vuletich sore jaw, died just weeks after featured in USA Today and on spoke about ethics related a serious mistake: Doctors WTSP Channel 10. McDaniel’s to how the case was handled at a Detroit-area hospital comments on the subject on WZZM 13, Michigan’s Big performed brain surgery on her were also highlighted on Show and with the Associated because of a records mix-up. PolitiFact and in an interview Press. Vuletich’s comments A jury awarded $20 million with WKZO. On the nationally went national as other news to Nayyar’s estate, but family syndicated Mike Siegel Show, outlets from across the country members will not see a dime. Swartz described the process published AP’s article. Fisher Miller said Nayyar’s estate of obtaining a FISA warrant probably could have with the FISA Court. 46

Emeritus Curt Benson and Tonya Krause-Phelan, auxiliary dean and professor, were both interviewed by WZZM 13 as the Jeffrey Willis case in Michigan developed. Willis was found guilty of the murder of Rebecca Bletsch in west Michigan. Benson was also interviewed by Grand Haven Tribune and WOOD TV8 about Willis’ testimony, and the jury selection process.


Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, net neutrality, the opioid epidemic, medical malpractice claims, First Amendment rights and national security, among other subjects.

FACULTY FEATURED BY MEDIA ABOUT THE FLINT WATER CRISIS Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson, and Auxiliary Dean and Associate Professor Erika Breitfeld were all featured by various media outlets regarding developments in the Flint water crisis. In December 2017, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced that 6,200 lead service lines had been replaced in the city thanks to the Fast Start program, which was overseen by McDaniel. Several media outlets shared the news of McDaniel’s efforts, including 101.9 WDET radio, ABC 12 News, NBC 25 News, WNEM, Grand Rapids Legal News and Grand Rapids Press. McDaniel was also featured by CityLab about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides healthcare for children and

pregnant women from lowincome families who do not qualify for Medicaid, and said CHIP could be a useful tool for other cities dealing with hazardous pipes. Benson and Breitfeld were both featured in the Flint Journal after former emergency manager Gerald Ambrose waived preliminary examinations in connection to Flint’s water crisis. KrausePhelan was also interviewed by the Flint Journal about involuntary manslaughter charges in the case.

School director of LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law and professor, as an expert in the article, “Asked & answered: Gerald Tschura on net neutrality.” Professor Paul Carrier was interviewed about the subject by WFLA radio, WMUK and WTSP Channel 10. In the interviews, Carrier responded to the FCC’s vote repealing net neutrality rules and explained what regulation means for internet service providers.

Associate Professor Renalia DuBose joined Mike Siegel on his nationally syndicated radio show to discuss societal causes of school violence and what steps can be taken to help make schools safer.

FACULTY DISCUSSED PROFESSORS INTERVIEWED NATIONAL SECURITY AND ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT NET NEUTRALITY EXPLAINED SCHOOL SAFETY WMU-Cooley Adjunct Professor RIGHTS BY FACULTY EXPERTS David Tarrien, auxiliary dean and associate professor, spoke to WOOD TV8 about the impact of ending net neutrality. He was also interviewed by WKZO, did a Q&A with MiBiz and, while appearing on FOX 17, explained that immediate change under the repeal of net neutrality was unlikely. The Legal News publications in Michigan featured Gerald Tschura, WMU-Cooley Law

Andy Arena, a former FBI Special Agent, was featured on the Korelin Economics Report about U.S. security. Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel, homeland security expert and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy, spoke to the Lansing State Journal about how Lansing Community College officials’ response to a campus threat was “sound, prudent and necessary.”

WMU-Cooley Law School professors Devin Schindler, Jeffrey Swartz, Brendan Beery and Associate Professor Renalia DuBose spoke on a variety of subjects related to First Amendment rights. Schindler was interviewed on the Mike Siegel Show about students’ free speech following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. Swartz appeared on ABC Action News after Pasco Schools clarified rules for standing during the (continued)



Pledge of Allegiance after a first-grader kneeled. Beery spoke to Bay News 9 about how First Amendment rights factor in protesting the National Anthem. DuBose explained how student speech is protected under the First Amendment during an interview on WSLR radio. Beery and DuBose were also featured by the Free Press in Tampa, Florida, for their presentations at WMUCooley Law School about speech in public schools and universities.

to the public health emergency. Before the conference, Rousseau joined WILS Radio to discuss the devastating impact of opioid addiction across the Nation.

LISA HALUSHKA FEATURED IN FLINT JOURNAL AND BY CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE Lisa Halushka, WMU-Cooley assistant dean and professor, was interviewed by the Flint Journal about the murder charges against teenagers accused of throwing rocks from a highway overpass, including one that pierced a van’s windshield and killed a 32-year-old man. Halushka’s legal expertise was also sought by Capital News Service regarding juveniles and their understanding of Miranda rights.

"The avalanche of lawsuits filed by cities, counties, and states against the pharmaceutical industry holds promise as a significant step forward in combatting the opioid epidemic. Lives literally hang in the balance as Judge Polster works with the parties to craft a settlement that could finally turn the tide on this scourge that is devastating our nation."

VICTORIA VULETICH INTERVIEWED BY WOOD TV8 AND HURON DAILY TRIBUNE DEVIN SCHINDLER AND STEVE DULAN FEATURED ON WZZM 13 GUN DEBATE SEGMENT WZZM 13 featured WMUCooley Professor Devin Schindler and Adjunct Professor Steve Dulan in a gun debate segment. Given that at the heart of the U.S. gun debate is the Second Amendment, Schindler, a constitutional law expert, was featured to explain how the interpretation of what the Founding Fathers intended in the amendment has changed. Dulan was asked as a firearms law expert what he thinks needs to be changed about current gun laws.


LAUREN ROUSSEAU SPOKE ABOUT THE IMPACT OF OPIOID ADDICTION IN THE NATION Lauren Rousseau, WMUCooley professor and president of the Northwest Wayne Chapter of Families Against Narcotics, had a column published on JURIST, a web-based legal news source, about the impact the onslaught of litigation against the pharmaceutical industry could have on the opioid epidemic. In February, Rousseau was a featured panelist during WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus conference focused on finding solutions

In a case about a potential conflict of interest, Victoria Vuletich, ethics professor at WMU-Cooley Law School, told Huron Daily Tribune that if the prosecutor had a personal animus that would interfere with his objectivity and his office’s prudent handling of the case, then withdrawal would be appropriate.

“Whenever an attorney’s representation of a client may be materially limited by the lawyer’s personal interest or the lawyer’s responsibilities to a third person, the attorney is required to withdraw from the representation,” she said. Vuletich was also featured by

WOOD TV8 about the value of civil discourse, and her involvement in the Civility Project, an ongoing effort to encourage community building and civil response regardless of political belief.

JEFF SWARTZ APPEARED IN SEVERAL NEWS STORIES WMU-Cooley Professor Jeff Swartz appeared in several news stories since September 2017. Swartz weighed in on President Trump’s nominee, Wendy Vitter, to a federal judgeship in Louisiana in an article by The TimesPicayune. In Lawyer Monthly, Swartz discussed U.S. gun control. On FOX 4 News, he spoke about charges in the Pulse Nightclub shooting trial, and in Avvo Stories, Swartz’s comments were featured regarding a lesserknown form of sexual assault called “stealthing.”

STEVE DULAN QUOTED BY DETROIT NEWS Steve Dulan, who teaches firearms law at WMU-Cooley Law School, was quoted by Detroit News following the news that at least six Michigan Republicans in Congress said they are open to federal restrictions on bump fire stocks, which are the attachments used by the Las Vegas gunman to make semiautomatic weapons fire faster. Dulan, who sits on the board of the advocacy group Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said most serious shooters think bump stocks are “goofy.”

“This was such a shock to everybody, basically because, first, of the tragic nature of it but also because I don’t know anybody (who) has done any serious shooting with these,” he said.

LISA DEMOSS ON NAVIGATING AFFORDABLE CARE ACT PLANS Lisa DeMoss, director of graduate programs in corporate law and finance and insurance law, and professor at WMUCooley Law School, was interviewed by The HeraldPalladium about how citizens can navigate Affordable Care Act plans. DeMoss said it is important for people to remember that the same plan someone had for 2017 may not have the same value as 2018 because of cost-sharing reductions. DeMoss was also selected as a panelist to discuss methods for improving healthcare for Americans during an event hosted by WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.

MARK DOTSON FEATURED BY MLIVE Mark Dotson, WMU-Cooley Law School professor, was featured in an article by MLive about the hiring of a former Burton, Michigan, employee despite his 2007 conviction on bribery and extortion charges.

“There is no state law preventing a convicted felon from holding a job in government. The only limitation would be one that would be imposed by charter or ordinances of the city,” he noted.

CURT BENSON APPEARED ON WOOD TV8, INTERVIEWED BY MIRS NEWS AND DETROIT NEWS Curt Benson, WMU-Cooley distinguished professor emeritus, appeared on WOOD TV8 multiple times for his take on situations in various local court cases. Benson was interviewed by Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) News about the Abdul El-Sayed campaign in the Michigan governor’s race, and by Detroit News about a dispute between Detroit judges.

RENALIA DUBOSE DISCUSSED A NEW FLORIDA LAW ON CHALLENGING SCHOOL CURRICULUM WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Professor Renalia DuBose, an expert on education law, discussed a new Florida law allowing any state resident to challenge what is being taught in public schools. A handful of complaints were filed in school districts statewide since the law took effect last summer. DuBose was featured by several radio programs about the subject, including WMFE, WFSU, WUSF and WLRN. DuBose’s interview with WFSU was featured by Florida Citizens for Science.

MICHAEL C.H. MCDANIEL FEATURED ON SEVERAL MEDIA OUTLETS In addition to interviews on the Devin Nunes memo, Flint water crisis and national security, Ret. Brigadier General, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was also featured on FOX 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” segment about the Gold Star Controversy, which opened up a dialogue of how parents and loved ones of those who died fighting for our country are treated. McDaniel was also interviewed by several radio programs such as Michigan’s Big Show, WKAR, WKZO and WHTC about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. McDaniel was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly for being the Ingham County Bar Association’s Volunteer Award recipient. (continued)




TONYA KRAUSE-PHELAN DISCUSSED THE AMERICAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WMU-Cooley Law School Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan’s article, “Does the American Criminal Justice System Need Reforming to Address Terrorists,” was a special feature in Lawyer Monthly’s October 2017 edition. In the article, Krause-Phelan addresses how recent violent acts committed against target groups of people have resulted in the public discussing the difference between a terrorist and someone who is insane, and how they are treated in court. She surmised that while a “terrorist” is not a condition, someone charged with terrorism could raise the insanity defense if medical and legal criteria are met. Krause-Phelan was also featured by WMUK about the right to a speedy and fair trial, by WOOD TV8 about how other cases could be impacted by exposed police department calls, and by WZZM 13 about charges against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort.


WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery shared his analysis of the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with WKZO’s Ken Lanphear. Beery said the significance of Tillerson’s firing has to do with the pattern of firings and that the administration has seen more turnover than any other administration in modern history. Beery also was interviewed by WKZO about DACA and NFL anthem protests. On the Tom Sumner Program, Beery discussed the pardon of Maricopa and Justice Roberts’ memo about guidelines that would protect law staff from potential sexual harassment. He was interviewed by multiple news outlets about the NRA’s lawsuit against the state of Florida over a gun control and school safety bill, including the Tom Sumner Program, ABC Action News and WTSP Channel 10. Beery appeared on Bay News 9 about the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Russian election meddling. On the Mike Siegel Show, he discussed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

ANTHONY FLORES INTERVIEWED ABOUT MAN SENTENCED TO ONE YEAR FOR HIT AND RUN Following the surprising sentencing of a 23-year-old driver to one year in jail after a hit-and-run crash that severely injured a mother and daughter, WLNS reached out to WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Anthony Flores for his take on the situation. The sentencing came after Judge Clinton Canady rejected a plea deal where the driver would only serve 90 days in jail. It was a move Flores says does not happen often.

“The judge believes that the sentence agreement is inadequate and that’s where the judge can indicate you may withdraw your plea because I’m going to sentence you to something else and, in this instance, the defendant took the sentence of the judge,” Flores stated.

DEVIN SCHINDLER REVIEWS STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING CASE ON WKZO A federal magistrate ruled a number of Michigan legislators must testify about their ban on straightticket voting and disclose communications with outside sources as part of a lawsuit challenging the controversial straight-ticket voting law. WMU-Cooley Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler joined radio host Ken Lanphear on WKZO to shed light on the issue.

"The order was just a temporary order. We still have to have more evidence, the court is saying, to make a final determination and that's where we're at today. Both sides are in discovery to figure out if there is enough evidence to show that the legislature acted with racial intent."

NELSON MILLER INTERVIEWED BY MULTIPLE NEWS OUTLETS WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean Nelson Miller was interviewed by Michigan Lawyers Weekly regarding competing rights in the workplace. In the Grand Rapids Press, Miller discussed an investigation regarding a Hudsonville teacher’s Bible talk in school, and an instance where a veteran was kicked out of a bar for being accompanied by his service dog. In the case involving the service dog, Miller said the law is on the veteran’s side. Even businesses with “nopets” policies must permit service dogs to accompany disabled individuals in public places such as bars and restaurants, he explained. Miller spoke to Grand Rapids Business Journal about what the term “earmarked funds” means. Miller also was involved in a Grand Rapids workshop series called, “Lawyer Storytelling: A Sacred Craft,” which was featured in the Grand Rapids Legal News, Ingham County Legal News, and Grand Rapids Business Journal.

CHRIS TRUDEAU EXPLAINS HOW MODERN WORLD IS CHANGING LEGAL COMMUNICATION Chris Trudeau, professor at WMU-Cooley Law School, completed an international study about legal communication, targeting how people use legal information in work based settings. Trudeau was featured in Legal Futures about his findings, which support the idea that clearer communication creates a win-win situation for all involved when both sides of the conversation fully understand the matter in hand.

"Many people struggle with how to interpret legal information when they need to in their jobs. For example, if someone is working in a government health department, they may frequently have to interpret not only existing health regulations, but they may have to interpret internal policy requirements. And, of course, small-business owners may have these same struggles as they struggle to navigate the licensing or other legal requirements needed to register or operate their businesses."

TRACEY BRAME DISCUSSED DICK’S SPORTING GOODS GUN POLICY LAWSUIT WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Tracey Brame was asked by WOOD TV8 to discuss an 18-year-old’s lawsuit against Dick’s Sporting Goods over the retailer’s policy prohibiting the sale of firearms to people under 21. Brame said the answer may lie in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Michigan’s law that establishes the who, what and why in civil rights protection. Under the law, age matters. Brame also said the biggest issue with the store’s policy is that it doesn’t match up with state law, which allows an 18-yearold to purchase a gun.

“This is really more of a retailer making a policy decision that guns don’t belong in the hands of people under 21, importantly a decision that the legislature hasn’t made,” Brame said.

CHRIS HASTINGS APPEARED ON FOX 17 In March, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, filed a 156-page lawsuit suing 24 major pharmaceutical companies accusing them of racketeering to profit from their highly addictive opioids, and claiming their manufacturers, distributors and retailers pushed opioids as “safe” drugs. WMU-Cooley Law Professor Chris Hastings appeared on FOX 17 to provide an expert analysis of the lawsuit.

“The allegations are that the defendants formed two associations, in fact enterprises: one, a diversion enterprise, which sought to avoid all of the federal law that was designed to make sure opiates didn’t get diverted from legitimate prescriptions onto the black market. And the allegations in the complaint, if they’re true, suggest that there was willful effort to make sure that happened for the sake of profits; they’re pretty serious allegations, and if they’re proven they’re going to be pretty devastating,” Hastings said.


Faculty Briefs Gary Bauer, Professor Hosted, three events with Professor Emeritus Terry Cavanaugh, attorney Mike Nichols, and members of his firm in Michaelmas and Hilary terms to help educate students about career goals and objectives. Scheduled, to be a presenter at the ICLE/State Bar Upper Peninsula Annual Meeting for 2018 in June providing guidance for senior attorneys on successful ways to transition out of practice. Podcast, for Pro Judicata with Ted Ballentine as moderator, regarding tools to start a successful practice for solos.  Attended, ABA TechShow in Chicago.  Presented, Sixty Plus Director’s Award to law student Jose Mancera. Attended, the ICLE Intellectual Property Seminar, March 29, 2018, in Lansing. Presented, on March 20, for the National Creditor Bar Association podcast, regarding senior lawyers’ successful transition out of practice. Professor Bauer was contacted because of the association’s affiliation with the ABA and because of his book, Solo Lawyer By Design. About 79 percent of the association’s members are solo practitioners. Appeared, as the presenter, March 21 on the ABA Podcast, Hot Off The Press, “Solo Practice Beginnings and Endings - Making Money from Day One and Wringing Out Value When You Close the Doors.” Submitted, a transcript and proposal for a second book for publication by the ABA with a proposal that it be sponsored by the GPSolo Division and the Practice Management Division as a joint publication. Currently under review for publication. Continues, to post blogs on Solo Lawyer By Design.com 52

Erika Breitfeld, Auxiliary Dean and Associate Professor Spoke, with the Albanian Ambassador during a panel discussion on justice reform in Albania. The ambassador and Professor Breitfeld discussed judicial elections, the current progress of Albania’s reforms, and how Albania’s youth can begin to change the landscape of Albania’s criminal justice system. Participated, in her role as a member of the board of directors, in the Macomb County Veterans’ Treatment Court meeting. Participated, as a member of the State Bar of Michigan Committee on Criminal Justice Initiatives.  Spoke, with MLive and quoted as giving an expert opinion about the impact of waiving a preliminary exam and the likelihood of plea deals in circuit court on a case involving the Flint water crisis. 

David C. Berry, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Named, the Academic Director of Patent Resources Group, a leading provider of continuing legal education programs for patent and other intellectual property practitioners. He is the principal instructor for PRG’s in-depth Patent Bar Review courses nationwide, and also develops and presents other advanced patent law programs. Serves, as Of Counsel at Brooks Kushman PC, an IP boutique law firm with offices in Southfield, Michigan; Los Angeles; and Washington D.C.

Mark Cooney, Professor Presented, “Take Your Writing to the Next Level,” for the  Washtenaw County Bar Association. Quoted, on Dec. 1, 2017, in the Lansing State Journal article “How does the Guilford family’s $2.4M compare to other police settlements?” on the factors that influence wrongful-death settlements. Notified, that he is in the Top 10 percent of authors on SSRN for new downloads in the previous 12 months. Served, as Lead Judge for the Center for Plain Language’s 2018 ClearMark Awards in the “Posters, Charts, and Fliers” category. Published, a short story, “The Smile,” in Lawyer Storytelling: A Sacred Craft, a short-story collection assembled and edited by Dean Nelson Miller.

Mary D’Isa, Distinguished Professor Emerita Published, “Are federal sentence reduction orders granting partial relief on courtissued forms stating that applicable factors and policies have been considered an abuse of discretion under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c) (2)?” in PREVIEW of United States Supreme Court Cases (ABA Div. for Pub.  Ed.), Issue No. 7, Vol. 45, Pg. 208, April 16, 2018, 20172018 Term.

Katherine Gustafson, Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor Sworn in, before the U.S. Supreme Court in the WMU-Cooley ceremony Feb. 28, 2018. Presented, “Using Self-Assessment in Law School to Improve Metacognition,” at the Assessment Institute’s Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, in October 2017.

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Published, a series of four columns in the Michigan Bar Journal called “Revisiting the Contests.” They collect some of the writing contests he has included over the years in the Plain Language column. Professor Kimble has been the column’s editor since 1988, so 2018 marks his 30th year.  Published, an article called “How Lockhart Should Have Been Decided (Canons Are Not the Key)” in the winter issue of Judicature. Lockhart v. United States is a U.S. Supreme Court decision, and the article takes the form of an opinion by a selfappointed justice (the author).  Published, in the same issue of Judicature his regular Redlines editing column, this one called “A Little Less Stiff, and No Tangents, Please.”  Wrote, two posts for the popular Dorf on Law blog. Both were called “Originalism and Textualism: Not Constraining and Not Neutral.” Gave, an interview to Michigan (Public) Radio on his new kids’ book, “Mr. Mouthful Learns his Lesson.” Professor Kimble has also been visiting elementaryschool classes to talk about and read the book. The kids’ reviews are available at mrmouthful.com. One professional reviewer says

that “young readers will delight in the fun drawings, captivating characters, and silly situations.”

Served, as the keynote speaker, in February, at the Michigan Public Safety Communications Conference in Traverse City. McDaniel spoke on “Lessons in Leadership” to a group of 500 First Responders.

Marla MitchellCichon, Professor

Attended, the Midwest Innocence Summit in Began, a new LL.M. course, “Current Issues in Homeland Security,” which Kansas City, Missouri. Attended, the winter meeting of the focuses in a seminar format such Gave, a presentation to the Michigan Standing Committee on Federal issues as hacking into the 2016 State University Pre-Law Society on (Court) Rules. Professor Kimble has elections, active shooters, and facial the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. been a drafting consultant to the recognition software in airports. committee since 1999.  Participated, in the creation of Chaired, the spring 2018 board short videos featuring WMU-Cooley Spoke, at four law schools: the meeting of the Great Lakes Innocence Project clients and staff. University of Arizona College of Law, Hazards Coalition in Sandusky, cooley.edu/innocent project Arizona State College of Law, the Ohio. The GLHC is a coalition of University of Denver College of Law, Attended, the National Association of government and business leaders and the University of San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) in the eight Great Lakes states School of Law. His topic was “A Hard annual post-conviction conference that meet regularly to consider Look at Textualism (and Some of and the annual Innocence Network how interstate systems of critical Its Canons).” All of the talks were Conference. infrastructure affect security and sponsored by the student chapters of commerce in the region. Michael Molitor, the American Constitution Society.   Gave, a talk and book signing for “Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson” at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. 

Spoke, on “A Hard Look at Textualism (and Some of Its Canons)” at the Rocky Mountain Legal-Writing Conference, in Denver. Invited, to give a keynote address for a workshop sponsored by PLAIN, the group of U.S. federal government employees who promote plain language at their agencies. 

Nelson Miller, Associate Dean and Professor Published, the chapter “Types of Equitable Remedies,” in Barbara A. Patek, Mark Granzotto, Daniel J. Ferris, & David H. Freedman, eds., Damages and Remedies in Michigan 23 (ICLE 2018).


Published, a textbook, with co-author WMU-Cooley Professor Frank Aiello: Secured Transactions: Statutes, Problems, and Cases (Vandeplas Publishing 2018, 506 pp).

Presented, “Hot Topics in U.S. Elder Law,” at the AMINZ/RI/University of Waikato Law Faculty Elder Law Roundtable, in Hamilton, New Zealand, in February 2017. Published, with Jeanette Buttrey, Laura Dannebohm, Vickie Eggers, Joni Larson, and Mable Martin-Scott, “Using a Case-Progression Approach To Mapping Learning Outcomes and Developing Assessments” in the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review in 2018.  Published, with Marie Were, “Cultivating Gardens and Cultivating Generations: Purposeful Living as Standard of Care for Elder Law Attorneys,” in 25 Elder Law Journal 235, in 2018. 

James Robb, Associate Dean and General Counsel Drafted, in plain English, the Detroit Bar Association Foundation’s revised corporate bylaws.

Appeared, on Michigan's Big Show with Michael Patrick Shiels on WQTX-FM on May 8, 2018 to Kimberly O’Leary, discuss the law school's reputation Invited, to give a keynote address at Professor and admissions philosophy. the 2018 conference of Clarity, an Directed, the international organization promoting Published, the chapter “Types of Lectured, at the Western Michigan WMU-Cooley plain legal language, in Montreal.  University Center for the Study Down Under Damages,” in Barbara A. Patek, Mark Professor Kimble is a past president.  Granzotto, Daniel J. Ferris, & David of Ethics in Society’s program on Study Abroad “Educational Equity: From the programs in New H. Freedman, eds., Damages and Michael C.H. ‘Kalamazoo Case’ to the ‘Kalamazoo Zealand and Australia in 2017 Remedies in Michigan 1 McDaniel, Promise’ and Beyond.”  His remarks and 2018. (ICLE 2018). Associate Dean focused on Justice Thomas M. and Professor Published, the book, Teaching Law: A Presented, “Creativity, Culture, Cooley and the famous “Kalamazoo Concluded, and Ethics in Elder Law: A View from Behavioral Approach (Crown Case” upholding public taxation for his assistance the U.S., in Melbourne, Australia, in Management. 2018). high school education. on the water February 2018. Published, the book, Teaching Law: A Appeared, as the featured guest on crisis for the city of Flint and the Framework for Instructional Mastery, Presented, “Independence Planning, the television show Practical Law, state in January 2018 with over 2d ed. (Crown Management. 2018). Kirikiriroa Marae,” with Marie Were speaking about ethics in government. 10,000 homes having their lead and Leone Farquhar, in Hamilton, contamination resolved. McDaniel (continued) New Zealand, in January 2018. began assisting the city with its Presented, “Ethical Issues in the public health emergency in January Representation of Elders,” with 2016 when a state of emergency was The Hon. Patricia Banks, Christine declared. Anderson, Rebecca Morgan, and Stu Presented, in January, to the Mayors Zimring, on July 11, 2017, for the Innovation Project in Washington, American Bar Association Center D.C., on the unique solutions for Professional Responsibility developed to assure remediation webinar, in July 2017. of the lead contaminated pipes in Flint,Michigan. 53

Faculty Briefs Moderated, the 12th annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in Sports and Entertainment Law.  The panel featured entertainment lawyers Andrew Acker, Jeffrey Butler, and Charles Dadswell. Drafted, an opinion of the city of Birmingham (Michigan) Board of Ethics in a case involving potential conflicts of interest of city commissioners. Re-appointed, Master of the Detroit Bar Association Inn of Court for 2018. Published, in Detroit Lawyer Magazine (January-February 2018 issue) a feature article, “WMU-Cooley Law School Healthcare Symposium.” Published, in Detroit Lawyer Magazine (March-April 2018 issue) a feature article, “Community Service at WMU-Cooley.”

Devin Schindler, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Interviewed, Oct. 23, 2017, on WKZO about “The Future of Healthcare Reform.” Interviewed, Oct. 25, 2017, on WKZO-AM about “Presidential Pardon Power.” Interviewed, Oct. 27, 2017, on WZZM-TV, about “Presidential Appointment and Termination Power.” Interviewed, Nov. 2, 2017, on WZZM-TV, about “The Ongoing Fight Over the Second Amendment.” Interviewed, Feb. 1, 2018, on the Mike Siegel Show (national syndication), about “Student Speech and the Second Amendment.”


Class Notes

Spoke, on Oct. 6, 2017, on “Using Historical and Community Leaders as a focus for Developing Courageous and Ethical Leaders,” at the 19th International Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum (copresenter with Professor Victoria Vuletich). Organized, with the WMU-Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine, the Oct. 25, 2017 symposium, “The Future of Healthcare in America,” with keynote speaker, former Congressman Bart Stupak.  Authored, on March 6, 2018, a WMU-Cooley blog post, “When Rights Become Wrongs:  Hate Speech on College Campuses. Spoke, March 28, 2018, on “The Second Constitutional Revolution,” at the Western District of Michigan Judicial Symposium

Otto Stockmeyer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Presented, “The Law of Confusion: An Examination of Misunderstanding, Mistake, and Confusion in Contract Law,” at the annual conference of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters March 9, 2018. Available at ssrn.com/ abstract=3132068 Published, “The Tortuous History of the Mutual-Mistake Defense,” in The Mentor, Winter 2018 issue. Available at https:// issuu.com/stockmen/docs/the_ mentorpdf. Published, “Tips for Making a Presentation,” in Lawnotes, Winter 2018 issue. Published, “Reflections on Teaching the First Day of Contracts Class,” in Michigan Academician, vol. XLIV (2017). Available at ssrn.com/ abstract=2927249

Amy Timmer, Associate Dean and Professor Presented, to the Senior and Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina State Bar Association on episodic mentoring in March 2018. Continued, in her position as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Legal Mentoring Consortium and as chair of its Best Practices Committee. Continued, as a member of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism.


Felch Class Bello, Mark, CEO/General Counsel for Lawsuit Financial, Inc., is celebrating his 40th anniversary as an attorney, and has published a second legal thriller novel, Betrayal of Justice, a follow-up to his 2016 book, Betrayal of Faith. He was featured at an author event at Schuler’s Books in Okemos. 1980

Potter Class Gair, Anthony, of Gair Gair Conason Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Stigman & MacKauf in New York City, New York, was named by Best Lawyers as Lawyer of the Year 2018, Product Liability Litigation-Plaintiffs. This is the second time he received this honor, the first being in 2011. 1984

Manning Class Hogan, Carol M., was elected to a three-year term on the Council of the State Bar of Michigan’s Law Practice Management and Legal Administrators Section. She primarily practices probate and estate planning, real property law, and family law in Warren, Michigan. Phone: (586) 758-5434; email carolmhogan@aol.com. 1986

Miles Class Ludovici, Joseph L., opened his own law practice in his hometown of Chester, West Virginia. He was previously a partner in a firm in Ohio. He concentrates his practice on personal injury and criminal defense, and actively practices in Ohio and West Virginia. Phone: (304) 387-1400; email: jll@ludovicilaw.com.


Morse Class Jaworski, Carol, of Davison, Michigan, was named the October 2017 Pro Bono Attorney of the Month by Legal Services of Eastern Michigan and the Pro Bono committee of the Genesee County Bar Association. 1988

Green Class Dwyer, Anabel, is a board member of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy, the U.S. branch of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. The two organizations are two of the 468 partner organizations that make up the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, this year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the city attorney for Mackinaw City, Michigan. 1988

Martin Class May, Berton, was elected as a shareholder at Garan Lucow Miller, P.C., in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He specializes in defense litigation in Michigan and Ohio, including 1st & 3rd party auto, premises, mortgage litigation, malpractice defense, environmental law and insurance defense. 1989

represents clients on immigration legal issues as applied to their workforces and staff. He works with a wide range of companies, including Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofit organizations, and start-ups, in a variety of industries. Previously, he was a senior attorney in the immigration law practice of Miller Canfield. He was also previously managing member of Robert S. Anderson & Associates, a law firm focused on immigration. 1995

Bird Class Corl, Christina L., was honored by the Ohio Diversity Council as being among the Most Powerful & Influential Women in Ohio. She is a managing partner with Plunkett Cooney in the firm’s Columbus, Ohio office. She focuses her litigation practice primarily on employer liability issues. She was also named by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine to its 2018 list of Super Lawyers. In March, she was a featured speaker at a Washington, D.C., symposium on the issue of on-campus student sexual assaults. She spoke on the issue of Title IX claims as seen from the point of view of academic institution defendants.

Douglass Class


Millenbach, Paul J., is co-leader of the litigation practice group at Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC. He focuses his practice on Michigan no-fault litigation, including medical provider reimbursement as well as first- and third-party defense, transportation and logistics law and mass tort defense.

Voelker Class


Ostrander Class Anderson, Robert, was named a partner at the Kerr Russell law firm in Detroit, Michigan. He counsels and

Spinello, Richard B., was named executive director of the State Bar of New Mexico and the New Mexico State Bar Foundation, its charitable arm. He has served as interim director since May, succeeding Joe Conte, who retired earlier this year.



Nelson Sharpe Class

Rutledge Class

Clark, Michael T., was elected to a 10-year term as judge of the Indiana County Court of Common Pleas. He previously served as solicitor for the county board of commissioners.

Stern, Bradley S., was appointed as Washington County Attorney for Washington County, Wisconsin. He previously served as Assistant Washington County Attorney since 2004. He serves as general counsel to the county’s various departments and the county board.


Fead Class Cronk, Peter D., a partner with Plunkett Cooney, was elected to the firm’s board of directors. He is the managing partner of the firm’s East Lansing, Michigan, office and serves as co-leader of its Banking, Transactions & Estate Planning Group. Cronk has particular expertise in commercial loan workouts, corporate work for global companies and small businesses, real estate acquisition and development, and commercial litigation in both state and federal courts. A member of Plunkett Cooney’s Budget & Finance and Hiring committees, Cronk has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer-review rating, “AV-Preeminent.” 1999

Weadock Class Donovan, Michelle R.E., a partner with Plunkett Cooney, was appointed to the position of Macomb County Public Administrator. She will serve in a number of court-appointed positions, including personal representative of decedents’ estates, guardian and conservator of mentally incapacitated individuals and other special fiduciary positions as determined necessary by the Macomb County Probate Court. Koch, Myrene K., was appointed Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Allegan County (Michigan) Prosecutor’s Office, serving as the major case crimes lead trial attorney specializing in child sexual assault, child sexually abusive material, and child abuse cases.


Paterson Class Hillock, Kimberlee, chair of the Appellate Work Practice Area at Willingham & Coté, P.C., in East Lansing, Michigan, was appointed Judge Advocate of the American Legion/ Michigan Division. The primary duty of the Judge Advocate is to advise the post, post officers and executive board on all legal matters. She also serves as chair of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel’s Amicus Committee and is a member of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society Advocates Guild. Ms. Hillock is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and she served during Operation Desert Storm. 2005

Starr Class Johnson, Brian F., was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Peoria Sanitary District by its board of trustees. He has been in private practice for 11 years, and most recently served as director of Strategic Affiliations of OSF HealthCare. (continued)


Class Notes 2006


Reid Class

Edward Sharpe Class

Huss, Jamie, was promoted to shareholder with Simmons Hanley Conroy, a mass tort law firm in Alton, Illinois. He dedicates his practice to fighting for victims of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, for whom he has helped recover millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. He previously served as the assistant attorney general representing the state of Missouri in financial litigation and enforcement matters in St. Louis County.

Smith, Lori K., joined Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein, PLLC, in the Birmingham, Michigan firm’s family practice group. She has received the Super Lawyers Rising Star Award for the past five years and was named to the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys Top 10 Under 40 list in Michigan for the past four years.


Fitzgerald Class Schnepper, Michael, of Dix Hills, New York, was elected a partner with Rivkin Radler Attorneys at Law in Uniondale, New York. He is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Insurance Fraud practice groups where he focuses on insurance fraud investigation and litigation involving healthcare claims. He also represents insurers in litigation to recover no-fault benefits. 2007

Boston Class Kravitz, Nicholas F., was named a partner in the Scranton, Pennsylvania firm of Myers Brier & Kelly. He represents clients in civil and criminal litigation in federal and state trial courts, and in appeals before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Commonwealth and Superior Courts of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Most of his practice focuses on complex medical malpractice matters and litigation related to the exploration, production, gathering and transportation of Marcellus Shale natural gas. He has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Rising Star for seven consecutive years.


Schulte, Jon M., was named a partner with the law firm of Smith Carpenter Fondrisi Cummins & Schulte, LLC, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He operates a general practice. Additionally, on July 10, 2017, he married Rebecca Johnson. The couple lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Association Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under. Her primary focus in the prosecutor’s office is drug-related cases.

Kavanagh Class



Fiorilli, Mark A., was elected a shareholder of Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, P.C., a national law firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He serves as co-chair of the Criminal Defense Group and chair of the Military and Veterans Group. He concentrates his practice in criminal and civil defense, representing clients in both state and federal court.

Woodward Class



Riley Class Griffin, Patrick S., an associate at Cantor Colburn LLP, has joined the board of directors of Lilypad, a nonprofit organization in south Philadelphia that provides a play space and other programming for families. Patrick is a past president of the WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association. He has practiced in all aspects of intellectual property and now focuses primarily on patent application writing and prosecution for electrical and computer patents in computer architecture, electronic commerce, database and distributed computing, telecommunications, digital displays and optics, complex financial models, and related software.

Corbello, Sara D., joined the Insurance Law Practice Group of Plunkett Cooney in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills, Michigan office. Corbello represents several major property and casualty insurance companies in coverage cases throughout the Midwest. She handles a variety of issues, including claims of environmental contamination, construction defect and high-exposure product liability. Corbello previously worked as an in-house insurance defense attorney for a global property and casualty insurer. She is also a former senior judicial clerk to the Hon. Michael D. Warren of the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court. 2010

Witherell Class Fitzgerald, Lori B., was promoted to partner with Secrest Wardle. She works in the firm’s Grand Rapids office and concentrates her practice on family law and motor vehicle litigation. 2011

Chipman Class Saunders, Meg, First Assistant Prosecutor for the Athens (Ohio) County Prosecutor’s Office, was honored with the Ohio State Bar


Hilligan Class Nemerof, Michael B., was named Staff Counsel for Heritage Insurance in Sunrise, Florida. Phone: (678) 942-1831; e-mail: mnemerof@ heritagepci.com.

Valencia, Justin, C., is now Compliance Division Manager at the Nebraska Department Revenue and continues as Special Assistant Attorney General for the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. In his new role, he is responsible for in-state and out-of-state tax discovery, fraud prevention, tax collections, compliance and enforcement on behalf of the state of Nebraska. Before his promotion, he was legal counsel for the Department of Revenue and state of Nebraska, and responsible for matters that pertained to tax fraud and evasion, bankruptcy and insolvency, probate, trusts and estates, tax collections, legislative affairs, and litigation matters in administrative hearings as well as in county, state, and federal courts. Previously, he was counsel for the Nebraska Department of Labor and in private practice. Further, he is an adjunct professor with Bellevue University teaching legal, ethics and compliance to graduate students in the Master’s of Healthcare Administration program. He was recently published in the American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, an international journal on bankruptcy, insolvency, and restructuring.  See Justin C. Valencia, In re Colsen and the Circuit Court Split Defining a Tax Return, XXXVII ABI Journal 1, 34, 76-77, January 2018. 


Washington Class Mennie, John A., was honored with a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award by Jury Verdict Reporter, a division of Law Bulletin Publishing Company. He was recognized for his work on Ruiz v. Phoenix Care Systems, et. al, in which he and his team secured a $1.6 million wrongful death verdict. He is an attorney with Salvi, Schostok & Ptritchard P.C., in Chicago, Illinois. Mennie was also named as an Illinois Super Lawyer for 2018 by Illinois Super Lawyers. 2013

Marshall Class McGee, Alexander S., was named a shareholder with Howard & Howard in the firm’s Royal Oak, Michigan, office. He concentrates his practice in the area of intellectual property law, with a focus on patent preparation, prosecution, and clearance work, primarily in the mechanical arts. Michniacki, Joseph P., was named a shareholder with Howard & Howard in the firm’s Royal Oak, Michigan Office. He concentrates his practice in the areas of mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures (domestic and international); entity formation; corporate and partnership law; real estate law; business and commercial law; contracts; finance; securities; and tax law. 2016

In Memoriam 1977


Graves Class

McGrath Class

Williams, Clifford Robert, 72, of Michawaka, Indiana, died Dec. 16, 2017 after a battle with cancer. He served as a public defender and also as Chief Public Defender for 37 years for Elkhart County. He served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army 1968-70 and as a Green Beret with the 199th Infantry Brigade. He achieved the rank of First Lieutenant with many commendations, including the Vietnam Service and Campaign Medals, Parachute Badge, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal, two Overseas Bars, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Simon, Robert M., 49, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, passed away Oct. 4, 2016. He was a solo practitioner at The Law Office of Robert M. Simon.


Potter Class Partlow, Frederick Paul, 74, died April 13, 2018. He was a teacher at Lansing Catholic High School and at Okemos High School for over 40 years. 1982

Brooke Class Given, Diane, 62, of Dallas, Texas, died Jan. 23, 2017. Diane and her business partner, William Bret, owned and operated Given and Bret Attorneys at Law. 1988

Pratt Class Trautner, Thomas G., 56, of Cadillac, Michigan, died Aug. 19, 2017. He served the Cadillac area for 30 years as a public defender, in the prosecutor’s office, and in private practice.

Jay Class Hebner, Michele J., 50, of Escanaba, Michigan, died Jan. 5, 2018. She practiced law for eight years for Legal Services of Northern Michigan, advocating for victims of domestic violence and for seniors 60 years and older. She opened her private practice in Escanaba in 2010, representing clients in general civil matters including divorce and bankruptcy. 2000

Rutledge Class Hellman, Donna Christine, 56, of Albion, Michigan, died July 4, 2017, at her home. Her career path included university and state court libraries, clerking for a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, and even collecting water samples in Chesapeake Bay. She was a violinist and a writer of poetry, volunteered with her children at a local horse rescue, and was an avid kayaker and bird watcher. 2008

Adams Class Spalding, Stewart Ryan, 37, of Louisville, Kentucky, died Oct. 4, 2017. He was a third-generation attorney who joined his father in his legal practice.



Copeland Class

Trimble Class

Borchard, Bryan John, 54, of Glen Arbor, Michigan, died Oct. 1, 2017.

Mewborn, Michael Ward, 36, died Oct. 25, 2017 at his home. He was an attorney for the Department of Social Service for Onslow County in North Carolina.

Hughes Class Wildey, Kirstyn, joined the Real Estate and Commercial Finance practice groups at McDonald Hopkins in the firm’s Cleveland, Ohio office. Phone: (216) 348-5420; e-mail: kwildey@mcdonaldhopkins.com


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Benchmark | Summer 2018  

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Judge Janice Cunningham - Giving a voice to victims and handing down justice.

Benchmark | Summer 2018  

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, Judge Janice Cunningham - Giving a voice to victims and handing down justice.