Benchmark | Summer 2017

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Senior Vice President, Player Relations at PGA Tour

Passion, Core Values and Principles


Letter from

WMU-Cooley Benchmark EDITOR Terry Carella CO-EDITOR Sharon Matchette CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Professor Emeritus Ernest Phillips SeyferthPR DESIGN Image Creative Group PHOTOGRAPHY PGA Tour Arthrex SUBMISSIONS Benchmark seeks story ideas from graduates on a variety of subjects such as graduate achievements, international experiences, cultural diversity, legal information helpful to practitioners, unique law practices, advice to prospective law students, and special events. If you would like to share a story idea, please write, call, or e-mail: Communications Office WMU-Cooley Law School 300 S. Capitol Ave. Lansing, MI 48933 (517) 371-5140 ext. 2916 Fax: (517) 334-5780 Benchmark is published twice a year by the administrative offices of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, 300 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing, MI 48933 ALUMNI DIRECTORY The alumni directory is located in the 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 with questions.

In a Good Place Before joining the Law School’s administration 15 years ago, I talked with many faculty and staff members. I was impressed by the quality of the people here, the length of their tenure, and their demonstrated commitment to the success of the students. I quickly concluded that the Law School is a good place at which to study, learn, and work. The ensuing years have reaffirmed my conclusion. Our Law School—now in its 45th year and the 7th largest in the nation—is strong. We just awarded our 20,000th J.D. diploma. Our alumni are located in every state in the nation and around the globe. We successfully navigated the choppy waters of a 2014 financial restructuring without lowering admissions standards. Applications and seat deposits have now increased. Bar exam pass rates for 2016 increased. Job placement figures have increased. Philanthropic giving to the Law School has increased. Our affiliation with Western Michigan University is providing great new opportunities for students, faculty, and alumni. Guided by a new strategic plan, with the input of more than 700 alumni, we are innovating, adapting to the changing legal and educational environments, and providing the very best in legal education and service to our students and our communities, all in the spirit of our founding principles. The Law School is in a very good place indeed. Sincerely, STRATEGIC PLAN: James D. Robb Associate Dean of External Affairs and Senior Counsel

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

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

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

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

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

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

James C. Morton Morton Barristers, LLP Toronto, 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 2017

2 10 14 20

ROSS BERLIN: SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, PLAYER RELATIONS FOR PGA TOUR Gifted athlete-turned-lawyer shares incredible story of accomplishment in the world of professional golf.

DEWNYA BAKRI-BAZZI A commitment to service, education, and faith leads Dewnya Bakri-Bazzi to success in the legal profession and the community.

JOHN W. SCHMIEDING: ARTHREX On a medical mission—Helping surgeons treat their patients better is the mission that drives Senior Vice President John Schmieding.

RAFAEL DIAZ: KALAMAZOO PUBLIC SAFETY Police lieutenant combines his passion for law enforcement and the criminal justice system to serve the public.



Passion, Core Values and Principles Set the Standard ROSS BERLIN SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT – PLAYER RELATIONS AT PGA TOUR Ross Berlin, (Kavanagh Class, 1981), middle of his three brothers and a sister, admits to identifying with the middle-child personality: a compromiser, bringing people together to reach mutually acceptable results. Middle children are also willing to take risks and to make friends easily and keep them for life. His rich and varied career makes it clear that these positive traits have served him well.


It all began in high school in Birmingham, Michigan, where Ross joined with other classmates, including Brian McKeen (Wing Class, 1982), another distinguished WMUCooley graduate and the successful founder of the Detroit personal-injury firm McKeen and Associates. “A group of us just hung out together,” McKeen recalled. “We were serious students but found time for sports and even started a band named the Wammer Jammers. Ross played the organ, and I was the lead singer. We had a great time entertaining people, and when we graduated from Bloomfield Hills Andover High School, Ross was voted most likely to succeed.” Ross was a gifted athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball. He had an opportunity to play Ivy League football but elected instead to play baseball at Wake Forest University, a southern school with an excellent academic reputation. Following graduation, he enrolled at WMUCooley Law School and met Paul Hamre (Dethmers Class, 1981), through racquetball and fitness. Paul, a retired Michigan Circuit Court Judge, has many fond memories of Ross. “We spent a lot of time playing sports and studying together. I’ll never forget his gallows humor as we walked into Professor Roger Needham’s Civil Procedure exam. Needham was widely known to students as the Grim Reaper and Paper Chase’s Professor (continued)


Kingsfield on steroids. Recalling Dustin Hoffman’s quote from the movie Little Big Man, Ross said, “This is a good day to die, my son.” We did survive, and Ross was able to realize his dream of becoming a successful sports attorney.” All was not fear and trembling though. Once it was discovered that Ross played varsity baseball at Wake Forest, a faculty member invited Ross to join Ipse Dixit, a citysoftball-league team of lawyers. He was a terrific addition to an otherwise athletically challenged group. After WMU-Cooley, Ross began a remarkable career encompassing wide-ranging experiences, beginning as an associate at a Los Angeles sports and entertainment law firm, advancing to general counsel of a public works/ environmental systems enterprise; then to Senior Vice President of Venues, 1994 World Cup USA; followed by


“If I were a young man, I would get a law degree. I would practice law for about six or seven years to learn how EP: Can you share your thoughts on why you chose to attend Wake to zealously Forest University and your experirepresent a ences there? client. Then, RB: I received a scholarship to play baseball, but decided if I still wanted fairly early to spend more time to become a thinking about my future. I asked legendary golf coach sports agent Jesse Haddock for some career or manager, I advice on how to become a sports agent. He directed me would hang out to a gentleman named Vinny Giles, a Richmond, Virginia, my shingle and lawyer who owned a sports get to it.” agency representing professional work as a consultant for the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama, Spain. He then became PGA TOUR Vice President for Sales and Marketing for the World Golf Championships and then a William Morris sports agent for LPGA phenom Michelle Wie. Ultimately he returned to the PGA TOUR as Senior Vice President, Player Relations.

golfers such as Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Jay Haas, and several others. He said:

I found that advice to be profound, simple, and direct and that became my focus and the reason I decided to go to law school. EP: Why did you choose WMU-Cooley Law School? RB: Cooley was close to home in Michigan, the emphasis was on practical legal knowledge, the practice of law and it provided scheduling flexibility. EP: How would you describe your law-school experience? RB: Difficult and challenging, which I welcomed. I found the Socratic teaching method a bit intimidating and my classmates all seemed smarter than me, but I soon gained confidence and was even able to work outside the classroom because of flexible scheduling. Many professors were really tough, particularly, Roger Needham, Ron Trosty, Larry Morgan, Jack Rooney, Otto Stockmeyer, and Bill Weiner. But like most


EP: In 1989, you joined 1994 World Cup USA, ultimately becoming Senior Vice-President of Venues.

graduates looking back, I appreciated that they were just preparing us to become better lawyers. I also appreciated Professor Pete Jason, whose excellent Sports Law class removed any doubts that I had about wanting to become a sports lawyer.

RB: Yes, but there is an interesting back story. Years earlier, I volunteered for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Since I was the only volunteer in the group who had played college baseball, I was asked by Scott LeTellier to draft the rules and regulations for the demonstration sport of baseball to be included in the 1984 Olympics. They were so busy, they took what I wrote and approved it without change. I took a measure of pride in that assignment and result.

EP: Your first job was an associate at Iverson, Yoakum, Papiano and Hatch in Los Angeles. Can you elaborate? RB: It was 1981, and I was offered $18,000 ($22,000 after passing the Bar). Iverson was a boutique sports-entertainment and civil-law practice. I was assigned to a senior partner, Donald M. Robbins, the foremost thoroughbred-racing attorney in the country. When he became President of Hollywood Park, he said to me, “I’ve trained you. You are my counselor.” I was honored and felt confident because I had learned from the very best.

“Working with golf-related matters made me realize how much I enjoyed promoting the game of golf and wanted to make it my exclusive focus.”

EP: An Iverson client, the Ogden Group, embarked upon some major public works and environmental systems and invited you to join them as a Vice President. RB: Yes, they had several projects underway, including a new stadium for the San Francisco Giants, the Anaheim arena, a racetrack grandstand, and waste-to-energy facilities. It was challenging work, but I learned a lot.


Years later, in 1988, the United States was awarded the World Cup, and Scott was named president of the Organizing Committee. I was the first person Scott hired. I was the Vice President of Venues, and I developed and managed the 1994 World Cup venue-selection process. In 1992, ISL Marketing AG offered me a job in Switzerland. ISL was the revenue-rights holder for the governing body of soccer, FIFA. They offered and I accepted the position of Vice President of Futbol, which provided a wonderful opportunity for my wife, Nancy, and me to work and travel in Europe. We had been unsuccessful in having children, and were without the constraints of parenthood. Soon after arriving in Europe, we were blessed with our two sons,




Evan and Chase, born within two years of one another in Switzerland. It was difficult for Nancy because I traveled so much, but she was incredibly supportive throughout. EP: Somehow you became involved in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama Golf Club at Sotogrande, Spain. How did that happen? RB: Again, it was because of prior work with Scott LeTellier. He formed an organization called Eagle International Group, which reached out to the owner of Valderrama Golf Club. Valderrama was selected as the first venue outside Great Britain to host the Ryder Cup. I joined them and was responsible for managing and organizing sales, hospitality, and other revenue-producing projects related to the 1997 Ryder Cup. Working with golf-related matters made me realize how much I enjoyed promoting the game of golf and wanted to make it my exclusive focus. EP: How did you ultimately end up involved with the World Golf Championships? RB: My work at the Ryder Cup led to a meeting with the PGA TOUR Commissioner, Tim Finchem. He said the 6

TOUR was establishing a series of international golf events named the World Golf Championships and thought I might be interested in becoming involved. I was very interested, but this opportunity did not begin until 1999. During the interim I joined Outback Sports, Inc., developing and managing large-scale multisport complexes, especially soccer, and pursuing other growth opportunities for Outback. One of our proudest developments is the Mike Rose Shelby County Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tennessee. This project includes 17 FIFA regulation sports fields, impeccably maintained, which have hosted many premier soccer tournaments. EP: Your next stop was PGA TOUR Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the World Golf Championships and President’s Cup. Can you describe your duties? RB: That’s right. I formulated marketing strategies and sales plans, managed event sponsorships, and supervised all commercial aspects of the golf tournaments with local marketing and sales staffs. Soon after, in 2002, I was promoted to Vice President of

Championship Management. I was responsible for seven of the 13 yearly tournaments, including the TOUR Championship, the Legends of Golf, and the Senior Players Championship. I was very busy but enjoyed it immensely. In 2003, Commissioner Finchem asked me to direct a new unit called the Title

Sponsor Account Group. It was designed to renew and grow relationships between sponsors and the TOUR, and was expanded to include all the TOUR’s corporatemarketing partners. EP: Your work caught the attention of the William Morris Agency, and they asked you to become their first agent to represent a professional

“I would say a law degree is indispensable, especially when beginning your career. Now, in the second half of my career, I would call it invaluable. I personally believe a law degree provides background and depth in many useful disciplines.” ROSS BERLIN

golfer, Michelle Wie. She was a teenage phenom and soon to be a rising star on the LPGA.

EP: Do TOUR members have a union with collective bargaining?

RB: I was not only flattered but also curious and eager to accept an opportunity to further the career of a promising professional golfer. It was an exciting time in my life. Michelle was a terrific talent (and person) and we accomplished a lot in the year and a half that we worked together. I remain a big fan of Michelle’s.

RB: No. Our Player Relations Department is the closest thing to a union. The PGA TOUR is a 501(C)(6) notfor-profit trade association. TOUR members are independent contractors, and our job is to ensure that their interests and those of the TOUR are both considered as we move forward. Other professional sports, like the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, have leagues, owners, general managers, coaches, and players. The organizational dynamics are very complex, which makes collective bargaining appropriate and useful in that setting. Individual TOUR members competing against each other every week is quite different.

EP: Why are you no longer her agent? RB: Commissioner Finchem asked if I was interested in joining an expanding department called Player Relations. It would eventually have nine people and be the communication interface between the players and the TOUR. It involved handling player and agent communication, orientation, and continuing education and business issues in representing the TOUR. Basically, our job was to ensure that all aspects of player relationships with the TOUR operated smoothly and efficiently and projected a healthy and wholesome image to the public.

EP: Do you think there will ever be such a thing as team golf competition among cities? I know WMU-Cooley’s founder and former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Thomas E. Brennan, envisioned an enterprise he named the American Golf League, with teams, leagues and playoffs – just like the NFL and other professional sports.

RB: Judge Brennan has always been ahead of his time. He recognizes that whatever the nature of the enterprise, you constantly have to change or you fall behind. For instance, the views of the millennials and the “X” generation now have our full attention. We covet their interest in our sport. Sometimes you have to reinvent yourself. Consider the FedExCup competition. Commissioner Finchem realized that this seasonlong competition would be endorsed by the players, was interesting to follow, would benefit the PGA TOUR, and would promote the game of golf. I have not forgotten Judge Brennan’s idea, and there may come a time in the not-toodistant future that something like the American Golf League may become feasible. EP: The overarching theme of your career seems to be readily accepting challenges in areas where no roadmap or precedent exists. What skillset enabled you to succeed where none have traveled before? RB: I’m really not sure, though I do think luck and timing are always involved. I just tried to do the best job I could, and, as it turned out, other opportunities

presented themselves. Looking back, those instances where something special was created out of nothing were some of my most memorable accomplishments. The 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee is a good example. The USA had never hosted the event before, and President Scott LeTellier and I spent many anxious nights envisioning and creating the plan to select World Cup venues, as well as creating a revenue stream for our fledgling organization. With ISL Marketing, as an American sales, marketing and event-management representative of FIFA, I was challenged everywhere I went — Europe, South America, Africa and Asia — because soccer was not a popular sport in America, and I had to prove myself time and time again to gain respect in order for this “outsider” to speak the language (of soccer) and conduct business. Many naysayers predicted the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama would be a disaster because of poor access, transportation, and remote accommodations, but the event was ultimately very successful. (continued)


I think a positive attitude really makes a huge difference, along with working with good people. EP: Commissioner Finchem retired, and Jay Monahan was appointed to succeed him beginning January, 2017. How would you describe the transition? RB: Virtually seamless! Tim was immensely successful in the Tiger Woods era. One of his many major accomplishments was to ensure that TOUR members were paid commensurate with other professional athletes. He is responsible for taking the TOUR purses from $70 million to almost $300 million and making the game of golf more popular than ever. Tim has worked closely with Jay the past several years and is extremely confident that he is perfectly situated to continue the progress made over the last 20 years. Jay’s stated goal of the TOUR is to always “Make Mr. Palmer Proud,” and I’m sure he will succeed. EP: I’ve taken the liberty of reaching out to former Commissioner Finchem and his successor, Commissioner Jay Monahan, for a few comments about your performance working with the PGA TOUR. Tim said you were “uniquely qualified” and “absolutely essential” in making all aspects of the TOUR work smoothly and efficiently and stated that your “passion, core values and principles set



the standard for all the players and enables you to be very effective in dealing with players.” Jay Monahan, with whom you’ve worked for some time, indicated that your greatest strength is the ability to relate to a wide range of players, as well as organizations, sponsors, and related associations. TOUR rookies like Jon Rahm and 25-year veterans like Phil Mickelson often have different interests. Jay related further that the annual member survey consistently rates your Player Relations Department the highest of the service groups at the PGA TOUR. That is certainly high praise! RB: I thank Tim and Jay for those kind words, but both have established and continue to provide a working environment and culture that lends itself to the successful achievement of our goals. The collective attitude is the glass is half full, which has become infectious. Everyone at PGA TOUR headquarters is outstanding, and a real joy to work with. EP: Do you have any advice for those wishing to pursue careers in the sports world? RB: I would say a law degree is indispensable, especially when beginning your career. Now, in the second half of my career, I would call it invaluable. I personally believe a law degree provides background and depth in many useful disciplines. I remember what Vinny Giles told me years ago: “It’s

one thing to have a law degree, but quite another to actually use it.” I think the actual practice of law is extremely useful. Learn how to zealously represent your client and develop associated disciplines. It’s tough! 60hour work weeks, 7a.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays, like clockwork. You have to have a passion for it. It makes all the difference in the world. EP: Your responsibilities have just been expanded to include overseeing player relations on the PGA. Champions TOUR (50 years and older) as well as the Web.Com ​TOUR (qualifying tour). You also serve as Chairman of USA Golf, the national governing body of men’s and women’s golf in the United States. Commissioner Monahan has just appointed you to the PGA TOUR’s Executive Committee, a group of senior leaders responsible for the TOUR’s strategic planning and execution. How do you spend what precious little leisure time you have? RB: Believe it or not, Nancy and I often watch the Golf Channel and weekend broadcasts of TOUR tournaments when I’m home. I like to read, mostly historical and autobiographical, and occasional fiction. I also like to fish. It allows me to do some serious thinking, as well as contemplating the eternal verities and conundrums of life.

EP: Your sons Evan and Chase are excellent golfers. One or the other has won the Plantation Club championship for the past seven years. Both have won club championships at TPC Sawgrass. Can you beat them? RB: Heavens no! They were drawn to the game very early, and I simply can’t compete with them. When they play against each other, Mom and Dad just like to see good shots. The best result for us is a tie. EP: You’ve been exposed to so many facets of the sports world, both domestically and internationally: sales, marketing, management, player relations and no doubt many other additional aspects. You are positioned to do pretty much anything you want after you retire from the PGA TOUR. You had mentioned teaching when we talked earlier. RB: Right. I’ve always been attracted to teaching, and I have had terrific mentors – such as you. I think I have a lot to offer in these emerging sports programs in schools these days. Sports are a big business, and I’ve always been intrigued by how big a part of people’s lives it has become, both as participants and spectators. EP: Well, I attended your superb lecture at the 2007 Second Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture on Sports and Entertainment Law at WMU-Cooley and have talked with rookies who have been in your orientation class, and they can’t say enough good things about you. You would be an outstanding teacher.

RB: That’s encouraging and very nice to hear. EP: You’ve had a remarkable career, but I’m curious whether you would change anything at all. RB: No, I wouldn’t. It’s been a tremendous learning experience, and I’m very fortunate to have encountered people who gave me opportunities to succeed. And I’m especially thankful for my loving and patient wife, Nancy, and my two sons, Evan and Chase. No, I really wouldn’t change a single thing. EP: Speaking of your wife Nancy, I want to apologize again to her for the anxious moments that Larry Morgan and I caused her by keeping you out well beyond your curfew, celebrating your first softball game with Ipse Dixit. RB: That was over 35 years ago, and you sent her a letter apologizing then. I’m thinking she’s nearly over it by now (laughing). EP: Thanks, Ross. Your Bloomfield Hills Andover High School classmates who voted you most likely to succeed were wise beyond their years. You are one of WMU-Cooley’s very best, and we wish you continued success. RB: Thank you. It’s been my pleasure.



Dewnya Bakri-Bazzi As a founding member of Dearborn, Michigan’s At Law Group, Dewnya Bakri-Bazzi’s (Chipman Class, 2011) journey into law began as a child and included influences from her family and faith. Raised in Dearborn by parents who both came to the U.S. from Lebanon during their childhood, Bakri-Bazzi was, by age six, laser-focused on becoming an attorney. “My parents have always called me the lawyer in the family,” said Bakri-Bazzi. “I used to defend my older sister and my parents would say ‘she is the older sister, sit back and let her do the talking,’ but I never did.” Her parents instilled the value of education and hard work into her and her siblings. Her father and mother did not finish college but instead chose to marry at the ages of 20 and 18, respectively, and move to Dearborn. Her father worked in restaurants and gas stations and through his hard work and dedication was eventually able to take over ownership of several gas stations in the Dearborn community. Her parents even began distributing coffee to restaurants and gas stations in southeast Michigan under the Caffina Coffee brand, a successful business today with more then 400 accounts. “My parents were so gung-ho,” said Bakri-Bazzi. “If I could tell you the one thing that was etched into our brains it was ‘go get an education, go to school, don’t waver, make up your mind on what you want to do and go for it.’ I think it is because my parents weren’t able to finish college, and they knew the struggles they went through to build a successful business in order to provide for us.”


While in high school, Bakri-Bazzi was determined to make it to law school. Inspired by observing her parents’ hard work and listening to them about the importance of education, she was able to earn a full-ride scholarship for academics and community service to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In addition to studying for a double major in criminal justice and political science, Bakri-Bazzi was a member of the university’s women’s basketball team. After earning her undergraduate degrees in just 2 1/2 years, Bakri-Bazzi chose to attend WMU-Cooley after attending an open house with a friend.

Dewnya Bakri-Bazzi, founding partner of the At Law Group pictured with the firm’s partners.

at the law school’s Auburn Hills campus. And because she enjoyed sports, she participated in many intramural activities and eventually led the campus’ intramural sports organization

“I fell in love with the family atmosphere. I went to other law schools’ open houses and didn’t feel as welcome. I felt like at WMU-Cooley I would be able to make an impact.” Being an athlete and avid sports fan, Bakri-Bazzi planned on a career as a sports agent. She even helped start the Sports and Entertainment Law Society

by coordinating various activities with Oakland University. (continued)

FIRM: Founding Partner of the At Law Group PRACTICE AREA: Personal Injury HUSBAND: Fouad CHILDREN: Two sons, Imad, 2; and Ahmad, 1 HOBBIES: Huge football Bakri-Bazzi with her parents and siblings. (Left-right) Hyatt, Ahmad (father), Bakri-Bazzi, Fatmeh (mother), Ali, and Amal.

fan and enjoys visiting college football stadiums

Bakri-Bazzi with husband Fouad and sons Imad and Ahmad.



“Attorneys can impact the world. They are going to go home and have an impact on their communities. I realized I needed to do something.” DEWNYA BAKRI-BAZZI

MUSLIM HERITAGE IS IMPORTANT TO BAKRI-BAZZI Before starting law school Bakri-Bazzi felt her faith calling her and decided to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. “I had not planned on the trip. We celebrated Ramadan before I went. I felt capable; I was healthy and young and had saved money to go,” said Bakri-Bazzi. “Most people wait until they’re older, but I couldn’t find a reason not to go. You never know what is in store for you; you never know if you are going to live another day, so I decided it was time.” Following the experiences of her pilgrimage, and once she started in on the realities of law school, Bakri-Bazzi never wavered from her faith. She actually put her faith into action to make a difference. Early on during her time in law school, she started to notice organizations for various religious and ethnic groups on campus. “It seemed at that time there was a lot of discussion in the national news about the Muslim faith,” remembered Bakri-Bazzi. “Many of the students on campus were not from the Detroit area, or even from Michigan and many had never met a Muslim person before. I was the first Muslim many had met.


I would sit down with fellow students and let them ask questions. From their questions you could tell there was no ill will, but rather the only exposure they had to the Muslim faith was through the news.” As she continued various discussions on campus, Bakri-Bazzi realized that, as a law school student, she was with some of the most influential people in society. “Attorneys can impact the world,” she said. “They are going to go home and have an impact on their communities. I realized I needed to do something.” With help from the campus deans, she helped form the WMU-Cooley Muslim Legal Society. The organization’s first board was made up of individuals from all faiths. It was developed to Bakri-Bazzi speaks during a Michigan Muslim Bar Association event.

educate students and faculty about the Muslim faith. Through the efforts of the organization, the campus began holding an annual interfaith dinner and various panel discussions. The impact of the WMU-Cooley Muslim Legal Society was noticed by the greater Muslim population in southeast Michigan. Shortly after graduating, and passing the bar exam, Bakri-Bazzi was approached by members of the Michigan Muslim Bar Association and asked to become that organization’s next president, a post she accepted.

CAREER PATH TAKES A SHARP – AND PERSONAL – TURN Bakri-Bazzi had full intentions of pursuing a career in sports and entertainment law or even corporate law, but shortly after passing the bar exam, her brother was in a severe car accident and she saw the effect of the accident on her brother and family. “I discovered the whole sense of personal injury law as helping and a way to give back to individuals suffering through pain and emotional distress,” said Bakri-Bazzi. “I joined a personal injury firm and fell in love with the work I was doing. I really enjoyed going to court and helping people.” Helping others extends beyond the courtroom for Bakri-Bazzi. As a Muslim

“Many of the students on campus were not from the Detroit area, or even from Michigan. For many, I was the first Muslim they had met.” DEWNYA BAKRI-BAZZI

American and community leader, Bakri-Bazzi often finds herself assisting in a number of ways. Whether it’s serving as a role model for young women or as an agent of change with colleagues in the legal profession, Bakri-Bazzi often finds herself as an unofficial ambassador of strength and enlightenment. In the Dearborn community, she is often contacted by parents whose daughters are afraid to wear a hijab because it could have an effect on their careers. Often parents point to her as an example or ask Bakri-Bazzi to share her experience with their daughters. “When I get those types of calls and hear those stories, it really is inspirational for me,” she noted. “It makes everything worth it. There are challenges and it is not easy, but inspiring others makes it worth it.” Overcoming stereotypes and modeling professionalism in the midst of others’ behavior can be a challenge sometimes. “Quite often as I walk in for a deposition, I am asked if I am the interpreter, or during a case evaluation panel I am personally attacked,” said Bakri-Bazzi. As shocking as those occasions are, Bakri-Bazzi is very conscious of the need to maintain professionalism and cautious about how she conducts herself in public. So what can be done in such situations? There’s no quick answer. Said Bazzi simply, “I have to work to change individuals’ impressions of me.”

After two years working for a firm in Waterford, Michigan, Bakri-Bazzi wanted to help the community that she was raised in and that supported her family’s businesses. She joined forces with two colleagues and formed the At Law Group in Dearborn in 2013. They began as a personal injury and criminal defense practice. Today the At Law Group is comprised of its founding partners and three additional equity partners. The firm employs 12 individuals and has expanded practice areas to include business, immigration, family, real estate, and nonprofit law. Bakri-Bazzi was recently recognized by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys as a top 10 attorney under the age of 40 and was recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as an Up & Coming Lawyer.

Bakri-Bazzi with other authors of I Speak for Myself. Bakri-Bazzi had the opportunity to speak at the White House about the book, I Speak for Myself. Bakri-Bazzi authored a portion of the book, which 40 Muslim American women wrote about their experiences.




Our mission drives everything we do.





Naples, Florida is well-known as a great resort destination, with miles of white sandy beaches, calm waters, fishing, high-end shopping, golf courses, and even dolphin-watching. What’s less well-known is that Naples is a premier global research and training destination for orthopedic surgeons. John W. Schmieding (Moore Class, 1993) is the senior vice president and general counsel for Arthrex, Inc., a world leader in orthopedic surgical device design, research, manufacturing and medical education. Its mission is helping surgeons treat their patients better.



“My father always inspired me to be of service. Growing up, I watched him help others and I wanted to do the same. I gravitated to WMU-Cooley and enjoyed it from the first moment I got there.” JOHN W. SCHMIEDING

Since 1981, when Arthrex was founded by Schmieding’s brother, Reinhold, Arthrex has experienced tremendous growth and demand for its products. Its global headquarters in Naples is nothing short of impressive. The vibrant atmosphere of rapid product innovation, medical research and surgeon collaboration is noticeable on its sprawling campus. Surgeons come from around the world to learn about new products and techniques through hands-on surgical skills training programs at this premier medical education facility. For the past 15 years, with his educational experiences and leadership acumen, Schmieding has been a steward of the legal framework which has facilitated Arthrex’s incredible growth and economic success in the Naples community and around the world. Did you always know you wanted to be a lawyer? I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a lawyer. My earliest memory, and one of my favorite stories, is when I was a young boy sitting in the backseat of our car looking out the window and a bus passed. It wasn’t the bus so much, but something else. I remember turning to my mother and cleverly saying, “Mom, the school bus probably had wooden seats back in your day!” She quickly smiled at me and told me, “Absolutely, John. That’s very deductive of you. You should be a lawyer when you grow up!” That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, not because of the


law but because of the analysis. Even today I encourage my own children to be inquisitive about history and to think about how things are developed and where things belong. Inquisitiveness is an invaluable quality. How was your time at Western Michigan University? What was your undergrad focus? I was focused at Western to find a degree that would give me a leg up in law school. I entered WMU’s Criminal Justice program, in addition to a Courts minor - which resembled prelaw courses. I finished the requirements within two years and my advisor told me I should pursue another major. I always loved writing, so I chose English and Creative Writing. Learning how to creatively think and express those thoughts in writing has helped me tremendously throughout my career. It is one of the skills that I find lawyers are often lacking - the ability to cogently write creatively to convince. The law has many opportunities for creative insight. By my junior year, I was ready to apply to law school. It happened that my uncle knew Cooley Law School founder, Justice Thomas E. Brennan. He worked with him and went to University of Detroit Law School with him. He advocated for me to go to Cooley. I loved the idea of a practical legal education. My creative mindset loved the idea. I wasn’t looking for theoretical insight or theoretical application of the law. I wanted to practice law. I wanted to be of service to people. My father always inspired me to be of service. Growing up, I watched him help others and I wanted to do the same. I gravitated

to Cooley and enjoyed it from the first moment I got there. Tell us about your WMU-Cooley experience. Once I began law school at WMU-Cooley, I could tell it was going to be a drastic change from my undergraduate program. The intensity of real world operations and learning about how the world works was immediate. There are many moments that stick out in my mind. My first memory was standing in front of the class with a microphone, being grilled on our previous night’s assignments. You learned quickly to be prepared for class and never, ever come unprepared. That lesson has helped me throughout my career. Law school was a tremendous challenge. I admit I was never an A+ student. That didn’t stop me though from embracing classes I wasn’t comfortable with or actually feared - like Tax Law. I remember making the conscious decision to dive into classes that challenged me. Surprisingly, I did well in those classes and even got an A in my Tax classes. It all gave me great confidence. Receiving the blue book award for Constitutional Law II was the highlight of my law school career. Up to that point, I had never been very close to the top of the class, but I applied myself diligently to that class and wrote a wonderful blue book. I was honored to receive that award and it hangs in my office to this day. One experience during law school is forever etched on my mind. I was hurrying to take an exam. I was walking too fast

down those large marble stairs in the Temple Building. Judge Brennan was walking up just as I was hurrying down. I literally fell down the stairs in front of him! I’ll never forget that. I was so embarrassed. Yet, Judge Brennan helped me up and was very gracious. I’m sure he remembered what it was like to be a student taking exams. I appreciated him and respected him highly. Oddly, this was one of my fondest memories of my time at WMU-Cooley. How did WMU-Cooley prepare you for a legal career? My law school experience enriched me with confidence and the practical skills necessary in the professional world. The skills I gained in my research and writing classes were immediately applicable in my work after graduation. I worked for a small accounting firm in downtown Detroit before I started my legal career. I did a lot of research regarding bond fund accounting and arbitrage and really enjoyed it. I applied things I learned in law school directly to that job. Then I hung out my own shingle, and then worked for a small firm, then a large firm, and now I am in-house at a large multinational corporation.

When I first practiced for myself, I was doing minor litigation matters. Yet within weeks, I had my first small district court trial. The opposing counsel walked into the courtroom and I handed him his trial book, tabulated and organized, just as I had learned in law school. He looked at me dismayed and said, “You are way too organized.” I ended up winning that matter, which was pretty gratifying. It was a thrill to actually apply all I had learned so quickly, and I didn’t even have a mentor at the time. I knew I would succeed as an attorney. In early practice, I did a lot of civil procedure cases, and leaned on all I learned during Civ Pro. I represented a client who had a real estate matter go south. They hired me to try to iron out the deal. It ended up in litigation where we had to file suit against the sellers of the property. The sellers hired a very famous, well-respected, University of Detroit Civil Procedure professor. Here I am, out of law school only a couple years, and I am going up against someone known to be an expert in this area of law. Well, I ended up winning. The claims were based on a failure-todisclose matter where the seller failed to inform the purchasers of some water damage to the residence. We ended up going through motion practice, and

I survived all the complex procedural attacks seeking dismissal on procedural grounds from this professor. I won every motion, and before trial, the judge tacitly recommended both counsels to settle. The sellers ended up paying us for the undisclosed damage. What a great challenge and confidence builder! Tell us about your path to Arthrex? As my career progressed, I started working for larger firms, including a regional firm based out of Pittsburgh called Doepken, Keevican and Weiss. We did everything from commercial litigation to mergers and acquisitions. I was exposed to a wide variety of topics, but Cooley prepared me for that, too. By now I had a wealth of experience and could apply the depth and breadth of my experience anywhere, including as general counsel for Arthrex. Since the 1990’s Arthrex was growing at a tremendous pace and the foundational legal frameworks needed to be established. Fifteen years ago, my brother asked me to join the team as his legal counsel. We had nearly 100 employees at the time. We now have over 4,800 worldwide, 2,800 in Southwest Florida. When I joined, it was a legal blank slate. It was an honor (continued)

AWARDS • Naples Alliance for Children’s Family Friendly Business Award – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

• Collier County Economic Development Council Excellence in Industry Award for Innovation – 2011

• American Heart Association’s FitFriendly Worksite – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

• Association of Fundraising Professionals Innovation in Philanthropy Award – 2011 • Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies – 2011

• Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership Innovention Award, for creation and development of the Surgical Outcome System (SOS) – 2011 • Florida Trend’s 350 Biggest Companies in Florida Award – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 • NAACP Business/Organization Award, for commitment to diversity in the workplace – 2011

• The Wallace Benevolent Award, for providing substantial impact and assistance to the Children’s Advocacy Center – 2012 • Naples Alliance for Children’s Employer of the Year – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 • Florida Trend’s Best Companies To Work For In Florida Award – 2012, 2013, 2014

• Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) Award, for innovative recycling programs – 2012

• Florida’s Commissioner of Education Business Recognition Award – 2014

• Governor’s Innovators in Business Award – 2012

• The Salvation Army Naples Regional Coordinate’s Partner of the Year - 2015

• News-Press Media Group Corporate/Business Citizen of the Year – 2012 • Face Award, for commitment to diversity in the workplace – 2013 • Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award, Community Foundation of Collier County – 2014 • Florida Department of Environmental Protection Recycling Recognition Award – 2014, 2015

• FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For®” – 2015, 2016 • FORTUNE “15 Best Workplaces for Manufacturing and Production” – 2015, 2016 • FORTUNE “50 Best Workplaces for Diversity” – 2015 • FORTUNE “100 Best Workplaces for Millennials” – 2015, 2016 • FORTUNE “50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back” – 2016 • FORTUNE “10 Best Workplaces for Latinos” – 2016 17


Did you know? • Arthrex has developed more than 11,000 products, and releases, on average, more than 1,000 new products every year to advance minimally invasive orthopedics worldwide. • 95% of Arthrex products are manufactured, assembled and packaged in the United States; 70% in Southwest Florida. • Arthrex represents a significant economic diversification impact to the Southwest Florida community with non-seasonal, high-wage, high-tech job growth for our local workforce. • Arthrex’s medical education programs bring a projected 10,000 visitors to Naples annually and contribute an estimated $10 million in tourism spending to the local economy. • Arthrex is a major exporter to more than 100 countries around the world. • As a privately-held company without outside investors, Arthrex is able to introduce products to market more expeditiously and focus solely on surgeon and patient needs. • Arthrex established a manufacturing apprenticeship program (AMAP) to train CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine operators; one of only three such programs in the State of Florida. • Arthrex is mindful of the effect our corporate activity has on the environment, and we are committed to doing business in an ecologically-friendly manner. • Arthrex proudly maintains an employee turnover rate of less than 2% annually, and is recognized for its extraordinary workplace culture and employee benefits such as the Arthrex Medical Center (AMC), which provides free, quality healthcare to employees and their families. • Arthrex developed a website dedicated to patient education:


to have the opportunity to help foster and prepare this company for growth and to help with the great medical vision my brother created. We are a very unique organization. We make medical devices for orthopedics and are the largest sports medicine manufacturer of medical devices in the world. We are committed to doing things in a way that public companies simply don’t. We are on a medical mission, not a shareholder value mission, in everything we do. It was a rewarding challenge to build ethical and legal frameworks responsive to the needs of our mission. I had to apply an entire range of legal thought and experience to make sure our business foundation was legally sound. I worked to assist in patent prosecution, handle product liability matters, oversee insurance issues, advise on FDA regulations, advise on compliance regulations, and handle all corporate governance, contracts and a variety of other things. I now have 10 attorneys who work for me globally. The open canvas of the position has been a continual painting. Every day I assist in the growth of our worldwide expansion. What a tremendous experience and privilege it has been! I get to work with some of the best lawyers in the world, and it’s very humbling. What’s important for any attorney is to be open to learning new methods and creative ways of doing things, no matter how long we have practiced. I am excited to see what the future holds. What is it about your career that makes it the perfect fit for you? I believe my practice reflects my personality. I have had a wide variety of experiences and have never allowed myself to be type-cast into one role. I love that I am able to sit with a design team of engineers and help develop solutions to medical problems. I am actually an inventor on several patents. The diversity in my work allows me to explore new areas and challenge

myself and others. A lawyer’s mind is essential in any problem solving group. Never underestimate your ability to enter a business discussion, a mechanical discussion, a failure or risk mode discussion, because it informs the conversation in a different way due to our legal training and experience. We are able to solve problems, critically look at things and apply knowledge in ways others cannot. My personal life is also varied. While I spend most of my time with my four beautiful children and my wife, I am also involved with Leadership Florida where I am in “Class 35.” It is a wonderful program where we learn about issues the state is facing in order to help serve our local community better. I also sit on the board of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, and am active in leveraging Arthrex’s needs for the betterment of our community. My current focus is on workforce training and housing. My family is important to me and I spend a lot of time with my son in the outdoors and enjoying Florida’s natural beauty with my daughters. We also spend time in northern Michigan enjoying the beauty of the Great Lakes. Both states have so much to offer. I am also an avid reader and love intellectual pursuits. Do you have advice for others? Let me tell you a story about how I applied my education. I was at a charity event many years ago when I was just beginning my practice. There was a well-known attorney at the table who had been very successful in the Detroit area and I wondered about his story, so I asked, “I am just starting out, any words of advice for me?” His advice for me was to find a corporation and obtain an equity interest in the company. I sat back and thought, that is not what I want to do. My goals have nothing to do with finance. My belief is that your

passion should drive your pursuits, and my passion was our profession; serving as a pillar of democracy. This is why the Arthrex mission is such a great fit. Its focus on passion drives innovation and creativity, not financial outcomes. It turned out to be a wonderful business model for Arthrex, and we are extremely successful because we are focused on our goal of helping surgeons treat their patients better. But the success came after the mission. In that commitment, unlike many of our competitors, we are committed to building and manufacturing our products in the United States. Ninety five percent of our products are made here in the United States - 70 percent of those are made right here in Southwest Florida.

facility on the main campus in Naples, which will employ another 1,000 people over the next five years. We are building for growth, and we are committed to keeping that manufacturing here in the United States. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates our business model and success. Some competitors have lost in the market to our innovation and creativity, and rather than working to better their business they have attempted to challenge us in court.

This is a purposeful commitment. Our mission drives everything we do.

Patent law was not something I was very involved with in my private practice. I was only slightly involved in certain patent reviews and due diligence on patents. Yet when I arrived here, I was immediately aware of how industries in our field utilized patents to gain an advantage – an advantage not intended by the system.

Arthrex also continues to reinvest in expansion. We just built another 215,000-square-foot manufacturing facility here in Southwest Florida and we are building a 300,000-square-foot

Having the ability to overcome difficult situations is a necessary life skill. It is something I first learned in law school during Professor Roger Needham’s Civil Procedure class. There was no

question in anyone’s mind that he was an extremely intelligent man, but he was extremely demanding and his classroom demeanor was nothing short of scary. It was a challenge to live up to his expectations. While I found it frightful, it was such a wonderful experience. After a very tough term in Civ Pro, where half the students failed, I ended up with the second highest grade in his class – an accomplishment I never expected. Ultimately, what Professor Needham did for me, and for all of us, is teach us a world lesson – how to deal with difficult people. It was a wake-up call for many students. That classroom lesson has been practically applied throughout my career. If you are looking for one last piece of advice, I suggest you strive to understand how to communicate and collaborate with others, and use your passion to understand your client’s mission and join them as a partner, not as simply a service provider. If you do, you will find great success in your career, and in life.





COMBINES HIS LOVE FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND THE LAW Rafael Diaz (Woodbridge Class, 2010), a lieutenant with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, knew from an early age that he wanted to go to law school. Every decision, from high school through college, was made to position himself for a career in the law.

But, as he was coming to the end of his time in college, he looked at law school again. Married, and with a young daughter, Diaz decided it was not the right time to make a commitment to law school. “Life kind of creeps up on you,” he remembered. “I had to look at other things. I was volunteering for the Holland Police Department as a reserve police officer and wondered about what to do for work. I reasoned that, since I planned to be a prosecutor in the criminal justice system, what better way to learn about its inner workings than from that vantage point. Well, lo and behold, I really enjoyed it! I loved the police-citizen interactions and I loved the law at that level. So I thought to myself, well, I love law; I love law enforcement; I think I would like to be a police officer. So that’s exactly what I did.” After five years at the Holland Police Department, Diaz joined Kalamazoo Public Safety in 2005, giving himself more time for family and the opportunity to dream about law school again. Diaz learned that WMU-Cooley’s many scheduling options could make pursuing his dream possible. In 2007, he started law school at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus taking classes during the day, knowing that if his work schedule changed, he could continue by taking advantage of other scheduling options the law school offered. “For a person who was on the streets


doing night patrol, the fact that WMU-Cooley offered classes in the morning, afternoon, evening, and even on weekends, was fantastic,” said Diaz. “So many doors opened for me. I don’t really know of another way I could have really done it, but for WMU-Cooley’s scheduling options. As you can imagine, it was hard working nights as a patrol officer and balancing everything else, but the flexibility I was afforded in Public Safety and the opportunity to teach through a joint relationship between Public Safety and a local educational association, gave me the lift I needed to finish law school.” He continued to work with area high school students, teaching them what it might be like to be a police officer. He enjoyed working with the students, plus he found that his work schedule allowed him to attend evening classes and more time to study. “The department really stood by me while I was in law school,” said Diaz. “The flexibility I received from work and law school, along with my family’s support and understanding, is how I got to where I am today.” Law school was tough, but all Diaz’ memories are positive. “My experience at WMU-Cooley was one of the best times of my life,” Diaz recalled. “Not only was I busy at work, I was busy in law school. I loved being challenged. I also met a lot of great people. I had a tremendous amount of interaction with people and have stayed in contact with many over the years and built lasting friendships. “It might not have been the traditional

approach,” smiled Diaz, “but it worked for me, and everything seemed to fall into place.” For Diaz, the professors at WMU-Cooley stood out as exceptional teachers. They also made themselves available to help students. “I have really grown an appreciation for their work and their care of the students,” said Diaz. “Coupled with the friendships and the relationships that I developed, law school was one of the best times ever. Even now I find time to stop by the law school just to say hello. I really loved my time at WMU-Cooley.”

HOW HAS A LAW DEGREE HELPED IN A CAREER IN LAW ENFORCEMENT? Diaz explained that his training and legal education have made him a better person, both personally and professionally.

“For a person who was on the streets doing night patrol, the fact that WMU-Cooley offered classes in the morning, afternoon, evening, and even on weekends, was fantastic.” RAFAEL DAIZ

“The law degree is what has broadened my eyes, my perspective, and my approach to so many different issues,” he stated. “I have gone up the ranks, and am now a lieutenant and I got there in a relatively short period of time. I believe it is because the work that I have done and the work that I can do (continued)



FAMILY MAKES PERFECT Diaz knows that he owes much to the unconditional support and love of his family.

is appreciated. By setting myself apart from other candidates, I have been allowed to progress quickly. It really is a wonderful intersection of my love of law enforcement and my love of law, and the practice of it as an attorney. “WMU-Cooley set me up for success. They taught me how to look at a problem, any problem really, then apply a specific set of skills to analyze the problem and come up with solutions, looking at many sides of an issue. Sometimes in law enforcement we get stuck in only seeing it from one side. That can lead to a lot of frustration when we only want certain outcomes. “What law school has taught me to do is to examine things from all sides in different ways because people have different points of view. That’s very, very helpful. It gives you a greater understanding and compassion for different views. We may agree to disagree at the end, and that’s OK, but in examining it from all different angles we are able to really see those points and then mesh it in with what the law says about how we have to behave in society. Really, it is an academic exercise in understanding different folks. For me, that has been huge.” 22

“I can go back to when I was registering for WMU-Cooley Law School,” recalled Diaz. “At the time, I was working as a patrol officer, assigned a night shift. I sat down with my wife and we talked about it. We knew that it was going to be a lifechanging, life-altering event for several years. It basically came down to this, my wife said, ‘If you’re willing to do it and put the work in, I am willing to do everything else, and we will get it done.’ I knew right then that I had the support of my wife.” But Diaz also had two children to factor into the equation. “I asked my daughter Alana, who is now 20 and a junior at Western Michigan University, and my son, who is going to be 14, ‘How do you think or feel about me taking this on?’ I said, ‘I am going to need a lot of time to study.’ They both looked at me and said, ‘Dad, if that’s what you want to do, let’s do it!’ “ Even with the full support of his family, Diaz knew there would be times where his family would suffer. “What I tried to do was balance life as much as I could,” suggested Diaz. “Anything that I had outside of school, work, and family was gone, and I still haven’t picked up the game of golf since, but that’s OK. I want dinner time with my family. I encourage anybody who is looking at law school to carve out time for your family, regardless of how busy you are at work or school. In my mind, if it doesn’t work with family, then it’s all wasted.

“WMU-Cooley set me up for success. They taught me how to look at a problem, any problem really, then apply a specific set of skills to analyze the problem and come up with solutions, looking at many sides of an issue.” RAFAEL DIAZ

“During family time, you put the books to the side, sit down, eat dinner, or watch a show, then when they go to bed, get back at it. I tell you what, I got a lot of strength from my family. Even during those years, I coached my daughter in softball and soccer and my son in baseball and soccer, because I love coaching. You can really tackle anything when you have that family support. “I was truly blessed because my wife, my daughter, my son have always stood behind me and given me pushes, like, ‘Hey dad shouldn’t you be studying? Why don’t you get after it?’ I am thankful every day for the tremendous support of my family, and at some level I believe it was good for them, modeling good study habits, punctuality, and dedication. “So, it is a two-way street, and we have all benefited tremendously.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RAFAEL DIAZ With Public Safety, Diaz believes he has one of the most exciting and rewarding careers in the world.

The efforts have, over the years, improved the treatment and care of the individuals in crisis. “Those are really the hallmarks of a successful program,” stated Diaz. “We have even been taking our training methods across the state, including a jail diversion program. The overarching principle is, ‘What is the right thing to do?’ We can work on all the other things that go along with that, so long as we have an eye towards getting a good outcome. This model of policing is not only catching fire statewide, but nationally. We are touching lives and that’s really exciting work.”

Diaz may have taken the road less traveled to get to where he is today, but he has succeeded at every turn, proving to one and all that there is more than one pathway to success.

“In 2008, I had a great opportunity to take a class in crisis intervention and learn how to help mentally ill subjects in crisis,” said Diaz. “The concept was that you can de-escalate a situation and seek positive outcomes by having relationships in the community. We now have a crisis intervention team here in Kalamazoo where we link all the necessary resources. We regularly train large classes, 40 officers at a time, and have built a crisis intervention team trained in mental health issues, coupled with de-escalation training, which reduces the probability for violence.” 23


“I was too young to understand. They left Vietnam and then France to give us a better future here in the United States,” said Tran. Her parents, both born and raised in Vietnam, met in law school after they each earned undergraduate degrees in journalism. In the mid 1980s, during Tran’s earliest memories of elementary school, her parents decided to put their careers on hold

Dorothy Tran and leave Vietnam and its political climate to provide better lives for their children. This was the first move, a move to France.

As a child, Dorothy Tran (Edwards Class, 2006) watched and learned the value of hard work from her parents while the family made two significant moves, moves that at the time she didn’t realize were made for her and her younger sister.

While time marched on, and while Tran was in the eighth grade, her parents made the decision to move to the United States to be closer to Tran’s grandmother, aunts and uncles. Moving to a new country meant that her parents would put their careers as a lawyer and journalist on hold indefinitely. Instead, they had no choice but to quickly acquire new skills in an unfamiliar territory – simply to create a stable financial situation for the family. Her father worked in accounting in the pharmacy field while her mother began a career with a company in the high-tech industry. “Our parents gave up everything to give us a better life in a new country,” said Tran. “That’s why my sister and I always worked hard in school. We knew the sacrifice they made was for us and we knew education was important.” By the time Tran graduated from high school in northern California and was accepted at the University of CaliforniaDavis, she thought she had her future mapped out.

Tran’s children, Patrick and Claire.


Tran pictured with her parents.

“As an Asian-American kid, it’s almost always assumed that you’re going to medical school, so when you go to college you just choose a major in something science-related and I actually happened

to like the biological sciences,” said Tran. “But I wanted to balance sciences with the humanities and after living in France I was fond of French literature, so I double majored. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed the challenges.” While attending UC-Davis, Tran befriended individuals in her apartment complex who had attended WMU-Cooley and spoke highly of the law school. “I decided to look at Cooley and I liked the practical approach, in addition to the academic aspect of the law school. I just simply decided that I wanted to attend law school and continue my education at Cooley.” During her time in law school, she took advantage of many opportunities to learn about the various areas of law that were of interest to her. “I did an externship in family law and criminal law, and that kind of told me those were areas I did not want to go into,” said Tran. “I found that I wanted to be a litigator. I enjoyed the mock trial and moot court experiences, particularly my Trial Skills class taught by Professor Patrick Ganneway. They truly were like going through a real trial, and so when I go to trial now I just say to myself, ‘this is just like another mock trial at Cooley.’”

medical malpractice, employment, landlord/ tenant issues and bankruptcy.

To me this is how you make a difference in someone’s life.”

Tran remembers one particular incident as a volunteer at the clinic that has stuck with her ever since. The clinic was being held that day in the community room of a library.

Shortly following that experience, Tran became president of VABANC and currently serves as an adviser. In addition to VABANC, Tran spends time volunteering with the Vietnamese Professional Women of Silicon Valley, where she meets and mentors underprivileged young women in high school from the community. She credits her time at WMU-Cooley for wanting to continue mentoring after she moved back to California.

“A woman walked in and talked to me in Vietnamese and said, ‘Can you help me?’ She handed me a document,” remembered Tran. “The woman was a victim of domestic violence and the document was from the court asking her to appear on a certain date or she could face having her children removed from the home. She eventually shared that she was only able to leave her home that day by telling her husband she wanted to go to the library.” That day, Tran not only helped the client understand the court document, but she was also able to direct her to an organization that helps individuals who are victims of domestic violence. “For me as a lawyer, I’m able to understand the legal consequences of the words. To someone like this woman, it’s a skill that we take for granted sometimes,” said Tran. “I walked away just feeling

really good that I helped someone that day. It’s just part of being a lawyer. I never forget that feeling.

Tran also credits law school for her willingness to give back to her community. “The school offered

“Our parents gave up everything to give so many experiences to participate in clinics and work on real cases that us a better life in a impact real people,” she said. new country. That’s Upon graduating from WMU-Cooley, why my sister and I Tran returned to northern California and worked with two civil litigation firms in always worked hard in San Jose. She knew that it was important school. We knew the to serve those who are less fortunate in the community, so she became an active sacrifice they made member of the Vietnamese American was for us, and we Bar Association of Northern California (VABANC) and began volunteering at inner- knew education was city clinics near the larger populations of important.” Vietnamese Americans. The clinics usually

“While in law school, I joined the Women’s Law Alliance, which in addition to offering support to women attorneys and law students, provides legal services to low-income women and mentoring services to young women,” Tran noted. “To this day I believe it is important to mentor young women, it’s always good to have someone to look up to.” In addition to her volunteer work in the community, today Tran works as a litigator with CSAA Insurance Exchange, an AAA Insurer where she handles automobile and homeowners subrogation claims, a position she has held since 2014. Outside of her career and service to community, Tran is a mother of two children, Patrick, 5, and Claire, 1. And if one doesn’t think Tran has given enough back to her community, she and her husband Paul couldn’t help themselves when visiting a local pet store that happened to be hosting rescued dogs for adoption; yes, the couple did end up leaving with an additional family member, Sarah Bear. Tran is not shy to say, “It’s just second nature for me to work hard, do the best I can and be involved. My parents instilled those values in me at an early age and they are a testament to the sacrifice they made for my sister and I to have a better life.”


help individuals with issues such as



ELAINE HISCOE CHARNEY Elaine Hiscoe Charney (Marston Class, 1978) enjoyed a 25-year career as an administrative law judge and served as a bureau director for the Michigan Department of State. Elaine worked closely with the Michigan legislature and drafted many statutes related to traffic safety. She taught at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada, was the first woman president of the Ingham County Bar Association, was chair of the state bar convention for several years in the 1990s, served as vice president of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, was a member of the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, and served in other volunteer capacities. She was also the first woman featured on the cover of The Benchmark magazine, in the Trinity Term 1987 issue.


“We the People” by Elaine Hiscoe Charney, a gift to WMU-Cooley Law School.

After 9/11 Elaine moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. She transferred to Fort Myers, Florida in 2003 and served as the Assistant Federal Security Director at the Southwest Florida International Airport. After her retirement in 2006, Charney took up residence in Sarasota, Florida, and began concentrating on art. Charney now paints in both watercolor and acrylic, enters exhibitions, teaches art for Adult Community Enrichment at the Suncoast Technical College, and brings internationally known artists to teach workshops at Art Center Sarasota in southwest Florida. She became a Signature Member of the Florida Watercolor Society and a Master Signature Member of the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society in 2016. One of her paintings, “Bird of Paradise,” was one of only 100 accepted nationally for the 10th

Biennial National Art Exhibition, 2015. She has also received numerous awards in exhibitions at Art Center Manatee, Art Center Sarasota, the Venice Art Center and other Florida venues.

Charney recently donated a watercolor painting to WMU-Cooley Law School. The work of art, “We the People,” was the recipient of the Cutting Edge Award at the International Society of Experimental Artists Exhibition in 2016. It is experimental in technique and design and is unique in terms of meaning. The painting is founded upon abstract principles, but also includes some representational realism. The painting is evocative and open to interpretation. First called “The Gathering,” it was later renamed “We the People” in honor of WMU-Cooley Law School and in recognition of today’s divided world. Her art can be seen at several Florida galleries and at



President Dunn to Retire


There’s much talk these days about The Dunn Legacy, as President John M. Dunn prepares to retire from Western Michigan University. In August, he’ll hand the reins over to President-elect Dr. Edward B. Montgomery, who is currently a dean at Georgetown University.


WMU’s retiring president John Dunn (left) with WMU-Cooley’s president Don LeDuc (right).

As Dunn’s tenure comes to a close after 10 years at WMU, it’s clear that his leadership has been marked by transformation in multiple major facets of the University, says Kenneth Miller, (Graves Class, 1977) a WMU trustee who also serves on the WMU-Cooley Law School Board of Directors and chaired the search committee that recommended Dunn’s appointment in 2007. Looming large among those advancements? The creation of the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, which welcomes its fourth class this fall, and a nearly three-year-old formal affiliation with what’s now known as the WMU-Cooley Law School. “He was working on both those endeavors simultaneously and at the same time advancing the core university,” Miller says. The idea of a formal affiliation with Cooley preceded Dunn, but in partnership with Don LeDuc, president and dean of Cooley, the vision became a reality in 2014, after years of groundwork by officials at both institutions.

Now, WMU is among just 90 universities in the United States whose students have access to a medical school and a law school. This is directly tied to one of Dunn’s favorite descriptions of WMU, which he often characterizes as the “opportunity university.”

“We would not be doing this without his leadership and guidance to me,” he said at the Lansing farewell event, which attracted alumni, community members, WMUCooley officials and others. “John is a person of integrity, courage, innovation and kindness. He has one of the hardest jobs in America, which he undertakes with a steady hand, remarkable skill,

“We raised the question of a law school at Western Michigan University decades ago,” Dunn said. “Well, we’ve taken a little time, but we’ve gotten there. Why is that important? It was standing room only in WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus boardroom where the Lansing tour stop was held. Because we didn’t lose sight of the great judgment, and unfailing importance of that vision. good humor. “And why is it important? It’s important for our students. It’s important that we keep opportunities available for our young people.” LeDuc said the formal affiliation is a tribute to Dunn.

“He has been unwavering in his support for Cooley Law School. We will be forever grateful and we will miss him dearly,” LeDuc said. And the WMU-Cooley partnership continues to blossom. This past fall, the law school began offering 15 credits of first-year instruction to incoming law students on WMU’s Kalamazoo campus.



Cooley Society Annual Gala Celebrates

Largest-Ever Gift to the Law School

Gordon C. Boardman

The annual Thomas M. Cooley Society Donor Recognition Gala was held on March 25, 2017 at the Country Club of Lansing. This year marked the 12th annual Gala and a milestone in recognizing the school’s largest gift of philanthropy. Gordon C. Boardman (Marston Class, 1978) is a professional artist who has gifted his vast art collection and cash to the law school through an estate plan. The gift was announced and a painting unveiled at this year’s Gala, marking the donation as the largest gift ever made to Cooley. Mr. Boardman was recognized and moved to the $1 million level of the Cooley Society.

WMU-Cooley’s President Don LeDuc (left) with Jim Robb (right) help to unveil Gordon C. Boardman’s oil on paper “Turning Toward A Further Shore.”

The Cooley Society began in 2005 with 224 inaugural members. This year’s inductees raised the membership total to 509 members. The Cooley Society is the school’s donor recognition society with membership beginning at $2,500 in total cumulative giving to the school. Gifts to Cooley can be pledged over a specified period of time, through a cash gift or a planned estate gift. At this year’s Gala the society inducted 13 new members, and 12 others were moved to the next donor level.


If you are interested in making a pledge, planned gift or a cash gift to join the Cooley Society, please contact Pamela Heos, director of Alumni & Donor Relations at If you have previously given to Cooley and are interested in obtaining a record of your giving history, all previous gifts are counted and applied cumulatively toward Cooley Society membership.


2017 Alumni Memorial Scholarship Winners The WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association awarded its annual 2017 Alumni Memorial Scholarship to three outstanding students this year. The Past Presidents Committee of the Alumni Association interviewed and selected the winners from those nominated by peers, faculty and staff. Past Alumni Association President Patrick Griffin (center) and alumni (from left) Bogdan Enika (Washington Class, 2012), William Cox III (Witherell Class, 1990), Tomika Horne (Starr Class, 2005), Anton Vozheiko (Hilligan Class, 2012), Michael Pecknay (Voelker Class, 1997) and Nathan Brin (Graves Class, 1977).

Six WMU-Cooley Alumni Admitted to the United States Supreme Court The annual WMU-Cooley group admission to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. was held on March 29, 2017 and was hosted by Pamela Heos, director of Alumni and Donor Relations. A Washington, D.C. area alumni networking event was held the previous evening, and many admittees also attended. Being admitted is a proud moment for attorneys. Noted James Robb, WMU-Cooley Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel, “Admission to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court not only allows the lawyer to practice before our highest court, but adds to the lawyer’s prestige in the eyes of clients and fellow counsel. To stand and be recognized by the nine Justices as a new member of its bar is both a thrill and a great honor.” Congratulations to all our newest admittees. If you are interested in being placed on the Feb. 28, 2018 waiting list please contact Pamela Heos at or

Winners were Luciana Viramontes, who attended class at the Lansing campus and is a native of Sault Saint Marie, Michigan; and Anna Mikolajczak and Katie Sabo, who both attended class at the Auburn Hills campus. Mikolajczak is a native of Poznan, Poland, who now resides in Auburn Hills, and Sabo hails from Escanaba, Michigan. “I was thrilled and deeply appreciative to learn of my selection for the Alumni Memorial Scholarship,” said Viramontes. “By awarding me this scholarship, you

have lightened my financial burden, allowing me to focus more on law school and giving back. I hope to one day help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. Thank you.” Mikolajczak was equally honored. “This is great news!” she said. “Receiving the Cooley Alumni Memorial Scholarship is a great honor for me. Getting this scholarship is not just about receiving money. It tells me I am seen as having potential in becoming an outstanding lawyer. All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Sabo was also appreciative of the recognition. “Thank you so much to the Alumni Association for selecting me,” she said. “There are so many excellent students at Cooley and I am honored to have been chosen.”

“We congratulate each of these outstanding women on their stellar academic performance while at Cooley and service in their communities. Each were awarded a cash scholarship toward tuition credits.” PAMELA HEOS, DIRECTOR OF ALUMNI & DONOR RELATIONS

2017 Distinguished Student Awards The WMU-Cooley Alumni Association proudly announces the recipients of the Distinguished Student Award for Hilary Term 2017. This award is presented to third-year students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, service to others and student involvement while at WMUCooley. They are nominated by their peers and faculty and are interviewed and selected by the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association.

Five outstanding students were selected for Hilary Term, and awards were presented at the students’ respective campus during Honors Convocation. The recipients are Julie Lawler-Hoyle (Lansing), Sierra Whitaker-Davis (Tampa Bay), Peter Mancini (Auburn Hills), Dr. Ryan McKennon (Auburn Hills), and Wendi Price (Grand Rapids). “We congratulate these deserving students on their achievements,” said Pamela Heos, director of Alumni and Donor Relations.



Where Do You Find WMU-Cooley Alumni? PART II – FEDERAL AGENCIES Our alumni tell us time and again that they received a well-rounded, well-prepared and top-notch education. We thought it would be of interest to highlight the career paths our alumni have chosen. Our alumni are represented in all 50 states and 28 countries. In this second installment of “Where Do You Find WMU-Cooley Alumni,” we take a look at several federal agencies that WMU-Cooley alumni have identified as their place of employment. The list includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Rifle Association, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marine Corps at the Pentagon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Distinguished Alumni Service Award Presented

The Hon. Joseph J. Farah (Weist Class, 1979) received the Distinguished Service Award Nov. 10, 2016 during the annual meeting of the WMU-Cooley Alumni Association. He was honored for his tireless service, dedication and support of WMU-Cooley. Judge Farah has served on the WMU-Cooley Board of Directors and also as chairman of the Michigan Board of Law Examiners. He is a member of the Thomas M. Cooley Society and The Jurist Society, the school’s donor recognition societies. He has served on the Genesee County Circuit Court in Flint, Michigan, his hometown, since 1998. The Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Relations congratulate Judge Farah on receiving this award.



School News 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 WMU-Cooley 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 ensuring equal access to justice.

The Grand Rapids campus Black Law Students Association, along with faculty members, came together to host a discussion about the events that led to the making of the movie Selma. The film chronicles the tumultuous threemonth period in 1965 when King led a campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The Lansing campus Black Law Students Association and Student Bar Association hosted area non-profit organizations that offer opportunities for individuals to volunteer in legal and non-legal roles, including Volunteers of America, EVE (End Violent Encounters), Elder Law of Michigan and others. The Auburn Hills campus presented the panel discussion “Trump’s First 100 Days: Bridging Gaps and Building Empathy.” The discussion featured a diverse group of panelists who talked about how then President-Elect Donald Trump and his administration could affect key issues. Students, faculty and staff from the Tampa Bay campus honored King’s life and work by volunteering at Everyday Blessings, a foster care organization located in Thonotosassa, Florida. This marked the third year WMU-Cooley volunteers have commemorated King’s birthday by providing lunch and activities for foster children living at the facility.

WMU-Cooley Raises $1,500 For Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program WMU-Cooley Law School’s Student Bar Association (SBA) donated $1,500 to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the annual Barrister’s Ball at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. WMU-Cooley Law School’s SBA organizes the Barrister’s Ball annually to benefit a local charity.

“Big Brothers, Big Sisters will be able to use this donation to carry out their mission of providing guidance and support to local children. We were honored to partner with them for the event to help children in the Grand Rapids community reach their full potential.” EMILEE UMFLEET, WMU-COOLEY SBA STUDENT

Lansing: Elderlaw Clinic Earns Grants to Prevent Senior Exploitation WMU-Cooley Law School’s Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic, which provides legal help to persons 60 years of age or older, primarily in Lansing’s Ingham, Eaton or Clinton counties, was awarded nearly $54,000 in grants to prevent the financial exploitation of senior citizens in that area. “It is all too common that we hear of senior citizens getting scammed out of

much of their life savings by individuals who prey solely on the elderly,” said Kimberly O’Leary, WMU-Cooley professor and director of the Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic. “Through the work of Sixty Plus and its law students, the grants will help create awareness of this issue and assist in the prevention of the elderly being victimized.” The clinic received $33,000 from

the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Adult Services Agency PREVNT Initiative. The Capital Region Community Foundation awarded $10,950 and the Lansing Area Community Trust granted an additional $10,000 toward the initiative. The nonprofit clinic has been helping seniors in Eaton, Ingham and Clinton counties for over 30 years.





For WMU-Cooley Law School’s 10th Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in Sports and Entertainment Law, Todd “T.J.” Duckett, Michigan State University standout and former National Football League running back, and Joseph Bellanca (Sharpe Class, 2008), entertainment and media attorney at Hertz Schram PC, spoke at the Lansing campus.

Duckett was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan and attended Loy Norrix High School where he was named a USA-Today All-American. Duckett was drafted in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to the Falcons, he played for the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks during his seven-year NFL career. During the Nov. 18 event, Duckett discussed the importance of a trusting relationship between the athlete and their agent.

(Left-right) Todd “T.J.” Duckett, MSU standout and former National Football League running back; Sandy Soifer, widow of the late Howard Soifer (Christiancy Class, 1977); Joseph Bellanca, entertainment and media attorney at Hertz Schram PC.; and James Robb, WMU-Cooley associate dean of external affairs.


At Hertz Schram PC, Bellanca advises entertainers, musicians, athletes, writers, and media companies, and works on issues related to contracts, licensing, trademarks and copyrights. He is an adjunct professor at the Detroit Institute for Music Education, the treasurer of the State Bar of Michigan Arts Communication, Entertainment and Sports Section and is the recently elected secretary of the Italian-American Bar Association of Michigan. Bellanca discussed how to handle issues in sports and entertainment law.

has allowed WMU-Cooley Law School to continue to honor Howard’s passion for law, sports and entertainment by connecting our community to influential business and sports professionals that share those same passions.”

Previous Soifer Memorial Lecture speakers include Tom Izzo, Michigan State University men’s basketball coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame; Kevin Poston, president and CEO of Detroitarea based DEAL Elite Athletic Management; Steve Smith, broadcaster and former MSU and “We are very fortunate to NBA all-star basketball have hosted the Howard player; and Steve Garvey, Soifer Memorial Lecture for 10 years,” said WMU- former MSU and Major Cooley President and Dean League Baseball all-star and MVP. Don LeDuc during the event. “The Soifer family


Howard Soifer was born in the Bronx and moved to Monsey, New York in 1963. Following graduation from the Spring Valley High School Class of 1967, he attended the University of Toledo for two years and received his undergraduate degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn. He was a proud 1977 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School and an accomplished lawyer and a shareholder in the firm of Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis &

Gotting, P.C., until the time of his death on January 29, 2003 at the age of 53.

humor and his extreme loyalty, integrity, and strength.

Howard’s passion for basketball, baseball, and football led him to represent several prominent professional athletes during his career. He was a dedicated family man, devoted to his wife and friend of more than 30 years, Sandy Kirsch Soifer. He was very proud of his two daughters, Marci and Halie. All who were part of Howard’s life remember him for his great sense of

It is Howard's great passion and loyalty that the Soifer Committee created the Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture Series in Sports and Entertainment Law. The Committee feels strongly that the event is a meaningful way to honor Howard’s memory and to endow the lecture series for perpetuity.


On Feb. 17, WMU-Cooley Law School, Tampa Bay campus hosted its first Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture. Featured speakers were college football Heisman Trophy winner and retired NBA player Charlie Ward, along with president of the Sarasota Bar and college football standout Keith DuBose. The speakers gave advice on financial, ethical and other legal matters related to professional athletes. DuBose, a shareholder at the law firm of Matthews Eastmoore, shared the lawyer perspective while Ward spoke of his experiences as an athlete during the Q&A style discussion. The lecture began with questions about what athletes could do to

find someone to assist them as an agent. Both DuBose and Ward said it was important for young athletes and entertainers to build a trusted network when they start their careers. They spoke of how adjusting to life after college may be daunting for athletes who become solely focused on playing their sport and graduating unless they have a support system. Ward stressed how athletes should be open to collaborating with professionals outside of the sports law team they might have established for themselves. He also said athletes should never burn bridges with connections. “It’s important that when you are on a team and you’re a part of a team, you understand that if you need to work with someone else, it’s OK,” Ward

but one thing you cannot do is compromise your integrity. If you don’t have integrity and people can’t respect you, it doesn’t mean Throughout the discussion, anything in the end,” said the speakers emphasized DuBose. trust and integrity Howard Soifer (1949-2003) between athletes and graduated from WMUagents as being two Cooley Law School in 1977. key factors in sports He was an avid sports fan and entertainment law. and represented several DuBose called on fellow prominent professional and future professionals athletes during his career as to stay ethical and true to a shareholder with Loomis, themselves. Ewert, Parsley, Davis & “You may lose business, Gotting, P.C. you may lose opportunity said. “It’s good to work with other people because you can learn a lot from others.”

(Left-right) James Robb, WMU-Cooley Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel; Charlie Ward, retired NBA player; Sandy Soifer, widow of the late Howard Soifer; and Keith DuBose, shareholder at the law firm of Matthews Eastmoore.

Howard was grateful for his legal education at WMU-Cooley Law School. The Soifer Committee endowed the Lecture Series in his honor. 35


WMU-Cooley Board of Directors chair Lawrence Nolan (second from left) with WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Michael C. H. McDaniel (left) and WMU-Cooley graduates Sharan Levine and Hon. Joseph Farah (right).

ASSOCIATE DEAN AND GRADUATES HONORED AS LEADERS IN THE LAW Three of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s 30 “2017 Leaders in the Law” have connections to WMU-Cooley Law School, including Lansing campus Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel, and graduates Hon. Joseph Farah (Wiest Class, 1979) of Flint and Sharan Levine (Wiest Class, 1979) of Kalamazoo. A ceremony recognizing this year’s recipients was held March 23 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. In addition to teaching constitutional law, McDaniel is also the director of the Homeland and National Security Law LL.M. program at WMU-Cooley Law School, a program he created in 2013. McDaniel is a retired Brigadier General and was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy, Prevention and Mission Assurance at the Department of Defense prior to joining the law school. In 2003, he was also Homeland Security Advisor to then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and has been the chairperson for Great Lakes Hazard


Coalition (GLHC) since 2012. He also served as the Assistant Adjutant General for Homeland Security with the Michigan National Guard. McDaniel has been on the board of directors for the Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) since December 2012, assisting the organization in national infrastructure security and resiliency planning. In 2016, McDaniel was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee (FWICC) and helped to secure $100 million in funding from Congress. The funding sped up the process of removing hazardous water pipes, with over 600 pipes replaced by the end of 2016. In addition to being recognized as a “Leader in the Law,” McDaniel was honored during the Patriot Week Foundation’s Patrick Henry Awards ceremony as “Patriot of the Year,” and was inducted into the alumni ROTC Hall of Fame for the Seneca Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University in April.

From 1982 to 1984, Levine served as president of the southwest region of Women’s Lawyers Association. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court as a commissioner to the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners. At the local level, Levine served as the legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio Station WMUK in Kalamazoo from 1985 to 2005. Levine is a member of the Small Business Forum of the Business Law Section of the State Bar. In the last several years she has developed a private practice representing business entities and families throughout West Michigan. Recently, Levine focused her efforts on raising awareness for the need of a Veterans Treatment Court in Kalamazoo to improve the community’s legal system. In 1998, Farah was appointed to Genesee County’s 7th Judicial Circuit Court where he was assigned to the family division. During his seven years in the family division, Farah handled domestic and juvenile cases. Since 2005, Farah has presided over cases in the court’s civil and

criminal division. Before his appointment to the court, Farah spent 18 years as a criminal defense attorney in Flint. Beyond the courtroom, Farah has become involved in two organizations; he was recently sworn in as a board member of the West Flint Optimist Club and he serves on the Metro Community Development Board.

LANSING: WMU-COOLEY INNOCENCE PROJECT EXONEREES ATTEND CEREMONIAL SIGNING OF MICHIGAN’S WRONGFUL INCARCERATION COMPENSATION LAW Wrongfully convicted individuals and their advocates from across the state attended a reception hosted by WMU-Cooley Law School’s Innocence Project and the ceremonial signing of the Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Feb. 14. Michigan’s exonerees, who now have an opportunity to receive financial compensation and services as a result of the legislation, were also recognized by the state’s House of Representatives.

WMU-Cooley Innocence Project students and staff join others for the signing of Michigan’s Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Law.


Exonerees in attendance included Julie Baumer, Macomb County; Nathaniel Hatchett, Macomb County; Tommy Highers, Wayne County; Kenneth Wyniemko, Macomb County; Davontae Sanford, Wayne County; Larry Souter, Newaygo County and Lorinda Swain, Calhoun County. State Senator Steve Bieda and State Representative Stephanie Chang sponsored the new laws, Public Acts 343 and 344 of 2016, which took effect on March 29, 2017. Public Act 343 provides $50,000 for each year of incarceration to individuals convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Under Public Act 344, exonerees are eligible for the same reentry services that Michigan parolees receive and housing for up to one year following the date of discharge.

“When the state puts an innocent man or woman behind bars, it has the obligation to support that person’s re-integration into society.” MARLA MITCHELLCICHON, WMU-COOLEY INNOCENCE PROJECT DIRECTOR

“Both the re-entry services and the compensation award will help our clients get back on their feet. No amount of money can make them whole, but it’s a start.” Mitchell-Cichon, who advocated for the new

laws, attended the signing ceremony, with clients Wyniemko, exonerated in 2003; and Hatchett, exonerated in 2008.

WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka and Aaron Burrell, attorney with the Dickinson Wright law firm.

AUBURN HILLS: GRADUATE AARON BURRELL RECEIVES WMU-COOLEY INTEGRITY AWARD Attorney Aaron Burrell (Woodward Class, 2010) of the Dickinson Wright law firm presented the keynote during WMU-Cooley Law School’s “Integrity in Our Communities” speaker series. Following his March 15 presentation, the law school honored him with the Integrity Award, which is presented to legal professionals who demonstrate the highest integrity in their profession. Burrell’s presentation described the practice of law as a calling, which is defined as a strong urge to a particular way of life, as opposed to a career. He said when lawyers embrace the profession, they must rise to this calling as they serve the rule of law, clients, the profession itself and society as a whole. “Becoming a lawyer is an all-encompassing transformation, it’s the pursuit of a vocation that intertwines itself into all

aspects of your life,” said Burrell. “As lawyers, we are held to a higher standard. We must work diligently to reach that standard.” At Dickinson Wright, Burrell practices complex commercial litigation, labor and employment law, appellate law and minority business enterprises. He has defended clients in a wide range of discrimination and unfair labor practice claims in state and federal court, as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the National Labor Relations Board.


During her Feb. 15 presentation, Joyner spoke about increasing diversity in the legal profession and achieving academic success. She encouraged students to take full advantage of their education. “Cooley has given you an opportunity to do good. Work hard while you are in law school and do not waste this wonderful opportunity,” Joyner said.

“When you graduate and become a lawyer, work for justice and equal treatment for all people.” She quoted Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton titled, “On the Pulse of Morning,” which celebrates connectedness and human solidarity.

In observance of Black History Month, the Black Law Students Association at the WMU-Cooley Tampa campus invited civil rights “It was an honor having activist and former Florida State Senator Arthenia Joyner Arthenia speak to our community for this event,” to speak about “Increasing said Renalia DuBose, Diversity in the Legal Profession.” Joyner has spent WMU-Cooley Law School professor. “Arthenia’s her career advocating for relentless passion for equal civil rights. She served as a member of the Florida Senate rights is an inspiration to all professionals advocating for for 10 years, representing truth and justice.” the Tampa Bay Area from 2006 to 2016 and was the Senate minority leader during her last two years in office. Joyner left the Florida Senate Civil rights activist Arthenia Joyner (third from right) due to term with WMU-Cooley Professor Renalia DuBose and members of the WMU-Cooley Law School’s Black Law limits. Students Association.



Weekend Program, A Lifetime of Rewards In fall 2016, WMUCooley celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Weekend Program. The program — the first and largest of its kind in the nation — has provided opportunities to study law for hundreds of people. True to WMU-Cooley’s mission of access and practical legal education, the Weekend Program has for years opened the door to a law degree for many who’d been closed out of the profession because they had obligations that prohibited them from taking a

traditional law program. Some of these “weekend warriors” have traveled hundreds of miles each week to realize their dream of becoming an attorney. Airline pilots, corporate executives, stay-athome parents, doctors and others are now possessing law degrees and serving communities across the nation because of WMUCooley’s Weekend Program. To mark the 20-year anniversary of the Weekend Program, the law school has enhanced the weekend option. In May 2017, the

Auburn Hills and Tampa Bay campuses began offering weekend classes, enhancing those campuses’ already robust weekday program. Weekday and weekend options will both continue to be offered at the Lansing campus. Additionally, for the September 2017 class and beyond, part of the weekend schedule will be taught online. Students enrolled in weekend classes will spend 10 weeks on campus and four weeks online completing the program’s required courses. Online opportunities are also

available for elective courses later in the curriculum. “Everyone who has pursued a law degree knows the tenacity, intellect, and skills it takes to complete the process,” said Paul J. Zelenski, Associate Dean of Enrollment and Student Services at WMUCooley Law School. “Graduates of the program so badly wanted to pursue the degree they committed most of their weekends for three, four, or five years because they realize the lifetime rewards that were to follow as a result of their pursuit of receiving a WMU-Cooley law degree.”

ABA Past President Paulette Brown At WMU-Cooley Law School Immediate past president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Paulette Brown, was honored during a reception at WMU-Cooley Law School during the Lansing campus orientation April 28. Brown spoke to WMU-Cooley incoming students, faculty and staff, as well as legal professionals from the community, about the need for and responsibility of lawyers.

“I do not subscribe to the theory that there are too many lawyers,” Brown said. “I don’t believe that because, if there were too many lawyers, there wouldn’t be as many people who did not have access to justice.” Brown also emphasized the responsibility involved with earning a law degree. She urged students to always

remember the communities they come from.

“A law degree is more than a piece of paper, it is a real privilege,” Brown said. “It is a license to do good, and to make sure the rule of law is maintained in this country and elsewhere.” Brown is a partner and co-chair of the diversity and inclusion committee at Locke Lord LLP. She has held many positions throughout her career, including serving as in-house counsel to a number of Fortune 500 companies and as a municipal court judge. In private practice, she has focused on all facets of labor and employment and commercial litigation. Within the ABA, she has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1997 and is a

former member of the Board of Governors and its executive committee, as well as the Governance Commission. Brown also chaired the ABA Council on Racial and Ethnic Justice (now Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice) and is a past co-chair of the Commission on Civic Education in our Nation’s Schools. Brown has served on the Commission on Women in the Profession and was a co-author of Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms. She is a former member of The Fund for Justice and Education (FJE), FJE President’s Club, and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

the National Law Journal as one of “The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” and by the New Jersey Law Journal as one of the “prominent women and minority attorneys in the State of New Jersey.” She has received the New Jersey Medal from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation and serves on its Board of Trustees. Brown earned her J.D. at Seton Hall University School of Law and her B.A. at Howard University.

She has been recognized by ABA Past President, Paulette Brown




Lawrence P. Nolan, WMU-Cooley board chair, speaks to WMU-Cooley graduates during the law school’s recent commencement.

Joey Trowbridge (left) receives her diploma from WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc during WMU-Cooley Law School’s graduation on Jan. 8.

Simone Genus presents the valedictory remarks during WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus graduation.


Lori Montgomery presents the valedictory remarks during the law school’s graduation ceremony on Sunday, Jan. 22.

Lori Buiteweg, former president of the State Bar of Michigan and current shareholder of Nichols, Sacks, Slank Sendelbach & Buiteweg PC, served as the commencement speaker.

WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc presents graduate Christine Galustians with her diploma during the law school’s commencement in East Lansing, Michigan, on Jan. 22.


FACULTY EXPERTS Our professors are called upon to comment and clarify legal ramifications on a variety of issues in the news. Since December 2016, WMU-Cooley Law School professors have been featured as experts in more than 150 news interviews by local, national and international sources. They

FACULTY DISCUSSED THE FLINT WATER CRISIS Ret. Brigadier General, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ron Bretz, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan, and professors Jeff Swartz, Chris Hastings and Anthony Flores were all called upon to respond to developments in the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. McDaniel discussed necessary actions to “fix Flint” on RT America and WKAR Radio. The Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press interviewed Bretz about criminal charges that arose from the crisis. Hastings discussed that same issue with MLive and The Flint Journal. Krause-Phelan, who was also featured in MLive and The Flint Journal, spoke about how the public defender system could be affected by the issue. Lastly, Swartz discussed Flint’s legal fees.


WMU-COOLEY LEGAL EXPERTS BROKE DOWN THE LARRY NASSAR CASE Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson and professors Chris Hastings and Anthony Flores helped break down the case against Dr. Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics sports medicine doctor who is accused of sexually abusing patients throughout his career. Hastings spoke with the Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal about how the Nassar case could cost MSU. Benson and Flores separately offered expert legal analysis on the case on WILX TV 10. Benson also appeared on WSYM Fox 47.


SEVERAL FACULTY INTERVIEWED BY MEDIA OUTLETS ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TRAVEL ORDERS Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C. H. McDaniel and professors Jeff Swartz, Brendan Beery and Anthony Flores responded to President Donald Trump’s two executive travel orders that would ban immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. Schindler was featured on WOOD Radio, WKZO and WZZM 13. Benson also spoke with WZZM 13. McDaniel appeared on WOOD TV 8 and Fox 17. Swartz appeared on Bay News 9 and Orlando News 13. Beery appeared on a Tom Sumner Program podcast about the order, and Flores was featured on WLNS TV 6.

Devin Schindler, Curt Benson, Michael C.H. McDaniel and Brendan Beery were tapped by media for legal experts’ perspective on Neil Gorsuch’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination. Schindler was featured on WHTC, WKZO, WOOD Radio and News Talk WSJM. McDaniel was featured on MLive. Beery spoke on WFLA Tampa Bay and 1320 WILS, and Benson appeared on WZZM 13 and WOOD Radio.


have been interviewed on a myriad of relevant topics, including the Flint water crisis, the case against former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics sports medicine doctor Dr. Larry Nassar, and President Donald Trump’s travel order, among other issues.

NELSON MILLER FEATURED IN THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS AND FLINT JOURNAL Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor, was featured in The Grand Rapids Press regarding an issue that occurred at a Meijer photo department in December 2016. Miller explained how the incident illustrated shopper privacy issues. He was also quoted in MLive and The Flint Journal, explaining how taxpayers could have coughed up $36.6 million in a jail excessive force lawsuit.

“I’m pretty sure they are ensuring some privacy because they don’t expect employees to do this and apparently the discharge of the employees makes this clear.” NELSON MILLER



As “fake news” became a heightened topic of discussion among the public and in national rhetoric, experts were called on to discuss this daily issue. Auxiliary Dean and Professor Martha Moore participated in a panel discussion about the topic and was quoted by Detroit Legal News and Grand Rapids Legal News.

Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan was featured in The Muskegon Chronicle about a unique scenario where a Michigan “jailhouse lawyer” chose to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court without the benefit of professional legal counsel. She also discussed with WKZO the pros and cons of defending oneself in court following the Charleston Church shooter’s decision to defend himself.

“These are the best of times in this information age where inquiring minds want to know everything right now-real-time news as it is happening. Information is readily available and instantly available,” Moore said. “These are also the worst of times because information is instantly available, but a lot of it is untrue.” MARTHA MOORE

Krause-Phelan said Jones’ petition seemed short on substance, and didn’t follow some of the protocols that would be expected for such a document. However, she noted, Jones had used a professional printer, and she admired his determination.

ADAM TEBRUGGE WAS A GUEST COLUMNIST IN SARASOTA HERALDTRIBUNE Adjunct Professor Adam Tebrugge was featured in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune as a guest columnist. In his column, Tebrugge offered an explanation of why he believes the death penalty is a waste of Florida state funds.

DON LEDUC DISCUSSED PRESIDENT TRUMP’S FIRST 100 DAYS ON EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE DAY WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc, Professor Emeritus Lewis Langham Jr., and professors Lisa Sewell DeMoss and Gerald Fisher were featured in a panel discussion about President Donald Trump’s first 100 days. The event was covered by Oakland County Legal News, Detroit Legal News and Macomb County Legal News.



MARLA MITCHELL-CICHON FEATURED IN DETROIT LEGAL NEWS Professor Marla MitchellCichon appeared in the Detroit Legal News offering her expert analysis regarding America’s guilty plea concerns.

“Michigan’s post-conviction DNA testing law does not allow an innocent prisoner to seek DNA testing to prove his innocence. Pleading guilty should not be a bar to DNA testing if such testing can prove innocence. It is not as simple as he pleaded guilty, he is guilty. The guilty plea campaign’s goal is to educate the public about why innocent persons plead guilty. When listening to these stories you can’t help but be moved.” MARLA MITCHELL-CICHON

VICTORIA VULETICH APPEARED IN THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS AND MUSKEGON COUNTY LEGAL NEWS Professor Victoria Vuletich was featured in The Grand Rapids Press about how former President Gerald R. Ford’s integrity and devotion to public service could be the answer to solving key concerns with the country’s current political climate. Additionally, Muskegon County Legal News quoted Vuletich about the “Leadership in Times of Crisis” course at WMUCooley and how it expands community participation.

“Leadership is always by example, never by dictate. You can only persuade people by example and leading by example. If we can create future leaders that conduct themselves both professionally and personally the way President Ford conducted himself—and they are taking sprout across the country—that would be a great contribution to the future stability and harmony of our society.” VICTORIA VULETICH


DEVIN SCHINDLER INTERVIEWED ON SEVERAL TOPICS Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler discussed then President-Elect Donald Trump’s plan for his business on WZZM 13. The professor also offered his expert analysis on what a Trump presidency would mean for health insurance on WalletHub’s blog, and explained a president’s authority over the National Guard on Fox 17. Additionally, Schindler spoke to WKZO about voter rights and Justice Robert P. Young Jr. leaving the Michigan Supreme Court.

TRACEY BRAME PARTICIPATED IN WOOD RADIO’S LIVE ELECTION SPECIAL Tracey Brame, assistant dean and associate professor, was a guest expert on WOOD Radio’s West Michigan live election special where she discussed challenges of the election, including polling discrepancies and voter rights.

JEFF SWARTZ INTERVIEWED ON ABC ACTION NEWS FOLLOWING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S WIN Professor Jeff Swartz was interviewed on ABC Action News regarding minority communities’ concerns following President Donald Trump’s presidential win.

BRENDAN BEERY INTERVIEWED ON MULTIPLE SUBJECTS Professor Brendan Beery spoke about the presidential transition and the effect it could have on the U.S. Supreme Court on a Tom Sumner Program podcast. He was featured on WTSP News 10 about fake news constitutionality, and answered questions about whether the Jackson County Board of Commissioners’ use of prayer violated the Constitution on 1320 WILS. Additionally, Beery appeared on WTSP News 10 responding to the question: Should sex offenders be allowed to use social media?

RON BRETZ INTERVIEWED ON WLNS TV 6 Distinguished Professor Emeritus Ron Bretz was featured on WLNS TV 6 regarding the November 2016 sentencing of former Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III. In the news segment, Bretz explained how the Dunnings sentence was reasonable according to sentencing guidelines.

GERALD FISHER SPOKE WITH MEDIA ABOUT MICHIGAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RECOUNT Professor Gerald Fisher was featured on WILX News 10 and Fox 47 News about Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s lawsuit against candidate Jill Stein’s recount request.

MICHAEL C.H. MCDANIEL FEATURED ON MULTIPLE MEDIA OUTLETS Associate Dean and Professor Michael McDaniel was one of five panelists who discussed President Donald Trump’s scolding of media at a news conference on Fox 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” segment. McDaniel appeared on WILX News 10, WWMT Newschannel 3 and Fox 17 to discuss potential security changes in airports following the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. He also discussed how the Lansing Board of Water and Light has changed since the 2013 ice storm on WLNS TV 6 as he was called in personally by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero to join the Community Review Team and solve the issue.

STEVE DULAN DISCUSSED GUN LAWS ON SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RADIO Adjunct Professor Steve Dulan discussed gun laws in the context of recent school shootings with KPCC FM of Southern California Public Radio.

CURT BENSON DISCUSSED THE LEGALITY OF WIRETAPPING CITIZENS ON WZZM 13 Curt Benson appeared on WZZM 13 to discuss the legality of wiretapping U.S. citizens. He also spoke with WKZO about President Donald Trump’s ability to reverse former President Barack Obama’s ban on oil and gas drilling in certain locations.

“If there was a secret warrant sought and received by the FISC – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – you and I don’t have access to it, but the president does. He could actually just pick up the phone and call the justice department — let me see the warrant, let me see the affidavit that got to the warrant.” CURT BENSON

KAREN FULTZ INTERVIEWED ON BAY NEWS 9 Karen Fultz, associate professor and assistant dean, discussed legal obstacles individuals may face when starting their own business on Bay News 9.

DAVID TARRIEN INTERVIEWED ABOUT SCOTUS CASE INVOLVING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES Assistant Professor and Auxiliary Dean David Tarrien offered his perspective regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case of Endrew F. v Douglas County School District, which involved students with disabilities.

“Essentially, this seems to be a case where you have two guaranteed rights clashing with each other. What the plaintiff wants to make it about would be the freedom of religion on the part of the school and they put forth a number of arguments saying that with religious schooling, the government cannot get unduly entangled—and in a broad sense that is correct.” DAVID TARRIEN


Faculty Briefs Gary Bauer, Professor Conducted, six public information seminars for Alpena, Alcona Area Credit Union, and Alpena Senior Center in Alpena in November, December, January, February, March and April. Publicly recognized by the CEO of the AAACU for community service at the annual meeting for that Credit Union. Presented, to Sparrow Hospital and Greenstone Farm Credit Services, “Powers of Attorney, What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself!” Presented, “Health Law Medical Directives,” for Lansing Community College in February. Presented, with the State Bar of Michigan Outstanding Achievement Award, by the Solo and Small Firm Section of the Bar on February 2, 2017. Co-hosted, on March 7, a very successful open house with Sarah Ostahowski at her law firm, Sarah L. Ostahowski, PLC, near Alma, Michigan, for WMU-Cooley students to help them discover how to open and run a solo law firm. Posted, more than 10 blogs at in the previous months with information to aid lawyers in their quest for practice and financial success. These blogs were republished by Ingham County Bar Association, WMU-Cooley Law School, and others. Attended, the ABA TechShow in Chicago in March. Attended, several Institute of Continuing Legal Education seminars, including the Health Law Institute, the Intellectual Property Seminar, and the Microsoft Academy for Word with Barron Henley. Published, his book, Solo Lawyer By Design, by the American Bar Association, in May.


Paul Carrier, Professor Published, “Potemkin’s Village on the Divorce River: The Facade of Macar v. Macar,” in 33 Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review 295 (Winter 2016). Passed, the Florida Bar Exam and was sworn in April 12, 2017, at the Tampa Bay campus.

Mark Cooney, Professor Published, an article called “Once upon a Car (A Tale of Three Ambiguities),” in The Green Bag. The article has since made the Top Ten downloads list for seven SSRN eJournals. Quoted, along with Emeritus Professor Joseph Kimble, in a Bridge magazine article about the value of plain language in government documents. Published, an article called “It’s Okay to Get Nervous” in the November/December edition of the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine. Judged, for the Center for Plain Language’s ClearMark Awards, in the preliminary round and for the Grand Winner. He also gave written feedback to non-winners. The awards recognize the best examples of plain-language communication in government and business. Edited, articles for the upcoming volume of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing.

Renalia DuBose, Assistant Professor Organized, and moderated a forum entitled “Avoiding Title IX Misconduct on College Campuses,” which included higher education staff, public defenders and law enforcement detectives, on Nov. 17, 2016. Published, “Compliance Requires Inspection –The Failure of Gender Equal Pay Efforts in the United States” in the Mercer Law Review, Articles Edition of Volume 68.

Christopher G. Hastings, Professor Published, by the Michigan Supreme Court for comment, revisions to the Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Rules of Professional Responsibility on which he worked as part of the Access and Affordability Committee of the Michigan State Bar. Once adopted, the rules will permit Michigan attorneys to provide “unbundled” limited scope representation in Michigan civil courts, providing enhanced accessibility to legal services to Michigan residents and enhanced opportunities for Michigan lawyers. Named, co-chair of the Regulatory Objectives Workgroup of the State Bar, continuing his leadership in the area of modernizing the regulation of lawyers to improve access to justice.

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Published, an article in the Wayne Law Review called “What the Michigan Supreme Court Wrought in the Name of Textualism and Plain Meaning: A Study of Cases Overruled, 2000-2015.” The article examines the strong ideological tilt of the overrulings. Notified, that an article called “The Doctrine of the Last Antecedent: A Case Study in Flimsiness” has been accepted for publication in Legal Communication and Rhetoric: JALWD. Notified, that his article “A Curious Criticism of Plain Language” was a top-ten download in two categories on SSRN in successive weeks. The same has happened with several previous articles. Published, his second “Redlines” editing column, this one called “Hold the Parentheticals, Please,” in Judicature. This journal is distributed to all federal judges and state-court chief justices. Spoke, on the subject of live grading at the Rocky Mountain Legal-Writing Conference, in Phoenix. Professor Kimble was one of the first (perhaps the first) law-school legal-writing professors to read and grade papers with the student present. Attended, the annual Board of Directors meeting for Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers. He has been a board member since 2001.

Dan Matthews, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Published, an article, “Tax Loss Harvesting: Can RoboAdvisers Navigate Wash Sale Rule?” in 153 Tax Notes 1345 (No. 11, December 12, 2016).

Nelson Miller, Associate Dean and Professor Published, Preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination, Volumes I through III (Crown Mgt. 2017). Published, Going to Law School: Preparing for a Transformative Experience (Crown Mgt. 2016). Published, How to Get a J-O-B: An Eight-Step Program for Lawyer Employment (Crown Mgt. 2016). Published, “Employing the Judge,” in 95/12 Michigan Bar Journal 38 (December 2016).

Devin Schindler, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Published, (Devin Schindler, et al), “Pandemic Legal Preparedness,” in 96 Michigan Bar Journal 28 (Feb 2017).

Appointed, as a visiting scholar to Western Michigan University’s Political Science Department. Spoke, on Jan. 23, 2017, about “Gerald Ford and the Ethics of the Nixon Pardon,” as part of the Gerald R. Ford Museum Presidential Ethics Series.

Interviewed, Nov. 7, 2016 on WKZO-AM about “Guns and Cameras in the Ballot Booth.”

Spoke, on Feb. 14, 2017, about “Surviving the Law School Gauntlet,” as part of the WMU Honors College Speaker Series.

Interviewed, on Nov. 7, 2016, by Magazine on “The Affordable Care Act After the Election.”

Awarded, the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Frederick Vinson graduating class in January 2017.

Interviewed, on Jan. 23, 2017, on WZZM-TV about “The Battle over Immigration Reform.” Interviewed, on Jan. 30, 2017, on WOOD-AM/FM, about “The Constitutionality of Executive Orders.” Interviewed, on Jan. 30, 2017, on WKZO-AM, about “President Trump’s Refugee Ban.” Interviewed, on Feb. 1, 2017, on WKZO-AM, about “Judge Gorsuch and the Battle for Originalism.” Interviewed, on Feb. 6, 2017, on WZZM-TV, about “The Ninth Circuit and the Immigration Ban.” Interviewed, on Feb. 17, 2017, on WXMI-TV, about “Posse Comitatus and the Presidential Authority.” Interviewed, on March 23, 2017, on WOOD-AM/FM, about “The Politics of Appointments.” Interviewed, on March 30, 2017, on WKZO-AM, about “Judicial Appointments in Michigan.” Interviewed, on April 13, 2017, by the Capital News, about “Discrimination and Religious Freedom.”

Otto Stockmeyer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Presented, “Reflections on Teaching the First Day of Contracts Class” at the annual conference of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters March 10 on the campus of Western Michigan University. Available at abstract=2927249. Published, “Profiles in Leadership: Six Lansing-Area Lawyers Head State Bar of Michigan,” in The Mentor, Winter 2017 issue. Available at abstract=2927471. Published, “KISS: A Really Simple Way to Increase Your Article’s Impact,” in The Scrivener, Winter 2017 issue. Available at abstract=2927463.

Duane A. Strojny, Associate Dean Writing, monthly, for the American Association of Law Libraries Research Instruction and Patron Services Special Interest Section Blog during the 2016-17 academic year. Topics cover all areas of library management and research skills. https://ripslawlibrarian.wordpress. com/.

Amy Timmer, Associate Dean and Professor Published, an article in The Professional Lawyer, the publication of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility and the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism, called “You Can’t Make Me Tell — Or Can You? Can Observing Mentee- and Mentor-Lawyers Be Compelled to Testify About Confidential Client Information?”

Chris Trudeau, Professor Presented, a health-literacy module for firstyear medical students at Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker School of Medicine. Presented, a series of webinars for the National Association of Legal Assistants on drafting documents in plain language. Presented, a roundtable session on health literacy and the law at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s Annual Health Literacy Conference in Irvine, California. Presented, a health-literacy keynote for the University of Michigan Health System Patient ForUM. Presented, a plenary session on clearly communicating rules, risk, and regulations for the NCEH/ ATSDR, division of the Center for Disease Control. Co-Presented, a plenary session at the Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit on Best Practices for Integrating Health Literacy Throughout A Healthcare Organization, with Kim Parson from Humana. Co-Presented, Michigan’s first webinar on health literacy with Dr. Doris Ravotas of Western Michigan University.


Class Notes 1977




Felch Class

Goodwin Class

Turner Class

Black Class

Bello, Mark, has published a novel, Betrayal of Faith, based on a case he handled in the 1980s. He is CEO and general counsel for Lawsuit Financial, Inc. Phone: (248) 702-6022.

Manley, Frank J., senior partner with The Manley Firm, P.C. in Flint, Michigan, was named a 2016 Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine. Only 5 percent of the state’s licensed practitioners are named to the list.

Pasteur, Michelyn E., with the law firm of Buhl, Little, Lynwood & Harris, PLC, has been included in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of elder law, and trusts and estatesestate planning. She has been recognized for this honor since 2009. She practices in the areas of elder law, Medicaid planning, estate planning, and trust and estate administration. She was also named by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Top-Rated Elder Law Attorney.

Calandriello, Anthony, was named a shareholder of the law firm Gensburg Calandriello & Kanter, P.C., in Chicago, Illinois.


Clark Class Cook, Susan M., has joined Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, in the law firm’s Midland and Southfield, Michigan, offices. She is a leading bankruptcy and reorganization attorney. She represents individuals and corporations in the automotive, health care, gaming, recreation, senior care, and chemical industry fields, including Fortune 500 companies. She has been named to Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers of Michigan, and was included in the list of the Top 50 Women Michigan Super Lawyers in 2010. In 2015, Cook was inducted as a fellow into the American College of Bankruptcy. She was the 2016 recipient of the annual Barbara Rom award for “Excellence in Bankruptcy” given by the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan. 1982

Wing Class McKeen, Brian J., was named to the DBusiness 2017 Top Lawyers List for Medical Malpractice Law. He also served on the faculty of the American Association for Justice Seminar, “Mastering the Medicine: Birth Trauma and Medical Negligence,” which took place Nov. 4-5 in Atlanta, Georgia. Brian is the managing partner of McKeen Associates in Detroit, Michigan.



Brooke Class Rosen, Mary Pat, an attorney with Charfoos & Christensen in Royal Oak, Michigan, was chosen as president of the “Impact100” Oakland County chapter. 1983

O’Hara Class Murkowski, David M., Chief Judge of the Kent County (Michigan) Probate Court, was elected president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association by his peers for the 2016-17 term. He took office Oct. 1, 2016. 1988

Pratt Class Conlon, Cynthia A., retired from her position as Family Division Referee with the 13th Circuit Court, where she served for almost 18 years. She has established her own practice, Conlon Legal Services, specializing in Family Law and Mediation in the Grand Traverse County, Michigan, area. Phone: (231) 421-8282; e-mail:

Schmidt, Lawrence (Larry) A., retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel serving as a staff judge advocate, chief financial officer, and chief of staff at various command levels. 1995

Bird Class Corl, Christina L., was named managing partner of Plunkett Cooney in the firm’s Columbus, Ohio office. She is a partner in the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group, focusing primarily on employer liability issues, and also has extensive experience in commercial litigation, product liability, premises liability, professional liability and municipal law. Corl also serves as Associate General Counsel to the USA Track & Field Association, and as Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. In addition, Corl was selected by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine as a 2017 Ohio Super Lawyer. She was also named to the list in 2015 and 2016.


Fellows Class Ross, Ken, was promoted to President/Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Michigan Credit Union League. He previously served as Executive Vice President (EVP). His primary responsibility will be the association’s affiliation efforts, federal and state advocacy relationships, and all association functions. He will be the primary liaison to credit union system organizations such as CUNA and AACUL. Ross has extensive experience working in the political and regulatory affairs at the state and national level with an emphasis on the financial service sector. Young, Gary, obtained a $250,000 jury verdict in March 2017 for personal injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Also in March 2017, he settled a construction accident case for $1 million and received a Super Lawyers designation. He is an attorney with Robert K. Young & Associates, P.C., in Merrick, New York. 2001

Wilson Class France, Jennifer (Miller), was named Chief Public Defender for Chippewa County, Michigan, effective Jan. 1, 2017.





Johnson Class

Edwards Class

Brickley Class

Coleman Class

Franklin, Ramona, has been elected Judge for the 338th Criminal District Court, in Harris County, Texas. Her investiture and swearing in ceremony was held Jan. 3, 2017.

Favaro, Elizabeth, was named a partner at Bowman and Brooke LLP in Detroit. She concentrates her practice on defending major corporations and small business in product liability and consumer actions, including personal injury and class action litigation.

O’Neill, Anthony J., has been named chief executive of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA). He has been the organization’s chief operating officer and general counsel since early 2016. Before joining ISFA, O’Neill spent seven years as an antitrust litigation lawyer at the Chicago firm of Williams Montgomery & John.

Belka, Jared T., has been named a partner at Warner Norcoss & Judd LLP. He serves as co-chair of the firm’s Economic Incentives Group, and focuses his practice in economic development, with an emphasis on brownfield redevelopment and public-private partners. He was recognized as a Rising Star for the past two years by Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine.


Chase Class Goodrich, Melissa M., was appointed to the State Bar of Michigan Representative Assembly. She represents the 53rd Circuit, serving Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties. She is an assistant prosecutor with Cheboygan County, Michigan. 2003

Toy Class Maitland, Maurice, was named by The National Black Lawyers as one of its Top 100 Black Lawyers in Connecticut, an honor given only to a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field. He operates the Maurice Maitland Law Firm in Ansonia, Connecticut, and represents retirees, disabled persons, and immigrants. He recently won a BIA deportation case that prevented the deportation of a mentally ill young woman. 2004

Cross Class Nesbit, Tedd, won re-election as a Pennsylvania state representative.


Fitzgerald Class Goodman, Jeremy, was appointed to the national arbitration panel of the National Futures Association, the self-regulatory organization for the U.S. derivatives industry. He owns Goodman Law PLLC in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a transaction, regulatory, and trial attorney who focuses his practice on matters involving financial institutions and other creditors. He also serves as a neutral mediator and arbitrator of complex disputes. 2007

Boston Class Copple, W. Brent, was named a shareholder of Simmons Hanly Conroy, effective Jan. 1. He works as an asbestos and mesothelioma attorney. Harris, Ray, an attorney with Buhl, Little, Lynwood & Harris, PLC, was named by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Rising Star. He practices in the fields of elder law, Medicaid planning, special needs trusts, estate planning, probate and trust administration, and trust and estate litigation.

Tardino, Andrea, was appointed to the Dimondale, Michigan Village Council as a trustee. She took office Feb. 13, 2017.

Dietrich, Adam W., a partner with Harrison & Dietrich, PLLC, in Conroe, Texas, has received board certification in Family Law.


CJ Adams Class Crandell, Patrick D., was named a partner at Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in the firm’s insurance coverage group in Southfield, Michigan. In 2015 and 2016, he was named by Super Lawyers Magazine as one of Michigan’s Rising Stars. Letizia, Harmony, was elected judge in Las Vegas Justice Court, Department 3, in November 2016. She began her six-year term in January 2017 and presides over one of the criminal calendars. The Criminal Division of Las Vegas Justice Court handles misdemeanor cases from arraignment through trial and arraignment and preliminary hearings for gross misdemeanor and felony cases prior to being bound over to District Court.


Riley Class Lockwood, Robert, was elected Public Defender, 16th Judicial Court, in Monroe County, Florida, on Nov. 8, 2016. Scott, Patricia, has been elected a shareholder with Foster Swift Collins & Smith. She works in the firm’s Lansing office and concentrates her practice in bankruptcy, finance, collections, and real estate. She was named a Rising Star by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine in 2016 and is on the board of directors for Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center and Junior League of Lansing.


Kavanagh Class Davidson, Syeda F., of Burgess, Sharp & Golden PLLC, was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Up & Coming Lawyers class.


Class Notes 2010




Witherell Class

Chipman Class

Wilkins Class

Washington Class

Nattler, Gerlinde (Linda), was named a shareholder with Brinks Gilson & Lione, one of the nation’s largest intellectual property firms. Nattler, who is based in the firm’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, office, focuses her practice on patent prosecution and IP portfolio management.

Barlaskar, Abe, obtained his Certified Claims Profession designation from the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance, where he also serves as co-chair of the Insurance Fraud Committee. He is an attorney with Plunkett Cooney in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Torres, Jose L., was named partner of Alvarez Barbara, LLP, in Miami, Florida. He focuses his practice in real estate, insurance defense, and commercial litigation.

Gardner, Jaebadiah, announces that GardnerGlobal, Inc., was named the winner of the 2016 Small Business of the Year Award by the King County Executive’s Office. GardnerGlobal is a Seattle-based privately held holding company that engages in real estate development, consulting, sales, leasing, property management, business development and social media consulting.


Bazzi, Dewnya, of At Law Group PLLC, was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Up & Coming Lawyers class.

Woodbridge Class King, Melissa, represented WMU-Cooley Law School at the inauguration of the University of Mississippi’s new president. She is a graduate of both schools. Yaroch, Jeff, was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November 2016. He represents the 33rd District (Macomb County). Sara (Vangieson) Yaroch, his wife (Coleman Class, 2009), served as Rep. Yaroch’s campaign manager. 2011

Sibley Class Severe, Luc El-Art T., was named to serve on the National Advisory Committee of the U.S. Census Bureau. He is chief of staff for the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Policy, Planning, and Measurement with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. He was recently honored as one of the Network Journal’s 40 under Forty, and was also selected as one The National Black Lawyers’ Top 40 Under 40.


Bauman, Brandon, has been named Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, at Spotify in Los Angeles, California, where he manages the video content division.

Collison, Nathan J., was promoted to Chief Appellate Attorney with the Saginaw County (Michigan) Prosecutor’s Office. Frederick, Lauren A., was named a partner at Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in Southfield, Michigan and a member of both the general and automotive and insurance coverage groups. Hoyer, Jordan C., has joined Kotz Sangster in the law firm’s Grand Rapids, Michigan office. She focuses her practice on commercial litigation and financial services litigation. She represents institutional investors, corporate entities, and individuals in state and federal courts across the country, FINRA arbitrations, and in mediation. Previously she managed the Midwest office of Talcott Franklin, P.C.


Hilligan Class Fopma, Amanda B., of Secrest, Wardle, Lynch, Hampton, Truex and Morley PC, was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Up & Coming Lawyers class. Nemerof, Michael B., has joined Shaked Law Firm, P.A., in Aventura, Florida, as an associate attorney handling first-party property litigation. The firm also handles personal injury and medical malpractice matters. Phone: (305) 937-0191; e-mail: Simmons, Kristen, was named vice president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association. She is an Assistant Attorney General. 2012

Ellsworth Class Cervantez, Amber, of Hewson & Van Hellemont PC, was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Up & Coming Lawyers class.

Mennie, John, was named an Illinois Super Lawyer for 2017 by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine. He is an associate with Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., in Chicago, Illinois. He recently obtained an $18.5 settlement on behalf of a child who suffered brain damage due to a clinic’s failure to diagnose meningitis. 2013

Moore Class Nyamfukudza, Takura, was elected president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association. He has been recognized in Super Lawyers, Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Up and Coming Lawyers,” Ingham County Bar’s “Top 5 Under 35,” and the Davis-Dunnings’ “Rising Star Awards.” 2013

W. Johnson Class Parakh, Kathleen, received the Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc., 2016 Pro Bono Spirit Award. She operates Parakh Law in southeast Michigan.



Livingston Class

Trimble Class

Dickey, Ashley S., joined Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in the firm’s General and Automotive Practice Group in Southfield, Michigan. She focuses on first-and third-party automobile premises liability actions and construction liability matters.

Bennett, Timothy, is now a partner with Feneley & Bennett Law Firm, PLC. The firm was founded by Kelly L. Feneley, also a graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School (Sibley Class, 2011), as Feneley Law Firm, PLC in 2011. The firm practices estate planning and administration, real estate law, general civil litigation, and Veterans Affairs claims.

Zuppke, Jordan A., of Jordan Zuppke PLC, was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly 2016 Up & Coming Lawyers class. 2015

Story Class Hamawi, Rabih, opened the Law Office of Rabih Hamawi, P.C., at 2000 Town Center, Ste. 1900, Southfield, Michigan, 48075. He focuses on representing policy holders in disputes against insurance companies in the areas of fire and property damage; insurancecoverage disputes, including auto, home, life, disability, long-term care, health insurance; and in insurance agent’s negligence. Phone: (248) 905-1133; e-mail:

Gadbois, Kate, has joined Kreis, Enderle, Hudgins & Borsos, P.C., as an attorney in the firm’s Kalamazoo, Michigan office. Her main practice areas include corporate and business law, estate planning and probate. Morrell, Taneashia, was elected secretary of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association. She is a staff attorney at Legal Services of South Central Michigan in Lansing.

Notices 1981


Kavanagh Class

Smith Class

Bradley M. Lockwood, of Williamston, Michigan, died May 4, 2017.

Perkins, Todd, 54, passed away March 13, 2017, at his home on Siesta Key, Florida. He was an attorney with Perkins Law Group in Bradenton, Florida. He contributed time at Michigan State University Legal Services, aiding and representing students handling misdemeanor litigation, jury and non-jury trials and plea negotiations. In addition to donating his legal expertise he was a Class A certified baseball umpire and worked for many years building and running amateur baseball leagues. He volunteered countless amounts of hours helping children develop their baseball skills, as well as helping them to become citizens. Todd was an active member of the Sarasota community, a dedicated alumnus of WMU-Cooley Law School, and an active member of St. Agnes Church in Sarasota.


Bacon Class Smythe, Lucy M., 66, of Perry, Michigan, died Oct. 4, 2016. 1991

Lawrence Class Gaines, Helen I., 79, of Grayling, Michigan, died Sept. 22, 2016. She was an attorney in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan for many years. 1993

Moore Class Vance, R. Roush, 53, died June 30, 2016 in Acworth, Georgia. He most recently owned his own marketing firm known as EPM3. 2001

Blair Jr. Class Gilley, Helms Moran “Gilley,” 48, died Dec. 19, 2016, in Lansing, Michigan. He grew up in Stuart, Virginia, and was a graduate of Patrick County High School. He joined the U.S. Army after high school and spent his four years in Germany, Desert Storm, and Texas. He attended Patrick Henry Community College and received his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University. His lifelong interests were international relations, particularly with China and the Middle East. In November 2015, he completed a Master of Arts degree at American Military University, W.V., in Intelligence Analysis. Donations in his honor can be made to Hemochromatosis Iron Disorders Institute at www.


Boyles Class Newell, Michael Scott, 43, died Sept. 28, 2016. 2010

Woodward Class Folkert, Bretton Allyn, 45, of Ada, Michigan, died Aug. 28, 2016. 2011

Chipman Class Mortimer, Jeffrey P., 58, of Salt Lake City, Utah, died Nov. 4, 2016, due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

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