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Tampa Bay Campus Debt Relief Clinic News

Homeland and National Security LL.M. Students Participate in Supreme Court Mock Trial

Graduate to Lead Debt Relief Clinic Victor H. Veschio (Sharpe Class, 1998) was appointed director of the Debt Relief Clinic at the Tampa Bay campus. The clinic serves residents of Hillsborough County who are struggling with debt-related legal issues and is staffed by WMU-Cooley Law School students working under the supervision of a licensed attorney.

“It’s an honor for me to be able to help individuals in our community who are in need, while at the same time teaching law students the importance of service to community.”

Veschio has over 17 years of experience as an attorney and expert in debt relief he will continue to practice at Gibbons, Neuman Attorneys at Law in Tampa, Florida, while servicing the law school’s clinic. Veschio has extensive experience in creditor’s rights representing banks, credit unions, and private investors in federal bankruptcy courts. “WMU-Cooley’s Debt Relief Clinic has become a valuable resource for Hillsborough County residents needing help restructuring debt,” said Veschio.

In June, LL.M. students participated in a mock trial at the Hall of Justice’s Supreme Court courtroom in Lansing, Michigan. The homeland and national security law students went before seven Michigan judges, and the 90-minute trial was part of the day-long legal training for Michigan judges and court administrators.

“This is believed to be the first event of this type in the United States,” said Associate Dean Michael McDaniel. “Our students were well-prepared, polished and professional. They added substantially to the quality of the training, as the judges could observe, or participate in, how issues like quarantine and involuntary blood draws might play out in their courtrooms.”

Associate Dean Joan Vestrand Speaks at Annual U.S. Coast Guard Ethics Forum Auburn Hills campus Associate Dean Joan Vestrand presented “Principled Leadership: The Road from Good to Great,” during the U.S. Coast Guard’s 27th annual Ethics Forum on March 21 at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.


“Leadership is the cornerstone for any individual, no matter what their walk of life, in building a solid foundation for a successful career and life,” said Vestrand.

Debt Relief Clinic Honored for Outstanding Pro Bono Service The Debt Relief Clinic was honored by the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee for Outstanding Pro Bono Service for providing legal counseling and representation to underserved indigent communities in the Tampa Bay area.


Since its inception in 2014, the Debt Relief Clinic has contributed nearly 5,400 hours to assist the community. In 2015, the Debt Relief Clinic assisted more than 100 clients with bankruptcy matters and contributed more than 1,300 hours of student intern time to bankruptcy matters.

The Clinic’s nomination emphasized the substantial population of self-represented bankruptcy filers in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida as well as the resources the Debt Relief Clinic provides.

WMU-Cooley students and professors: (left-right) Kate Mortensen, Nancy Mullett, Professor Michael McDaniel, Professor Mike Leffler, Terry White, and Mary Mara.

U.S. Coast Guard veteran Thomas Gelwicks (left), Associate Dean Joan Vestrand (center), and Citadel Military Academy Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Gelwicks Jr., participated in the U.S. Coast Guard’s 27th annual Ethics Forum.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Ethics Forum provides the Corps of Cadets with a full day of lectures, panels, and small group dialogues on the topic of ethical situations in the Coast Guard and beyond. As future officers, cadets are educated in the concepts of integrity and strength of character, but this annual event allows for an immersion in thought-provoking discussions led by experts in a variety of disciplines.

(Left-right) WMU-Cooley Law School student Christine Pytlinski, and graduate Christine Laney (Hughes Class, 2016), accept the award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service.


Benchmark | Winter 2016  

This issue of Benchmark prominently features our dear friend, alumnus and nationally renowned artist Gordon Boardman, who has made a monumen...

Benchmark | Winter 2016  

This issue of Benchmark prominently features our dear friend, alumnus and nationally renowned artist Gordon Boardman, who has made a monumen...