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Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


Letter from


WMU-Cooley Benchmark EDITOR Terry Carella CO-EDITOR Sharon Matchette ALUMNI RELATIONS Pamela Heos Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Helen Haessly Coordinator of Development and Alumni Services CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SeyferthPR, seyferthpr.com DESIGN Image Creative Group imagecreativegroup.com PHOTOGRAPHY Eugene McKinney Tom Gennara, Gennara Photography Terry Carella SUBMISSIONS Benchmark seeks story ideas from graduates on a variety of subjects such as graduate achievements, international experiences, cultural diversity, legal information helpful to practitioners, unique law practices, advice to prospective law students, and special events. If you would like to share a story idea, please write, call, or e-mail: Communications Office WMU-Cooley Law School 300 S. Capitol Ave. Lansing, MI 48933 (517) 371-5140 ext. 2916 Fax: (517) 334-5780 communications@cooley.edu Benchmark is published twice a year by the administrative offices of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, 300 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing, MI 48933 ALUMNI DIRECTORY The alumni directory is located in the WMU-Cooley portal. You will need an individual user name and password to access the database. Please call the Alumni Office at 517-371-5140, ext. 2045, or e-mail alumni@cooley.edu with questions.

Features Winter 2017

Champions of Justice This issue of Benchmark celebrates alumni and faculty who are promoting justice for all. Their spirit is exemplified by featured graduate Erica Kirkwood, deputy general counsel of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, who dedicates herself to making life better for those in her community. Fellow Chicagoland alumni Ahmed Salim and John Mallul made their marks improving access to healthcare and battling organized crime, respectively. Buffalo-area graduate John Ottaviano plays a key role in rebuilding his city’s local economy. Graduates Mark Chang, born in Taiwan and now in Dallas, and Sofia Guzman, born in Honduras and now in Miami, are immigration law specialists navigating the increasingly choppy legal waters in which their clients tread. WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel was just named a Champion of Justice by the State Bar of Michigan for his work to help the beleaguered residents of Flint gain safe drinking water. Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon and her WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team just gained the exoneration of yet another wrongfully convicted man—her fourth such success—imprisoned 42 years for a crime he did not commit. These great lawyers and the many others featured in this issue represent the best of WMU-Cooley Law School. Collectively, we salute them as our own champions of justice. Sincerely,

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ERICA KIRKWOOD Erica Kirkwood finds professional success and joy in mentoring others in the Windy City.

JOHN OTTAVIANO John Ottaviano dedicates his energy to revitalizing his lifelong hometown in Lockport, New York.

AHMED SALIM Ahmed Salim lives his motto: Work hard, get educated, give back.

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

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

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


JOHN MALLUL John Mallul finds a law degree is an important factor in his success as an FBI agent.

Edward H. Pappas Dickinson Wright PLLC Troy, Michigan Hon. Bart Stupak Venable, LLP Washington, D.C.



Growing up, Erica Kirkwood (Souris Class, 2009) was surrounded by family in law enforcement. Her dad is a sheriff. Her sister is a sheriff. Her grandmother is a retired sheriff. She even has an uncle and aunt who are sheriffs. Plus two sheriff cousins. Kirkwood even took the sheriff’s exam and passed it. But something stopped her from going down that path. “I liked the idea of law enforcement, but I just wanted to do something different,” shrugged Kirkwood. “I also loved FBI agents Mulder and Scully, when they had their show on TV, and that inspired me too. It seemed like a really exciting and rewarding career.” The seed was planted and Kirkwood concentrated on making her goal of becoming an FBI agent a reality. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, then looked for the next step. That step came to a skidding halt when she found out that the FBI was on a hiring freeze. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Kirkwood, shaking her head. “It didn’t make any sense to me, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I ended up putting the FBI career on hold, while taking a job with the city of Chicago as an investigator. The job involved mostly investigating businesses. I would inspect business licenses and make sure that they were in compliance with municipal ordinances and public way use rules, and investigate consumer protection complaints. Oddly enough, I found that I really liked the work. It got me thinking about my goals and my future. ”But it was Kirkwood’s father who turned her head to another side of the law.

From law enforcement to law school ERICA KIRKWOOD:

FROM FBI TO J.D. “I have to be honest; it was my dad who inspired me to go to law school,” said Kirkwood. “I kept hearing his voice. He went to WMU-Cooley. I remember him coming home from his classes and telling me all these great stories. He would tell me how the professors were so smart. How much he learned. I found his exciting tales very contagious. “That was the point when I realized that going to law school was really what I wanted to do. I didn’t need to be an FBI agent.” Yet Kirkwood was conflicted. She didn’t want to give up her job with the city. Nor could she afford to quit. She needed part-time classes. After looking at the Illinois law schools, and realizing they didn’t offer any part-time programs that worked with her schedule, she started looking outside Illinois. “I wasn’t ready to give up,” declared Kirkwood. “I knew there was something out there for me. Then I heard my dad’s voice again – telling me about WMU-Cooley’s parttime program, AND they offered classes in Lansing, AND they offered weekend classes!” That was it. Kirkwood started law school the next semester, with a scholarship to boot. (continued) (continued)




The next generation of black leaders On August 1, 2017, Kirkwood received the Hon. A. Leon Higginbotham Award from the National Bar Association for her dedication to and mentorship of the next generation of black lawyers. In September 2017, Kirkwood was selected as a 2018 Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Program Fellow. IMPACT develops and engages culturally competent executives across the public, private and notfor-profit sectors. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business serves as the educational partner for IMPACT. Members of Booth’s worldrenowned faculty provide high-level instruction in topic areas such as business ethics, negotiations, decisionmaking, and interpersonal dynamics. The intensive, nine-month program begins in September and provides their fellows with the broad knowledge base, keen insight, and sharpened perspective designed to augment their effectiveness as leaders.

“I was going to be able to go after the bad guys and help consumers and children. Really meaningful work.”

“It was funny,” laughed Kirkwood. “I thought I would be giving up a lot by going to law school on weekends, but I loved it, especially the weekend students. I found them to be a different type of student – more focused. It felt like they knew what they wanted to do, and they seemed to have a greater level of determination.” Typical of Kirkwood, no matter how busy, she found ways to do more. In her second year of law school she took it upon herself, with the help of a few classmates, to start the Weekend Law Society student group. “They made me the first president!” she said with pride. “I think we did a lot to support our weekend community and build our resources. We also managed to host a number of exam preparation study groups. It seemed to add to the bond we already had for each other.”

OVERWHELMING CHALLENGES Commuting to school could be a challenge, especially during winter, but Kirkwood was determined to let nothing get in her way. “It was my last semester, and I had a Moot Court competition coming up that weekend. I was on my way to Lansing, Michigan, during one of our horrible Michigan winters – you know what I’m talking about! Well, I had gotten all the way to Kalamazoo and, you guessed it, I got into a car accident and totally wrecked my car. “But that wasn’t what I was thinking about! I was thinking I needed to get to school because I had my Moot Court class that day. I called my (then) boyfriend, who came to Michigan to get me. He met me at the hospital. You should have seen his face when I told him he had to take me to school. He didn’t know what to say, other than ‘What are you talking about, you can’t


miss Moot Court?’ Well, we left my car – it wasn’t going anywhere anyway – and we left the hospital for Lansing. “Amazingly, I made it to class! My professor was stunned, and said ‘What are you doing here?’ I told him I had to be there because I didn’t want to miss a class and I didn’t want to mess up my grade. Well, I’ll just say that he was very gracious because I noticed he didn’t have me participate much that day in class, and he even let us out a little early. Makes me laugh to this day. I was fortunate to only have a few minor bruises and a chipped tooth, so, in retrospect, everything turned out fine. It also definitely turned out to be a crazy story to tell.” Kirkwood drove every weekend for three years, taking classes on both Saturday and Sunday, while continuing to work full time with the city. Asked how she was able to fit it all in, she responded with a smile, “I have my little village, and it definitely helps to know how to multi-task! It was hard, but the whole experience was actually inspiring for me. It gave me tons of confidence in my abilities.” Confident and feeling prepared to do anything, according to Kirkwood. “I felt like WMU-Cooley definitely prepared me to come out and practice law with the city. Initially I was an investigator, then I had a private practice, and even hired two associates.

My law school experience taught me how to run a business. I don’t know too many law schools that not only teach you how to practice law, but how to run your own law firm.”

MOVING UP IN THE WINDY CITY After graduation, Kirkwood decided she would continue her work with the city of Chicago. She was seeing more and more interesting cases, and she was given more responsibilities. “I started to litigate different consumer fraud cases,” recalled Kirkwood. “It was intriguing work. One of the big cases I worked on dealt with vacation rental companies – businesses like Airbnb and HomeAway. Our role is to protect consumers who don’t know about our laws, like the fact that you actually need a license to host your home for less than 30 days.” That project led Kirkwood to handling other big projects, including foreclosure cases. Then a friend told her about an opportunity with the state of Illinois.

“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” declared Kirkwood. “I was going to be able to go after the bad guys and help consumers and children. Really meaningful work. I am now the Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. I negotiate our contracts, our intergovernmental agreements, our memorandums of understanding, vendor contracts, hotel contracts, software agreements. We have negotiated agreements for mobile apps, as well as data sharing and university agreements. “I also manage our panel of outside adoption attorneys, attorney general’s cases, Office of Civil Rights complaints, and I make sure any changes to our rules and procedures are legally sound. So, it’s a multitude of responsibilities.”

SUPPORTING BLACK WOMEN LAWYERS Her work with the state is not the only thing Kirkwood fits into her life. For the past three years she has been on the board of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago. This year she is president. (continued)




“I have found my journey, in and of itself, a very rewarding path, but giving back by helping other black women lawyers succeed has been a reward I can’t put a price on.” ERICA KIRKWOOD

LAW SCHOOL TRAINING FOR CAREER AND LIFE “One of the great things BWLA of Chicago does is host mentor dinners throughout the year. We have mentors, all local attorneys in different areas of the law, who attend and talk to women about their work experiences and the roads they each took to get into their positions. “We also host a spring fundraiser where we raise money for law students, including scholarships for internship opportunities. This year we walked in the Bud Billiken day parade, one of the oldest parades in the city of Chicago, to improve the visibility of Chicago’s black women lawyers and their contributions to our community.” Kirkwood is especially excited about her theme for the year called “BWLA Excel,” which focuses on how women can excel in both their personal and professional careers. “I have found in my life that black women attorneys seem to have a harder time getting into board positions, at every level – corporate boards, city boards, state and county, and other boards and commissions. I started the T.E.A. leadership program, which stands for Train, Excel, Appoint. We are bringing in a select panel group of leaders to run workshops and skillsbased classes in support of improving women’s roles in leadership.


Not only does Kirkwood feel that law school prepared her for career success, she says it trained her for success in her work-life balance. “I have the most amazing husband,” exclaimed Kirkwood. “We’ve been married a little over six years, and we just had a new baby boy, Braxton. He’s been such a great support to me at every level. Time is precious, so we make spending time together, and as a family, a priority. If we do have any spare time, we love to watch movies, listen to music, go to rooftop restaurants, or just go to the park or to a concert.” Spare time is something Kirkwood has always used to learn and explore new things. In fact, Kirkwood has been curious all her life. Probably because her father and mother encouraged it. At the age of 13, she was already a television producer for CAN TV, which is a public access network in Chicago, where her father produced television shows. He had all his children get certified in production, so Kirkwood and her siblings were well versed in being behind a camera and producing shows at very young ages. The show was called Financial Concepts of Success, where guests were invited to appear on the show to share expertise in the areas of financial success.

“We got to produce the shows, be behind the cameras, and sometimes even interview people,” shared Kirkwood. “I’ve actually been on Four Weddings, which is a wedding show about getting married, and House Hunters, which is a show about finding your home.” Kirkwood is excited about all she’s been able to accomplish to date, but is equally enthusiastic about what the future has to bring.

“I love my life, my family, and my work,” said Kirkwood. “I can’t imagine it being better, but I also know that that’s exactly what I see myself doing – making life better for, not just me, but for the people around me and my community.”





Dedicates his energy to rebuilding the city’s economy

John Ottaviano has been married to his wife Christine for 27 years. Together they have four children; Olivia, a Niagara University graduate, works for Goldman Sachs; Taylor is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of New York and is employed as the art director for the marketing firm Cummings & Partners; Alexandra earned her degree at Rochester Institute of Technology and is a quality control coordinator for First Source; and John J. Ottaviano III is in his second year at the University of Buffalo School of Engineering.   “My family now and my family when I was growing up was the backbone of my existence. Without them I could never deal with the day-to-day challenges and stress the world sometimes throws at you,” said Ottaviano. “Everything I do, I do for them, and I am rewarded each day by seeing how happy and successful they are.

(Left-right) are Ottaviano, Taylor, Christine, Olivia, Alex and John

After a decade-long journey, on March 27, 2015, a $15 million, 93,500square-foot ice arena was dedicated. THE PATH TO BUILDING AN ICE ARENA AND THE CITY’S ECONOMY

Ottaviano speaks at a press conference during the opening of Lockport, New York’s Cornerstone Arena.

Lockport, New York, with a population of 21,000, sits between the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls along the Erie Canal. Once known as a manufacturing community where General Motors employed some 7,000 individuals but now employs just over 1,000, during the 1990s Lockport found it necessary to address rebuilding its economy. Community leaders and philanthropists, including WMU-Cooley graduate John Ottaviano (Morell Class, 1985), joined forces to answer this call.


Many people visit the area to take boat rides through the historic Erie Canal and visit hydraulic caves, which were once used to provide water power to the area’s manufacturers. Tourism became an important driver for the city’s economy, but had seasonal limitations.

the construction of a new rink in Lockport to replace an ice rink that closed in 1986 due to the region’s poor economy. Ottaviano explained that because of city politics at the time, the rink was never built, but a market study was conducted.

“The tourism industry does a great job drawing thousands of individuals to the city during the summer,” said Ottaviano. “During the winter months it is hard to attract visitors to the city and I recognized the need to draw people downtown for something other than retail.”

“When I saw the overwhelming support by the community for an ice rink, I knew it had to be done,” said Ottaviano.

The idea of an ice arena first surfaced in 1989 when a local developer offered $1 million toward

In 1997, Ottaviano put together an independent not-for-profit corporation made up of several community leaders to see through the results of the study. The Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center, Inc. was formed with Ottaviano as its chair

and with the goal to raise funds to prepare a plan for construction and operation of such a facility. Over the next seven years, the group raised the necessary funds to begin construction and sold the naming rights to Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union. The arena boasts two NHL-sized ice rinks with a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system that keeps the ice frozen while at the same time keeping the spectator areas a constant temperature. In addition to seating for 630 spectators, the arena offers ice time for competitive hockey, figure skating, training, public open skate times and more. Several organizations have made Cornerstone Arena their home, including the Lockport Lock Monsters Youth Hockey Association, the Buffalo Skating Club, and the Sled Hockey Association (a form of hockey for individuals with physical disabilities), among others.



In just two years of being open for business, Cornerstone Arena has attracted 15,000 visitors each year, and hockey teams from as far away as Montreal, Dallas, Tampa, Beijing and Moscow have come to Lockport to play the sport. It is anticipated that direct demand for hotel stays in the region will surpass 4,500 annually due to the arena, and because of philanthropic gifts, open skate times are provided to the community at no cost. Other subsidies are also available for kids who cannot afford to pay fees for participating in the arena’s various activities. “There were a lot of skeptics in the beginning, including an article by our local sports editor calling the idea of raising $15 million in grants and donations ‘pie in the sky,’” said Ottaviano. “Our board stuck with it and raised the money.”

“It took 10 long years of hard work by a dedicated board of directors who shared my vision for an ice arena and a willingness to meet almost every Saturday morning to keep the dream alive.” Ottaviano’s 10 years on this project was done without any compensation. He provided more than $500,000 of pro bono legal services to his community. “Not including my marriage and the birth of our four children, the groundbreaking for the arena was the happiest day of my life,” Ottaviano remembered. “And on opening day, the entire city was excited; the press conference was packed with every media outlet from Buffalo attending.”

JOHN OTTAVIANO, THE PERSON Ottaviano was born and raised in Lockport. He graduated from Lockport Senior High School in 1977 and attended nearby Niagara University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He chose WMUCooley because he had four friends who had already chosen the law school, all who were sons of judges throughout the state. After graduation, he spent his first year working in the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office Appeals Bureau writing legal briefs for appeals. In 1986, a local law firm, Earl, DeLange, May, Jones

& Schmidt, hired him as an associate to represent Lockport Savings Bank. He became a partner in July of the same year. After six years, he left to start his own law firm, Ottaviano, Koplas and Blackley. In March 2009, Ottaviano merged his practice with Harris Beach PLLC, where he became a partner. In February 2012, he changed firms and joined Rupp Basse Pfalzgraf and Cunningham LLC, where he remained until this year when he accepted a position as First Assistant County Attorney for Niagara County. 

While practicing law, Ottaviano became enmeshed in the community’s fiber and added an additional title to his name in 1993 when he was appointed to serve as attorney for the city of Lockport, a post he still holds today. Ottaviano’s pride in his community keeps him on the lookout for new opportunities to bring to town. While he and his wife, Christine, were visiting friends in Ellicottville, New York, they went on a garden tour. Soon


after that visit, he became co-founder of the annual Lockport in Bloom garden tour, which had its 13th year this past summer. “I said to my wife, Lockport has magnificent historic homes with beautiful gardens. We need to do something like this in Lockport,” noted Ottaviano. “When I got back to town, I ran the idea by the mayor and he liked it, so I formed an exploratory committee and it was received by the community very well.”

Cornerstone Arena

When Ottaviano has spare time he enjoys spending it with his friends and family. He has two dogs, Yellow Labs named Diesel and Olive. He also enjoys golfing and skiing, and regularly runs up to six miles, three times a week. One of Ottaviano’s favorite activities is working on his koi pond and rock garden on an escarpment that overlooks the 18th hole of the Lockport Town and Country Club.



Yet the distance traveled and the years in between haven’t diminished Salim’s cultural pride, and the values of his upbringing. Those are lessons he has never forgotten.

At just two years of age Ahmed Salim moved with his family from their homeland in Pakistan to the United States, into the south suburbs of Chicago. Salim’s parents wanted what every other immigrant family wanted – a better life for their children.

Work hard. Get educated. Give back.


His parents’ mantra, ‘work hard, get educated, and give back,’ has guided and given him direction all along the way. “My parents stressed the importance of working hard and giving back to our community,” remembered Salim. “My father would tell me that by helping my neighbors and those in need, you will also help the community prosper. That made sense to me.”

What also stood out in Salim’s mind was the importance of education. “My father would say, ‘If you go to school and work hard, you will get your opportunity.’” It was never a matter of whether Salim would go to college, but where and when. So after graduating from his high school, Salim enrolled at DePaul University. Chicago was home for him, and he was very much attracted to the ideals of the university, and its curriculum which incorporated service learning partnerships throughout the Chicago area. Then after college in 2006, Salim and his brother started a business together.

DECIDING TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL “Going to law school was actually something I had always wanted to do,” explained Salim, “but I thought I should get some work experience before I made the next step.” Not long after the two started their business, Salim began to notice issues with the economy and what looked like an oncoming recession. “Business started decreasing. People had less money to spend. I realized fairly quickly that I needed to have something I could fall back on – a career that would be stable for the rest of my life.” For Salim, that was the study of law. “I had always thought of law school growing up, and I felt it would be a natural transition to go from a business background to law school – especially with the state of the world at that time.” But going to law school wasn’t just an economic decision for Salim.

“Law was more a passion for me,” said Salim. “I’ve always had the desire to help people, and when you look at something like law versus business, I felt like a legal background would allow me to do more, and give me the base needed to make real change and impact others’ lives.” (continued)




“They liked that the (WMU-Cooley) class sizes were small and that the professors actually spent time with you, making sure students got what they needed.” AHMED SALIM

With Salim’s roots and community in Chicago, he knew he wanted to stay in the region for law school.

my denial letters to the other law schools waiting on my decision.”

“I had a friend from high school and a friend from college who attended WMUCooley, and they told me about the Grand Rapids campus and the great professors,” recalled Salim. “They liked that the class sizes were small and that the professors actually spent time with you, making sure students got what they needed.

Salim started with WMU-Cooley that year, and he immediately became active in law school, including being an officer in student government and engaging with the local legal community. He learned to be in front of people and working together in groups. But his primary curricular focus was to be a public defender.

“My father and I decided, once I got my acceptance letter, to drive down to Grand Rapids and check out that campus. The minute I stepped foot onto the campus, and saw the town, I knew that’s where I wanted to go to law school. I wrote my check to WMU-Cooley that day, and sent

“When I got into law school, I originally thought I wanted to be a public defender. That was my goal. But I also knew WMU-Cooley had a great externship program, and I could go just about anywhere in the nation for that experience.

Salim’s Chicago community

“I had the absolute privilege of externing for the San Francisco Public Defender Office, which is one of the best public defender’s offices in the entire country. I learned what I really wanted to do in my legal career there. I had a front row seat to see how people can truly help other people, while utilizing their law degree to do so. “Everything I was able to do during law school was amazing. I still keep in contact with many friends and my professors from WMU-Cooley. It was easy to build strong relationships. Not only did everyone support you during law school, but after graduation. I feel like that’s something Western Michigan Cooley offers that a lot of my colleagues who went to other law schools don’t

Islamabad, Pakistan

have – accessible faculty and a network of alumni who just stay close. It’s great to have that.”

CAREER AND ASPIRATIONS After graduating from WMU-Cooley, and being interested in politics, Salim started working for a congressman in California. It was during this experience that Salim was appointed to be his point person for any Affordable Care Act matters. That experience not only led him into the healthcare field, but doing a considerable amount of compliance work for area hospitals. Today Salim is the Regional Director of Compliance at Presence Health, working in the heart of downtown Chicago in the Loop area. He spends much of his time devoted to investigating potential fraud, waste, and abuse of government resources. “My job is to ensure that we’re following all rules and regulations provided by the Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C. My goal is to protect the organization against fraud, waste and abuse within the organization. Essentially that’s done by conducting audits, making sure we’re billing appropriately, following procedures correctly, and making sure patients have their privacy. “WMU-Cooley really prepared me for that – the ability to actually understand rules, understand regulations. It’s a growing field for attorneys because healthcare rules and regulations are very complex. “Attorneys can go in a lot of different directions. You could use a law degree in practice, but also take a non-traditional route, like a compliance officer or analyst.”

Working in the healthcare field has been rewarding and invigorating, but Salim has recently set his goals on entering the political arena. He feels he can now move his passion in ways he can help his community by inspiring growth through leadership and policy-making. “Having worked on numerous political campaigns, I knew I had the passion. I remember being in the throes of a campaign and meeting up with then State Senator Barack Obama. I spoke and met with him many, many times, because it happened that we were both on the same campaign stops. Nobody ever expected, or even thought at that time, that he would eventually become the President of the United States six years later.

Chicago, Illinois

“It’s actually kind of crazy. It makes you think anything is possible.” Being part of that campaign was what Salim says gave him the confidence and knowledge to take the next big step in his career. “I think it was working on that political campaign that had me saying, “Hey, I really can do something where I will be able to help out my community. I thought it might be something behind the scenes, possibly working for a congressman or working somewhere in Washington, but I never thought I’d actually run myself one day, but here I am! “A lot of my life experiences have led me to the decision to run for Congress. Many of the main issues, like healthcare, immigration, student loans, livable wage, touch me personally. It seemed to me that many of these concerns aren’t being talked about

Grand Rapids, Michigan

San Francisco, California London, United Kingdom





Study Abroad in Law School anymore, and they were affecting a lot of people. I saw this as an injustice in my community. It was time for someone to stand up. I decided that person was going to be me.”

FAMILY AND CULTURE Salim has been married to his wife, Asra, for close to five years now. She works in healthcare as an infection preventionist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. “There are so many connections. I met Asra when I was going to law school. On top of that, Asra’s sister was a Western Michigan University Cooley Law School graduate and one of her sister's friends was a professor at WMU-Cooley. That professor even taught my Intro to Law class during my first year in law school. We got married after I graduated from law school, and we moved back to California, mostly because she had a job there. I didn’t have any career connections in California, but fortunately it didn’t take me long. I thank the WMU-Cooley alumni network for that.

“It’s funny how small the world can be. It made me realize how the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School family is connected everywhere.” The idea of being connected is important to Salim. Whether it’s in Chicago, Grand Rapids, California, or fostering the customs


of his homeland in Pakistan. “Our family can speak Urdu, and my parents can also speak Punjabi. Mine is a little broken, but we try to stay on top of it because it’s our culture. I want to stay true to our past. The last time I went back to Pakistan I was in the sixth grade. I got to go back with my mother and my sister in the summer of 1996. We got to see all my family. It was unforgettable. I’m hoping to return to Pakistan soon, once things settle down with the campaign, especially to bring my wife so I can introduce her to my family there, and show her the beauty and wonder of my heritage.” For now, it’s Salim’s Chicago community that is riding in the front seat. “All my dad talks about now is the campaign,” smiled Salim. “This year, my parents and I had the opportunity to march in Oak Park’s 4th of July parade. I couldn’t believe it. Here they were, both of them, despite their age, holding our banner, with no complaint. It was a couple miles of walking, but they held the banner high, and loved every second of it. “It was a defining moment for them because they could see how positively people responded to us. They were so supportive. It also gave them such pride in how they raised their children.”

Michigan Cooley grads, they immediately want to know what I’m doing, and let me know that they are there to help me out. It’s an instant camaraderie that I don’t think you find elsewhere. “I don’t know if it’s because we all bonded together in law school because the classes were small, or if it’s because we were all going through something that was really tough – tougher than most – but I am grateful and appreciative to everyone there. “I can’t say enough without sounding hokey, but attending WMU-Cooley was the best decision I’ve made, and I’m not just saying that because I ended up in a great position.”

“Essentially, I owe everything that I have to the fact that I did go to WMU-Cooley. I tell people that all the time.” AHMED SALIM

It’s hard to imagine how law students can fit a study abroad into their schedule, but many do, and it’s always an experience they would not trade for the world. Salim participated in WMU-Cooley’s three-week Toronto Study Abroad Program, in addition to three months in London, during his time with WMU-Cooley. “The opportunity to participate in WMU-Cooley’s Study Abroad Program literally changed my life,” declared Salim. “I made connections and friends with people from all over the world. We had people from Australia, people from Europe, people from everywhere in the United States. It’s not only an opportunity to learn about the laws in other lands, but you are afforded the luxury of getting to know the country and the people you are visiting. “I remember taking a train with one of my law school peers to Paris, just for the weekend. We could travel and country hop, all while we were going to law school. It’s an experience I wish everyone took advantage of. What’s exciting is that in a couple of weeks, my wife and I are visiting Paris. I get to take her back to see all the amazing places I got to visit five years ago when I was doing my study abroad.”

WMU-COOLEY LAW SCHOOL FAMILY Even though Salim has been out of law school for five years, he still feels connected to WMU-Cooley. “I’ve met many people in other states, and it’s great, because once they discover that we’re both Western



John Mallul (O’Hara Class, 1983) was born and raised in Detroit. His father worked at the local Cadillac car plant as a machine repairman on the factory floor for 44 years. As much as his father never was in jeopardy of being laid off or let go, Mallul and his family felt the devastating effect the troubles in the car industry had on the city of Detroit. “Everybody felt the pain,” declared Mallul. “Not only did everyone’s parent feel it, but so did their children, their aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews – everybody was laid off. You couldn’t even go to your family for help because they were in the throes of their own crisis. “That was it. I didn’t want to ever be dependent upon anyone. Or dependent on the economy – good, bad or indifferent. Or dependent on a business. I wanted to be self-sufficient and responsible for myself, which meant it needed to be a professional career. In my mind, at the time, right or wrong, there were only two true professions; law or medicine.”

in WMU-Cooley’s evening program. Mallul’s father, despite modest means, paid for his son’s tuition for both undergrad and law school, and Mallul worked to pay his living expenses. All was going as planned – until the bottom fell out.

“Halfway through law school I got the call that my mom passed away suddenly from a heart attack,” remembered Mallul. “She was only 56. I could’ve handled it more maturely. I remember being angry, incredibly angry. And my grades reflected it. I took a term off and came home to help my father with the adjustment. At the time I wanted to drop out, but my father talked me into sticking with it. I That mindset, and Mallul’s independent am very thankful he did.” nature, paved the road ahead. Despite the time away from law school, Mallul’s graduation was only delayed “I knew that I needed to first go to slightly. He graduated in 1982, and had college, but it wasn’t until I was in hoped he could continue working as a college that I came to realize that it was the legal profession that would give clerk with a local law firm. me the ability to really be independent. “Interestingly enough,” said Mallul, I never even entertained the idea of “the man I worked for during law working for a firm. I only considered school came up to me the day after I a career as a sole practitioner. That graduated, and said, ‘Well, I’m not going was my main motivation to go to to need you anymore.’ I was stunned. law school.” After catching my breath, I asked him, ‘What do you mean by that?’ He said, After graduating from Michigan State University in the spring of 1978, Mallul simply, ‘Well, you’re going to take the started law school the following January bar exam and you’re going be a lawyer.


I can’t afford you at that point. Nonetheless I’m going to pay you, regardless.’ He took out his checkbook and wrote me three months worth of pay and told me to put it in the bank and go home and study for the bar exam. As much as it shocked me, it also impressed me.

John Mallul

“It wasn’t much after I passed the bar exam that I approached a woman attorney right down the block from the law school about sharing space at her firm. It was appealing to me, plus the office arrangement was good. We had two secretaries and a clerk. The arrangement worked out ideally because she gave me nearly all of her criminal work, and I handed over cases that were more up her alley. I had so much criminal case work at that point that I found myself in court probably four or five times a week. Although I never considered myself a public speaker, I fell in love with presenting a case to a jury. I really did. I was thoroughly engrossed with trial work and I did that for the next three years.”


“I always encourage every young person to attend law school first. I truly do, because a legal education provides you such clarity of thinking.” JOHN MALLUL

So what was it that turned Mallul’s head from a successful solo practice attorney to a career as an FBI agent? Serendipity and great timing it would seem. “Back in law school I had an Ethics professor who, by coincidence, was also a former FBI agent. He also happened to live across the street from me. One day I was returning from a run when he saw me and flagged me down. We ended up that day sitting on his porch and talking for hours about his career as an FBI agent. “I started thinking about how I might like a career as an FBI agent – but I also knew there was a lot to consider, especially since I was newly married and everything, including work was going so well. The only negative was that my mother and fatherin-law despised attorneys. I remember my mother-in-law saying to me, ‘Why don’t you do something worthwhile and useful in your life, like joining the FBI? I understand they like to hire attorneys.’ “I don’t believe I changed careers for my (continued)



in-laws, but I was thinking to myself that I had spent my entire life in the state of Michigan, and, if I was being honest with myself, the idea of traveling as an FBI agent intrigued me. But I was so conflicted because I had just spent three years building my own practice from the bottom up. I was now financially self-sufficient. I even had a brand new car. For once in my life, my bills were paid and everything was fine.” What struck a chord for Mallul, though, was that the FBI was hiring. The more Mallul thought about it, the more he knew he needed to try. It was an opportunity he would never have again. And he knew if things didn’t work out, he still had a career as an attorney in private practice. Mallul applied that year to the FBI, indicating that he was an attorney. The timing was fortuitous because in 1986 the FBI’s attorney pool was at a bare minimum. They not only accepted Mallul, they put him on the FBI fast track. “The fastest you could progress through the FBI’s application process at that time was approximately a year, from start to finish, which is what I was able to do,” explained Mallul. “Once you apply, you need to take their exam, pass their preliminary, then their full background check, then you go through the entire selection process. As a new agent, it was no nonsense. You were bought and paid for by them. Every minute of every day was their time. They told you what to do and what not to do.


“I spent four months at Quantico. I remember thinking to myself, ‘John, what did you do to yourself? You just checked yourself into the county lock up for the next four months, and this was your idea.’ I had to laugh! Yet I was impressed by their training.”

“I wanted to work in either public corruption or organized crime,” conveyed Mallul of his aspirations with the bureau. “I realized I was in the right place at the right time. It was the week that the Spilotro brothers went missing. The infamous Outfit murder of the two of them. I ultimately spent my entire career on organized crime.

Mallul not only felt his legal background was incredibly helpful during his training, but in “My first organized crime squad was in advancing his career with the bureau. March of 1988. The case agent was a real mentor to me. He was one of the best. He “As much as the bureau training attempted knew I was new, and that I didn’t have to do a brief legal explanation, things other case work, so he took me under his like what it takes to do a search warrant, wing. I worked for him, with him, and at interview techniques, and other very basic his direction for many years. We spoke to concepts, it didn’t compare to what I knew countless witnesses and obtained a number as an attorney,” stated Mallul. “In private of grand jury indictments. I learned how to practice I spent a lot of time in criminal cover cases on every level. It was thrilling. work. I knew what was what, and how to do it. No other career prepares you as well.” “Then in February of 1990, we indicted an entire ‘street crew’ – 20 individuals, from the TAKING ON THE WINDY CITY top down, for racketeering. Mallul knew he wanted to work in a big city, “We had the principal bookmaker who and requested an assignment to New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. In June of 1986, he participated in the murder of two other rival bookmakers. He had set them both up. He was assigned to the Windy City. even brought them to the scene. He thought “My pay was $20,000 a year, and my he in turn was going to be murdered, so he wife and I lived in a modest apartment in rolled. He gave it up to the bureau. He gave downtown Chicago. My rent was a paycheck the entire case. He was on the stand for and a half for me, so financially it was six weeks. actually a backward step.” “For a year and a half in pre-trial prep, I Although Mallul had paid attention to the traveled every week to talk to previous grand national criminal scene while in Michigan, jury witnesses. They had been everywhere; he recognized that he never had been truly every corner of the United States. Some were exposed to it. But that was what he wanted in witness protection and some had just fled. to do. We tracked each of them down, found them,

talked to them, and brought them in for trial. is incredibly important. You need to be There were three murders, multiple counts of uniquely qualified to do interviews, develop beatings, extortions, and other violent acts.” cases, author court-ordered intercepts, do body recordings, forensic work, and research. For over three decades Mallul worked in high “It’s good if an agent can get someone profile criminal case work. to cooperate, but what you really need is Mallul was also instrumentally involved in someone who is willing to take the stand,” the bureau’s work to help clean up organized pointed out Mallul. “Although we’ve crime affiliations in national and local union brought cases without testimony, like wireleadership roles. He spent years traveling tap material into court without a source to the East Coast bringing administrative establishing the basis, it makes the job actions and DOJ criminal referrals against much harder, and sometimes impossible. union members. “You need to be able to develop sources, “We fortunately had a number of cooperating almost befriend them, because you need to individuals to make it all work. I eventually be able to establish some affinity between became squad supervisor in Chicago. you and the individual. That’s always the key Ultimately we brought what’s called factor, because you need someone who can the ‘Family Secrets’ case against three talk to people at their level. If you don’t do different ‘crews’ of the Chicago Outfit crime that, it’s a long road. organization. We indicted 11 individuals for “I felt I was good at that. I operated a racketeering, to include 18 prior gangland number of different sources. This is gonna murders, which was a big event. Five sound bad, but I like going to Las Vegas. I defendants went to trial, which lasted over have played blackjack and have thrown dice three months. They were mostly bosses, to and everything else. I’ve won and I’ve lost. the tune of criminals like Frank Calabrese I know what it’s like to lose. When you’re Sr., Joey Lombardo, and James ‘Little Jimmy’ Marcello, all having been involved in talking to an informant who gambles, you can empathize. You can appreciate what various racketeering murders. they’re going through. “I spent a great deal of time with our “Unfortunately, I also have smoked cooperating witness, Nick Calabrese. He told us of his involvement, where he was the cigarettes and I’ve had a drink or two. But one to bring the person to the scene, or the it makes it easier for me to relate to some individuals. I don’t talk down to them. I one who had helped dispose of the body, empathize with their human nature. This is or having actually committed the murder himself. We got him to take the stand for the not to say that you need to smoke cigarettes, drink and gamble to be an agent, but my trial. The jury convicted everyone. point is that you need to be credible with “I think the bureau and the entire squad people if you are going to be able to develop did a phenomenal job. It is one of the sources. landmark cases in Chicago. It was on the “I also have tried to impart this to newer news every night.” agents. If you’re going to hold yourself up by WHAT MAKES A GREAT FBI AGENT? some ethical, moral or religiously superior Outside of what one might see on television, standard, that’s a big mistake. You won’t get a great FBI agent needs certain skills and far. You’re not going to develop any meaningattributes. ful human interaction. If that’s how you want to conduct yourself, you should go into forenAccording to Mallul, the best qualities sic work with the evidence recovery team, or depend on the type of work one does for stick to paper, or go to headquarters, where the bureau. But for the type of work he did – case work – he felt the agent’s personality you just talk to other agents.”

MALLUL AS MENTOR “Throughout my career, I’ve been asked by friends, neighbors, and just people I’ve met during my everyday life, if I might talk to their son or daughter, or even a nephew. I always encourage every young person to attend law school first. I truly do, because a legal education provides you such clarity of thinking. You learn to appreciate the dynamics surrounding you for the rest of your life. You’d like to think that individuals would have that ability before, but honestly, it’s only in law school where you can get that kind of training.”

LIFE AFTER THE FBI When Mallul started with the FBI, the mandatory retirement age was 55, which was subsequently extended to 57. The latest someone could apply was 35, and subsequently to 37. “The bureau actually extended my retirement age by a year because I had a case coming up on a scheduled trial date and they allowed me to finish it. I ultimately retired at 58, after the trial was wrapped up. “It was an absolute privilege being with the bureau. I never once found myself on Sunday evening wishing I didn’t have to go to work the next day. I was excited to work on Monday morning. For me it was like entertainment. I just loved the job. I enjoyed every moment of it. “Now I work as a licensed private investigator. It’s very, very simple. I still work on criminal cases, right now on a murder case. I have worked on both the plaintiff and defense sides of clergy abuse cases. Most of my work is through attorneys who need some sort of investigative or background work performed before a settlement or trial. I’ve done work for major corporations, administrate agency litigation, and insurance fraud cases.”

“I still love getting up to work every day.”



Like any competitor, Chang’s hard work and passion to compete has led to his success.



Since graduating with honors at WMU-Cooley, Chang has worked extensively in immigration law, handling a variety of immigration consultations that ranged from U.S. Immigration Services’ family petition interviews, to E investor visas, to naturalization interviews and more. He is a member of the state bars of Texas, California, New Mexico and the District of Columbia, and is admitted to practice at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court of International Trade, the U.S. Tax Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mark Chang (Boyles Class, 2005) appreciates a good challenge, whether it’s in a courtroom or on a triathlon course. And it isn’t the completion of a trial or competition that fuels his ambition, but rather the competition itself that he relishes.

The opportunity to network with different student groups was integral to his WMU-Cooley experience, Chang noted.

The Public Defender Clinic, a blended program with the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s Office in Ann Arbor, allows law students to practice law under Michigan Court Rule 8.120. This court rule enables students to appear in court under the supervision of a state bar member and with the approval of the judge. Students handle a wide variety of defense work, including misdemeanors and felonies. It was in the public defender’s office that Chang learned about following one’s passion. (continued)


The best part of his WMU-Cooley experience was the mentorships, Chang said. “You had to earn your stripes in law school and I was able to rely on older classmates to help me through the process; helping me understand what classes to take and how to prepare for each class.

“Professor Terry Cavanaugh was running a public defender clinic that I participated in when he told me about an opportunity to work with the public defender in San Francisco, Jeff Adachi. It was very fascinating and a great opportunity,” he said.



Chang said his education at WMU-Cooley gave him the “intellectual flexibility, a deep understanding and skill set, that has helped me in my career and will help me as my business expands and grows in the Far East region over the next 20 to 30 years,” said Chang, who added that the depth of his law school education was key to launching his career.

WMU-Cooley also provided Chang an opportunity to work with legendary San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.


Mark Chang at the awards podium after successfully completing the 2015 Ironman Arizona Triathlon, a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

Chang, a native of Taiwan who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Tennessee, has volunteered for a number of organizations, including Shriners Hospital for Children, Catholic Charities and many more. Today Chang has his own law firm in Dallas, Texas, where his practice focuses on immigration issues as well as expanding to include personal injury and DUI. He gives credit for where his career is today to his education at WMU-Cooley.



“You have to look for a purpose in life. You have to ask yourself, what are you going to do with your law degree, whether it is for personal or professional achievement or to the benefit of your community? If you can answer that question then you will enjoy the process.” MARK CHANG

And in today’s politically charged climate, Chang believes the depth of his WMU-Cooley education has benefitted him in how he views issues related to one’s personal rights.

(from left) Szu-Lung Chang, WMU-Cooley President Don LeDuc, Szu-Ju Chang and Mark Chang at Szu-Ju’s graduation.

“Whether you are pro or anti of a particular movement here in America, it is important to know your constitutional rights,” he noted. Chang said that having a WMU-Cooley education definitely makes a difference in how he evaluates things. Chang also shares his passion for law with his two siblings, brother Szu-Lung Chang (C.J. Adams Class, 2008) and sister Szu-Ju Chang (Chipman Class, 2011), also graduates of WMU-Cooley. Szu-Lung practices law in Las Vegas, at Chang Law Group, which specializes in personal injury, trusts, probate, criminal defense and tax law. Szu-Ju Chang is an attorney with Nevada Legal Services, which provides free legal services to lowincome taxpayers in the Las Vegas area.

In California, Chang, who is fluent in traditional and simplified Mandarin, found a demand for his law and language skills. “It was post the 2008 recession, and I knew I could utilize my law degree better in southern California, where there was a large Mandarin-speaking Chinese population,” he added. A tireless advocate for his clients, eventually Chang was worried that the long hours and stress of a legal career was beginning to take a toll on his health. So, ever the competitor, he decided to take on the rigors and benefits of training for a triathlon.

“Part of the reason I started training, was that I was working a lot of hours. Working in your own practice is very demanding, and at that time we were expecting our first child. I want to be there for my children when they graduate from college, so I had a “My brother and sister would come to three-year strategy, working from the visit me when I was practicing law in Las shortest distance to the full distance of Vegas. And my brother likes to say that he a triathlon. I just went step by step.” moved to Las Vegas to stay with me and then I went and moved to California,” Mark Chang chuckled.

For Chang, having a WMU-Cooley education “definitely makes a difference in how I evaluate things.” MARK CHANG

In 2015, Chang successfully completed the Ironman Arizona Triathlon, a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Earlier that year Chang competed in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Chang, who was active with the Asian Pacific Law Student Organization and the Student ABA while at WMU-Cooley, continues to network with fellow graduates in Dallas where there is a large contingent of alumni. When Chang moved to Dallas, he explored different parts of the city and I encountered some WMU-Cooley grads, including Joseph Clemko (Livingston Class, 2014). “We had a very good conversation about his experiences and how I could learn from those. That relationship has been instrumental toward my successful transition to Dallas.”

Chang, along with Clemko, are part of a significantly sized WMU-Cooley alumni club in Dallas that meets regularly, including a reception held in October.

WMU-Cooley provided Chang and his siblings with a solid legal education, he said. “As a result, today we are members of 10 state bars and serve on multiple boards helping others.” He said he appreciates that WMU-Cooley gave him the opportunity to pursue an ABA-approved education. “Otherwise I would not be where I am today,” he said. Chang and his wife Cindy live in the Dallas area and have two daughters, Ariana and Isabella.

WMU-Cooley Law School founder and former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas E. Brennan (second from right) and the Chang siblings (from left) Szu-Ju Chang, Szu-Lung Chang and Mark Chang.




Sofia Guzman (C.J. Adams Class, 2008) was 6 years old when she moved from her native country, Honduras, to live with her mother and stepfather in the United States. At that time, Guzman could not speak, read, write or understand English. She was culture shocked when she arrived, but remembers being told that moving to the U.S. would provide her greater life opportunities.

She agrees the move was right for her. Guzman is the sole owner of a law firm in Florida, where she practices immigration law, among other specialties. “WMU-Cooley taught me discipline and perseverance – anything is possible if you believe in it and work for it,” Guzman, 35, said. “Who would have thought a little girl from a Third World country who couldn’t speak English would become a U.S. immigration lawyer? I owe WMU-Cooley for that.” Upon moving to Florida, Guzman had to face the challenge of adjusting to a different culture, as well as living with her mother – whom she hadn’t seen in two years.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life,” she said about meeting her long-lost sibling in Russia following graduation. “It was a wonderful dream come true.”

As a high school junior in Coconut Creek, Guzman took a government studies class where she learned about the various roles in law enforcement, including the court system and politics.

“I remember it was a cold winter that year… My bones hurt, but it was beautiful. I embraced it and went out dancing in the snow,” she laughed.

After graduating from WMU-Cooley with a concentration in litigation, Sofia returned to the Sunshine State where she worked at a personal injury law firm in south Florida. In less than a year, she learned not only how to practice law, but how to run a law firm. Sofia then decided to open up her own practice in Fort Lauderdale, where she has been practicing – with her mom by her side as her assistant – for seven years.

During her three years at WMU-Cooley in Lansing, Guzman met a myriad of people “I fell absolutely in love with pursuing from various states, representing a diverse law and becoming a lawyer,” she said. range of ethnicities and socioeconomic “I really wanted to help people and make backgrounds. It was through these an impact.” experiences that Guzman gained the During her senior year in high school, courage to travel and explore life beyond our “She’s always there for me,” Guzman said Guzman took classes at nearby Broward of her mother. “Nobody cares about your country’s borders. Community College. After graduation, she business as much as your mom.” “When I first started at WMU-Cooley, I attended Florida Atlantic University where While Guzman specializes in personal injury had never traveled outside the United she received an academic scholarship to States. Law school gave me confidence and and bankruptcy cases, her main focus is reside at FAU’s Business and Professional made me a braver person. It made me want on immigration, which has been a concern Woman’s Scholarship House. There, for many of her clients given the country’s Guzman resided with 15 women who shared to see the world,” said Guzman. “Since academic excellence, leadership experience then, I have traveled throughout Europe, the recent efforts in immigration reform. Middle East, and Asia.” and community responsibilities. “There have been a lot of delays in the processing of immigration petitions, and One of the most important travel events in While in college, Guzman was involved in I’m dealing with many frustrated clients various government organizations, including Guzman’s life occurred as a result of the serving on the FAU student senate, working many connections she made in law school, because investigations are taking longer. as an FAU student government assistant and meeting her half-brother, Manuel Guzman, More information is now required, and filing fees have increased,” she said. “I believe in for the first time. While in Lansing, Sofia interning for the supervisory adjudication learned about Manuel, who lives in Russia, lawful immigration. Sadly, not everyone has officers at the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and made the connection through a Russian a form of relief to be able to stay or reside and Immigration Services in West Palm in the U.S. But for those who do, and are friend she met at WMU-Cooley. Beach, Florida. In less than three years at facing potential removal from the U.S., FAU, she graduated with a degree in I work very hard to win their case and criminal justice. keep families together.” Guzman went on to graduate school at Outside of work, Guzman is dedicated Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, to helping others in need. She is a where, in eight months, she graduated board member of the Miami Rescue with honors, earning a Master of Science Mission, a faith-based nonprofit degree in criminal justice with a minor organization that provides food, shelter, in behavioral science. In 2005, she Sofia Guzman with a client from El Salvador and his family outside the Miami Immigration Court shortly after winning a education, medical care, and spiritual applied to WMU-Cooley’s Lansing cancellation of immigration removal trial. guidance to the homeless in south campus and began taking classes on a Florida. Guzman also volunteers as partial scholarship a few months later. a mentor, helping single women and “At that time, I had never traveled women with children break the cycle of outside of Florida, so I wanted to go to abuse, neglect, and homelessness at law school outside of the state,” Guzman the Broward Outreach Center. said. WMU-Cooley “welcomed me with “They are truly a great organization open arms. It was wonderful that I could helping those hurting most in our start there right away and didn’t have to community,” she said. go on a waiting list, because I was eager to start my law career.” Courtesy photo/Sofia Guzman


When Guzman moved from Florida to Michigan, she mentally prepared herself for a weather condition she had never experienced before – snow.

Sofia Guzman and her half-brother, Manuel Guzman, meet for the first time in Russia where Manuel lives.


Courtesy photo/Sofia Guzman

Sofia Guzman

“I spoke Spanish fluently, and my mom always told me: ‘Do not forget Spanish,’” Guzman said. “Speaking Spanish is a huge asset – especially in Florida.”




Alumni News WMU-Cooley Faculty and Graduates Receive

Numerous Honors

Rice is a shareholder at the law firm of Zausmer, August & Caldwell PC. She handles civil litigation matters, including first-party, no-fault and third-party automobile negligence claims, premises liability, construction accidents, fraud and insurance coverage disputes.

(Left-right) Emily Horvath, WMU-Cooley director of Academic Services and associate professor; Laura Genovich, shareholder of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC; Cinnamon Rice, shareholder of Zausmer, August & Caldwell PC; Lawrence Nolan, president and founder of Nolan Thomsen & Villas PC and immediate past president of the State Bar of Michigan; Susan Cook, partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP; Sarah Ostahowski, owner of Sarah’s Law Firm; and Mary Pigorsh, attorney at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge.

Women in the Law WMU-Cooley graduates Susan Cook (Clark Class, 1979), Laura Genovich (Adams Class, 2008), Mary Pigorsh, (Fellows Class, 1997), Sarah Ostahowski (Sibley Class, 2011) and Cinnamon Rice (Flannigan Class, 1999); and Associate Professor and Director of Academic Services Emily Horvath were honored as members of Michigan Lawyers Weekly Women in the Law Class of 2017. Cook is a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP with more than 35 years of experience in the areas of bankruptcy, business reorganization, commercial litigation and business transactions.

“In the legal community, leadership requires professional excellence, of course, but it also requires responsible

Detroit Bar Association’s Barristers President’s Award Graduate Choi T. Portis (Wilkins Class, 2011) was selected by the Detroit Bar Association as this year’s winner of the Barristers President’s Award, which recognizes a young attorney whose early career has exhibited high standards of service to the profession, his or her clients, and the public. WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel James Robb presented her the award during the Detroit Bar Association’s

Hon. Amy Ronayne Krause (left) from the Michigan Court of Appeals and Ingham County Bar Association President Mark Kellogg (right) present Hilyard as a recipient of the “Top 5 Under 35” award during the bar’s eighth annual Barristers Night.

Shane Hilyard Receives Top 5 Under 35 Honor Shane W. Hilyard (William Johnson Class, 2013) was selected by the Ingham County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section as a recipient of the “Top 5 Under 35” awards, which are given annually to five members of the Young Lawyers Section in recognition of their talents, skills, professionalism and civility in the practice of law. Hon. Amy Ronayne Krause from the Michigan Court of Appeals presented Hilyard with the award during the eighth annual Barristers Night event on March 23 at the University Club of Michigan State University.

Pigorsh practices family law and domestic relations with Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge.


Since earning her degree, Portis has successfully defended clients in various civil litigation matters. She serves as associate general counsel for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

participation in the organized bar and meaningful participation in service to our communities,” Robb said. “Choi has exemplified each of these requirements. Through her outstanding work as associate general counsel of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and in her prior work representing abused children and handling corporate transactions, Choi demonstrates superb legal skills.”

Horvath joined WMU-Cooley Law School faculty in 2005. In addition to teaching Wills, Estates & Trusts at the law school, she works with students and faculty to develop programming for student success on the bar exam.

Genovich, a shareholder of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, practices municipal and commercial law in the firm’s Grand Rapids office.

Ostahowski owns Sarah’s Law Firm, which offers services in estate planning, and probate and estate administration.

Summer Breeze event on July 19 at the Detroit Yacht Club.

WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel James Robb presents Choi Portis with the Detroit Bar Association Barristers President’s Award.

Hilyard has distinguished himself in the legal profession after only three years of practice. He has built a

reputation among his colleagues and community as a leader of high moral character and professionalism. As an attorney at The Gallagher Law Firm, Hilyard practices estate planning, probate and trust administration, estate litigation, family law and domestic relations, including abuse and neglect, juvenile law and personal protection order hearings.

Where Do You Find WMU-Cooley Alumni? PART III – STATE AND INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENT 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 third installment of “Where Do You Find WMU-Cooley Alumni,” we take a look at elected officials in state and international legislatures and governing bodies that alumni have identified as their place of employment. Our graduates have been elected to the legislatures of Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia. If you learn of any others, please let us know. Our graduates have also been elected to national or territorial legislatures of Canada, Japan, Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands. (This list does not include elected judges who will be featured in Part VI of this series).

Hilyard serves as a member of the State Bar of Michigan’s Family Law and Young Lawyers section, the Clinton County Bar Association, the Ingham County Bar Association and the Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity. Hilyard received his undergraduate degree from State University of New York at Empire State College.




Scribes renames its Distinguished Service Award after Joseph Kimble

Lawrence P. Nolan Receives Lawyer of the Year Honors and Passes Gavel as State Bar Leader

Joseph Kimble, WMU-Cooley Law School distinguished professor emeritus, was recently honored by Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers) with the renaming of the organization’s Distinguished Service Award as the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award.

Lawrence P. Nolan (Cooley Class, 1976), WMU-Cooley Law School’s chairman of the board and immediate past president of the State Bar of Michigan, was selected by his peers as the “2018 Lawyer of the Year” for the state of Michigan in Best Lawyers in America.

Kimble, a former executive director and 15-year board member of Scribes, was surprised with the honor during Scribes’ 2017 CLE conference at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. Scribes was founded in 1953 and is the oldest organization devoted to improving legal writing and honoring legal writers. Kimble joined the organization’s board of directors in 2001, when he became the editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, a position he held for 11 years. Kimble is now senior editor of the Journal.

“No one has ever deserved an award such as this more than Joe,” said Professor Ralph Brill, IIT ChicagoKent College of Law, coauthor of A Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs and an eminent figure in the field of legal writing. “His work instilling the goal of writing in plain English is so important and has been so successful.” In April, Kimble was also recognized by the Ontario Bar Association as the perfect candidate to kick off the first column of its new legal-writing series, titled “Choice Words.”

Nolan has been elected three times as “Lawyer of the Year” in the area of Plaintiff’s Personal Injury in Lansing. He has practiced for 42 years on Main Street in Eaton Rapids, providing thousands of hours of pro bono legal work to those who could not otherwise afford legal services.

(From left) Darby Dickerson, dean of the John Marshall Law School and past president of Scribes; Kimble; Attorney Kenneth L. Gartner, 2017 winner of the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award; and Mark Wojcik, professor of law at the John Marshall Law School and president-elect of Scribes.


Nolan is the founder and president of Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, where he focuses his practice of law on personal injury, wrongful death, criminal, probate, domestic relations, estate planning and real estate law. He is the first attorney from the midMichigan area to receive the award.

He earned his undergraduate degree in English with a minor in business administration at Western Michigan University, and went on to become a member of the first graduating class at WMU-Cooley Law School. Nolan has served on WMU-Cooley’s Board of Directors since 1983. On Sept. 29, Nolan passed the gavel onto Donald G. Rockwell, of Flint, who now serves as the 83rd president of the State Bar of Michigan. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice and fellow WMU-Cooley board member Stephen J. Markman presided at the ceremony, which took place in conjunction with the Bar’s NEXT Conference at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Lawrence P. Nolan served as the State Bar of Michigan’s 82nd president

Nolan was the third WMU-Cooley Law School graduate in the last eight years to hold the SBM presidential post, following Charles R. Toy (Kavanagh Class, 1981), WMU-Cooley’s associate dean of career and professional development, who served from 2009 to 2010; and Thomas Rombach (Morse Class, 1987) of New Baltimore, Michigan, who served from 2014 to 2015.




Michael C.H. McDaniel Receives Awards for his Long-term Commitment to Public Service and the Legal Profession

Michael C.H. McDaniel, WMU-Cooley Law School Lansing campus associate dean and professor of law, and retired Brigadier General, has served as head of the Lansing campus, professor, scholar, expert on homeland and national security, head of Michigan’s homeland security program, adviser to the governor on security issues, adviser to the city of Flint following its water crisis, liaison between Flint and the state of Michigan on that same issue, and adviser to the city of Lansing following a widespread power failure.

Acknowledging the amount of time he has devoted and various positions he has held in service to the legal community and the community at large, WMUCooley President and Dean Don LeDuc said, “It’s no wonder that McDaniel received multiple awards this year for his long-term commitment to public service and the legal profession.” On Sept. 27, McDaniel received the Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar of Michigan. The award is given to practicing lawyers and judges for integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions

of the legal profession, superior professional competence, and for an extraordinary professional accomplishment that benefits the nation, state or local community.

Citizen Breakfast for Scouting. During the event, he was also presented with the Key to the City from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.

In April, McDaniel was inducted into the alumni On Nov. 16, McDaniel ROTC Hall of Fame for was presented with the the Seneca Battalion of Ingham County Bar the U.S. Army Reserve Association’s Camille Officers’ Training Corps S. Abood Distinguished Volunteer Award for his pro at St. Bonaventure bono work during the bar’s University, located 123rd Annual Dinner. The in Olean, New York. Abood Award is presented Following the induction ceremony, McDaniel annually to a member presented the keynote of the Ingham County during the university’s Bar Association who has annual ROTC Military distinguished himself Ball. or herself by making voluntary contributions In addition to teaching of time and talent for the Constitutional Law, benefit of others. McDaniel is the director of the Homeland and In May, McDaniel National Security was honored with the Law LL.M. program Distinguished Citizen at WMU-Cooley Law Award by the Chief Okemos District of the Boy School, a program he Scouts of America during the 2017 Distinguished

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 presents the keynote during the university’s annual ROTC Military Ball

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

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.

McDaniel is a nationally recognized expert in homeland and national security law who has brought his knowledge and experience to bear both in the classroom and on what is perhaps the most significant Michigan infrastructure security issue in recent times, the Flint Water Crisis. McDaniel pictured with his family after receiving the Champion of Justice Award

“It’s no wonder that McDaniel received multiple awards this year for his long-term commitment to public service and the legal profession.” WMU-COOLEY PRESIDENT AND DEAN DON LeDUC





2017 Distinguished Student Awards The WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association proudly announces Luciana Viramontes (Lansing) and Sheila Lake (Tampa Bay) as the winning recipients of the Distinguished Student Award for Trinity Term 2017. This award is presented to third-year students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, service to others and student involvement while at WMU-Cooley. Candidates are nominated by their peers and faculty and are interviewed and selected by the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association. These two outstanding students were presented with their awards at their respective campus honors convocations. “It is an amazing honor to be named a recipient of the DSA. It is truly a tremendous culmination of my wonderful law school journey at WMU-Cooley,” Viramontes said. She is a native of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Lake was also thrilled. “I am so honored to receive the DSA and I will continue to strive toward success so that I may represent TMC and the Alumni Association in a professional and respectful manner. It is a great honor and one I will cherish.” Lake is a native of Tampa, Florida.

WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project earns fourth exoneration

The WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project earned its fourth exoneration in June with the release of LeDura Watkins after he served almost 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit. Watkins was sentenced to life without parole on April 15, 1976. In 2013, the FBI disavowed testimony by FBI-trained analysts, finding they often overstated their conclusions. The Detroit lab analysts, trained by the FBI, tied Watkins to the crime scene based on a single hair.

Family, friends and media greet LeDura Watkins after he was freed from prison.

During an interview with WLNS TV, Watkins said that when the project’s attorneys decided to take on his case and found that the hair comparison evidence used to lock Watkins behind bars did not meet today’s scientific and legal standards, “It seemed like the stars started re-aligning.” On January 19, 2017, the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for a new trial. Based on the project’s motion, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office agreed to vacate the judgment of conviction and dismiss all charges in the 1975 murder of a Detroit woman. LeDura Watkins walks out of prison a free man in June.

“Hair comparison is not based on science; it is simply a lab analyst’s subjective opinion and has no place in our criminal justice system. This is why a statewide review of hair comparison cases is critical.” MARLA MITCHELL-CICHON, DIRECTOR OF THE WMU-COOLEY INNOCENCE PROJECT

Mitchell-Cichon commended Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office for working with her office to resolve the case. The prosecutor’s office agreed that the

new scientific standards are “newly discovered” evidence. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Watkins was the longestserving wrongfully convicted person in Michigan. Mitchell-Cichon noted that over the years, Watkins never stopped fighting for his freedom. He never gave up on the belief that the truth would come out. His family also got their wish – to attend the annual family reunion in August. The WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project is part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with

the release of over 350 wrongfully accused prisoners through the use of DNA testing. The WMU-Cooley project has screened over 5,500 cases since 2001 and is responsible for the exoneration of Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), and Donya Davis (2014) in addition to Watkins. WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project is staffed by law school students and WMU undergraduates, who work under the supervision of WMU-Cooley project attorneys. Staff attorney Eric Schroeder and legal intern Wisam Mikho served as lead counsel in this case. Those interested in donating and supporting the work of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project can email innocence@cooley.edu.

The WMU-Cooley Innocence project team earned its fourth exoneration in June with the release of LeDura Watkins after he served almost 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit.





School News

17th Annual WMU-Cooley for Kids Day Constitution Day 2017 From the preamble written in 1787, to the 27th amendment written in 1992, the U.S. Constitution is the framework of the United States government. Students first learn about the document in grade school, but many lose sight of its importance in everyday life. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Each September, WMU-Cooley Law School celebrates Constitution Day to reflect on the document’s importance. This year, each campus Professors Renalia DuBose and Brendan focused on different Beery discussed free speech. aspects of the document and how its principles apply to current issues and events. In Grand Rapids, WMU-Cooley Professor Victoria Vuletich moderated “Debating the Constitution,” a debate between Nathan Goetting, associate professor of criminal justice and jurisprudence at Adrian College; and John McGinnis, professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. During the debate, McGinnis and Goetting discussed both positives and negatives of having “originalists,” or individuals who believe that when deciding a case it should be interpreted through the eyes of the document’s original framers, appointed to the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, the federal government strengthened the controversial process of civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to take assets from persons suspected of criminal activity without issuing criminal charges against the asset owners. In Auburn Hills, Clark Neily, vice president of criminal justice of the Cato Institute, and Daniel Lemisch, the acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, discussed the constitutionality of civil forfeiture. Neily advocated for changes in the practice, while Lemisch provided perspective on why law enforcement agencies utilize it.

In August, law school students, faculty and staff hosted hundreds of youth participants from the Lansing Parks and Recreation summer program during the 17th annual WMU-Cooley for Kids Day event at the WMU-Cooley Law School Stadium. During the afternoon of fun activities, participants had the opportunity to meet Lansing Lugnuts baseball players, participate in the throwing of the first pitch, and eat lunch at the stadium while watching the Lansing Lugnuts play against the Great Lakes Loons. Before the day at the ballpark, participants from the recreation program had an opportunity to submit an essay to win an opportunity to be selected as a member of a “dream team.” The winning essay winners, along with a WMU-Cooley Law School student buddy, ran onto the field with a Lugnuts player during the game’s opening introductions.

WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel (far left) and law students meet Big Lug, the Lansing Lugnuts’ mascot, during WMU-Cooley for Kids Day. Students pictured (left-right) Atlantida Ruiz Ramos, Victoria Okereke, Christopher Parks, Jameel Williams.

“We love collaborating with Lansing Parks and Recreation in order to treat local kids to a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game. It’s a joy to see how much fun the students have every year,” said Terry Carella, WMU-Cooley’s director of communications.

In Lansing, the law school hosted a luncheon to discuss federalism and limited government with featured speaker Hon. Michael Warren from the Oakland County Circuit Court. During his remarks, Warren reminded students of the founding principles on which the Constitution was based. He emphasized the applicability of the principles of the rule of law and equality across political ideologies. In response to discussions of free speech following the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay professors Renalia DuBose and Brendan Beery led a discussion on First Amendment rights at public schools and universities. More than 100 students attended and learned about the rights of students to assemble or to not pledge allegiance to the flag, as well as the rights of outsiders who want to use school facilities or speak on school campuses. Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren provides closing remarks after a panel discussion on civil forfeiture at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus.


Students and staff from Lansing’s Parks and Recreation summer program and students from WMU-Cooley gathered at the Lansing Lugnuts baseball game during the 17th annual WMU-Cooley for Kids Day. Pictured with their WMU-Cooley Law School student buddies are essay contest winners who were chosen to be members of the afternoon’s “dream team.” Back row (left-right) are WMU-Cooley student buddies Tara Chambers, Tiffany Shelton, Lori Montgomery, Christopher Parks, Victoria Okereke, Jameel Williams, Atlantida Ruiz Ramos, Victoria Faustin, Julie Mullens, and Faithful Talabi




GRADUATIONS Justice Earl Warren and Justice Warren Burger Classes Graduate TAMPA BAY CAMPUS The Tampa Bay campus presented 62 graduates with juris doctor degrees during ceremonies in April (Earl Warren Class) and August (Warren Burger Class). In April, 37 individuals received their degrees during ceremonies held at the University of South Florida School of Music. Graduate Ricardeau Lucceus was selected by his classmates to present the valedictory remarks in April, while Judge Barbara Twine Thomas of Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Division provided the keynote.

“As you have recently witnessed, attorneys are saving the day in this current zeitgeist by addressing injustice and by helping to maintain balance and respect amongst the three branches of our state and national governments,” said Lucceus. “These attorneys had to be not just educated, but they had to understand the complexity and the challenges they face when dealing with the community as a whole.” Addressing the students, Twine Thomas said, “Take on every

assignment as if the world is watching, even if you know they are not. It will be up to you to care for and ensure justice for everyone, not just the well-heeled client who can pay you generously.”

Lake spoke to her classmates about the value of education. She stated that education is essential to all people, particularly in the field of law.

Judge Nelly Khouzam wtih Sheila Lake, graduate and valedictory presenter.

During the August ceremony, graduate Sheila Lake presented the valedictory remarks, Judge Nelly Khouzam of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal provided the keynote, and WMU-Cooley professors Dan Matthews and Brendan Beery were presented with the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Keep in mind that you are role models; you have a gift to share that could change the life of another person,” Lake said. While speaking to the graduates, Khouzam referenced a French proverb: ‘Petit a

petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.’ “This proverb speaks of the importance of humility, patience and perseverance,” Khouzam said. “I encourage you all to stay humble, to stay patient and to persevere even in the face of adversity, always mindful that, like the little bird, you are always building your proverbial nest.” MICHIGAN GRADUATIONS

Brendan Beery, WMU-Cooley professor and Stanley E. Beattie Award recipient.

Ricardeau Lucceus presents the valedictory remarks.

Lucceus spoke to his classmates about the current political climate and how lawyers are addressing many of the issues.

Judge Barbara Twine Thomas provides the keynote.


During ceremonies for WMUCooley’s Michigan campuses in May (Warren Class) and September (Burger Class), 210 graduates were presented with juris doctor and master of laws degrees. In May, outgoing Western Michigan University President Dr. John M. Dunn provided the keynote, and graduate Javaron Buckley presented the

Dan Matthews, WMU-Cooley professor and Stanley E. Beattie Award recipient.

Western Michigan University President Dr. John M. Dunn provides the keynote.

Javaron Buckley presents the valedictory remarks.

valedictory remarks. Professor Devin Schindler won the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dunn’s keynote marked the first time he addressed a graduating class at WMUCooley. He said that many of the graduates may have been among the first students to enroll under the affiliation agreement between the law school and the university that began in 2014. Dunn also spoke about the current political climate and how recent law graduates may be called upon to re-establish the shared narrative of who and what we are as a nation.

“You are graduating at an unusual time in our nation’s history. This is a turbulent time in which we’re seeing attempts to redefine timetested values like free speech, patriotism, civil rights, and the basic ethos upon which our country was founded,” said Dunn. “You will be on the front lines when it comes to defending those laws and polishing that narrative. I know your commitment to the rule of law, and when it comes to making the right decision, I have to say my money is on you.” Buckley spoke to the graduates about their futures as attorneys and said,

“As lawyers, we are the guardians of justice and the means by which the law reaches the people. Therefore, when carrying out your duties, remember to refrain from becoming intolerant to people’s problems. I ask that you serve with passion and integrity and with empathy for your clients.”

The Hon. Joseph Farah provides the keynote.

During the September ceremony, Hon. Joseph Farah (Wiest Class, 1979) of the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Genesee County provided the keynote, and graduate Charell Elliott was chosen by her classmates to give the valedictory remarks. During the ceremony, WMU-Cooley professor Richard Henke was presented with the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching. Farah’s keynote was styled as a lawsuit — The Warren E. Burger Class v. the World. He posed a question about the graduates’ readiness to address the needs of various people for legal services. Throughout the speech, he responded to the question by saying that the answer was before them (the graduates’ teachers), behind them (family and friends), beside them (their classmates), and within them (their own dedication to achieve). At the conclusion of his

Charell Elliott presents the valedictory remarks.

remarks, Farah ruled in favor of the class. He said that based on the education the students have received and the hard work they put forward, he believes the graduates are ready to take on the world. During her remarks, Elliott said that a successful career is created by variety of elements. She spoke of passion, hard work, talent, luck, blessings, grit and opportunity, as well as the people who help along the way. She encouraged her classmates to honor their aspirations and all that they have been working toward throughout law school.

“Let’s say yes to uplifting, motivating, and helping the next generation of law students as well as our future clients. We cannot afford to fold, fail, forget or lose faith in what is already instilled in us — greatness. So from one future attorney to the next, claim it, grab it and see the vision that you have worked so hard for,” Elliott said.


FACULTY EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA Since April 2017, our professors have been featured in more than 100 news stories by national, regional and local sources. They have been interviewed on a plethora of subjects, including free speech following events in Virginia, President Donald Trump’s proposed transgender military

SEVERAL FACULTY DISCUSSED FREE SPEECH FOLLOWING EVENTS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA Following the events that left a protestor dead in Charlottesville, Virginia, many discussions occurred in the media regarding issues of free speech, as well as issues surrounding race not only in Virginia, but around the country. WMU-Cooley Law School faculty members made themselves available to speak with members of the media regarding the various discussions on Constitutional law and racerelated legal matters. Ret. Brigadier General, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was interviewed by the Washington Times; Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler was featured on the nationally syndicated Mike Siegel Show, Mlive, and WZZM 13; Assistant Dean and Professor Tracey Brame did a Q&A on the subject for the blog, Motherhood Moment; Assistant Professor Renalia DuBose was interviewed by Minnesota Spokesman Recorder; and Professor Brendan Beery spoke with WTMJ (Milwaukee) and KQTH (Tucson) radio stations.


FACULTY COMMENTED ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S PROPOSED TRANSGENDER MILITARY BAN After President Trump proposed a ban on transgender military members, Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler and Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel offered their legal analysis to reporters. Schindler spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle and Fox 17. McDaniel was featured on WLNS TV 6, FOX 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” segment and various radio programs.

WMU-COOLEY LEGAL EXPERTS TAPPED BY MEDIA ABOUT O.J. SIMPSON’S PAROLE HEARING Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson and Professor Anthony Flores spoke to members of the media about O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing on Thursday, July 20. Krause-Phelan was interviewed by Michigan’s Big Show, Fox 17 and WZZM 13. Benson spoke with WOOD TV 8. Flores was featured on WLNS TV 6.

The following statement attributed to WMU-Cooley Constitutional Law professors was featured on WKZO: “The Supreme Court has yet to speak on whether the Constitution’s equal protection clause provides heightened protection for transgender individuals. President Trump’s recent announcement that transgender individuals will be prohibited from serving in the armed forces may ultimately force the Court to consider this important, but divisive, issue.”

FACULTY INTERVIEWED ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TRAVEL BAN AND VARIOUS SCOTUS DECISIONS Multiple faculty members were tapped by media in response to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, various Supreme Court decisions and concerns surrounding President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees from seven nations.

Newschannel 3 regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate much of President Trump’s travel ban that the lower courts had previously blocked. Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler spoke with WOOD Radio. Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel’s comments about the travel ban decision were featured by WILX News 10 and FOX 47 News. In addition to the travel ban, Professor Brendan Beery was interviewed about President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee by the Tom Sumner Show, WILS 1320, Salon Media Group, Law 360 and Bay News 9. Professor Anthony Flores spoke about the travel ban on WLNS TV 6. Lastly, Professor Gerald Fisher was a featured guest on SiriusXM’s Patriot Channel 125 regarding various SCOTUS decisions.

FACULTY DISCUSSED THE FIRING AND INVESTIGATION OF FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel and Professor Brendan Beery spoke with members of the media about President Trump’s constitutional authority Distinguished Professor Emeritus to fire former FBI Director James Curt Benson was interviewed by Comey. Schindler was Fox 17, WZZM 13 and WWMT

ban, O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing, the investigation of former FBI Director James Comey, involuntary manslaughter charges in the Flint water crisis, President Trump’s travel ban, and various U.S. Supreme Court decisions, among other issues. interviewed by WZZM 13 and WKAR, McDaniel was featured on FOX 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” segment, and Beery was on the Tom Sumner Show.

MARK DOTSON ON FOX 47 Regarding sexual assaults on college campuses, Professor Mark Dotson appeared on FOX 47 to explain the differences SEVERAL FACULTY INTERVIEWED between Title IX investigations and criminal investigations. ABOUT THE FLINT WATER CRISIS He said Title IX investigations INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER “lower their burden of proof to CASES determine a violation from clear WMU-Cooley’s legal experts and convincing evidence, for responded to media requests example, and maybe in some regarding the involuntary cases beyond a reasonable manslaughter charges announced by Michigan Attorney doubt, to preponderance of General Bill Schuette in the Flint the evidence which means more likely than not, a violation water crisis. Could the criminal occurred.” charges against individuals involved with the Flint water crisis discourage others from working in state government jobs? Associate Dean and Professor Nelson Miller discussed this topic with the Lansing State Journal. Professor Anthony Flores told Gongwer JOAN VESTRAND EXPLAINED WHY the charges were “somewhat AND HOW TO OBTAIN A LAW DEGREE unprecedented.” Associate Dean and Professor Joan Vestrand sat down Auxiliary Dean and Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan discussed with Oakland County Bar Association’s Practical Law host what prosecutors would need to prove in the Flint water crisis Henry Gornbein and discussed reasons for and how to obtain manslaughter cases with The a legal education. During Flint Journal. the interview, Vestrand also explained key issues in legal education and ethics. When describing the importance

of lawyers maintaining both personal and professional responsibility, she said, “It takes a particular kind of character, but not just good character, it takes strength of character, and the knowledge and ability to get through those rough times successfully, and that’s what we work on teaching our students.”

JEFFREY SWARTZ AND BRENDAN BEERY INTERVIEWED ABOUT STAND YOUR GROUND CHANGES Professors Jeffrey Swartz and Brendan Beery were interviewed by media after representatives voted to change Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. Swartz was interviewed on ABC Action News and WPTV. Beery was featured on Bay News 9.

GERALD FISHER AND DEVIN SCHINDLER INTERVIEWED BY DETROIT FREE PRESS Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler and Professor Gerald Fisher were interviewed by the Detroit Free Press regarding the controversy of Gov.

Rick Snyder expanding the size of the Michigan Court of Appeals for the third time since signing a 2012 law intended to save taxpayers money by reducing the number of judges in that court. Fisher told the reporter that the 2012 law appears to be a product of negotiation. While it allows Snyder to make an appointment in such a case, it doesn’t require it, he said. “It looks like the governor wants to make a mark here,” Fisher said. “Governors have always desired to put their people on the bench — it’s like part of the governor’s legacy.” “Our system needs enough judges to handle the overwhelming number of cases that are filed,” Schindler commented. “These judges work very hard and need all the help the governor can give them.” CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS FEATURED IN LAWYER MONTHLY Professor Christopher Hastings gave Lawyer Monthly his verdict on the question: “How many law jobs do I need to apply for?” “Through two decades of hiring lawyers, and a third training law students to be lawyers, I’ve come to think of interviewing as a process, not just a means to an end. The more people you talk to, the more polished you will be when you present yourself,” Hastings wrote. (continued)



FACULTY BROKE DOWN ALLEGATIONS OF COLLUSION Constitutional Law professor Brendan Beery and Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel spoke with members of the media regarding the legal implications involved with Donald Trump, Jr.’s released emails about his meeting with campaign representatives and a Russian attorney. Beery broke down allegations of collusion and discussed Jeff Sessions’ Russia testimony with Bay News 9 and the Tom Sumner Show. McDaniel discussed the RussiaTrump campaign probe on FOX 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip.” MARJORIE GELL AND PAUL SORENSEN DISCUSSED AIRBNB’S RENTAL TAX Professors Marjorie Gell and Paul Sorensen were interviewed by Michigan Lawyers Weekly about an agreement that Michigan and Airbnb entered into in July. The website will collect the 6 percent use tax from all of its customers in order to make sure the state’s treasury department isn’t missing out on revenue. Gell described the Airbnb tax as a win-win for the state, Airbnb and property hosts.

EMILY HORVATH EXAMINED MICHIGAN BAR EXAM ESSAY SCORES Director of Academic Services and Associate Professor Emily Horvath discussed the drop in success rates during the February 2017 bar by all Michigan bar exam takers compared to the previous year with Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Horvath said the school’s analysis “suggests that the falloff in the average for the raw essay score was larger than for the Multistate Bar Examination scaled score. This suggests that students were more challenged this time by the essays,” she said. NELSON MILLER INTERVIEWED BY MIBIZ The move by two Detroit-based law firms into Grand Rapids heightens competition in the market for both business and talent, said Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor, during an interview with MiBiz. Bodman PLC became the second Detroit-based law firm to enter the Grand Rapids market in recent months with the opening of a new downtown office. Bodman's move follows Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, which opened an office in Grand Rapids in late 2016.

JIM ROBB QUOTED BY THE INDIANA LAWYER Jim Robb, associate dean of external affairs and general counsel, appeared in The Indiana Lawyer following the closing of Indiana Tech Law School. Robb said he did not anticipate that applicants who were attending Indiana Tech Law School would have difficulty integrating into other institutions.

CURT BENSON INTERVIEWED BY WOOD TV 8 Distinguished Professor Emeritus Curt Benson was on WOOD TV 8 to provide his expert legal analysis of Michigan laws that say that it’s illegal for a bar to overserve alcohol, and that the establishments can be held responsible in alcohol-related crimes. Benson explained how proving responsibility to a jury can be a challenge.

MARK DOTSON INTERVIEWED BY MICHIGAN LAWYERS WEEKLY ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY Professor Mark Dotson was interviewed by Michigan Lawyers Weekly about the rise of social media’s influence in legal matters. According to Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing firm, 52 percent of 200 attorneys from large law firms nationwide reported an increase in lawsuits linked to information found on social media and mobile devices over the past two years. Dotson said specificity is key with social media requests. “Social media is like any other discovery tool or opportunity. We ask for documents routinely. Now we just have to adjust and realize this same type of evidence can be found elsewhere and often is. You have to request emails and texts, and you have to be specific in the information you’re looking for and you also have to be specific in describing where they may be kept,” Dotson said.

GARY BAUER DISCUSSED BEACH PROPERTY CONSIDERATIONS Wallethub.com posed the question, “What should people look for in choosing beach property?” to Auxiliary Dean and Professor Gary Bauer in their annual feature 2017’s Best Beach Towns to Live In.


NELSON MILLER RESPONDED TO AN ABA REPORT HIGHLIGHTING LAWYER WELL-BEING In an effort to improve wellbeing in the legal profession, the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs released a report detailing ways to improve lifestyles for lawyers. Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor, was interviewed about the report by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. As it pertains to WMUCooley, Miller said he is pleased the school has already implemented many of the report’s suggestions for improvement, such as reducing the competitive environment and increasing the number of assessments to reduce priority placed on final exams. Miller was also interviewed by Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly about competing rights and conflicts in the workplace, and in another instance, responded to the question, “Is the bar exam for me?”

MICHAEL C.H. MCDANIEL FEATURED BY MULTIPLE MEDIA OUTLETS Ret. Brigadier General, Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel serves as the project coordinator for the Flint Action and Sustainability Team Start program, and has overseen the effort since it was announced by Mayor Karen Weaver in February 2016. McDaniel was interviewed by The Flint Journal about his goals to have 6,000 service line replacements and

to create a list of the next 6,000 replacements before the end of November. McDaniel was one of five panelists who looked into the attack on an airport police officer at Bishop Airport in Flint on Fox 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” segment. He also discussed the recent missile testing conducted by North Korea, and President Donald Trump’s response to the situation on another “Let it Rip” segment, as well as on Michigan’s Big Show.

BRENDAN BEERY INTERVIEWED BY THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER The Washington Examiner called on Constitutional Law professor Brendan Beery to talk about criminal legal protections of U.S. presidents, following a recent campaign style rally. President Trump stated some members of the media were “bad people.” The interview with Beery was sparked after ABC’s Good Morning America reporter Cecilia Vega said, “It really feels like a matter of time before someone gets hurt.”

NELSON MILLER INTERVIEWED ON WZZM 13 ABOUT A HIPPA VIOLATION Associate Dean Nelson Miller was interviewed on WZZM 13 following the discovery that a camera was stolen from a hospital physician’s car. The camera contained photos of more than 900 patients’

varying skin conditions, some of those photos included names and birth dates. Miller confirmed this was a violation of HIPPA. He explained that healthcare providers are required to keep patient information secure, even from things like theft. JEFFREY SWARTZ PROVIDED HIS LEGAL ANALYSIS OF “STEALTHING” Professor Jeffrey Swartz was interviewed by Elite Daily regarding a lesser-known form of sexual assault that came to light recently called, “stealthing.” It involves a person secretly removing a condom during sex without consent. Swartz explained that the victim could potentially file a civil suit for damages (usually monetary compensation). He said, “As a civil matter, the victim might be able to file the purposeful tort of battery, a case that would call for not only compensatory damages but also leave the defendant responsible for punitive damages.”

BAY NEWS 9 SEEKS OUT BRENDAN BEERY’S LEGAL ANALYSIS ON MULTIPLE TOPICS In addition to interviewing Professor Brendan Beery about the travel ban, Stand Your Ground changes, and allegations of collusion, Bay News 9 also sought Beery’s take on special counsel Robert Mueller impaneling a grand jury in Washington, D.C., as part of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; and a Florida inmate’s execution.

ASSOCIATE DEANS DISCUSSED THE LAW SCHOOL’S AFFILIATION WITH WMU Jim Robb, associate dean of external affairs and general counsel and Associate Dean Nelson Miller were both quoted by the media in regards to the law school’s affiliation with Western Michigan University. Miller was featured in Oakland County Legal News about shared facilities between the institutions. Robb was featured in Michigan Lawyers Weekly about how opportunities for students have grown because of the partnership. “We think that the affiliation will give improved opportunities for our students,” said Robb. “We’re so pleased with the way it’s going. There’s such a high degree of respect between the leadership of the institutions.”

NELSON MILLER WAS INTERVIEWED ABOUT HIS WRITING WORKSHOP SERIES Members of the media were intrigued by a creative writing workshop series led by Associate Dean Nelson Miller. The workshops were meant to give aspiring lawyers the skill of creative writing to help their law careers. Miller was interviewed by Michigan’s Big Show, Grand Rapids Legal News and Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly about the series.


Faculty Briefs Gary Bauer, Professor Appointed, chair of the Legal Educator’s Committee for the American Bar Association GP Solo Division of the ABA. Invited, to present at the annual ABA Solo Summit Conference in October in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Client Relationship Mastery. Served, as moderator and presenter, at the Michigan State Bar NEXT Conference at Cobo Hall Sept. 28-29. He was moderator for a panel of judges, “Best Practices for Preserving Your Record,” and presenter on the second day, “Transitioning Your Practice, Protecting Your Legacy and Yourself.” Attended, ICLE Medicaid Update Seminar, Elderlaw Conference and Probate and Estate Planning Conferences. Hosted, with Professor Emeritus Terry Cavanagh, three meetings in Trinity Term for students in the day, evening and weekend programs along with solo practitioners invited to meet with students and give them career planning guidance. Continued, to post additional blogs monthly at Sololawyerbydesign.com. Presented, to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, concerning Wills and Trusts in estate planning in May. Hosted, two online webinars for students using WordPress or other online hosting sites with instructions on the creation and characteristics of a successful web presence conducted by WordPress professionals.

Brendan Beery, Professor Quoted, on Oct 10, 2017, in Lawyer Monthly, on Trump & U.S. Gun Control. Discussed, on Oct. 3, 2017, on Bay News 9’s, In Depth, the First Amendment, athletes kneeling 44

during the National Anthem, and speech at public schools. Discussed, on Sept. 25, 2017, on The Morning Show with Ken Lanphear, WKZO Kalamazoo, Donald Trump, the NFL, and the First Amendment. Discussed, on Sept. 22, 2017, on The Mike Siegel Show, GCN nationally syndicated radio; healthcare, the Constitution, and the GrahamCassidy healthcare proposal. Discussed, on Sept. 6, 2017, on The Morning Show with Ken Lanphear, WKZO Kalamazoo; Donald Trump’s cancellation of DACA. Discussed, on Sept. 1, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Donald Trump’s legal woes, and the nature of “constitutional crisis.” Interviewed, on Aug. 25, 2017, by The Washington Examiner and Top Lawyer, on “Trump not liable if supporters hurt reporters at rallies.”

Discussed, on June 29, 2017, on Bay News 9’s In Depth, President Trump’s travel ban and the Supreme Court.

Discussed, on Feb. 27, 2017, WTSP News 10 (Tampa and Sarasota), sex offenders, social media, and the First Amendment.

Discussed, on June 27, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, Justice Kennedy, the Second Amendment, and other hot topics involving the Supreme Court.

Discussed, on Feb. 16, 2017, on Morning Wake Up with Dave Akerly, WLNS Radio (Lansing, Michigan), public meetings, prayer, and the First Amendment.

Discussed, on June 27, 2017, on Morning Wake Up With Dave Akerly, WILS Radio (Lansing, Michigan), the last day of the Supreme Court’s spring term on June 26.

Discussed, on Jan. 31, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, President Trump’s travel ban and the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Discussed, on June 26, 2017, on Salon.com, Salon Video: “Supreme Court Will Hear Trump Travel Ban, and Other Major Revelations,” a video interview about President Trump’s second travel-ban order and the Supreme Court’s treatment of that order.

Discussed, on Jan. 31, 2017, Bay News 9’s “In Depth,” President Trump and the Emoluments Clause.

Completed, editorial work for volume 17 of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing.

Discussed, on Jan. 31, 2017 – WFLA News Channel 8, Tampa Bay (morning live webcast and News at 11 p.m.), the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Participated, in a board meeting for the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society’s Advocates Guild.

Interviewed, on June 26, 2017, by Law360, on the implications of Supreme Court orders requiring rehearing in two immigration cases.

Quoted, on Aug. 23, 2017, on Bay News 9 Evening News about Florida’s death penalty and whether a U.S. Supreme Court opinion had retroactive effect.

Discussed, on June 15, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, executive privilege and obstruction of justice.

Discussed, on Aug. 22, 2017, on Bay News 9’s “In Depth,” the federal grand jury impaneled in the Trump-Russia probe.

Discussed, on May 23, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, the Supreme Court, political gerrymandering, and executive power, among other things.

Discussed, on Aug. 21, 2017, on KQTH Tucson, Charlottesville, public universities, demonstrations, controversial speakers, and the First Amendment. Discussed, on Aug. 21, 2017, on WTMJ Milwaukee with host Mike Siegel, Charlottesville, public universities, demonstrations, controversial speakers, and the First Amendment. Discussed, on Aug. 2, 2017, on Bay News 9’s In Depth, the constitutional definition of treason in the context of the Trump family scandals. Discussed, on July 10, 2017, on Bay News 9’s In Depth, Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law and its constitutionality.

Discussed, on May 22, 2017, on Bay News 9’s In Depth, Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Discussed, on May 10, 2017, on Bay News 9 Evening News, the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Discussed, on April 10, 2017, on WTSP News 10 (Tampa and Sarasota), “fake news” and the First Amendment. Discussed, on April 3, 2017, on the Tom Sumner Program, Flint Radio, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Discussed, on March 20, 2017, on Morning Wake Up With Dave Akerly, WLNS Radio (Lansing, Michigan), the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court.

Bradley Charles, Associate Professor Led, a two-hour seminar for the Michigan Administrative Hearing System, on writing concise opinions.

Mark Cooney, Professor Presented, “Acting Affirmatively: A Systematic Approach to Promoting Opportunity for All Students,” at the Association of Legal Writing Directors 2017 Biennial Conference, in Minneapolis. Served, as a panelist, for “Publish, Don’t Perish: Fostering Scholarship in the Legal-Writing Community,” at the Association of Legal Writing Directors 2017 Biennial Conference. Presented, “Write Like the Best: A Hands-On Editorial Session,” at the 2017 Young Lawyers Summit (State Bar Young Lawyers Section).

Awarded, a legal-writing scholarship grant by the Legal Writing Institute, Association of Legal Writing Directors, and LexisNexis. Published, an article called “Give a Clue (A Linguistic Whodunit)” in the Michigan Bar Journal. The article made the top-10 downloads list for four SSRN eJournals. Hosted, the Law Review’s Distinguished Brief Award dinner.

Participated, in the 2017 Anglers of the Au Sable River Cleanup.

Christopher Hastings, Professor Elected, to the board of trustees of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, where he will chair its Law School Liaison Committee.

Richard Henke, Professor Co-won, the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching at the September 2017 graduation ceremonies. Hosted, and coordinated a lecture by Cory Hamel, a 2003 graduate who is now general counsel and vice president of Laidig Systems in Mishawaka, Indiana. Mr. Hamel gave a presentation on how to pursue and succeed in a career as in-house counsel.

Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Honored, by having Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers name its service award the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award. The surprise announcement came at the Scribes 2017 CLE, with Professor Kimble in the audience.

perhaps the earliest, proponent of this teaching method among legal-writing teachers. Invited, to speak by the American Constitution Society chapters at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.  Notified, repeatedly, that he is in the top 10 percent for author downloads on SSRN for two different articles, including his study in the Wayne Law Review—”What the Michigan Supreme Court Wrought in the Name of Textualism and Plain Meaning: A Study of Cases Overruled, 2000–2015.”

Published, two new books. His new legal book is Seeing Through Legalese: More Essays on Plain Language. And for something completely different, Wrote, a Commentary piece he published a children’s picture for the Michigan Lawyers book, Mr. Mouthful Learns Weekly called “The Ideology of His Lesson. Textualism,” based on his study Published, an article in Legal in the Wayne Law Review. Communication and Rhetoric: Wrote, a blog post for the JALWD called “The Doctrine of American Constitution the Last Antecedent: A Case Society, also based on the study. Study in Flimsiness.” Attended, the summer meeting Published, two new of the Standing Committee on “Redlines” editing columns Federal Rules, in Washington, in Judicature. The first was D.C. He has been a drafting called “Better First Paragraph, consultant on all federal court Please.” The second: “Bullet rules (civil, criminal, appellate, Points, Yes. Unnecessary Dates, evidence, and bankruptcy) No.” This journal is distributed since 1999. to all federal judges and statecourt chief justices.  Interviewed, for an article in Bridge magazine on Gave, a keynote address at the plain language in Michigan 11th Biennial Conference of government. www.bridgemi.com/ the Plain Language Association public-sector/death-governmentInternational. It was called mumbo-jumbo “Claims for Legalese and False Criticisms of Plain Language: Featured, as the subject of an A 30-Year Collection.” The interview for a new legal-writing conference was held in column in JUST. magazine, Graz, Austria.  the magazine of the Ontario (Canada) Bar Association.  Spoke, to the Legal Division of www.oba.org/JUST/Archives_ the Michigan Legislative Service List/2017/April-2017/ Bureau—Michigan’s legislative ChoiceWords. The editors drafters—on some recurring asked him for the interview to issues in drafting.  inaugurate their new column. Spoke, on the subject of live grading (reading and grading a paper with the student present) at the Central States LegalWriting Conference. Professor Kimble was an early, and (continued)

It’s been a good autumn for WMU-Cooley Distinguished Professor Emeritus Joseph Kimble. He published two books this season, one a second book of his collected essays on plain language, Seeing Through Legalese, and the other a children’s book, Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson. Both books have been a couple of years in the making as Kimble tweaked the prose and reviewed the formatting of the collection and worked through his brand new venture into children’s publishing on the latter. Kimble dedicated Seeing Through Legalese to two of his favorite groups of people. He wrote: “To all my students, for their commitment during my three decades of teaching at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. And to all the school’s librarians, for never failing to deliver.” The children’s book, he joked, “may turn out to be a great exercise in humility,” but he’s enthusiastic about bringing the idea for which he has become known – using plain language – to children’s literature. The book is a story about a “fancy-talking guy who causes trouble and confusion for kids until finally, in an emergency, he learns his lesson,” Kimble explained. “I just tried to make it fun to read, and I think the illustrations by Kerry Bell are wonderful.” Both books will be available through amazon.com, and signed copies are available through the WMU-Cooley bookstore.


Faculty Briefs Don LeDuc, President and Dean Authored, the 2017 edition of Michigan Administrative Law, published by Thomson Reuters/Westlaw. This edition completes 24 years of annual supplementation. Called by the publisher a “pamphlet,” the text itself is now 1,067 pages and it is accompanied by well over 200 pages of added materials, such as appendices.

Nelson Miller, Professor and Associate Dean Edited, and published, the book of contributed short stories Lawyer Storytelling: A Sacred Craft. Published, the book “Facing Death: Worthwhile Reflection on a Necessary Subject.”

Marla MitchellCichon, Professor Attended, the State Bar of Michigan Criminal Law Section policy conference on Conviction Integrity.

Spoke, on Sept.17, 2017, on “The Inherent Tension of the Religion Clauses,” for the Park Foundation Speaker Series. Spoke, on Sept. 28, 2017, on “The Constitutionality of DACA,” at the WMU Global and International Studies Symposium on DACA. Spoke, on Oct. 6, 2017, on “Using Historical and Community Leaders as a focus for Developing Courageous and Ethical Leaders,” at the 19th International Conference on Ethics Across the Curriculum (co-presenter with Professor Vuletich). Spoke, on March 23, 2017, to WOOD-AM/FM, on “The Politics of Appointments.” Spoke, on March 30, 2017, to WKZO-AM, on “Judicial Appointments in Michigan.” Spoke, on April 13, 2017, to Capital News, on “Discrimination and Religious Freedom.” Spoke, on May 11, 2017, to WZZM-TV, on “Presidential Appointment and Termination Authority.”

Interviewed, by several media outlets regarding the exoneration of LeDura Watkins.

Spoke, on May 25, 2017, to the Detroit Free Press, on “Gubernatorial Appointment Power.”

Served, as the director of WMUCooley’s 2017 Oxford Program in Oxford, England.

Spoke, on June 6, 2017, to WOOD AM/FM, on “Immigration Power.”

Attended, the Midwest Innocence Summit in Kansas City, Missouri.

Spoke, on June 8, 2017, to WKAR FM, on “Presidential Obstruction of Justice.”

Joined, the Planning Committee for the annual Innocence Network Conference.

Spoke, on June 8, 2017, to WZZMTV, on “Recapping the Comey Testimony.”

Devin Schindler, Professor Spoke, on April 18, 2017, on “Corporate Structures and the Practice of Medicine,” at WMU Stryker Medical School. 46

Spoke, on May 26, 2017, on “The Meaning of Liberty in Times of Turmoil,” at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Leadership Award Ceremony (Keynote Speaker).

Spoke, on July 22, 2017, to WXMI-TV, on “Unilateral Executive Actions.” Spoke, on July 23, 2017, to the San Francisco Chronicle, on “Discrimination against Transgender Individuals.”

Class Notes Spoke, on Aug. 10, 2017, to Mlive, on “Protected Speech on College Campuses.” Spoke, on Aug. 17, 2017, to WZZM-TV, on “Presidential Immunities.” Spoke, on Aug. 21, 2017, to the Mike Siegel Show (National Syndication), on “Presidential Speech and the First Amendment.” Won, the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching in May 2017.

John Scott, Professor Authored, an article, on ineffective assistance of counsel in criminal cases with non-citizen clients. The article was accepted for the December 2017 issue of The Champion, the magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Victoria Vuletich, Professor Selected, along with Assistant Dean Tracey Brame and Auxiliary Dean Tonya Krause Phelan, to speak at the summer conference of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning. The trio was selected to show other law professors their unique approach that aligns instruction throughout all three years of law school, using common scenarios in their classes to teach different legal concepts and to develop student’s professional identity. Moderated, a debate held at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and sponsored by the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University. “Debating the Constitution” featured WMU-Cooley graduate and Adrian College Associate Professor Nathan Goetting and Northwestern University Law School Professor John McGinnis.





Kelly Class

Pratt Class

Montgomery Class

McDonald Class

Reynolds, Frank H., with Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith PC, in Lansing, Michigan, was named to Best Lawyers in America 2018 and Super Lawyers 2017 in bet-the-company Litigation, Criminal Defense: General Practice, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Family Law/Criminal Defense.

Forbush, Audrey, an attorney with the Flint, Michigan, office of Plunkett Cooney, was named to the Michigan Super Lawyers magazine 2017 list of Super Lawyers in Government.

Barry, David M., was named Trustee of the Year by the Illinois Library Association. Barry is president of the Library Board of Trustees for Bartlett Public Library District Board in Illinois.

Lake, Sandra, of Hall Matson PLC, in East Lansing, Michigan, was elected secretary of the Ingham County Bar Association for the July 1, 2017June 30, 2018 term.

Taylor, Frederick J., Sr., was appointed to serve as a Selective Service local board member in the state of Michigan in Region I. He practices law with his three sons at the Law Office of Frederick J. Taylor in Portage, Michigan.

Goodenough, Brian G., of Foster Swift Collins and Smith, was named to Best Lawyers in America 2018 in Insurance Law, Litigation-Municipal, Litigation-Real Estate, and Workers Compensation Law-Employers.


Clark Class Cook, Susan M., of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, in Midland, Michigan, was selected to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Women in the Law Class of 2017. 1980

Potter Class Gair, Anthony, of Gair, Gair, Conason, Rubinowitz, Bloom, Hershenhorn, Steigman & Mackauf, was named to the list of 2017 Super Lawyers New York Metro Area.

Bushnell Class Otis, David, an attorney with the East Lansing, Michigan, office of Plunkett Cooney, was named to the Michigan Super Lawyers magazine 2017 list of Super Lawyers in Government. 1981

Long Class MacCallum, Neil W., with Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, in Southfield, Michigan, was named to the list of Super Lawyers for 2017. 1985

T. Smith Class Lowney, Stephen J., of Foster Swift Collins and Smith, was named to Best Lawyers in America 2018 in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law.


Copeland Class

1999 1993

Moore Class Chernich, Scott A., of Foster Swift Collins and Smith, was named to Best Lawyers in America 2018 in Banking and Finance Law, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law.


Douglass Class Millenbach, Paul J., with Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith PC, in Lansing, Michigan, was named to Best Lawyers in America 2018 and Super Lawyers 2017 in mass tort litigation/ business litigation. Potestivo, Brian A., president and managing attorney of Potestivo & Associates, P.C., in Rochester, Michigan, was named a 2017 Super Lawyer. 1990


Stone Class Ingber, Adam, of Adam David Ingber, PC, in Chicago, Illinois, was recognized by Top Verdict.com for winning one of the top 100 verdicts of 2016 for a personal injury jury trial regarding a trip and fall case against the city of Chicago. His solo practice, established in Chicago in 1998, focuses on serving the catastrophically injured. Phone: (312) 853-3588; email ingberlaw@ gmail.com.

Bacon Class Steinberg, Michael L., was elected to a sixth three-year term as a member of the board of directors for the Criminal Defense Attorneys. He maintains two offices, one in Mt. Clemens, Michigan and the other in Royal Oak, Michigan. His practice focuses on life maximum felonies and parental neglect cases. He has devoted his entire legal career to improving indigent defense in Michigan. 1991

Turner Class Patti, John A., merged his practice with LaRocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Patti. He has been appointed as a municipal court judge for Oceanport, New Jersey.


Adams Class Phillips, Tamara J., was appointed Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office in Flint, Michigan. She and Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton (Brooke Class, 1982) successfully prosecuted a serial stabber who was charged with killing three people and injuring six others in 2010 and a serial rapist who had been active at two shopping malls. 1997

Fellows Class Pigorsh, Mary R., of Smith Haughey Rice & Roeffe, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was selected to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Women in the Law Class of 2017.

Flannigan Class Rice, Cinnamon A., of Zausmer, August & Caldwell PC, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was selected to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Women in the Law Class of 2017. 1999

Weadock Class Taylor, Michael, was named a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig, LLP. He is part of the Labor and Employment Practice with the firm’s northern Virginia office. He serves as chair of the practice’s OSHA Group. Taylor concentrates his practice on advising employers nationwide in a wide range of industries on matters related to OSHA. 2002

Johnson Class Chartier, Mary, of Chartier & Nyamfukudza PLC, in East Lansing, Michigan, was named President Elect of the Ingham County Bar Association for the July 1, 2017June 30, 2018 term.

in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 for real estate law. Acevedo represents clients from various industries in connection with commercial and residential real estate matters, including acquisitions and dispositions, institutional and private financing, commercial leasing, and property-related corporate transactions among others. Lawrence, Marc, presented the Clean Water Act Update at HalfMoon Education’s CLE entitled “Water Laws and Regulations” in Livonia, Michigan, on September 19, 2017.  He focuses on commercial, real estate, and environmental litigation at Lawrence Law, PLC, in Novi, Michigan. Phone: (248) 567-2946; email:  mlawrence@lawrencelawplc.com. 2004

Cross Class Burch, Charles H.W., is a judge of the Eighth Circuit Court of Illinois. He was appointed in 2014, and then elected to a full six-year term the same year.


Stern, Anna Rose, is Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for SourceAmerica, a major non-profit organization that administers programs for the employment of people with significant disabilities.

Chase Class


Mogen, Melissia (Christianson), was elected to a six-year term as Burnett County Circuit Court Judge in Wisconsin. She opened Mogen Law Office & Mediation Services in 2009 in Siren, Wisconsin. Previously she worked in the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and in a private firm in Minnesota. 2003

Smith Class Acevedo, Gil O., a shareholder with Foster White Burnett in Miami, Florida, in the firm’s Real Property Group, was selected for inclusion

McAllister Class Novak, Erin A., joined the law firm of Montgomery McCracken. She serves as Of Counsel in the litigation department of the firm’s Philadelphia office, where she focuses her practice on consumer litigation.

Starr Class Kalogerakos, Tony, was elected to a two-year term as president of the new bar association, the AssyrianAmerican Bar Association, in Chicago, Illinois. (continued)


Class Notes 2006

Fitzgerald Class Goodman, Jeremy M., managing member of Goodman Law PLLC, in Phoenix, Arizona, was appointed to the national arbitration panel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Genovich, Laura, an attorney with the Grand Rapids Office of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, was named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Women in the Law Class of 2017. 2009

Coleman Class Hitchings, Bryant, was appointed Montgomery County State’s Attorney in Hillsboro, Illinois, effective Aug. 1, 2017.


Fisher Class Hemingway, Kathleen (Whitfield), was appointed as a judge in 8th District Court in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She previously served as an assistant prosecuting attorney since 2007, working on cases involving violent crimes, controlled substances, and firearms offenses. Neumann, Chantelle R., supervising litigation attorney with Potestivo & Associates, P.C., in Rochester, Michigan, was selected for inclusion in the 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star list.

Brickley Class

Twibell, Branden, a criminal defense attorney with Twibell Johnson in Springfield, Missouri, was chosen for admission to the Esteemed Lawyers of America. He has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys by the National Trial Lawyers and as a Top Lawyer by the Global Directory of Who’s Who. He is also a member of Lawyers of Distinction, and has earned a Superb 10.0 Rating as well as a Client’s Choice Award from AVVO.

Riley Class

Fulgado-Yalor, Carmencita, of the Chalgian Tripp Law Firm, was elected to the Jackson Area Estate Planning Council. Wilkie, David Micah, was named Oklahoma Prosecutor of the Year. 2008

Sharpe Class

Souris Class

Lapekas, Karen (Streeter), of Lapekas Law, P.A., in Miami, Florida, received the Legal Luminaries Award for Top Tax Attorney 2017 from the Dade County Bar Association. She was also appointed to the board of the Miracle Society for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami and is again serving as chair of the South Florida Tax Litigation Association. 

Kirkwood, Erica, was named president of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago. She serves as Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

C.J. Adams Class Crandell, Patrick D., with Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in Southfield, Michigan, was named to the list of Super Lawyers for 2017.


Marks, Jeremy, has joined Potestivo & Associates, P.C., as a supervising bankruptcy attorney in the firm’s Rochester, Michigan office.



Woodward Class

Sibley Class

Heos, Matthew J., an attorney with the Nichols Law Firm PLLC in East Lansing, Michigan, was selected by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2017 as a Rising Star for the fourth time. He specializes in personal injury, medical marijuana, and environmental law.

Malott, Scott, joined Plunkett Cooney in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in the firm’s Transportation Law Practice Group. The group focuses on defense of litigation involving first- and third-party auto and trucking liability claims.

Warnke, Kristine, was named a partner with Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons, L.L.P., in the firm’s Minneapolis office. She is a member of the Discovery and Products Liability & Mass Torts sections. Her practice primarily focuses on assisting clients with discovery in mass and toxic tort litigation, including written and oral discovery, document collection and review, product investigation, and electronic document productions. She works closely with the national discovery counsel for a Fortune 100 company, and manages a National Discovery Team involved in mass tort litigation concerning hundreds of products and the management of hundreds of cases.

Witherell Class Mills, Helen “Lizzie,” was elected as a member of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes PLC in Okemos, Michigan. She joined the firm in 2010. Her practice focuses on municipal law and labor and employment law. Vakulskas, Daniel P., was selected to fill the position of magistrate in Woodbury County in Sioux City, Iowa. Magistrates have jurisdiction over simple misdemeanors and have authority to issue search warrants, conduct preliminary hearings, and hear certain involuntary hospitalization and juvenile matters. Magistrates may be assigned by the chief judge to work in counties other than the county appointed from.

Ostahowski, Sara L., of Sarah’s Law Firm in Shepherd, Michigan, was selected to Michigan Lawyers Weekly's Women in the Law Class of 2017.

Chipman Class Barlaskar, Abe, an attorney with Plunkett Cooney, was named to the Michigan Super Lawyers magazine list of Rising Stars. He works in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, office in Personal Injury: Defense.

Wilkins Class Walker-Gaskins, Chelsea (Yates), joined the West Virginia Attorney General’s office as an Assistant Attorney General concentrating on litigation. Previously, she was in private practice in a firm she co-founded. She was also delegated to be an ex-officio commissioner to the West Virginia Women’s Commission by the West Virginia Attorney General. 2013

Johnson Class Taylor, Varney, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, represents Liberians and all immigrants before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and at the Department of State U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia for

those cases that are processed abroad. The Washington, D.C., office also handles small business (entity formation). 2014

Todd Class Karamouzis, Fotini, has joined Goldberg Segalla as an associate in the firm’s Workers’ Compensation Practice Group in Garden City, New York. Manker, Tyson, is now a veterans’ advocate with Veterans Education Success, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. He offers free nationwide assistance to his fellow veterans who feel they were deceived when using their G.I. Bill educational benefits. Tomasek, Peter J., joined the Appellate Practice Group of Collins Einhorn Farrell PC, in Southfield, Michigan. He focuses his practice on appellate litigation and writing dispositive motions in the trial courts.

Duvall Class Schaedig, Christopher R., with Collins Einhorn Farrell PC in Southfield, Michigan, was named to the list of Super Lawyers for 2017. 2015

McLean Class Muha, Joseph, is corporate counsel/director of pharmacy compliance for Discount Drug Mart in Medina, Ohio. 2016

Hughes Class Grifka, Marisa, is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in West Virginia. She is assigned to the misdemeanor and felony preliminary hearing division. WMU-Cooley encourages all graduates to contribute information to the Class Notes. We want to learn about your law career and other accomplishments in the legal profession. E-mail communications@cooley.edu

In Memoriam 1977


Christiancy Class

Krinock Class

Groenewould, Phyllis Ann, 74, died Sept. 11, 2017. She worked as an attorney with Michigan National Bank and with the state of Michigan.

Dudley, Joan F., 84, died Feb. 1, 2017. She was an Unemployment Advocate with the state of Michigan.

Felch Class Smith, Richard, 69, died June 21, 2017. He retired in 2009 from his work as an administrative law judge for the state of Michigan. Formerly of Holt, most recently he was a resident of Lakewood Ranch, Florida.


Steere Class Haugen, Elizabeth Ann, 51, of Traverse City, Michigan, died March 17, 2017, following a battle with cancer. Most recently she was an administrative law judge for the state of Michigan in Traverse City.


Potter Class Ahnger, Brian T., 66, died Jan. 25, 2017. Bergeron, Thomas J., 66, of Grand Ledge, Michigan, died July 20, 2017. He was a retired internal auditor with the Michigan Department of Human Services.


Sharpe Class Popek, Brenda Kaye, 48, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, died May 9, 2017. She was chief counsel for the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Detroit office.

Bushnell Class


Hare, George (Ben) W., 68, of East Lansing, Michigan, died June 20, 2017. He retired in 2002 as legal counsel with the Michigan Legislative Service Bureau.

Iredell Class


Kavanagh Class Crozier, Barbara J., 71, of Spring Lake, Michigan, died Jan. 18, 2017, following a battle with cancer. She was in private practice. 1985

T. Smith Class Miller, Thomas H., 60, of Milford, Connecticut, died Jan. 2, 2017. He started a career as a pilot while working full time as an attorney, and joined what is now Gama Aviation in 1985, becoming director of operations in 1996. He volunteered his time and skills as a helicopter pilot for Eagle One Rescue and assisted in many rescue operations, including Hurricane Katrina.

Bully, Dan, 50, of Southfield, Michigan, died Dec. 16, 2016. 2010

Woodward Class Kiner, Kimberly Denise, 37, died Sept. 13, 2017. On Oct. 29, 2013, she became the first African-American woman to serve as a judge pro tempore in LaPorte Superior Court 4. 2016

Hughes Class Cimino, Sam Thomas, 38, of Shreveport, Louisiana, died June 5, 2017.


Copeland Class Borchardt, Bryan John, 54, of Glen Arbor, Michigan, died Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Osterman, Mark D., 60, died May 23, 2017, following an extended illness. 49

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Benchmark | Winter2017  

This issue of Benchmark celebrates alumni and faculty who are promoting justice for all. Their spirit is exemplified by featured graduate Er...

Benchmark | Winter2017  

This issue of Benchmark celebrates alumni and faculty who are promoting justice for all. Their spirit is exemplified by featured graduate Er...