WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION WINTER 2018
HONORABLE THOMAS E. BRENNAN A Tribute to Our Founder
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE | SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
WMU-Cooley Benchmark EDITOR Terry Carella CO-EDITOR Sharon Matchette ALUMNI RELATIONS Pamela Heos Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Helen Haessly Coordinator of Development and Alumni Services CONTRIBUTING WRITERS SeyferthPR, InVerve Marketing, Terry Carella DESIGN Image Creative Group ILLUSTRATION Barbara Hranilovich 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Benchmark is published twice a year by the administrative offices of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. 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 email@example.com with questions.
“Change is inevitable. Change is constant.”
This issue of Benchmark marks major changes in the Law School. Our founding president, the Honorable Thomas E. Brennan, died in September at the age of 89. In 1972, he and a few lawyers and judges founded Cooley to provide legal education to all qualified students. Against the opposition of the legal establishment, and against all odds, Judge Brennan created profound change in legal education — the way it was offered and the kinds of students who were allowed to pursue it. Ably following Judge Brennan as our president was Don LeDuc, who has been a professor for 43 years and counting, was twice the dean, and was president and dean from 2002 until his retirement from that office this September. President LeDuc continued profound change by expanding the school’s geographic range, enrollment, and course offerings, emphasizing professionalism and ethics, and making legal education available to a broader, more diverse array of students. Now at the School’s helm as interim president is Jeffrey Martlew, a 1976 Campbell Class graduate, retired judge, former member of our board of directors, former professor, and the founding associate dean of our Tampa Bay campus. President Martlew is already promoting change in academic and admissions policy. While the School’s top leadership inevitably will change, all three of these leaders have shared a long-standing relationship with our School and a deep devotion to our mission. Change — for the better — is what we continually strive for. Sincerely,
James D. Robb Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel
WMU-COOLEY BOARD OF DIRECTORS Lawrence P. Nolan Chairman of the Board Nolan, Thomsen & Villas, P.C. Eaton Rapids, Michigan Hon. Louise Alderson Vice Chairman of the Board 54A District Court Lansing, Michigan James W. Butler, III Urban Revitalization Division Michigan State Housing Development Authority Lansing, Michigan
Thomas W. Cranmer Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC Troy, Michigan Scott A. Dienes Of Counsel Barnes & Thornburg, LLP Grand Rapids, Michigan John Dunn President Emeritus Western Michigan University Lake Oswego, Oregon
Sharon M. Hanlon Zelman & Hanlon, PA Naples, Florida
Edward H. Pappas Dickinson Wright PLLC Troy, Michigan
Hon. Jane E. Markey Michigan Court of Appeals Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hon. Bart Stupak Venable, LLP Washington, D.C.
Kenneth V. Miller Millennium Restaurant Group, LLC Kalamazoo, Michigan
Contents Features Winter 2018 | Special Tribute Edition
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REMEMBERING OUR FOUNDER The Hon. Thomas E. Brennan has been called one of the most important innovators in legal education. His legacy reaches far beyond the founding of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. It can be seen rippling through the lives of more than 20,000 graduates.
FIRST INDIAN AMERICAN TO SERVE IN NEW YORK SENATE Born in Kerala, India, Kevin Thomas grew up knowing that a good education was essential to a better life. Little did he know as a young boy, living in the land of the free, that he would later beat out a 28-year incumbent for the state's sixth district.
CHAMPION FOR BETTERMENT OF LEGAL PROFESSION For over 50 years, Don LeDuc has championed the rights of law students and the legal profession with his unwavering determination, strong commitment to diversity, critical thinking, and an unabashed loyalty to the mission of our law school. For this, and more, we are grateful.
MR. AND MRS. ATTICUS FINCH Neither John nor Kendra Smith could have imagined back in law school that they would become local and national heroes, but that's what happened. They are the real-life protagonists in a book written about an environmental case they defended, which would go all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN | 1929-2018
Remembering our Founder
The Hon. Thomas E. Brennan, founder of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, died peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Sept. 29, 2018 at the age of 89.Â
“Tom Brennan was a lawyer. He was a judge. A founder. A friend. A proud alum of Detroit Catholic Central (CC). And always, above all else, he was a husband and father. And not a moment of any of that was untouched by his deep and abiding Catholic faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” FATHER MICHAEL MURRAY
He has been called one of the most important innovators in legal education of the past 40 years. A visionary. A risk-taker. An “idea guy.” His legacy reaches far beyond the founding of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, rippling through the lives of more than 20,000 graduates of the institution he imagined back in 1972, touching even the lives of generations of people he never would meet. Yet despite his many achievements in his professional career, including the significant contributions he made to the law school and the legal community in Michigan and beyond, Judge Brennan remained a humble man, prone to a self-deprecating humor that conveyed an awareness of his place in history. As he stated in WMU-Cooley's 40th anniversary special edition of the Benchmark, “If I'm remembered by my grandchildren, that'll make me happy.”
CELEBRATION OF LIFE In fact, he will be remembered by many. Judge Brennan was honored at a funeral Mass on Oct. 4 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Lansing, attended by nearly 600 people. His six children and 19 grandchildren all participated in the ceremony, which also included eight priests concelebrating the liturgy, led by Rev. Michael Murray, who noted the Judge's passing “left an ache today on many hearts.” In his homily, Father Mike reflected on the many roles Judge Brennan played throughout his life, remarking that the common thread in each position and in every season was his enduring faith. “Tom Brennan was a lawyer. He was a judge. A founder. A friend. A proud alum of Detroit Catholic Central (CC). And always, above all else, he was a husband and father. And not a moment of any of that was untouched by his deep and abiding Catholic faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “As a founder, he was aware that you need to know what you are founding. And he never wavered in the vision that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School would be a place that granted
full opportunity to men and women willing to work their side of the bargain. And he understood that any building requires the anchor of a proper foundation. It is expressed in the law school motto that he and Father Mac [Monsignor Jerome MacEachin] drew from the writings of our parish patron, St. Thomas Aquinas. In corde hominem est anima legis — the spirit of the law is in the human heart. Because it is. A loving Creator has imprinted deep within the human person a profound understanding of what is right, of what is true and beautiful and life-giving. This is the spirit of the whole law, if properly enacted, understood, and applied. “The lawyer in him was nowhere more evident than in the long years of struggle with the ABA over the accreditation of Cooley. Reading through his account of that long slog, one is struck by the care and detail of his presentations. Again and again, he turned the ABA’s own rules back upon them. When he could have simply cried “Foul!” he instead would patiently point out one more instance of their failure to follow their own procedures. It was long and wearisome, but always illustrative of the lawyer’s craft. “Eleven days ago, as he lay up in Hospice House, I mentioned CC … which prompted Tom to sing for me, in a whispering but clear voice, the CC Alma Mater, with its timeless pledge to be “Men of Mary.” He then lay quietly for a moment before adding, “You know, the Cooley alma mater has the same tune.” When I offered the obvious – “Well, there’s a coincidence!” – his smile was mischievous. “But above all, he was a husband and father. He often shared his view of Polly. It was quite simple: She is the best person in the whole world. As priests, we often need to remind married people that building a strong marriage is not only the best gift one can give a spouse, it’s also the best thing you can do for children. Even for friends and co-workers, because a strong, loving marriage allows men and women to sail forth each day, knowing who they are, and confident that a safe harbor awaits at the end of even the stormiest of days.” (continued)
HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN
“Cooley was an idea my father shared with us in 1972 around the kitchen table at our family home just five doors from this church. It became an institution that has served to fulfill the professional dreams and aspirations of tens of thousands of individuals. CELEBRATION OF FAMILY Thomas Brennan, Jr., the eldest of the Brennan children and a graduate of Thomas. M. Cooley Law School, delivered a remembrance on behalf of the family. It included a blog post written by Judge Brennan entitled, My Last Lecture. “On behalf of my mother, Polly, my brothers John and Bill, my sisters Peggy Radelet, Marybeth Hicks and Ellen Campbell, and the 38 others who comprise our immediate family, I want to thank each of you for being with us to honor and celebrate the life of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, Tom Brennan. All of us, along with our extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, are grateful for your presence here today. “Most of you know Tom Brennan as a lawyer, a judge, a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, or as the founder, pastpresident and dean emeritus of the Thomas Cooley Law School. Some of you are civic leaders and members of the legal community across the state of Michigan, and you’ve let us know of your respect and admiration for Dad throughout his long and illustrious career. We thank you for sharing your appreciation for his many contributions to the bench and Bar.
“Many of you represent more than 20,000 Cooley Law School graduates from across the nation and around the world. Just think about that … more than 20,000! Cooley was an idea my father shared with us in 1972 around the kitchen table at our family home just five doors from this church. It became an institution that has served to fulfill the professional dreams and aspirations of tens of thousands of individuals. Throughout the past several days, it has been most gratifying to hear from and speak with so many Cooley alumni whose lives have been impacted in such a positive way because of Tom Brennan’s foresight, creativity, and perseverance in establishing a law school in Lansing. You are his professional legacy; and he was enormously proud of each of you for your achievements and success. “Others of you are dedicated Cooley Law School faculty and staff members who have been part of the school’s 46-year history, and who worked side by side with Dad to make the school a success. We’ve heard many of you express your gratitude for the vision and leadership that benefited you and your families. “Many of you affectionately called Dad, “the Judge,” and enjoyed friendships built on mutual respect and kindness. Some of you are Dad’s Detroit Catholic Central chums, or are longtime friends from across the state, political allies, golfing buddies, fellow parishioners, or admirers through your friendships with members of our large family. You’ve told us that Dad
was “larger than life,” and that you were inspired by his charismatic personality, his keen intellect, the courage with which he expressed his convictions, and his allegiance to faith and family. “To be sure, Tom Brennan left a lasting footprint. His efforts ultimately changed not only the lives of those he encountered through his many endeavors, but even the very landscape of the capital city in the state he loved so well. “Yet, despite all of the noteworthy achievements of this great man, six of us were blessed to know Tom Brennan simply as “Dad.” “This past May, at a celebration of Dad’s 89th birthday, we six gathered together with Mom and Dad and our spouses, and, among other activities during the course of a long and memorable evening, we shared with Dad a list of 89 reasons why we love him. Some of us expressed unique explanations – for example, my brotherin-law Dave Radelet said he loved Dad because he was, “loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. In other words, you’re a Boy Scout!
Cooley Alma Mater Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, mighty temple of the law; Where first we sought the face of justice full of wonder, full of awe. Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater, reservoir of truth sublime; Where first we tasted sweetest Reason, “But for the most part, we mentioned several common traits and characteristics: Dad’s wit and wisdom; his incredible facility to forgive and forget; his extraordinary mind and inventiveness; his resilience in the face of failure, and his perseverance to pursue his dreams and goals. As a proud father, grandfather of 19, and great-grandfather of nine, Tom Brennan set an extraordinary example through his love, generosity, and commitment to our family. “They say the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. If this is true, Tom Brennan was certainly one of the greatest fathers of all time. His devotion to our mother knew no limits. From the start of their courtship in 1947 as college freshmen at the University of Detroit, throughout a 67-year romance and marriage, until their final, tender moments together during these past days and weeks, Tom and Polly authored a remarkable story of enduring love. They gave each other the gift of being completely known and unconditionally accepted. They supported and protected one another, they challenged and celebrated each other, and they demonstrated to us what it means to build a life and a family on a strong foundation of faith in God.
“As most of you also know, in retirement my Dad was a prolific blogger, posting 444 essays between 2008 and 2017 on his site, OldJudgeSays. Often controversial, but always impassioned, Dad left us a treasure trove of material to remind us of his intellect, ingenuity, persistence, faith and humor.
Learning wisdom grows with time.
“One such blog, posted in February of 2010, was entitled, “My Last Lecture.”
of Thomas Cooley, Alma Mater,
“Inspired by the profound and moving 2007 video of the late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, Dad imagined what sage advice and accumulated wisdom he would convey in his version of a seminal life lesson. It’s classic Tom Brennan, and with his permission, I share it with you today…
We proudly sing your highest Praises,
We came to you in Michaelmas, different as the Autumn Trees. And working grew in Friendships through quiet, snowbound Hilaries. We’ll say goodbye to Trinities, Treasuring our memories as we wear your White and Blue, Thomas Cooley, Hail to You. WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY: THE LATE HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN, FOUNDER AND DEAN EMERITUS AND PRESIDENT, THOMAS M. COOLEY LAW SCHOOL
HON. THOMAS E. BRENNAN
“He wrote: Preparing to give a talk at Cooley Law School awhile back, the idea of a last lecture kept cropping up. In May, I will be 81 years old. I remember when my mother was 81. I gotta say, she was old. When you get to be my age, you think a lot about death, but not the way you think about it when you’re forty or fifty. There’s no panic, no fear. When you get old, your friends die. And people treat you differently. Younger golfing buddies rake your sand traps and fix your divots. And people listen to you; as though you have somehow gotten smarter just by living longer. I always prayed for wisdom. Now I read opinions I wrote forty years ago as a Supreme Court Justice and I marvel at how smart I was back then. I certainly don’t feel any wiser now. I sure
wouldn’t want to take a bar examination this summer. But I suppose there are some things that begin to sink in as the years go by. Some things you always knew become even more certain. For example, there’s my mantra about perseverance, progress and personal responsibility. It goes like this: If you drop it, pick it up. If you spill it, wipe it up. If you forget it, go back and get it. If you break it, fix it. If you destroy it, replace it. If you owe it, pay it. If you did it, admit it. Why? Because most of the forward progress we make in the game of life is just getting back to the line of scrimmage. They say that dementia in an Irishman is when you forget everything but the grudge. Despite my Celtic heritage, I have had no room in my life for ill will toward anyone.
Besides, I think that hatred eats the hater. If you have a friend, it’s like having a relative. It never changes. Your friend is your friend. Period. Forgiving feels good; forgetting feels better. Every hour, every minute spent seething over hurt feelings is an absolute waste of time. You can’t control the thoughtless, cruel, or mean-spirited things that other people do or say. You can control how you react to them. You can control your feelings. You are the only one who can make you feel good. I’m a dreamer; always have been. Dreams demand attention. They demand action. You can’t just dream about a dream. You’ve gotta do something about it. If it doesn’t actually pan out – and many don’t – at least if you give it your best shot, you will earn some credits in the college of hard knocks.
Nothing in life worth having or doing will come to you unless you want it. Really want it. Valuable things in life demand a high price. Whether it’s an education, a career, a marriage, a reputation, or anything else you set as a goal or let yourself dream about having or doing, it will not come to you unless you are willing to pay the price. That price isn’t always money. Indeed, it rarely is. Usually the price is paid in sacrifice, in waiting, in patience, in perseverance, in starting over again and again, in believing and preparing, and in holding on when everyone tells you to let go. I have often told my children and grandchildren that success is getting back up again. And so it is. But there is another dimension to success that is so axiomatic it rarely gets mentioned.
My father put it this way, “You know what’s right and you know what’s wrong. Do what’s right.”
I bring my happiness with me. I take it with me wherever I go. Happiness is a state of mind.
Success comes by achieving or working tirelessly toward good, honorable, positive goals. Those are the dreams worth having, worth fighting for.
I sincerely hope to be happy on my death bed. The good Lord has blessed me with a long and healthy life, filled with love, achievement, friends, and beautiful moments. I thank God for the life He has given me.
I have a dozen things on my plate. Things I want to do. Spend time with my darling wife and hear her laugh. Improve my golf game. Write a book or two. Promote golf as a team sport. Advocate for a convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution. Travel. Visit my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But these things don’t make me, won’t make me, can’t make me happy. Nothing you do, nothing you acquire, nothing you learn, or see, or experience will make you happy. Happiness comes from the inside.
At the end of it, I only hope it will be said of me that I fought the good fight, I finished the race, that I kept the faith, that I did my best and went out with courage and grace.
And that would be my last lecture. Thanks for listening.”
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 AHMED OGENNASALIM, IWEAJUNWA, WASHINGTON STORY CLASS, 2015 2012
Ogenna Iweajunwa NOTHING SHORT OF REMARKABLE
“Hard work and determination never fails,” says Ogenna Iweajunwa (Story Class, 2015), judicial law clerk to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein.
“Then I realized that the only obstacle to doing anything is yourself, and that with determination and hard work, you can do anything.”
After learning more about her life, it’s obvious that she practices what she preaches. Iweajunwa recently accepted a clerkship with Justice Richard Bernstein at the Michigan Supreme Court. However, less than 10 years ago, she was learning how to tackle basic tasks such as expressing herself, pumping gas, or ordering food at a drive-through restaurant. That’s because in 2009, Iweajunwa emigrated from Nigeria to the United States with her young daughter, leaving behind her parents and siblings, as well as her career as a lawyer — a career that had perfectly married her passions for writing and helping others. Though British English is Iweajunwa’s first language, the differences between British
and American English caused difficulties in understanding. “I had to re-learn everything from scratch, especially the language, and the way of life here,” said Iweajunwa. “I asked questions, did a lot of reading, even looked up the most basic things, like the difference between a hamburger and cheeseburger. I continued to educate myself, listen to people, and most importantly, ask questions.” Iweajunwa lawfully emigrated from Nigeria to the United States, and arrived in Minnesota where she began working two jobs, one as a nursing assistant and the other at a local Walgreens. All the while she was learning to adjust to life in America as a single parent.
TAKING ON LAW SCHOOL — A SECOND TIME While Iweajunwa was a practicing lawyer in Nigeria, a number of barriers stood between her and practicing law in the United States, including the ability to sit for a bar exam. Even though Iweajunwa had already completed five years of law college, a year of law school, taken a bar exam, and had practiced law in Nigeria, she still needed an American legal education to become a licensed attorney in the United States. This meant that if Iweajunwa wanted to practice law in her new country, she would have to go through law school again, and take another bar exam.
“When talks of going back to law school first arose, I thought it would be impossible,” said Iweajunwa. “Then I realized that the only obstacle to doing anything is yourself, and with determination and hard work, you can do anything.”
Iweajunwa not only excelled in law school, she graduated at the top of her class — summa cum laude. But when asked what her greatest victory was in law school, Iweajunwa humbly responds that she was happy “she made it through.”
With that, Iweajunwa began applying to different law schools. When she chose WMU-Cooley Law School, she moved from her home in Minnesota to Michigan to start her law school venture at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus.
It was again her perseverance after graduation that led Iweajunwa to work as a research attorney for the Michigan Court of Appeals and as a judicial law clerk to Justice Douglas B. Shapiro, of the Michigan Third District Court of Appeals.
Determined to fully pursue her passion, Iweajunwa worked hard in law school, always going above and beyond. She immersed herself in schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, internships, and anything else she felt would set herself up for success.
Most recently, Iweajunwa added another major victory to her accomplishments when she began a new position in August 2018 as judicial law clerk to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein. It’s a job she describes as nothing short of “fascinating.”
“My professors took a chance on me,” declared Iweajunwa. “They looked past my limitations and saw my potential. Once I graduated though, people would look at my résumé and say, ‘Wow,’ she has worked really hard.’” Despite obstacles and adversity,
JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE Iweajunwa isn’t the only one excited about her new role. Justice Bernstein believes he’s privileged to have her in his chambers, describing her as invaluable, tremendous, compassionate, and even “herculean.”
“The work that Ogenna does is invaluable,” says Bernstein. “You have to be well-versed in so many different areas of law, and her experiences and perspectives are a tremendous gift. She is nothing short of remarkable.” The hardships that Iweajunwa has endured, Bernstein explains, are some of the most important components of performing her job. Knowing how to overcome obstacles and adversity are critical skills important to Justice Bernstein. He knows this to be true because he had to overcome his own barriers and obstacles to become the first blind judge appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. “Ogenna and I have been given our life experiences for a reason, and that’s to give back and help others,” said Bernstein. “Our adversities help us understand, and be more empathetic towards others while making difficult decisions.” Iweajunwa plans to stay in the court system moving forward in her career. She has enjoyed the exposure to all different types of law she has encountered as a Supreme Court clerk. She has one piece of advice for others who might have similar obstacles. “Never say never.” “Identify your passion, and pursue it,” Iweajunwa stated. “I always encourage people to work hard, and to not be afraid to ask questions. You’ll get a lot of no’s, but eventually, you’ll get a yes.”
Iweajunwa with Justice Bernstein
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 AHMED KEVIN SALIM, THOMAS, WASHINGTON WITHERELL CLASS, 2012 2010
When Kevin Thomas (Witherell Class, 2010) began seeing rules protecting consumers being turned back and funding cut at the federal level, he decided to make a run for the New York State Senate, a seat he was elected to during the November 6 general election. Thomas, a Democrat, beat out a 28-year incumbent for the state’s sixth district (Nassau County) seat, making him the first Indian-American to serve in the Empire State’s Senate. “I hope to make a difference to those living in my district and represent them on issues involving consumer protection, reproductive rights, and taking up the issue of single-payer healthcare in hopes of negotiating for lower costs,” said Thomas.
Kevin Thomas WINS NEW YORK STATE SENATE SEAT: FIRST INDIAN-AMERICAN TO HOLD POST
Born in Kerala, India, Thomas’s parents wanted the best for him. They later moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and by the age of 10 his family moved to the United States so he could get a good education and have the career of his choice. But at that young age, Thomas didn’t yet know he would end up devoting his career to helping others. “I grew up in Queens, New York, and my parents eventually moved us to Long Island,” said Thomas. “I struggled to fit in a little bit. My skin was different and the food I would eat in school was different. I found I could teach others about my culture using food. Everyone likes Indian food.” Thomas went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at St. John’s University, in New York, and landed his first job with the New York Police Department’s Legal Bureau. During his time with the NYPD, he began to recognize complexities within the legal system and chose to enter law school in hopes of making a difference. As an attorney, Thomas has been committed to consumer protectionism, especially when it comes to those who make a profit at the expense of the poor and children. It didn’t take much for
“Corporate was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to defend an actual human being.” KEVIN THOMAS
Thomas to decide that this specialized area of the law would be his future. During his law school externship, he went back to Dubai, which happened to be in the general counsel’s office of a Fortune 500 company. As frequently as externships show law students what they like about legal careers, they also show them what they don’t like. “Corporate was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to defend an actual human being,” said Thomas. It wasn’t just his externship that pointed the way, for Thomas, WMU-Cooley’s in-school experiences also helped light the path. “It was my moot court experience that helped me decide,” Thomas said. “It really was the highlight of my law school experience.” With his goal of helping individuals in mind, after graduation Thomas decided to return to New York, where he quickly passed that state’s bar exam and was hired as a staff attorney for the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).
Much of the work referred to Thomas has been through a program set up by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment. “The program was developed shortly after the financial crisis hit in 2008,” said Thomas. “The city offered help to residents with financial issues and set up opportunities for those individuals to work with financial counselors.” Thomas explained that through the help of financial counselors many cases would be referred to him for legal review.
communities for quality of life crimes, like jumping a turnstile or marijuana enforcement.” While working with the Commission on Civil Rights, Thomas’s work was part of a report on the impact of policing policies in minority communities. In addition to his legal work, Thomas serves on the school board of the Merrick Academy in Queens. He and his wife, Rincy, reside in Levittown and are expecting their first child.
“We would often find the paperwork submitted to the 12th Judicial Circuit in the Bronx was wrong,” said Thomas. “In one case a student loan lender claimed my client had enrolled in a school she never attended. It upsets me to see financial institutions monetizing on the poor, and in some instances doing it by giving out loans at high interest rates.”
Thomas’s work at the NYLAG includes helping numerous individuals with consumer loans such as credit cards, student loans, auto loans and others.
In addition to his work helping those in financial crisis, Thomas accepted an appointment to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ New York State Advisory Committee. Thomas noted that he is the first Indian-American and first WMU-Cooley graduate to serve on the commission.
Many of these individuals are unfairly being targeted by large lenders going after minorities, or those with marginalized incomes, said Thomas. “This is what makes me want to be an attorney. Speaking up for the poor and speaking on behalf of them while in court.”
“I was appointed because of my civil rights work helping those being wrongly sued,” continued Thomas. “Much of the work involved investigating issues like the New York City Police Department’s ‘broken windows policing.’ This is where police are going after individuals in minority
Kevin Thomas with his wife, Rincy.
“There are thousands of us WMU-Cooley graduates out there; many doing great things. Cooley gave us a very good education.” KEVIN THOMAS
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 BARBRA BACHMEIER, FISHER CLASS, 2007
Barbra Bachmeier (Fisher Class, 2007) has spent her life caring for others and is willing to go wherever, and do whatever she can, to help others in need.
Barbra Bachmeier from high school. She began her nursing career in Minot, North Dakota, after earning an LPN, then her B.S.N. from North Dakota State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.
From working as a nurse across the globe in the U.S. Army National Guard to helping victims of interpersonal violence and advocating for children, Barbra Bachmeier is up for the task. Her quest started when she entered the North Dakota National Guard after graduating
It was while she was working as a nurse practitioner at Indiana University Methodist Hospital’s emergency department when she started thinking a legal background might be something she needed. Taking care of a steady stream of young victims of violence pained her. It was becoming too much to bear. “I saw a lot of abuse and neglect,” shared Bachmeier. “It was overwhelming. I thought, ‘Is
it me? Why is this happening?’ One day I picked up the Indianapolis Star and there was a story about the need for child advocate volunteers. I put down the paper and called. I set up an interview, then I was accepted into the program. I did 30 hours of training and spent a lot of time in juvenile court providing reports for judges to help them make informed decisions on these cases involving kids. It was that experience that spurred me to go to law school.” She started applying to law schools in the Indianapolis area, but was told by a friend to look into WMU-Cooley Law School. So she did. She applied and was accepted. In the fall of 2001, Bachmeier started her law school journey.
“I packed up my life and moved to Lansing for three years. It was really hectic. I was 38, and like the rest of the world I had bills, so I worked in the emergency room at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing as a nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner. I was taking about nine to 10 credits per semester, so it was very busy, very regimental.” At the same time Bachmeier was also taking courses in military studies as part of her career track to move up in the ranks of the National Guard. Between her studies and work, she had little extra time to get involved in other activities and organizations. Bachmeier recalled her law school experience as something far different from her education in nursing.
“Our base was in a huge province,” recalled Bachmeier. “Our specific mission was to help civilians (Iraqis) start businesses that would provide a service to their community, so they would become selfsustaining by the time we left. Our goal was to help build economic stability.”
After returning from Iraq in October 2009, Bachmeier was able to focus on her personal mission of helping others in her community. She and a colleague, Holly Renz, began working together to help rape “We worked with local victims in Indiana. It was while authorities to help promote she was working with victims peace,” she said. “We worked of sex crimes, Bachmeier with various departments to learned that the Indiana Sex help build the community.” Crime Compensation Fund In Sarajevo, she served as didn’t cover the cost of an assistant inspector general, expensive anti-viral medication helping vet individuals from meant to help prevent HIV. three ethnic entities for The medication was cost government and military prohibitive. Victims were positions. looking at paying over $4,000 per month for this life-saving “I would collect information drug. Thanks in part to the on nominees, and based upon pair’s work, in 2017 Indiana information from the U.S. State changed its laws to cover the Department, plus intelligence cost of the medication. and security, I would write a summary of findings and It was at about the same assessment of qualifications,” time that Bachmeier, who Bachmeier added. had returned to working in
“In nursing, everything is all scientific, with evidence-based findings,” said Bachmeier. “But not in law. There are extraneous circumstances to almost every case. I realized early on that my whole reason to be there was to It was only after she returned focus on child law.” from Eastern Europe that ABOUT FACE Bachmeier was able to While juggling her busy complete her law degree. She work schedule and nearing then returned to Indianapolis graduation from WMU-Cooley, with a plan to start her own Bachmeier’s legal path took a practice. Once again, duty 5,000-mile detour when she called. was called up for active duty In July 2008, Bachmeier was in July 2004. She put her life summoned for a mission to on hold when she was assigned Iraq, where she helped Iraqis to a task force attached to learn how to create their own the peacekeeping mission in businesses. Kosovo, and then in Sarajevo.
the emergency department at Methodist Hospital, noticed a lack of nurses with special training for sexual assault victims.
seeking certification as a sexual assault forensic examiner. Before establishing the online course, the only path to certification required attending the class in person. This was a deterrent to many due to the cost of time off work and the cost of travel and lodging. Today, Bachmeier, who has retired from the National Guard after 29 years of service, continues to leverage her law degree and experience to help victims of crimes, particularly children victims. She also focuses her part-time law practice on GAL for children and adult guardianship cases, and works full time in the emergency department at IU Methodist Hospital as a nurse practitioner/forensic nurse. Most notably, in September 2018, Bachmeier was named by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) as one of 10 nurses from six states and England to be Fellows to the Academy of Emergency Nursing. ENA created the academy in 2004 to recognize outstanding members for their enduring and substantial contributions to emergency nursing throughout their careers. A total of 158 Fellows have been inducted into the academy since its inception.
“I began working with kids in the emergency room, and now I am seeing some of those same “Although there were four other hospitals in Indianapolis, kids again as teens, or older,” there had been a high turnover said Bachmeier. “I have seen the long-term consequences rate of sexual assault nurse to their health as a result of a examiners, and coverage was trauma history. Many never get limited at times,” Bachmeier justice in court, but at least we stated. are there to help them survive She went to work on developing and thrive.” an online course for those
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
Diversity is the Soul of our Society.
To my mind, a legal education embracing a strong culture of diversity, practice preparation, and giving to others is exactly the kind of education that cultivates the kind of diverse thinkers and leaders we need as lawyers − people who truly reflect the society in which we live, embrace and celebrate individual differences, and pursue equal justice under law.” DON LEDUC, WMU-COOLEY RETIRED PRESIDENT, DEAN EMERITUS, AND PROFESSOR
MICHIGAN | FLORIDA
LEARN MORE ABOUT WMU-COOLEY LAW SCHOOL’S APPROACH TO LEGAL EDUCATION AT COOLEY.EDU/DIVERSITY 14
ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER REMEMBERED For over 50 years, Don LeDuc has been a champion for the betterment of the legal profession in Michigan, but it’s his 43 years of dedication to WMU-Cooley Law School for which we are most thankful. We are grateful for his unwavering determination to cultivate diversity, his critical thinking and acute administrative skills, his unabashed loyalty to the mission of our law school, and his keen intellect. Don LeDuc retired as president and dean of WMU-Cooley Law School on Aug. 31, 2018 after serving the school since 1975. As the law school’s long-time leader, he has become known for not only his efforts to make law school more open and inclusive, but he is also credited with broadening access, all while maintaining a rigorous legal curriculum. LeDuc’s legal career began in 1967 when he served as a special attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He was then assigned to the Detroit Organized Crime Strike Force in 1968 and 1969, which was the first full-time deployment made by the Justice Department. He served from 1969-1970 in the Executive Office of Governor William G. Milliken as the law studies coordinator for the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, then as an administrator for the Office of Criminal Justice Programs for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget, from 1972-1975. LeDuc turned his career to legal education when he joined WMU-Cooley Law School in 1975.
Throughout his years as an attorney and professor, LeDuc has been an acknowledged expert in the field of administrative law, a subject in which he literally wrote the book for Michigan lawyers. His seminal work, Michigan Administrative Law (Thomson Reuters/Westlaw), was first published in 1993, followed by new editions in 2001 and 2018, and with annual supplements in between. Now marking its 25th year, his treatise has provided countless lawyers with in-depth analysis, basic information, how-to advice for reviewing and developing cases, and field-proven practice pointers. It offers complete coverage of the state and federal constitutional, statutory, judicial, and case law precepts that apply to every significant public agency in Michigan. During his career, he served as dean from 1982-1987, and assumed the role again in 1996. He was named both president and dean and a member of the school’s board of directors in 2002. He developed the plan of growth for the Lansing campus, the school’s two other Michigan campuses (Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids), and the Tampa Bay, Florida, campus in 2012. Two years later, he led the law school into its affiliation with Western Michigan University, combining WMU’s status as a nationally ranked, public, comprehensive research university with Cooley’s commitment as an independent, non-profit, national law school offering a practical legal education. Yet Don LeDuc’s legacy has been more than his lasting contributions to our law school and the legal community at large. He has been an unfailing advocate and contributor to multitudinous legal, civic, and arts organizations. We are grateful for his enthusiastic leadership in the school and our community.
We are grateful for Don LeDuc's many contributions to WMU-Cooley Law School and the legal community. 15
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 COLIN HUNTER, BRICKLEY CLASS, 2007
Outdoorsman to Judge
Growing up along the AuSable River, a young Colin Hunter watched as the AuSable River International Canoe Marathon would run alongside his family’s home in Grayling, Michigan, aspiring that one day he would enter and compete.
Colin Hunter with his wife, Kimberly, and their two children.
In 1996, at the age of 15, he did. The grueling, 120-mile non-stop canoe race starts in Grayling and ends near the shores of Lake Huron in Oscoda, Michigan. What Hunter didn’t realize then was that training and competing in canoe racing would prepare him for success in law school and his career now as judge of the 46th Circuit Court in northern Michigan. Hunter typically trains about 200 hours a year in preparation for the annual AuSable River International Canoe Marathon, in which he has competed in 20 of the last 23 events, finishing each time.
“That’s a significant amount of training,” stated Hunter. “If I don’t train well, my performance in the race suffers. If I train well and prepare well, I do well in the race. And the benefits of that training, and the results, are that I can apply those lessons to everything else I do in life.” Hunter has enjoyed every minute of his racing and the rewards that go along with that kind of achievement, but it was meeting his canoe racing hero at the finish line after his first race that has stuck with him, and created a lifelong memory.
“There were more things I didn’t know about the sport of canoe racing than what I knew,” said Hunter. “But after I finished that race in 17 hours, 38 minutes, and 28 seconds, I was overwhelmed! My parents, both of my brothers, my grandfather and several other relatives were there to congratulate me.” What Hunter didn’t expect after the family celebration, was the opportunity to meet one of the world’s best competition canoeists. “I got out of the boat and there was Jeff Kolka, a legend in the canoe racing
world,” said Hunter. “After many past marathons, he had just that year won his first AuSable River Canoe Marathon. He stuck around more than three and a half hours after racing all night, winning and celebrating his first marathon victory, waiting for this skinny 15-year-old who was new to the sport, to congratulate him and welcome him to the finishers’ club. That is something I will never forget. It’s that type of close-knit community in canoe racing, combined with the ever-growing level of competitiveness that keeps me coming back again year after year.”
COMPETITIVE NATURE Growing up in Grayling surrounded by nature, it is no surprise that Hunter would be an avid outdoorsman. But the fact that his father was a probate and district judge, and his grandfather was register of deeds, might lead one to believe that law school would be in his future. Not so, according to Hunter. “I have an older brother and younger brother that didn’t go down that path, and when I was a youngster, I never had a plan to enter the legal profession either,” according to Hunter. “But I did have friends who thought, because I was always argumentative, I would be a good attorney.” After graduating from Northern Michigan University with an English major and a minor in criminal justice, Hunter said he felt as if he wasn’t done with school. He enrolled in law school at WMU-Cooley in 2004 and was surprised to find himself competing again, but in academics. “At the time, I think my entering class was the largest in the country,” recalled Hunter. “It was totally different than what I expected. It shocked my system how super competitive it was, and the instructors expected a lot from you. But because I have
always been competitive, this kind of culture fit with my competitive nature.” It was that experience that helped Hunter in his career, both as an attorney and now on the bench. “The research, the way I analyzed and applied law, the WMU-Cooley experience, along with my years of experience as an attorney, certainly have helped me,” Hunter said. “The great thing about the field of law, and at times it is unsettling, is the need for attorneys and judges alike to be able to respond quickly to a variety of issues that arise and need to be addressed immediately, yet correctly. Whether the issues come up in a civil or criminal case, the decisions affect people’s lives, and so while the court work needs to get done, it most importantly has to get done right. And that’s a responsibility that I take very seriously.” Since taking the bench on Jan. 1, 2017, Hunter said that he has gained even more respect for the legal system because he now sees cases from an entirely different perspective. “As a practicing attorney, I always focused on fighting hard, but fair, for each of my clients,” said Hunter. “That sense of advocacy on behalf of others was a driving force in my life. Now, on the bench, my focus has changed significantly. Instead of focusing on a singular goal or outcome for a client, I now have the duty — and the pleasure — to focus my efforts in controlling the procedures of court and the presentation of cases to ensure that each voice is heard.”
Hunter competing in the big canoe race.
INTO THE WOODS As an avid outdoorsman, Hunter enjoys spending time in nature with his family, including floating on the river and hunting with his trusted Llewellin Setter, Riggs. “One of my big passions is just being in the woods,” Hunter said. “We have a lot of grouse, woodcock and deer around here, so I do like being out in the woods with the dog. It’s a nice release being away from pressing needs. Here in Crawford County, about 70 percent of the land is owned by local, state or federal government. Every year I find trails that I have never seen before, even having lived here my entire life. When I’m out in the woods, I get great exercise, which helps give me a mental break.” Competition is something Hunter loves, so, in addition to competing in the annual AuSable marathon, he has competed seven times in the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, a 70-mile, two-person, endurance race on the Susquehanna River in upstate New York. He also competed in the La Classique internationale de canots de la Mauricie, a 124-mile international canoe race in Quebec, Canada. Combined, the three endurance races make up the fabled “Triple Crown of Canoe Racing.” Hunter, a fourth-generation resident of Crawford County, lives in Grayling with his wife, Kimberly, and their two children, where he stays active in his community. He is a board member of the Crawford County Economic Development Partnership, and is also a member of his local Rotary Club. He serves as president of the 46th Circuit Bar Association, is a member of the Michigan Canoe Racing Association (MCRA), and is a past board member of Riverhouse, Inc., which serves victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 JOHN RHEINBERGER, CHANDLER CLASS, 1983
John Rheinberger “Anyone could do this,” assured John Rheinberger (Chandler Class, 1983). “It comes down to hard persistence.” Rheinberger, 69, of Stillwater, Minnesota, has the unusual distinction of having traveled to every country in the world. What started out as standard family vacations as a young boy, became a much more focused travel endeavor as an adult when Rheinberger calculated that he could easily circumnavigate the rest of the globe in his lifetime. In the 1950s, the Rheinberger family — mom, dad, and all seven children — could often be found trundling into the family car and setting off for such places as mom’s hometown of Boston.
“That’s how it starts. This idea of movement,” he said. Then came the epic travel movies — the 1956 movie “Around the World in 80 Days” and the 1963 movie “A Boy Ten Feet Tall.” Then Rheinberger’s travel dream was launched.
It was a dream deferred for a few years though, as he made his way through undergraduate days with Egypt two full majors in Political Science and History from the College of St. Thomas in 1970, and a bachelor’s in Geography from the University of Minnesota in 1974. He went on to get a master’s in history from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1977. Rheinberger would go on to excel in further educational pursuits, including his J.D. at WMU-Cooley Law School in 1983, an M.B.A. at the College of St. Thomas in 1990, and an LL.M. in Taxation from William Mitchell College of Law in 1996. But his global adventures started long before he finished his educational pursuits. He didn’t need his passport for his first excursion when he and a college friend made their way to Alaska in 1977. He joked about how the distance traveled seemed like “Jupiter was just 50 miles beyond.” It also changed his mindset from dreaming about traveling to actually doing it. Six Libya
months later Rheinberger used his newly minted passport on a trip to Australia, France then to Europe after that. Rheinberger took his first solo trip in November 1978 to South America. He got to see Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Venezuela. One month after returning from South America, he visited South Africa, checking off the countries of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. In January 1979, Rheinberger put another big dent in his global travel mission by flying around the world. He hit as many countries as he could fit in. In July of that year, he added the Soviet Union to his growing number of passport stamps. Rheinberger often had to find some very creative ways to visit countries, especially for countries not typically open to the
average tourist. That was the case when he visited Cuba in 2011. “As a lawyer,” Rheinberger explained, “It’s about what you call the animal. Can’t go as a tourist? How about a diplomat? No. How about Friendship tour?” Rheinberger ended up contacting a firm in California who had the solution. He could draw on his elected position as a County Soil and Water Supervisor to get him in. He fashioned a required biography to meet the standards, and was able to check off Cuba, via a group environmental mission. Rheinberger’s career has had as much variety as his travels, including opening his own firm, serving in the Army reserves Sierra Leone for 34 years Antarctica (retiring as a Judge Advocate General officer), working with Honeywell, working in private practice specializing in corporation work, family law, and taxation. He is now semi-retired, but still handles some work, primarily in real estate and taxation law. For his travels, Rheinberger often had to get creative. After exploring his remaining countries to visit, he discovered that there was a way to visit one country he thought
was off limits. After some searching, he found a toll-free number in Sarajevo Alabama that he decided was worth a call, not knowing if it was even legitimate. Someone answered. “I want to do everything legal,” Rheinberger began, “Can you get me to North Korea?” “Oh sure,” the person answered. “When do you want to go?” The arrangements had him flying into Beijing, China, where he was to meet someone in an alley to get his needed North Korea visa entry form. This may have scared off most, but it didn’t deter Rheinberger. He was able to get his entry form and check off North Korea as another country visited. “You have to have great faith in people,” he stated. That belief is something that Rheinberger says has never failed him. Rheinberger had a big year in 2007 when he managed to visit Iran, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. At one point in his travels, he knocked nearly every country off his list — until he learned there were six or seven more countries newly recognized.
“I always worried the night before leaving on a trip.” shared Rheinberger. “I finally told Bhutan myself, ‘Get rid of that.’ Things will work out.” And things have worked out. Like the time in the Congo when there was a national strike and no taxis. Rheinberger’s contact brought in a local soldier to provide protection and a foreign diplomat provided the Ambassador’s car to drive him to the airport. Or the time when he scored a limited-time hotel reservation in the new country of South Sudan, and almost didn’t make his flight out due to the plane’s mechanical failure — until a replacement plane arrived just in time for departure. Rheinberger’s final country to visit happened in 2011 when he traveled to Somalia. Although it was touch-and-go for a while, he finally made it, and was able to check the final country off his list. Upon his arrival back to the States, he was met at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by television and radio reporters eager to meet one of a very elite, handful of people — someone who truly can say he has “traveled the world.”
His travels have taught him much. Not only did he learn to have great faith in other people, he also learned he should have great faith in himself.
“You have to have great faith in people.”
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
KENDRA AND JOHN SMITH: It’s hard to imagine when Kendra Smith (Person Class, 1994) and John Smith (Bird Class, 1995) attended WMU-Cooley Law School that they would end up being the real-life protagonists in a book written about an environmental case they defended, which would go all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In fact, Kendra’s career had taken her into the arena of corporate defender, and John built his career representing Pennsylvania municipalities. Both were prepared to be advocates for their clients, but neither set out to be defenders of poor people against huge natural gas drilling companies. But it was those companies that were slowly ruining their land, their livelihoods and their health. So when it came down to right and wrong, the Smiths were all in, and then some. “Amity and Prosperity, One Family and the Fracturing of America,” by Eliza Griswold, is the story of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale that literally ruined the lives of people who blindly trusted state and federal environmental agencies to look out for them. The agencies didn’t. That’s when the Smith’s stepped up – when no one else would. Here’s what author Eliza Griswold had to say about the Smith's perseverance and dedication to the case.
JOHN (BIRD CLASS, 1995) AND KENDRA SMITH, (PERSON CLASS, 1994)
John and Kendra Smith
real-life protagonists and heroes for justice
Mr. and Mrs. Atticus Finch In her book “Amity and Prosperity, One Family and the Fracturing of America,” journalist Eliza Griswold chronicles the horrific repercussions of hydraulic fracturing on one family — the Haneys — and their neighbors living near a drill site. The true story comes complete with real-life heroes, WMU-Cooley graduates Kendra and John Smith, who took on a more than sevenyear legal battle to hold the “frackers” and the state of Pennsylvania accountable for mysterious illnesses, the deaths of treasured pets and farm animals, and ultimately
the loss of their home and farm. Recently, Griswold talked about the Smiths.
What were your first impressions of John and Kendra Smith?
Kendra is all brains and doesn’t suffer fools, but she’s super warm when you get to know her. I would say she is very guarded because she is dealing with the work at hand. John is a charmer, he definitely is a small town country lawyer. He started up the local historical society and he loves the history of George Washington in the region. Both are extraordinarily
John and Kendra were introduced spring of 1992 by two mutual friends during a class, and the relationship blossomed as they spent more time together on the Cooley Law Review and in Moot Court. John was from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh, and Kendra was from East Windsor, New Jersey, and attended Monmouth College. Those same friends who introduced them back then are now two of the finest attorneys in
the Pittsburgh area, Jeffrey Purvis and Scot Goldberg. Both John and Kendra sought undergraduate degrees with the intention of going to law school and having a legal career advocating for clients, Kendra in Criminal Justice and John a dual degree in Political Science and Communications. They both chose WMU-Cooley for the law school’s reputation for delivering a handson-learning experience, the option to take an
accelerated schedule yearround and finish early, and the law school’s generous scholarships that promoted and rewarded academic excellence. They knew that the program was hard, but they also knew that if you made it through the tough program, you would also pass the bar exam. Both John and Kendra graduated with honors, including a Distinguished Student Award, which John proudly displays today on his office wall. John is licensed to
practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Kendra is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia and has tried cases in many other jurisdictions across the United States. Both feel strongly that their WMU-Cooley education has shaped them into prepared, ethical advocates with a first-rate, hands-on legal education. They appreciated learning from seasoned professors who could call upon their own experiences (continued)
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
Q A Eliza Griswold, Author of “Amity and Prosperity, One Family and the Fracturing of America”
committed to their three children, which manifests itself, in Kendra’s case, in coaching three different soccer teams at the same time — super high level soccer teams. She herself was a soccer player in college at a very high level. They are both driven, both have a fierce intellect, and are committed to doing the work before them, no matter what.
At what point in the story were you introduced to the Smiths?
I got to know them after Stacey [Haney] had taken them on as her attorneys so I got to know them in the summer and fall of 2011. From the start I was already working closely with Stacey on her story and I was concerned about having attorneys on the case, about whether they would try to shut down my access to Stacey. But they were extremely respectful of the journalistic process and they understood; they didn’t try to convince her not to talk to me or anything like that. I thought that was very honorable of them. So, in order for me to understand the case they would spend sizeable amounts of time with me, sitting down to explain what was what, even things as simple as procedure, and it was very, very generous of them because they received no benefit from it.
What professional and personal attributes do you think John and Kendra Smith brought to the table?
John has that country lawyer ethos. He’s a lawyer for municipalities, he’s an expert on local government, and in Pennsylvania that is highly relevant because local government in Pennsylvania is very, very strong. Pennsylvania has more than 2,500 municipalities that have local town councils where they collect taxes and do all kinds of things. John is fluent in this language, which ended up being extremely useful in the larger case. Kendra of course is a corporate defense attorney and mostly worked for railroads on cases related to exposure, particularly exposure to asbestos. So, neither of them was especially predisposed to this and they were not “lefty environmentalists” in any way.
JOHN AND KENDRA SMITH
to drive home a legal point. Upon graduation, both worked in litigation practices and represented numerous corporations. They learned early on to treat all clients with respect, including those in need or who lacked financial resources. Every person deserves consideration, and many times those encounters have opened doors and provided other opportunities. Both
have been asked to write a Law Review Article for Duquesne Law School; invited to speak at Yale Law School (twice), Duquesne Law School, Penn State Law School and Carnegie Mellon University to discuss cases and share their knowledge in this particular area. They both field calls from other attorneys seeking expert advice in this area.
Defending those in need is a sacrifice according to John and Kendra, on both sides. The client is unable to provide sufficient economic resources, and a small firm is unable to front resources of their own, both in time and money. Then those same clients are not treated in the same way in the courtroom, which is always hard to watch and impossible to accept.
The Smiths, with their respective backgrounds in the law, would at first appear to be unlikely warriors in this battle for justice. What factors do you think drew them to take the case and to stay with it despite the personal costs to them?
They didn’t begin this opposed to drilling. They were pro-drilling, and they didn’t get involved in this because they were against oil and gas at all. They were pro-drilling, and their firm was making money helping people negotiate leases. They thought the region needed the revenue and they assumed that the regulatory institution, which in Pennsylvania is the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), was doing its job. So, it wasn’t really until they started looking into the case and found that the DEP wasn’t doing its job at all that they felt this was a fight they had to take on. They are both driven in the extreme. In this case, in order to take these cases on, they had to double their workload. Not even considering billable hours, the costs alone for transcripts and
John and Kendra’s three children learned what it meant to sacrifice as well. They heard so much over the years about the case that they would beg for them to talk about any other topic. Their eldest child actually wrote a college essay entitled “Growing Up Fracked” that detailed his experience, admiration and witness to the years of constant struggles with clients and his parents
experts and to establish the record for these cases meant they were laying out hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, they were under an extreme amount of pressure. On top of that, it earned them a lot of political enemies in a place where the oil and gas industry is extremely powerful, and the powerful people are pro oil and gas. Where their practice sits, that’s the oil and gas capital of Appalachia, and when you look at the directory for the building where their office is, almost every one of their neighbors is involved in extractive industries in some way. And they did have a sick daughter; their youngest, Ainsley. Their son Dakota is their oldest, and then there’s their daughter Savanah. When she was small, she was very, very sick with a mysterious illness and she nearly died. So, I think more than anything, yes, there was the outrage at the public failure to protect human beings in their county, but there was also the emotional intelligence and experience and history of having a sick kid. That made them take this case
desire to provide them with clean water and justice. The children were always supportive though and not willing to sit on the sidelines. They learned to never tolerate injustice and knew the difference between right and wrong. As much as John and Kendra recognize that not all attorneys are in a position to provide free or reduced rate legal work, they both agree that attorneys should use their legal abilities to
on because it involved a sick kid named Harley Haney who was just 14 years old and suffering from mysterious illnesses and they wanted to help figure out what it was and to hold those responsible accountable.
As time went by after you became involved, did you at any point think the Smiths would recommend that the plaintiffs throw in the towel and just try to get on with their lives?
I never saw either of the Smiths ever consider for one second putting this down. Not for one second. It’s really impossible to quantify and make clear to the reader the pressure that this put them under. Mostly because they felt a responsibility to the people involved. In both journalism and law cases like this there was never going to be a time where the people they were representing were going to say thank you. It doesn’t work that way. They could sacrifice everything and still it wouldn’t be enough.
help as much as they can. They believe there is no greater feeling than knowing you did the right thing by helping those in need. Due to the unfortunate costs of litigation, according to John and Kendra, our legal system often provides justice based solely on who has more financial resources, which is wrong. Lawyers should take a stand against this process.
For both John and Kendra, helping the Haney family and surrounding clients was not the only satisfaction they received from taking on their case and their collective interests. It was knowing that their clients truly appreciated that someone believed in them and their issues, and were willing to be their advocate. It’s the trust of a client that they found most gratifying.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
“…she talked to me quite a bit about the fact that she didn’t want to sue this company; she didn’t want any of this, so it wasn’t like she was going out looking for a pay day, she was just trying to get the company to do the right thing as quietly as possible.” ELIZA GRISWOLD
When did you realize the Smiths weren’t being paid, and in fact may never be paid for all their work on the case?
Stacey signed with the Smiths in the spring of 2011 and she was keeping journals as to what was going on at the time and I used the journals as a primary source for the book. So, once she signed with them she had the terms of contingency — what they would be, so I knew what they were. We talked on a regular basis. She talked to me quite a bit about the fact that she didn’t want to sue this company; she didn’t want any of this, so it wasn’t like she was going out looking for a pay day, she was just trying to get the company to do the right thing as quietly as possible. So, when I realized the Smiths might never be paid, I started keeping track as much as I was able to of the work they were doing. There’s something I have never said before, which occurred to me at the time, and that is when I would show up and try to understand the case with them. They would spend time with me, and those were billable hours, in addition to them working every single night and every single weekend. Kendra was averaging four hours of sleep, and I don’t even know how she did it. I will be honest, I saw this case take a physical toll on her, almost more so than anyone else involved, and I really at times wanted to communicate to her clients exactly what she was giving because they knew but they also didn’t know because she is so professional.
We know the normal corporate strategy is to bleed people out. I tried to talk to the oil and gas company about their side of things but it’s extremely difficult to talk about active litigation so they were well within their right to say no to talking to me, but I do think it’s possible they made a miscalculation. The company accused the Smiths of being secretly paid by a foundation or an environmental group and attorneys went digging for where the Smiths might be getting money and there was no “where.” I think that action signified to me that they were surprised the Smiths could keep going.
How did the knowledge of the lack of payment shape your perception of them as attorneys and as human beings?
I would say, in this case for the Smiths, I have watched them come to a crossroads time and again where there is an easy way and there’s an honorable way, and I have watched them choose the honorable way even when it wasn’t in their interest to do so, including talking to me — I would include the process of participating with a journalist in recording what happened. When you wonder why the Smiths would do that, why would they use billable hours, when they are working 18, 19, 20-hour days, to talk to a journalist? The reason is to make sure that people understood what had happened and to try to make knowledge a block so this wouldn’t happen again.
So that in itself is extraordinarily honorable and not everything in the book is a portrayal that they would like to have out there. This kind of journalism is called immersion journalism where you really get close to your subjects, not emotionally but physically as close as you can. You watch them live and that can be, for those who are under that kind of scrutiny, extremely disconcerting, especially for private people. I would say Kendra certainly is a very, very private person and I could feel at times that this was really uncomfortable for her, and she let it go on because she knew it served the public good. The public good. That’s it. What I truly believe, what was truly most shocking for the Smiths and what they really were fighting for in this case was the public good. They were shocked by the erosion of basic life principles that guarantee the safety and security of Pennsylvania citizens that they themselves took for granted. They have a comfortable life style, they have three wonderful kids, who at this point are thriving. They’re not facing unusable water. They’re not facing the toll of unprotection that comes along with poverty. And once they saw that toll, and once they saw the risk taking and the risks corporations were putting on people without any kind of adequate state protection, they got involved to try and stop it.
“The public good. That’s it. What I truly believe, what was truly most shocking for the Smiths and what they really were fighting for in this case was the public good.” ELIZA GRISWOLD
The point that the DEP was not taking necessary action to protect citizens seems like a breach of their official mission. Did the Smiths take that on?
That’s exactly it. In deposition, the Smiths would ask the state regulators and investigators if they knew the mission statement of the department or the mission statement of what their job was supposed to entail. It wasn’t about personal responsibility; it pointed to a total systemic failure because that agency has been complicit for so long. The intentionality of some of the oversights and errors is hard to prove. The intentionality of the negligence is hard to prove, but at the same time they were so woefully underfunded there was no way state regulators could do an adequate job protecting people. The Smiths said time and again, “That’s not good enough. The status quo is not good enough.”
The Smiths were referred to as Mr. and Mrs. Atticus Finch, the defense attorney in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Where did that originate and what does it say about the Smiths?
Mr. and Mrs. Atticus Finch came from a wonderful, conservative old-school politician in Pittsburgh named Doug Shields. Doug Shields was the architect of the moratorium the city of Pittsburgh put on fracking early on. He was an early skeptic of the benefits of
fracking and he, like so many people who most of us will never hear of, really regard the Smiths as heroes. He liked to call them Mr. and Mrs. Atticus Finch and it’s one of my favorite references because it speaks to the local heroism that really embodies what they have done.
Do you think the Smith’s involvement had a positive impact on Range Resources or the DEP?
Range Resources’ holding ponds failed at some point, and the Smiths were really hammering on the fact that this one pond had leaked and then they started digging into other ponds around the county. To my knowledge they found that every one of them had leaked and as a result of them pressuring the [state], the DEP levied a $4.15 million fine on Range and ordered the ponds remediated and closed. So most of the ponds were closed but two were left open.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania found in their favor and the person who wrote the decision was a conservative Republican chief justice. The idea that they were able to find an argument that was practical in nature and nonpartisan was so exciting to me because I think, in this highly partisan time, we’ve lost any kind of ability to work together. So, I think there is a way forward to get us around partisan politics and I think the Smiths have pioneered some of these methods that cross political lines to galvanize people to work toward a common solution.
The Smith’s principle victory in the book is that they were able to give teeth to the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment. Since 1971, the amendment was largely symbolic in Pennsylvania that citizens have the right to “clean air and pure water.” Through their work, the Smiths were able to give that amendment teeth for the first time in history. That helped them protect people and protect small communities against overreach by companies because it gave small governments the right to say, “We have the right to protect our citizens and we have the right to clean air and pure water.”
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 ELIZABETH LINDSAY-OCHOA, IREDELL CLASS, 2001
TAX LAW AND ESTATE PLANNING â€“MUSIC TO HER EARS
Setting out as a music therapy major as an undergrad, Elizabeth LindsayOchoa (Iredell Class, 2001) never could have predicted a path that would lead to law school and an eventual career in tax law in Boston.
“Most people think tax law is pretty black and white, when it’s really not,” said Ochoa, noting that tax law is in a state of constant revision. “There’s a lot of creativity and I find it very exciting.” Law school had never been a consideration for Ochoa as she headed off to college. Beginning as a music therapy major at Michigan State University, she soon lost interest in her choice and found herself in search of another major. Ochoa eventually made the switch to telecommunications, and it was a class on telecommunications policy that captured her attention. She credits her academic adviser for helping translate this newfound interest into law, and within weeks of the initial advisory session, Ochoa found herself prepping for and taking the Law School Admission Test. Since graduating from WMU-Cooley, Ochoa has worked exclusively in the areas of tax, estate and trust planning. Ochoa is now a director at CBIZ and MHM New England (Mayer Hoffman McCann, P.C.), an independent CPA firm, in Boston, Massachusetts, where she provides planning solutions for high net worth clients. Ochoa cites those clients and creativity as the two most rewarding aspects of her career. She enjoys counseling clients, assuring them that their families and charities are cared for, and taking the proper steps for their intentions to be carried out. Knowing her clients can sleep at night gives her a sense of achievement. And then there’s the creative side. “Most people think tax law is pretty black and white, when it’s really not,” said Ochoa, noting that tax law is in a state of constant revision. “There’s a lot of creativity and I find it very exciting.” It is these changes that keep her on her toes, making her a constant student of the law. In selecting a law school, Ochoa was most impressed with WMU-Cooley for its dedication to preparing students to go out and “set the world on fire.” “You were going to get in the classroom, you were going to learn the basics, and they were going to teach you how to be a lawyer,” remembered Ochoa. Noting that in class, “the professors taught through the lens of real-life experience, many of them practicing in addition to teaching.” These insights helped her focus on tax law, and, likewise, their colorful stories of court solidified for Ochoa that she did not want to spend her time in a courtroom.
Ochoa earned her law degree just days after September 11, 2001, and so, like many others, set out to begin her career against the backdrop of a nation in turmoil. She sat for the Michigan bar exam and concentrated on networking. She also decided to try something new, and actually landed her first job by responding to a post on Monster.com, one of the very first live job boards.
“I have always been willing to take a chance. Willing to push myself and try something new.” The position took her to Denver, Colorado, where she was involved in wealth planning for a large insurance corporation. From there she served as a trust officer for a regional bank and also worked for a private family office. Ochoa earned her LL.M. in taxation from the University of Denver. She eventually moved to Boston, a city for which she and her husband share a mutual love. Ochoa is active with the alumni association and seeks opportunities to mentor both students and young professionals who are new to the field. She encourages them to get involved in various clubs and organizations, and to keep an open mind in making connections in the community. “You never know, it may be the conversation that leads to a job opportunity,” said Ochoa. “Engaging with those in your community plays a key role in professional development. The first step is to simply connect.” As for the future, Ochoa plans to continue her career in tax law, hoping to expand recognition of her expertise at a national level, and perhaps one day advancing her love of mentoring into a professorship. One thing remains the same – she still has no desire to set foot in the courthouse. She and her husband, a patent attorney, live in the Boston suburbs with their three-year-old son. They relish family time and enjoy taking in all the city has to offer.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 BRYAN MacCORMACK, MOORE CLASS, 1993
STAYS TRUE TO NORTHEAST ROOTS IN BOSTON
Law school was not a clear-cut goal for Bryan MacCormack (Moore Class, 1993) following his graduation from the University of MassachusettsAmherst with a bachelor’s degree in business.
Allowing himself the necessary time to weigh his options, MacCormack secured a sales position with a local retail computer company. He also took a summer job with UPS in its Management Training Program. It was during this time, hefting and delivering packages in the signature brown uniform, that MacCormack decided to apply to law school. MacCormack’s law school aspirations took him to WMU-Cooley, a far cry from the East Coast for the New Jersey native. Determined to do well and learn as much as he could, MacCormack took advantage of a student teaching opportunity that he credits with helping to solidify his interest in tax law. Having done well in his tax classes, MacCormack participated in a peer mentoring program that provided access to a classroom where he tutored anywhere between 50-100 students in tax law. MacCormack labeled obtaining his law degree as the single most important decision he has made.
“Cooley was a wonderful academic experience,” MacCormack reflected. “It really opened my mind and made me who I am today.” He valued the professors’ real-world experiences brought to life in the classroom and learning about various professional opportunities for individuals with a law degree. Academics aside, MacCormack enjoyed the Midwest atmosphere – the kind (continued)
“Michigan is absolutely awesome; I miss it, I loved it,” reminisced MacCormack. demeanor of the people and slower pace of life. That first impression, along with all his fond memories of Lansing, Michigan, have stuck with him, even today, over 25 years later. “Michigan is absolutely awesome; I miss it, I loved it,” reminisced MacCormack. “I remember the first time I landed at the Lansing Regional Airport, I had a couple of bags, and was waiting for a cab. I was on my way to my new apartment. Out comes the couple I sat next to on the plane, along with their four kids, all toddlers. I only recall chatting, mostly small talk, with them on the plane, but what came next shocked me. “The father comes right up to me on his way out and says, ‘Hey do you need a ride?’ Well, in Boston if someone were to ask you if you needed a ride, you would have looked at them like they were crazy!
But I wasn’t in Boston, and he seemed so genuine, that I said, ‘Yeah sure, I’ll take a ride.’ So we all got in the car, all seven of us, and this nice couple drove me to my apartment. That was the beginning of my Michigan-Cooley story. It doesn’t get any better than that, when would that ever happen? I knew that this place was a good place because good people live in Lansing. That kind of story held true throughout my whole time in Michigan, it really did. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about it. Because there’s just good people there.” Following his idyllic time in Lansing and graduating from WMU-Cooley, MacCormack was ready to make the next step. Given the competitive job market, along with the advice of some respected attorneys he knew, he went about the business of gaining an LL.M. degree to increase his career opportunities. With advanced degree in hand, he gained experience through a variety of legal positions, including an appointment down South as an Assistant State Attorney in Florida.
MacCormack practices law in the areas of estate planning, asset protection, tax law, probate and trust administration and real estate at the MacCormack Law Firm in Boston, which he founded in 2004. Stemming back to his days as a student tutor, MacCormack frequently leads seminars and workshops for a number of professional groups, and has published several articles. MacCormack finds great value in connecting with other professionals within the industry at various conferences.
“I have been doing this for a long time now and still, there’s just so much to learn,” said MacCormack. “I think that’s what makes the law interesting.” Acknowledging law school as a major investment, both financially and in years, he encourages law students today to seek real-life experience while still in school. Whether volunteer, internship or part-time work, any exposure of this nature would help to differentiate students as candidates in the future. Speaking about work-life balance, MacCormack makes time for himself and his family. For his personal “release” he swims about a half-mile four times a week. Additionally, he coaches his kids’ teams, which forces him out of the office. “I don’t want to be the dad that looks back and says ‘What happened? They’re gone,’” MacCormack said. “I make time for family and that’s really important to me.”
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018 GORDON HOSBEIN, SHARPE CLASS, 2008
returns home after being appointed to the bench by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Twenty years after graduating from St. Joseph (Michigan) High School, Gordon Hosbein (Sharpe Class, 2008) has returned to his hometown roots serving the Berrien County community as a district court judge. Judge Hosbein was appointed to serve Michigan’s 5th District Court by Gov. Rick Snyder in August. The St. Joseph native will serve the remainder of Donna Howard’s term through 2020, and will be eligible to run for a full term in November 2020. “I’m humbled to know Gov. Snyder trusts me in the decisions I’ll be making and to do the right thing as a district court judge,” said Hosbein, who served as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Detroit area for 10 years. “I’m thrilled and honored to have this great opportunity. It’s a big responsibility and is not something I take lightly.” Hosbein attended Oakland University on a baseball scholarship and, upon graduating in 2003, entered law school. During his time at WMU-Cooley, Hosbein participated in the school’s internship program at the Federal Highway Administration in Chicago and Washington D.C., as well as a six-month externship with the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office.
“What I’ve learned from all of these experiences is it’s always important to remember that everyone’s problems come in all different shapes and sizes,” Hosbein said. “They come before the court with their own story and they need to be listened to and helped. So it’s important not to make a quick decision, but rather be patient and respectful. I absolutely translate that to my job on the bench every day.” While in metro Detroit, Hosbein dedicated his time outside the courtroom to a variety of organizations, including: the Roseville District Court Sobriety Court, serving as secretary from 2009-2012; the Drug Recognition Experts of Michigan; and the Rochester Hills Little League.
JUDGE HOSBEIN TAKES THE BENCH
After passing the bar exam in February 2008, Hosbein applied for an open position at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office and was hired.
Hosbein recalls the first time he tried his very own case in his hometown as 5th District Court judge. It was early September and his third week back in St. Joseph.
“I couldn’t have had a better support system through Cooley alum, professors and staff,” Hosbein said. “I think what sets Cooley apart from everywhere else is that there’s always someone there willing to help you. They never close a door on you.”
“I was prepared, and did all of my research and homework on the case,” he said. “It was a humbling experience and I knew it was a great responsibility to take my new seat at the judge’s bench.”
During his first two years at the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, Hosbein 32
negotiated plea bargains, handled misdemeanor dockets and felony preliminary exams in district court. He was soon assigned to the circuit court where he sat second chair in felony trials. Eventually, Hosbein was commissioned to sit in the first chair for a variety of judges, working on special high-profile felony cases, as well as child abuse and neglect cases with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Hosbein is thrilled to be back serving his hometown of St. Joseph, where he has a wealth of family support in his corner. He
and his wife of 11 years, Julie Anna, hope to instill their deep-rooted commitment to community and compassion and forgiveness for others in their three children. “We have a special duty as parents to teach acceptance and equality and hope to raise a generation of people that are accepting of every person from every walk of life,” stated Hosbein. “Through our own actions and community outreach, our children will learn to be generous, respectful, compassionate and tolerant through our actions and our community service. I learned these attributes from a very young age through my grandparents and parents and their involvement in this community. If we can all teach our children to be tolerant, not hateful; humble, not boastful; and help others whenever we can, the world will be a better place.” Now that he’s in southwest Michigan, Hosbein continues his volunteer efforts as a member of the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor Rotary Club and the Blossomtime festival committee. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the Federalist Society and the Berrien County Bar Association.
“I am eager to become more involved in this wonderful community.”
WMU-COOLEY GRADUATES APPOINTED AND REAPPOINTED BY GOVERNOR RICK SNYDER FROM MAY 2017 THROUGH OCTOBER 2018
Judge Gordon Hosbein was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve Michigan’s 5th District Court in August 2018.
2017 Cheryl Schmittdiel (Goodwin Class, 1982) appointed director of the Office of State Employer Kevin Weise (Chase Class, 2002) appointed to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission Prentis Edwards Jr. (Starr Class, 2005) appointed as judge to Wayne County 3rd Circuit Court Charles Drayton (Riley Class, 2009) appointed to the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force Douglas Lloyd (Montgomery Class, 1992) appointed to Organized Retail Crime Advisory Board Kathleen Hemingway (Fisher Class, 2007) appointed as judge to 8th District Court in Kalamazoo County
Thomas Rombach (Morse Class, 1987) appointed to Trial Court Funding Commission Shannon Schlegel (Rutledge Class, 2000) appointed to Trial Court Funding Commission Edward Van Alst (Blair Jr. Class, 2001) appointed as judge to Wexford County Probate Court Frederick Headen (Sherwood Class, 1986) appointed as senior legal counsel with the governor's office. Julie LaCost (Pratt Class, 1988) appointed to the 95-B District Court in Dickinson County S. Tutt Gorman (Cross Class, 2004) appointed to the Michigan Citizen-Community Emergency Response Coordinating Council John Housefield (Weist Class, 1979) appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Magistrates
Amanda Van Essen Wirth (Sibley Class, 2011) appointed to the Human Trafficking Commission Eric Blubaugh (Williams Class, 1994) appointed as judge to the 91st District Court in Sault Ste. Marie Juanita Bocanegra (Kavanagh Class, 2008) appointed to the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan Barbara Smith (Blair Class, 1983) appointed to the Michigan Gaming Control Board Rob Campau (Steere Class, 1995) reappointed to the Underwater Salvage and Preserve Committee D.J. Hilson (Fead Class, 1999) reappointed to the Criminal Justice Policy Commission Christopher Cooke (O’Hara Class, 1983) reappointed to the Mental Health Diversion Council
Danielle Brown (Adams Class, 2008) reappointed to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission Phillip Hendges (Adams Class, 1997) reappointed to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission LaTarro Traylor (Hilligan Class, 2012) was reappointed to the Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity William Nichols (Douglass Class, 1989) was reappointed to the Michigan Community Corrections Board Russ Kavalhuna (Brickley Class, 2007) was reappointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission
Stacy Nowicki (Sibley Class, 2011) was reappointed to the Library of Michigan Board of Trustees Keith Pretty (Kelly Class, 1978) was reappointed to the Michigan Endowment Fund Board 2018 Col. John Wojcik (Black Class, 1996) reappointed to the State of Michigan Retirement Board Jeff Steffel (Wing Class, 1982) appointed to the Michigan Civil Service Commission Mark Henne (Copeland Class, 1989) appointed to the Environmental Permit Review Commission Gordon Hosbein (Sharpe Class, 2008) appointed as judge to the 5th District Court in Berrien County
Joseph Martin (Warren Class, 2017) appointed to the Michigan Board of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Julie Nakfoor Pratt (Grant Class, 1987) appointed to Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Judge Beth Gibson (Montgomery Class, 1992) appointed to the Trial Court Funding Commission, reappointed to the Community Corrections Board Bob LaBrant (Chandler Class, 1983) reappointed to the Employment Relations Commission Shelly Edgerton (Champlin Class, 1987) appointed to Western Michigan University Board of Trustees
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
WMU-Cooley Law School Reflection.Transition. Rededication. This is a time of reflection, transition and rededication for WMU-Cooley Law School. We reflect upon the memory of our founder, Thomas E. Brennan, who passed away in September. We transition from the long stewardship of retired President Don LeDuc, who steadfastly served as a Professor, Dean and President at the law school for over 43 years. And we rededicate ourselves to the School's founding principles by offering broad access for legal education to those who show the ability to pass a rigorous course of instruction â€” a curriculum designed to produce knowledgeable, skillful, and highly ethical lawyers.
By Jeffrey L. Martlew, Interim President
The Board of Directors has instructed me to review the entire academic, administrative and financial structure of the School in order to better achieve that original goal. As an institution, we face a number of obstacles, but we know we have the ability to overcome them. Over some months I've come away from visits at each campus delighted by the faculty's commitment to teaching excellence, the staff's devotion to student success, the students' dedication to their studies, and the strong support from our proud graduates.
You can do this by assisting with recruitment, mentoring students, teaching a class, guiding an extern, assisting with bar prep, hiring a graduate, making a financial contribution, or simply telling the world that you are proud of your WMU-Cooley education. If you want to get involved and don't know how, please feel free to send an email to me personally at martlewj@ cooley.edu. We welcome your support!
I encourage all alumni now reaping the benefits of a WMU-Cooley education to be involved with their alma mater.
SPECIAL TRIBUTE EDITION | WINTER 2018
Study Abroad Like itâ€™s
1999! We were on the cusp of the new millennium. Y2K. Wired phones. Movies on tape. Dial-up modems. The digital age was just getting underway. At the WMU-Cooley Law School, also underway was the notion of starting a study abroad program in the Pacific Rim and later in Toronto.
WMU-COOLEY’S DOWN UNDER AND TORONTO PROGRAMS CELEBRATE 20 YEARS Study abroad was not a new concept to the law school. WMU-Cooley’s commitment to study abroad dated back to the early 1980s. Summer programs took place in Caen, France, in 1981, and Paris and Freiburg, Germany, in 1983. Study abroad took another step forward in the mid-1990s when WMU-Cooley students participated in several summer programs conducted by the University of San Diego School of Law. Then WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc wanted to further broaden the law school’s international horizons. About 20 years ago, LeDuc tasked Distinguished Dean Emeritus William P. Weiner with developing a program in the Pacific Rim, and the “Down Under” program in Australia was born. Weiner described how the Down Under program was created. “On a cold December morning in 1997, Professor Larry Morgan, chairman of the Curriculum Committee, and I drove to a hotel suite near Metro Airport. Professor Leighton Morris, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, had coffee and breakfast rolls ready for us. We talked about our desire to start a Study Abroad program in Australia and he told us about the Faculty of Law at Monash. He quickly absorbed what our needs were, suggested courses
and potential faculty, and came up with some options for legal visits and social events. By lunch time we felt we had an eager host school and solid ideas for a program.” In 1999, the late Distinguished Professor Emeritus Peter Jason led the first program to Melbourne. A few years later, the program expanded to a full semester and New Zealand was added. The program continues to positively impact those who participated. Michelle R. Horvath (Witherell Class, 2010), a judicial administrator at Cornell University, participated in the Australia/New Zealand program in 2009. “Although it has been almost a decade since participating in Cooley’s Australia/ New Zealand semester-abroad program, the impact of that opportunity continues
Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia
to resonate in ways that I could not have foreseen when sitting in a Lansing classroom, aiming to learn more about the program and its costs,” Horvath said. “The opportunity to live in each country for a prolonged period of time provided a unique cultural immersion in which the exposure to each country was more as a resident or prolonged visitor, versus a tourist.” On the heels of the inaugural Down Under Program, a program was started in Toronto. Weiner recalled how it all started. “In 1998, Professor Jason and I visited Toronto to scout for a new program. We immediately realized that St. Michael’s College, with its small-college feel and convenient location on the edge of the larger University of Toronto, was the place for us. St. Mike’s has provided classrooms, dorm rooms, study space and fine event catering for us and has been an important reason for our program’s success.” The Toronto summer program was introduced in 2000, led by Distinguished Dean Emeritus Keith J. Hey. Lucas Dillon (Hilligan Class, 2012), who participated in the Toronto program in 2010, indicated the experience had a huge impact. Now Of Counsel with Bailey & Terranova in Okemos, Michigan, Dillon still vividly recalls the program nearly a decade later. (continued)
“The Toronto experience was integral in my decision to go into private practice. While there, you are exposed to practitioners in all areas of the law. From judges to sole practitioners, professors of law as well as big-firm attorneys. Being able to sit and discuss the practice and what they would do different in a relaxed setting for weeks at a time was eye opening to say the least. “Spending time studying abroad gave me an opportunity to develop another layer of my personality. My independence. They had high expectations of us and we were treated as adults. I immersed myself in the culture that was Canada. I can remember live plays in the park, the G8 summit riots and the amazing food and restaurant scene. “Had I not spent that summer in Toronto I may not be practicing at such a high level today.” All these years later, WMU-Cooley remains committed to Study Abroad. A summer program in Oxford, England, was added in 2014.
An exchange program is another Study Abroad option available to WMU-Cooley students. WMU-Cooley and the University of Münster law school, one of the largest in Germany, started a student exchange program in 2011. A second exchange program with University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain, was added in 2016. These programs permit law students from either school to study at the other as a guest student. WMU-Cooley’s Study Abroad programs are located in some of the most beautiful countries in the world. One of the distinguishing features of its programs is that nearly all the faculty members are local law school faculty, practitioners and judges. As Weiner notes, “Our fine Canadian faculty members have been a great strength of our program for 20 years. They have helped support my goal of foreign study being foreign in the classroom and not just in the location. Some have been with us since our first summer in 2000.
Most have LL.M. degrees. All present a combination of practice experience and academic skill that epitomizes what WMUCooley has long stressed as ‘practical legal education.’” He went on to observe that, “While in Toronto, WMU-Cooley has developed deep ties with Canadian legal education. Four current law school deans from other countries have either hosted, directed, or taught in our programs in New Zealand, Oxford, and Toronto.” Retired WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc added in commemoration of the 20th year, “One of the great pleasures of being a dean is helping others do what they like to do, while providing life-altering opportunities for our students and bringing benefits to the school. This anniversary is a great credit to Professor and former Associate Dean Bill Weiner, who got things started, to our International Programs Director who carried the ball for a long time, and to the many faculty and staff who have made Study Abroad a fixture at
Where Do You Find WMU-Cooley Alumni? NOVEMBER’S ELECTION SAW MANY RESULTS, BUT NONE MORE EXCITING THAN THE SUCCESS WE SAW FROM SO MANY WMU-COOLEY GRADUATES. The Alumni Office has been compiling a list of those winners, but we realize we may have missed some. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional names. We will soon be adding the newly elected to a list of hundreds of WMU-Cooley alumni who have been elected or appointed to public office across the nation and worldwide. Visit cooley.edu/alumni/successfulalumni for the impressive list. Rashida Tlaib (Cross Class, 2004) was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by voters in Michigan’s 13th District, the First Palestinian Muslim woman elected to Congress. Janice Cunningham (Mundy Class, 1986) was re-elected to the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan.
WMU-Cooley. My congratulations and thanks to all.”
Laura Baird (Weist Class, 1979) was re-elected to the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan.
More than 1,200 WMU-Cooley and guest students from over 230 U.S. and foreign law schools have participated in the various Study Abroad programs offered by the International Programs Office though the years.
Jim Jamo (Manning Class, 1984) was re-elected to the Ingham County Circuit Court in Lansing, Michigan. Upon his first election, Judge Jamo’s investiture was held at the law school.
So whether the program is “Down Under” during the winter, or in Toronto and Oxford over the summer months, or perhaps in Münster and Cantabria as an exchange student, WMU-Cooley offers a Study Abroad program that will continue to provide current and future law students the answer to the question, “Where in the world will I be?”
Curt Benson (Mundy Class, 1986) was re-elected to the 17th Circuit Court in Kent County, Michigan.
Spending time studying abroad gave me an opportunity to develop another layer of my personality. My independence.
Stuart Black (Edwards Class, 2006) was elected to the Isabella County Probate Court, in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
Jacob Cunningham (Hilligan Class, 2012) was elected to the Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Michigan. John D. Maurer (Pratt Class, 1988) was elected to the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan.
Keith DeForge (Moore Class, 2013) was elected to the Keweenaw County Probate Court, in Eagle River, Michigan.
Cassandra Morse-Bills (Woodward Class, 2010) was elected to the Oscoda County Probate Court, in Mio, Michigan. Diane Rappleye (Moore Class, 1993) was elected to the Jackson County Probate Court, in Jackson, Michigan. Lisa Sullivan (Williams Class, 1994), was re-elected to the Clinton County Probate Court in St. Johns, Michigan. Ronald W. Lowe (Wing Class, 1982) was re-elected to the 35th Judicial District Court in Plymouth, Michigan. William Paul Nichols (Douglass Class, 1989) was elected to the 1st Judicial District Court, in Monroe, Michigan. Matthew Hall (Warren Class, 2017) was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives by voters in 63rd District. Kara Henigan Hope (Swanson Class, 2003) was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives by voters in the 67th District. David Fleischer (Swanson Class, 2003) was elected to the Harris County Criminal Court, Law No. 5, in Houston, Texas. Kevin Thomas (Witherell Class, 2010) was elected to the New York State Senate, 6th District, Long Island. Brian Crosby (Coleman Class, 2009) was elected to the Maryland House of Representatives.
WMU-Cooley Campus News Free Legal Clinic Goes to the Streets to Help Lansing Area Homeless On Saturday, Sept. 29, WMU-Cooley Law School Lansing campus students, faculty, staff, and alumni went to Reutter Park in downtown Lansing, Michigan, to offer legal assistance to the city’s homeless. The “Street Law Stand Down” clinic was held in collaboration with Lansingbased Cardboard Prophets, a street-based ministry. In addition, Volunteers of America/Holy Cross Services assisted at the event to help with questions regarding housing. During the five-hour outreach program, 35 individuals received legal guidance with issues such as criminal expungement, Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance, state identification forms, living wills, landlord and tenant issues, wage disputes, and other miscellaneous legal issues. Information regarding local assistance agencies was also made available to those attending the “Street Law Stand Down.”
Assistant Dean Mable-Martin Scott; Matt Secrest, Volunteers of America/Holy Cross Services; and WMU-Cooley student Tony Garrison prepare to meet with members of Lansing’s homeless in need of legal support.
Aletha Honsowitz Retires from WMU-Cooley After 40 Years of Service After 40 years of service at WMU-Cooley, Aletha Honsowitz celebrated her last day with faculty, staff, and students on Sept. 4, 2018. Honsowitz began her career as a law librarian and steadily advanced through the ranks since 1977, and retired as head of public services at the Grand Rapid campus.
receptions and worked with the fundraising committee in organizing the annual Alumni Memorial Scholarship Golf Benefit, wine tasting events, and
hosted numerous alumni events across the country. In her farewell remarks after a retirement celebration hosted at the law school’s Grand Rapids campus,
Honsowitz, a graduate of WMU-Cooley, served on the alumni association’s executive committee for many years and was chair of the special events committee from 2004-2007. She organized numerous alumni
Honsowitz reflected on her time at WMU-Cooley. “How do you say goodbye after almost 41 years working with the wonderful students, faculty and staff at WMU-Cooley?” asked Honsowitz. “I think of all the changes I’ve seen over the years, such as how in the early years everyone pitched in and helped out all departments and did what was needed to get the job done. I even worked one hour a day for several years on the switchboard. But, most importantly are the relationships I made with students, faculty, and staff over the years.”
WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Receives Over $700,000 in Grants The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project have been awarded a grant by the DOJ to collaborate on a case review and a DNA testing project. The award totaling $451,238 is the first of its kind in Michigan.
The WCPO Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) and the WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project will work jointly to screen cases to determine whether DNA testing might produce new evidence determinative of guilt.
The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project also received another grant from Upholding the Rule of Law and Preventing Wrongful Convictions Program in the amount of $249,948. The DOJ $451,238 grant focuses on screening cases for DNA
testing of material evidence. This second grant focuses on cases in which outdated or unreliable forensics may have contributed to a wrongful conviction.
Associate Dean and Retired Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel Speaks During September 11 Memorial Event Lansing campus Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel was the keynote speaker during the Grand Rapids Community Day of Remembrance and Scout Salute, an event honoring those who died and the first responders who went into action during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. McDaniel, himself an Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America, is a retired Brigadier General who served as deputy assistant secretary for Homeland Defense Strategy,
Prevention and Mission Assurance at the Pentagon. He previously served as homeland security adviser to Michigan’s governor and as an assistant adjutant general for homeland security for the Michigan National Guard. Speaking to nearly 2,000 individuals in attendance, predominately Boy Scouts and their families, along with police officers and firefighters, McDaniel said, “Seventeen years ago, Osama bin Laden’s terrorists, using hijacked planes as weapons, killed 2,977
people in a single awful raid on the United States. The al-Qaeda attack horrified and angered the nation, but also caused Americans to rally together as they had not done since Pearl Harbor.” The event is held each year at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Professor and Graduates Honored as Members of 2018 Michigan Lawyers Weekly Class of Women in the Law Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Denning Moore and graduates Kay E. Kossen (Black Class, 1996) of Kreis Enderle Hudgins & Borsos PC in Battle Creek; Gerlinde Nattler (Witherell Class, 2010) of Brinks Gilson & Lione in Ann Arbor; and Mary Pat Rosen (Brooke Class, 1982) of Charfoos & Christensen PC in Royal Oak, were named to the “Women in the Law” Class of 2018 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. They are among 30 attorneys chosen for the annual honor out of numerous nominations. Each year, the Women in the Law program honors high-achieving women lawyers in Michigan for their accomplishments. The ninth annual Women in the Law awards took place on Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Detroit Marriott Troy.
(Left-right) Kay E. Kossen, Mary Pat Rosen, Gerlinde Nattler, and Martha Denning Moore.
Support your alma mater and show your school spirit! Join the WMU-Cooley Law School Alumni Association today. Annual dues are $35, 3 years for $100 or super saver lifetime membership for $350. Lifetime members will receive a beautiful, specially crafted gold and enameled lapel pin to show your Cooley pride (photo of pin here.) Membership benefits include WMUCooley bookstore discount, free wireless on any Cooley campus, car and home insurance discounts through Liberty Mutual, invitations to special events, access to the alumni database with over 20,000 alumni listed worldwide, and more discounts coming soon.
Assistant Dean and Graduates to Serve on Grand Rapids Bar Association
Grand Rapids campus Assistant Dean Tracey Brame has been selected to serve as vice president of Grand Rapids Bar Association (GRBA). In addition to Brame, graduates Sangeeta Ghosh (Todd Class, 2014)
and Kristin Britt (Sharpe Class, 2008) were named trustees of the association. WMU-Cooley Professor Christopher Hastings serves as a trustee for the GRBA, serves as chair of the Law School Liaison
Committee, and is on the steering committee for the bar’s 3Rs Program (rights, responsibilities, and realities). WMU-Cooley Professor Paul Sorensen is a past president of the GRBA.
LAW LIBRARIAN SELECTED AS ‘UNSUNG LEGAL HERO’ BY MICHIGAN LAWYERS WEEKLY WMU-Cooley Law School Law Librarian Eric Kennedy has been selected as an “Unsung Legal Hero” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Kennedy is among 26 honorees in the second class of “Unsung Legal Heroes.” “Eric is the epitome of a reference librarian,” said Duane Strojny, WMUCooley associate dean for library and instructional support. “His number one goal is to fulfill the duties as a reference librarian to students, faculty and staff of the law school. Eric does this with the most pleasant demeanor and the highest level of professionalism. Eric’s humility may be the most important reason why Eric is an Unsung Hero. He constantly goes above and beyond in helping others without ever expecting anything in return.”
(Left-right) Students Guiliana Allevato and Hannah Roberts, WMU-Cooley Assistant Wendy Barnes, Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka, Professor Heather Dunbar, Beyond Basics Director Javier Reed, and student Samantha Barry.
Auburn Hills Campus Holds 10th Annual Spring Charity Event The Auburn Hills campus hosted its 10th annual spring charity event on Sunday, June 10. This year’s event raised $6,000 for Beyond Basics – Literacy is for Everyone, a childcentered, literacy-focused nonprofit organization that provides one-on-one reading, tutoring and literacy enrichment programs for K-12 students. Funds raised during the event will be used for programs at Walt Whitman Elementary School in Pontiac, Michigan. In addition to participating in both a silent auction and a live auction, over 100 individuals were entertained with performances by magician and comedian Jason Abbott, musician Katie Stanley, and the acoustic duo Sweet Season featuring Christina Reese and John Randall.
ABA Gives Green Light to Offer 60 Credits on Western Michigan University’s Main Campus Classes for the fall term began on Sept. 4, 2018, which included expanded offerings on the main campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. In August, WMU-Cooley gained acquiescence by the American Bar Association (ABA) Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar to expand its course offerings to 60 credits at WMU. The ABA’s acquiescence follows earlier approvals granted by the Higher Learning Commission and the State of Michigan. The opening of the 60-credit program allows students the opportunity to earn the equivalent of two years of course study in Kalamazoo and finish their final year, or 30 credits, at any of WMUCooley’s three Michigan campuses (Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, and Lansing), or its campus in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 2017, the law school began offering incoming law students the ability to earn up to 15 credits at WMU’s main campus.
“This is a great opportunity for Western Michigan University students wishing to earn a law degree to remain in the Kalamazoo region,” said Nelson Miller, associate dean overseeing the affiliation between WMU-Cooley Law School and WMU.
Being able to offer law students the opportunity to earn up to 60 credits on WMU’s main campus has been one of the main goals of the law school’s affiliation with Western Michigan NELSON MILLER University.
Constitution Day Celebrated
Constitution Day is commemorated each September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to observing the Constitution, the day recognizes those who have become U.S. citizens. Each Constitution Day, events are held on each of WMU-Cooley’s campuses.
The Constitution and the Rule of Law was the theme for the day's discussion held at the Auburn Hills campus. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement was the featured speaker and she spoke about the importance of the basic foundational premise for our nation’s laws.
Grand Rapids campus held a panel discussion about one of America’s most divisive issues — immigration. During the event, panelists discussed the rights of both documented and undocumented immigrants, birthright citizenship and the human cost of the nation’s current immigration policies.
During her presentation, Justice Clement explained how the Constitution plays an important role in the work performed by judges and attorneys. She spoke about how she has used the Constitution to guide her through her legal career.
Speakers for the open discussion included immigration law attorney and Adjunct Professor Christian Montesinos (Chipman Class, 2011) and second-year law student Richard Perez, who was born of an immigrant family.
Explaining her judicial philosophy, Justice Clement said, “Drawing from my life experiences, my time as a lawyer, and my time as a judge, I believe that the role of a judge is to apply the law as written, so that the citizens and policy makers will have the ability to understand what the rules of the game are. I believe in the consistent application and interpretation of the law for the benefit of those who use the system. I believe in true independence and impartiality so that no outside source, regardless of how big or small, can have influence over how cases are decided.”
Montesinos, an immigrant from Guayaquil, Ecuador, has intimate knowledge of the challenges faced by immigrant families and has devoted his life to reuniting and helping families stay together. “In practice and in teaching, I don’t tell people what side of the argument to be on,” said Montesinos. “I want them to understand the complexity of immigration law, and then become more knowledgeable about immigration so they can decide for themselves.” Perez spoke about his stepfather’s recent deportation back to Mexico, where he must remain for at least 10 years. “The hardest part of dealing with my father’s deportation is seeing my two younger siblings grow up without their father here,” said Perez. “Holidays and birthdays are the hardest. Imagine having to see your dad through a computer screen on every birthday. My father was a hardworking man who gave everything for his children.”
assistance from the ACLU, the Gobritis family prevailed in District Court and at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court later ruled in favor of the school district, stating that the flag is a patriotic symbol and requiring the salute did not infringe on speech or religion.
Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel
LANSING The Lansing campus held a series of events highlighting the First Amendment and other Constitutional issues surrounding the controversy with athletes protesting during the national anthem. On Sept. 14, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) hosted a discussion about the issues concerning Nike and former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and tennis superstar Serena Williams. Continuing with BLSA’s theme, Associate Dean and Constitutional Law Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel led a discussion on Sept. 17 about Supreme Court cases from 1940 and 1943. McDaniel’s discussion drew comparisons between now and then.
McDaniel then shared how in 1943, the West Virginia legislature mandated all schools teach civics, and the State Board of Education required students and teachers to salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance each day. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette was decided by the Supreme Court on Flag Day 1943, with the court stating such laws were “an unconstitutional interference with the free exercise of speech and religion,” overturning the 1940 case. “Constitution Day, and discussions like these, remind us not only of the history of our Constitution, but its importance and applicability to the present, as we apply the Court’s interpretations to our current issues,” said McDaniel.
TAMPA BAY Constitutional Law Professor Brendan Beery hosted an open discussion at the Tampa Bay campus regarding individual rights. The presentation, “How to Argue Liberty Cases to a Post-Kennedy Court:
It’s Not About Individual Rights, but the Social Compact,” explored the current Supreme Court’s approach to individual rights. During the discussion, Beery spoke about the ideological shift on the Supreme Court as Justice Kennedy was replaced by a judge who will likely be an “originalist,” and is far more conservative as to social issues. He discussed how advocates for individual rights will need to re-frame their arguments as being about the limited power and jurisdiction of the State rather than the individual’s right to do certain discrete acts.
“No matter your political leanings, attorneys will have to find new ways to argue about liberty and hot-button social issues in front of a court that is far less receptive to arguments about individual autonomy, but potentially more receptive to arguments about limited government.” BRENDAN BEERY
He first explained Minersville School District v. Gobritis. In that 1940 case, Lillian and William Gobritis were expelled from school in Minersville, Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the flag because of religious beliefs. With Professor Brendan Beery
GRADUATIONS Spring Graduation: Justice Samuel Nelson Class TAMPA BAY: APRIL 21, 2018
Spring commencement ceremonies were held April 21 for the Tampa Bay campus and May 20 for the three Michigan campuses.
MICHIGAN: MAY 20, 2018
In Tampa, Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince provided the commencement address while Ashley Bruner was chosen by her classmates to provide the valedictory speech.
Quince recited the Oath of Admission for graduates and noted the importance of the Creed of Professionalism, reminding students that their word is their bond.
address. She spoke about pride, openness, engagement, and hope. She encouraged the graduates to be proud of themselves and their law school.
Bruner shared some advice. “Remember to have civility and use your influence and your knowledge to better your community, the world, and the legal profession.”
Michigan valedictory speaker Kyona McGhee urged graduates to work for what they believe in.
In Michigan, Elizabeth Joy Fossel (Grant Class, 1987), of counsel, Varnum Attorneys at Law in Grand Rapids, provided the commencement
Never stop fighting for the things that set your soul on fire. KYONA McGHEE
1. Constitutional Law Professor Brendan Beery was presented with the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching 2. Ashley Bruner, of Tampa, Florida, presents the valedictory remarks 3. Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince presented the keynote in Tampa Bay 4. Former President and Dean Emeritus Don LeDuc, with graduate Joy Fossel, who presented the keynote in Michigan 5. Former President and Dean Emeritus Don LeDuc presents Ameer Alkhalidi with the President’s Achievement Award 6. Professor John Scott taught at the law school for 40 years before his retirement. He was recognized for teaching more classes than any other professor during the law school’s 45-year history.
Summer/Fall Graduation: Levi Woodbury Class TAMPA BAY: AUGUST 18, 2018 MICHIGAN: SEPTEMBER 30, 2018
Graduation ceremonies were held Aug. 18 for those graduating from the Tampa Bay campus. The Hon. Perry Little, senior judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, provided the keynote. Tampa Bay valedictory speaker Kimberly Pinder talked about how graduates formed their own WMU-Cooley family.
“Today is about our unity and coming together to celebrate our success,” she said during the graduation ceremony. “We’ve come together in achievement and have formed a lasting bond.” Graduation ceremonies for the Levi Woodbury Class were held Sept. 30 for those graduating from the WMU-Cooley’s three Michigan campuses.
Joseph Kimble, WMU-Cooley distinguished professor emeritus, provided the commencement address and Antoine Cato was chosen by his classmates to present the valedictory speech. Cato told his fellow graduates that success is an achievement accomplished by the hard work and the perseverance of the individual, but it is with the support of a community.
Lawyers are paid professional writers and speakers. We deal in words and language, the instrument of thought. We ought to pride ourselves on being clear.
7. Board Chair Lawrence Nolan addresses graduates in Michigan 8. Danielle Lofton, President’s Achievement Award recipient, Michigan
9. Joseph Kimble, WMU-Cooley distinguished professor emeritus, asks the graduates if they would, “please, please, please write in plain language?” during the keynote address at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Sept. 30 graduation
10. Kimberly Pinder gives the valedictory remarks at the Tampa Bay campus 11. Graduates applaud following the Michigan ceremony's valedictory remarks 12. The Hon. Perry Little, senior judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, provides the keynote in Tampa Bay
FACULTY EXPERTS From local legal issues involving property disputes and criminal matters to national issues involving the Constitution, WMU-Cooley Professors continue to be prominently featured in the media. Professors have been
ASSISTANT DEAN LISA HALUSHKA FEATURED IN STORY ABOUT HELPING STUDENT BATTLING PTSD
DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR EMERITUS CURT BENSON FEATURED IN ONE-ON-ONE MEDIA INTERVIEW ABOUT THE JEFFREY WILLIS TRIAL
JEFFREY SWARTZ DISCUSSED LOCAL AND NATIONAL ISSUES WITH MEDIA
ASSOCIATE DEAN NELSON MILLER FEATURED IN MULTIPLE MEDIA OUTLETS
Associate Dean Nelson Miller was featured as a legal expert ABC Action News in Tampa, Assistant Dean and Professor in an MLive.com story about Florida, featured Professor Lisa Halushka was featured in Distinguished Professor federal officials claiming Jeffrey Swartz in two stories: The Detroit News, U.S. News Emeritus Curt Benson spoke three former Flint cops had the first, if drugs were to and World Report, Washington with WZZM on a high-profile sold crash victims’ personal blame when a firefighter left Times, The Fresno Bee and murder case, as well as exhis son in a hot truck, and the information. Miller also the AP in a story featuring MSU doctor, Larry Nassar’s spoke with WZZM 13 and second: whether the Pinellas graduate Matt Super’s (Boyle verdict, and the presidential the Lansing State Journal Park mayor used her office Class, 2018) success while and gubernatorial pardons. about whether a neighbor for personal gain. Swartz also battling PTSD after sustaining Benson also was featured on can videotape your property weighed in on the 'Nunes' a brain injury from a car WOOD TV about the family without permission, and Memo, FISA Court and FISA accident during law school. of a man who died after employment law dealing discharge blaming the hospital warrants on the Mike Siegel with age discrimination, Show. In addition, Swartz for his death. The Detroit respectively. was featured in the Yonkers News talked with Benson about Michigan’s “seduction” Tribune, the Washington Times, Westchester on the law in a case against MSU Level, Bay News 9 and the football players who pleaded Mike Siegel Show about guilty to seducing an unmarried woman; and MLive. former Trump campaign com interviewed Benson about manager Paul Manafort being the Kent County trial of Quinn taken into custody. The Elite Daily spoke with Swartz about James. Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels and Rudy Giuliani’s comments to FOX News. Swartz was also featured on the Michael Siegel Show, discussing the potential subpoena of President Trump.
IN THE MEDIA
subject-matter experts on topics including Supreme Court nominations and decisions, medical malpractice, homeland security, issues surrounding the U.S. Special Counsel’s work, gun laws, and more.
PROFESSOR BRENDAN BEERY AUXILIARY DEAN DEVIN FEATURED IN NUMEROUS SCHINDLER EXPLAINED THE MEDIA OUTLETS USE OF THE WORD “DAMN” In addition to interviews about IN POLITICAL AD U.S. Supreme Court decisions on free speech, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and President Trump’s replacement, WMU Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery opened up dialogue on the Supreme Court’s decision about a cake baker and same sex marriage, Rudy Giuliani’s comments in the Stormy Daniels’ case, and the 2nd Amendment. In addition, Beery also gave a legal perspective for stories about the Sarasota sheriff's office deleting a Facebook post endorsing Rick Scott, a digital privacy fight before the Supreme Court and President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen; and the president’s power to fire government employees. Beery was interviewed by numerous media outlets, including WTSP TV Tampa, the Tom Sumner Radio Program, Bay News 9, WILS Radio Lansing and WTSP Channel 10.
Auxiliary Dean and Professor Devin Schindler spoke with WZZM about Democratic candidate for Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer's use of the word, “damn,” in her political TV ad on fixing Michigan’s roads. Schindler was also a featured legal expert in various media outlets discussing President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination, Brett Kavanaugh, and the nomination procedure. He also offered legal insight into why the Emmett County prosecutor’s office did not press charges against Michigan Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, for having a loaded handgun in his bag while going through a security checkpoint at Pellston Regional Airport. Schindler was featured in the media on the Supreme Court’s decision about a cake baker and same sex marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement and who President Trump could select
for his replacement, and flag laws. Other media interviews were conducted with WGVU, WZZM 13, WKZO, WKZO’s The Morning Show with Ken Lanphear, The Petoskey News, Detroit 910 AM, FOX 17, WOOD Radio and the Mike ANDY ARENA FEATURED IN Siegel Show. MEDIA ON HEARINGS FOR
SUPREME COURT NOMINEE BRETT KAVANAUGH
CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS DISCUSSED GERRYMANDERING, LARRY NASSAR SETTLEMENT WITH MEDIA
Andy Arena, adjunct professor and former FBI agent in charge of the Detroit field office, was featured in Fox 2 Detroit’s “Let it Rip” in regard to the hearings for Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. (continued)
Professor Christopher Hastings explained how the last challenge to the antigerrymandering initiative failed with WOOD TV 8. Hastings was also a featured legal expert in an MLive.com story on Larry Nassar’s settlement, and a WZZM 13 story about a West Michigan woman warning others about a bad contractor who didn't pay his bills.
LEGAL EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA
ASSOCIATE DEAN MICHAEL C.H. MCDANIEL INTERVIEWED BY VARIOUS MEDIA Ret. Brigadier General Michael McDaniel, associate dean and former deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense strategy, prevention and mission assurance at the Pentagon, was featured in various media outlets, including MLive.com, FOX2 Detroit, FOX17, WWMT and the Michael Patrick Shiels Show, about how President Trump’s Supreme Court pick would strengthen the court's conservative side. McDaniel also appeared on a “Let it Rip” segment discussing the Peter Strzok hearing and racial anxiety, and President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting in Helsinki, Finland. In addition, “Let it Rip” and Michigan's Big Show interviewed McDaniel about the FBI raid on Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's testimony.
LAUREN ROUSSEAU SPOKE ON OPIOID EPIDEMIC Professor Lauren Rousseau, president of the Northwest Wayne Chapter of Families Against Narcotics, was a featured columnist in JURIST, a web-based legal news source, about the comprehensive legislation passed by Congress to address the opioid epidemic.
STEVE DULAN FEATURED ON MICHIGAN RADIO Adjunct Professor Steve Dulan talked with Michigan Radio about a pregnant activist in prison who defended herself and her family. Dulan, who teaches firearms law, was also featured in the Traverse City Record Eagle Open about how the open carry issue in schools needs to be an ongoing discussion.
TONYA KRAUSE-PHELAN DISCUSSED FLINT WATER CRISIS, BILL COSBY VERDICT
GERALD FISHER FEATURED AS LEGAL EXPERT IN DETROIT’S LAWSUIT OVER STRIP CLUB ALLEGATIONS
Professor Tonya KrausePhelan was featured in Mlive. com as a legal expert about the state health director's Flint water expert witnesses costing taxpayers at least $72K. She was also featured in a separate MLive.com story about the attorney for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, who plans to appeal the judge's Circuit Court bindover decision. In addition, Krause-Phelan discussed the Bill Cosby verdict on the Michael Patrick Shiels Program and Michigan’s proposed animal law legislation on WOOD TV 8.
MLive.com talked with Professor Gerald Fisher about Detroit not releasing its lawsuit settlement figure over strip club allegations. In the story, Fisher noted there are certain situations where a judge might order that an amount not be disclosed, which would be the only way they can keep it out of the Freedom of Information Act.
DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR EMERITUS WILLIAM WAGNER FEATURED IN THE DETROIT FREE PRESS REGARDING LGBTQ DISCRIMINATION Distinguished Professor Emeritus William Wagner spoke with The Detroit Free Press about Michigan Civil Rights Commission banning LGBTQ discrimination.
FRANK AIELLO WEIGHED IN ON CAKE BAKER AND SAME SEX MARRIAGE SUPREME COURT DECISION Professor Frank Aiello spoke on WWJ News Radio about the Supreme Court’s decision involving a cake baker and same sex marriage.
MARLA MITCHELL-CICHON FEATURED IN MEDIA FOR LEDURA WATKINS EVENT WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Director Marla Mitchell-Cichon was featured in various media outlets during a one-year anniversary of LeDura Watkins' exoneration event. Media included: WILX Lansing, FOX 17 and WLNS Lansing.
CHRISTIAN MONTESINOS SPEAKS ON IMMIGRATION WMU-Cooley Law School Adjunct Professor Christian Montesinos was featured on WOOD TV 8 about immigration law.
FLORISE NEVILLE-EWELL CALLED ON AS LEGAL EXPERT FOR PROPERTY DISPUTES
ANTHONY FLORES FEATURED IN MEDIA ON LARRY NASSAR APPEAL Professor Anthony Flores was featured as a legal expert about Larry Nassar’s sentencing appeal in various media outlets, including: K13XD, WBKB, WLAJ and WLNS. Flores also talked to MLive.com about a Flint Area Narcotics Group officer admitting he was drinking alcohol before crashing his Michigan State Police vehicle into a parked vehicle.
Professor Florise Neville-Ewell was featured on WINK News to discuss property disputes in a case involving the city of Fort Myers, Florida. In the story, Neville-Ewell says allowing a city to disregard the original intentions of the family who gave them the land could have major implications on all property rights.
Faculty Briefs Gary Bauer, Professor Presented, National Creditors Bar Association, Nashville, Tennessee, Sept. 6, 2018: “Extract Value from Your Practice! Hire to Retire, 1 + 1 = 3.”
Accepted, for publication, “Prophylactic Free Exercise: The First Amendment and Religion in a PostKennedy World,” in 82 Albany Law Review (forthcoming, 2019).
Presented, “Transitioning Your Practice, Protecting Your Legacy,” for the Michigan State Bar and the Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s combined Upper Michigan Legal Institute, June 8, 2018.
Accepted, for publication, “Rational Basis Loses Its Bite: Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Removes the Most Lethal Quill from LGBT Advocates’ Equal-Protection Quiver,” in 69 Syracuse Law Review (forthcoming, 2019).
Presented, ABA Law Student Division, Meet and Greet, in June and July 2018; sponsored Law Student Division Section meeting with attorneys, Sarah Ostahowski and Ray Harris, to inform students what they need to know to be successful in the practice of law.
Accepted, for publication, “Five Different Species of Legal Tests - and What They All Have in Common” (with Daniel R. Ray), in 37 Quinnipiac Law Review (forthcoming, 2019).
Published, American Bar Association, GPSolo eReport, May 2018 edition, “Building a Practice: Five Surefire Ways to Wind Down without Cashing Out.” Reappointed, Chair, Legal Educator’s Committee for 2018/2019, American Bar Association General Practice Division. Attended, Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Probate and Estate Planning Seminars, June 14-15, 2018. Attended, Michigan Wealth Counsel Estate Planning Conference, in Lansing, Michigan, July 20. Continues, blogging at Sololawyerbydesign.com Preparing, to be published by the American Bar Association, “Hire to Retire: 1+1=3.” Attended, Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Elderlaw Conference, in Plymouth, Michigan, in September 2018.
Brendan Beery, Professor
Accepted, for publication, “Tiered Balancing and the Fate of Roe v. Wade: How the New Supreme Court Majority Could Turn the Undue-Burden Standard into a Deferential Pike Test,” in 28 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy (forthcoming, 2019). Accepted, for publication, “How to Argue Liberty Cases in a PostKennedy World: It’s Not About Individual Rights, but State Power and the Social Compact,” in 75 National Lawyers Guild Review (forthcoming, 2018).
Paul Carrier, Professor Completed, with Director of Academic Services & Adjunct Professor Matthew Marin and recent graduate, Sara Marin, the book Florida Contract Law: Cases, Exercises and Problems, and is seeking a publisher. The book covers the same issues as nationally oriented casebooks, but through the use of all-Florida cases. In the works are one-, two- and three-term versions, as well as two foreign-language translations of the teacher’s manual to encourage the book’s use in Comparative Contract Law classes.
Mark Cooney, Professor Cited, by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, in Hodge v. Blount County, for his 2017 article “Once upon a Car (A Tale of Three Ambiguities).” Co-recipient, with Professor Joseph Kimble, of the Center for Plain Language’s 2018 ClearMark Award for the Legal Documents category, awarded at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Visiting Researcher, at the University of Surrey School of Law, Guildford, England, in April 2018. Presented, “Plain Language in the USA: Forward Strides or Stuck in the Mud?” at the Clarity International London Breakfast, in April 2018, in the City of London Guildhall. Presented, “The Art of Grabbing Busy Readers,” at the 2018 Young Lawyers Summit (sponsored by the State Bar Young Lawyers Section), in Harbor Springs, Michigan.
Featured guest, on “Practical Law” a cable television program, in May 2018. Co-authored, with Professor Joseph Kimble, “A Start Toward Clarity,” which appeared in the Michigan Bar Journal’s September 2018 volume. Notified, that he is in the Top 10 percent of authors on SSRN for new downloads in the previous 12 months. Hosted, the Law Review’s 2018 Distinguished Brief Award dinner at the Country Club of Lansing. Held, one-on-one writing labs at the Young Lawyers Section’s Annual Summit in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and at its “Practice Essentials for New Lawyers” seminar in Novi, Michigan. Won, the Writing at the River’s Edge literary contest, sponsored by River’s Edge Brewing Co., for his satirical short story “The Literary Contest.”
Mary D’Isa, Distinguished Professor Emerita Published, “Is Robbery A ‘Violent Felony’ Under the Elements Clause of the Armed Career Criminals Act?” in PREVIEW of United States Supreme Court Cases (ABA Div. for Pub. Ed.), Issue No. 1, Vol. 46, Pg. 10, Oct. 2018, 2018-2019 Term.
Mark Dotson, Professor Submitted, case update for the West Publication: Stein on Personal Injury Damages. Taught, for the National Institute For Trial Advocacy at the King and Spalding Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia.
Christopher Hastings, Professor Presented, on Michigan’s new Limited Scope Representation rules at the State Bar of Michigan’s “NEXT” conference (formerly the Annual Meeting). Limited Scope Representation rules permit attorneys to take “slices” of client representation in civil actions, without filing a general appearance. Professor Hastings previously served on the State Bar committee that brainstormed the idea, as well as on the task force that wrote the new Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct that implemented it. Among the attendees at the seminar were WMU-Cooley Law School Chairman of the Board Larry Nolan and Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer.
Richard Henke, Professor Won, the Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching, Sept. 30, 2018. This award is voted on by the outgoing graduating class.
Barbara Kalinowski, Professor
Published, in the summer issue of the Green Bag, an article called “Deep in the Weeds of Textualism.”
Ret. President and Dean Don LeDuc, Professor
Presented, Published, the “Leveraging 2018 edition Spoke, at The John Marshall Law Legalese” at of Michigan School. His topic was “A Hard Look the Southeast Administrative at Textualism (and Some of Its Regional Legal Writing Conference at Canons).” The talk was sponsored by Law. This is the 25th edition since Stetson Law School. the John Marshall student chapter of the original publication. the American Constitution Society, Nelson Miller, Published, “Logic Ab Initio: A Associate Dean Functional Approach to Improve Law together with the Chicago lawyer chapter. and Professor Students’ Critical Thinking Skills” in the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, February 2018.
Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Spoke, at WMU-Cooley’s commencement in September 2018. Honored, by the creation of the Kimble Center for Legal Drafting at WMU-Cooley. Won, with Professor Mark Cooney, a 2018 ClearMark in the Legal category from the Center for Plain Language. The winning document was their revised WMU-Cooley bylaws. The award was presented at the annual ceremony in Washington, D.C., held at the National Press Club. Published, with Professor Cooney, an article called “A Start Toward Clarity” in the Michigan Bar Journal. The article describes some of the improvements in one provision of the bylaws. Published, a column called “Ideological Judging: The Record of Textualism” in the National Law Journal. Published, in the summer issue of Judicature, his regular Redlines editing column, this one called “Zap Multiword Prepositions, Please.”
Spoke, by remote video to hundreds of persons attending the 2018 Plain Language Summit, sponsored by the Plain Language Action and Information Network, a group composed mainly of federal government employees. Attended, the annual board meeting of Scribes — the American Society of Legal Writers. Professor Kimble has been a board member since 2000.
Published, two workbooks and two casebook revisions: Torts I: Practicing Tort Law 4th ed. (Crown Mgt. 2018); Torts II: Practicing Tort Law 4th ed. (Crown Mgt. 2018); Torts II Workbook: A Behavioral Approach to Learning (Crown Mgt. 2018); and Torts I Workbook: A Behavioral Approach to Learning (Crown Mgt. 2018).
Marla Mitchell Cichon, Professor
Attended, the winter meeting of the Standing Committee on Federal (Court) Rules. Professor Kimble has been a drafting consultant to the committee since 1999.
Attended, National Association of Criminal Defense Agreed, to serve for another year on Attorneys’ the Michigan Bar Journal Committee. annual post-conviction conference, He is the longest-serving member of on March 22, 2018, in Memphis, the committee. Tennessee. Notified, by SSRN that he is in the top 10 percent of all authors for papers downloaded during the last year. Signed, his children’s book, Mr. Mouthful Learns His Lesson, at Barnes & Noble in Lansing. This book won the 2018 Moonbeam Award in the category of reading skills and literacy.
Attended, the Innocence Network Conference March 22-23, in Memphis, Tennessee. Served, as director of WMU-Cooley’s Oxford Study Abroad Program, in Trinity Term 2018. Panelist, Krinock Lecture series, "Wrongful Convictions and Collateral Consequences, Hertford College, Oxford England. Featured Sonia Sunny Jacobs (Florida exoneree) and Peter Pringl (Ireland exoneree) July 25, 2018. Submitted, written comments and testified before the Michigan Supreme Court in support of proposed amendments to MCR 6.500 (Michigan's post-conviction rule) and MRPC 3.8 (Prosecutor Responsibility), Sept. 17, 2018. (continued)
Faculty Briefs James Robb, Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel Elected, chairperson of the city of Birmingham, Michigan Board of Ethics.
Amy Timmer, Interim Dean, Associate Dean of Students and Professionalism, Published, by Attorney At Work, her book on episodic mentoring, “60 Minute Mentoring For Lawyers and Law Students - Small Commitments, Big Results,” located at www.attorneyatwork.com/ law-practice-book/60-minutementoring-for-lawyers-and-lawstudents/. Named, Interim Dean of WMU-Cooley Law School.
Victoria Vuletich, Professor Announced, the formation of the Center for Civil Discourse at WMU-Cooley Law School. The center arises from a broad-based community initiative founded by individuals and institutions in west Michigan after the 2016 election. Educators, lawyers, students, business leaders, judges and retirees, and representatives from institutions are working to strengthen civil discourse at the household, state and national levels. Institutional partners include the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, The Dominican Center, the Haunstein Center and Brooks College at Grand Valley State University, and the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.
Class Notes Otto Stockmeyer, Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Published, “The Law of Confusion: An Examination of Misunderstanding, Mistake, and Ignorance in Contract Law,” in Michigan Academician, vol. XLV (2018). Available on SSRN at ssrn.com/abstract=3132068. Published, “Help Wanted (and Needed!),” in The Scrivener (Summer 2018). Available on SSRN at ssrn.com/ abstract=3259626 Elected, to the Council of the State Bar of Michigan’s Master Lawyers Section for a three-year term.
William Weiner, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Serving, as treasurer and advocacy director for the West and Mid-Michigan chapter of the Fulbright Association. After four years on the Michigan chapter, he resigned and helped form the new, smaller chapter.
Carly Wolfe, Visiting Professor Published, an article in the North Dakota Law Review: “Domestic Victims Aren’t the Only Victims: Deporting Aliens Who Commit Violent Crimes, Regardless of the Victim’s Relationship to the Offender,” in 93 N.D.L. Rev. 87 (2018). Wrote, an article for the WMUCooley Blog, “The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Law Students,” Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog (February 2, 2018), info.cooley.edu/blog/ the-10-habits-of-successful-lawstudents. Spoke, in a video for the WMU-Cooley Blog Ready for Law School? What’s Your Plan?” for a Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog (April 11, 2018), info.cooley.edu/blog/ ready-for-law-school-whats-yourplan.
Kelly Class Reynolds, Frank H., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, has been named a 2018 Michigan Super Lawyer in the area of Criminal Defense. He was also selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in the following categories: Bet-the-Company Litigation, Criminal Defense-General Practice, Criminal Defense-White-Collar, and Family Law. 1981
Long Class MacCallum, Neil, of Collins Einhorn Farrell, was listed by Best Lawyers for outstanding work in the legal field of Product Liability Litigation-Defendants. 1982
Wing Class Lowe, Ronald W., Chief Judge Pro Tem for the 35th District Court of Michigan, was honored with the 2018 Judicial Civic Education Award by the American Lawyers Alliance. McKeen, Brian, founding and managing partner of McKeen & Associates in Detroit, presented on “Neurological Injury in the Preterm Newborn” at the American Association of Justice conference, AAJ Mastering the Medicine: Ireland Edition, in May at County Wicklow, Ireland. 1985
T. Smith Class Lowney, Stephen J., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C., was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law.
Morell Class Dixon, Michael, joined Nash Connors Attorneys in Buffalo, New York in a special counsel capacity. He has more than 30 years of trial experience with a focus on personal injury law, family and matrimonial law, real estate, and trusts and estates.
Lombardo, Frank, a partner with the New York personal injury firm Wingate Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin LLP, obtained a jury verdict of over $8.3 million in Suffolk County, New York, for a client who suffered life-altering injuries in an auto accident. It is the largest reported verdict in that jurisdiction for the injury, a “single cervical discectomy.”
Posthuma, Richard, was named the Mike Loya Distinguished Chair at the University of Texas El Paso College of Business Administration. He also presented “High Performance Work Practices Across Cultures” at King’s College Business School in London. He has published articles in numerous places, including “A Taxonomic Foundation for Evidencebased Research on Employee Performance Management” in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, “A Metacultural Approach to Predicting Self-Employment Across the Globe” in the International Business Review, “Social Signaling and Interorganizational Relationships: Lessons Learned from the Professional Sports Industry,” in Business Horizons, “A Risk Management Model for Research on Expatriates in Hostile Work Environments” in International Journal of Human Resource Management, “Antecedents and Consequences of Speaking Spanish at Work” in the International Journal of Employment Studies, and “A Comprehensive Model of Management Education for Latin America: Learning Constructs, Instructional Techniques, and Outcomes” in Management Research. He also coordinated a symposium, “High Performance Work Practices Across the Globe” at the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology annual conference in Chicago.
Denaro, Dawn V., was elevated to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Pratt Class Forbush, Audrey J., an attorney with Plunkett Cooney, has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer in Government, in Michigan Super Lawyers magazine’s most recent list. 1989
Douglass Class Millenbach, Paul J., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, has been named a 2018 Michigan Super Lawyer in the area of Business Litigation. He was also selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions-Defendants.
Copeland Class Goodenough, Brian G., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C., was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in the following categories: Insurance Law, Litigation-Municipal, LitigationReal Estate, Workers Compensation Law-Employers.
Moore Class Chernich, Scott A., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C., was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in the following categories: Banking and Finance Law, Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law.
McKeown, Michael, joined the firm of Robert Ades & Associates in Washington, D.C., in June 2018.
Kolken, Matthew L., of Kolken & Kolken in Buffalo, New York, was elected to serve on the board of governors of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a national bar association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach U.S. immigration law.
Blair Jr. Class
Voelker Class Baldwin, Kevin, founder and shareholder of Baldwin & Vernon, LLC, in Liberty, Missouri, achieved the highest single plaintiff employment law verdict in Missouri history, $20.45 million, on claims of age and gender discrimination and retaliation. The case, D.A. Miller v. American Family Insurance, was tried before a jury in the Jackson County Circuit Court located in Kansas City, Missouri in December 2016. In March of 2017, Mr. Baldwin achieved another verdict on behalf of a client in a disability discrimination case against the city of Kansas City, Missouri (J.L. Wilson v. City of KCMO) with a judgment of more than $450,000. Then, in August 2017, Mr. Baldwin achieved a verdict and total judgment on behalf of his client and against the state of Missouri in a reverse race, age and gender discrimination and retaliation case for a teacher in the amount of $4.7 million (P.L. Daniels v. State of Missouri). Also, he has been named to the ranks of Super Lawyer in the area of employment litigation for the fifth straight year in Missouri and Kansas.
Gregg, Randall S., was promoted to Senior Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS). He has served as general counsel to DIFS for over seven years and will continue in that role. With his promotion, he will supervise the Office of General Counsel, Office of Insurance Licensing and Market Conduct, and Office of Policy, Research and Communications. 2002
T. Johnson Class Chartier, Mary, was named 20182019 president of the Ingham County (Michigan) Bar Association. She operates her criminal defense practice, Chartier & Nyamfukudza, PLC, in East Lansing, Michigan. 2003
O. Smith Class Acevedo, Gil O., a shareholder with Fowler White Burnett in Miami, Florida, was published in the April 2018 issue of the Florida Bar Journal. His article, “To Withhold, or Not to Withhold, That is the Question: A Step-by-Step Approach to the FIRPTA Income Tax Withholding,” is an introductory article to the Foreign Investment in Real Estate Tax Act (FIRPTA), which guides real estate practitioners through the analysis of whether the FIRPTA tax withholding applies to a real estate transaction. He represents clients from various industries in connection with commercial and residential real estate matters. (continued)
Class Notes 2008
Genovich, Laura J., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, has been named a 2018 Rising Star in Bankruptcy: Business by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine. She was also selected by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2019 edition in Bankruptcy and CreditorDebtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization.
Benikov, Alexander, is a criminal and DUI defense lawyer with Benikov Law Firm in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been listed as a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated Lawyer, a Phoenix Magazine Top Lawyer, a Super Lawyers Rising Star and as part of the Academy of Defense Attorneys Top 10 in Arizona. He also has a new podcast that has been #15 on the I-Tunes Top 200 for culture and society, called Crime Inc.
Flores, Victor, is an assistant city attorney with the city of Plano, Texas. He also recently won a statewide election to serve as the presidentelect for the State Bar of Texas - Texas Young Lawyers Association. He will be sworn in as president next year, representing 28,000-plus Texas Young Lawyers.
Cortez, Efren, was selected as city attorney for Hobbs, New Mexico. He started with the city in 2013 as a staff attorney. In that capacity, he served as a special assistant district attorney for the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, prosecuting felony narcotics cases. He was promoted to assistant city attorney in 2015, and later as deputy city attorney in 2017.
Hayes, Diamond, was selected for the Equal Justice Works Disaster Recovery Legal Corps, a two-year fellowship program that places 18 lawyers in Texas and three lawyers in Florida, where they work with established nonprofit legal services organizations to serve the highestneed communities in disasteraffected areas. She has been assigned to the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Inc. (HVL), where she works on the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Project, focusing on providing legal assistance to clients on disaster-related issues including landlord-tenant matters, insurance or other consumer disputes, and document recovery.
Kavanagh Class Davidson, Syeda F., was elected to a two-year term on the Oakland County Bar Association Board of Directors. 2009
Souris Class Kirkwood, Erica, was recognized by the National Bar Association as one of its “40 Under 40 Best Advocate” honorees. The awards recognize the nation’s top 40 lawyers under age 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement in the legal field, including advocacy, innovation, vision, leadership and overall legal and community involvement.
Riley Class Griffin, Patrick S., welcomed a son, Stephen Ararat, on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. He joins big brother, Alexander. Kulas-Dominguez, Peter M., senior counsel at Warner Norcross & Judd, was named a top young professional, receiving the 3-in10 Award from the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Bar Association. The award is given to lawyers who are in their first 10 years of practice and have demonstrated exceptional professional achievement, superb public service, and have made significant contributions to the legal profession. Scott, Patricia J., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, has been named a 2018 Rising Star in Civil Litigation: Plaintiff.
Witherell Class Nattler, Gerlinde (Linda), a shareholder in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, office of Brinks Gilson & Lione, was included in Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s Women in the Law Class of 2018. Nattler focuses her intellectual property law practice on patent prosecution, opinion work, and IP portfolio management, with a particular emphasis on the areas of mechanics, electronics, hydraulics and computerized processes. She is chair of Brinks’ Germany task force and co-chair of the green tech practice group, and is an active member of various other practice groups.
Woodward Class Burrell, Aaron V., was elected to a three-year term on the Oakland County Bar Association Board of Directors.
Woodbridge Class Gonzalez, Jessica, who has operated her own law firm for over three years, was elected to represent House District 104 in the Texas legislature.
Schoonover, Yanitza Del Valle, joined the law firm of Kelley Kronenberg in its Fort Lauderdale, Florida, office. She focuses her practice on family and marital law, estate planning, probate and guardianship, and commercial litigation. 2013
Johnson Class Hamor, Robert A., of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, has been named a 2018 Rising Star in Real Estate.
Marshall Class Beaufort, Kara S., has joined Scarinci Hollenbeck in the firm’s Lyndhurst, New Jersey office. She focuses her practice on public law and education law. She previously was an assistant prosecutor for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in Newark, New Jersey.
McLean Class Mollien, Charles, of Wyoming, Michigan, was appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to the Michigan Board of Pharmacy. He is the director of pharmacy compliance and a privacy officer for Meijer. He previously worked for Spectrum Health System – Priority Health as a clinical pharmacy specialist. 2017
Burger Class Lake, Sheila, is an attorney with Grove & Cintron, P.A., in Largo, Florida. She specializes in community association law. She also practices in all areas of real estate, civil litigation cases, trusts, and probate.
In Memoriam 1977
Brey, Ingrid, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, died Dec. 4, 2017.
Haynes, Timothy John, 56, died June 30, 2018. He practiced law in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in Florida, and spent the last 12 years of his career with the Michigan Department of Attorney General.
Weera, Shawn, 55, of Caledonia, Michigan, died June 15, 2018, due to complications following a heart attack. He was born Channa Weerasooriya in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He practiced elder law and estate planning law in west Michigan for nearly 20 years.
Dethmers Class Brussow, Frank, 69, died April 5, 2016. 1982
Goodwin Class Cardinal, Gaylor L., of Grand Rapids, Michigan, died April 26, 2018. Mattern, Thomas J., of Bradenton, Florida, died June 14, 2018. 1983
O’Hara Class Hoffman, Michael Aaron, 62, of Scottsdale, Arizona, died Aug. 9, 2018. He was the cofounder of ADAM (the American Divorce Association for Men). 1986
Sherwood Class Scott, Jacqueline D., 70, of Grand Rapids and Traverse City, Michigan, died May 9, 2018. After graduating from law school, she joined the firm of Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett (now Varnum LLP) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as an associate in 1986. She became one of the firm’s first female equity partners before retiring in 2005. She briefly came out of retirement to help run Donovan/Scott Law, a firm she opened with her late husband. During her career, she served as co-chair of the Metro Health Board of Directors, and was a member of the Metro Health Executive Committee and the National Association of Professional Women. She was a member of the board of directors for the Visiting Nurse Association of West Michigan.
BACON CLASS Morley, Daniel, 56, of Traverse City, Michigan, died July 22, 2018, at his home from long-term complications of throat cancer first diagnosed in 2015. Dan practiced law in Lansing, Escanaba, and Traverse City, Michigan. He authored several articles published in the Michigan Real Property Review, the Michigan Business Bar Journal, and the Michigan Bar Journal. Dan also received the Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar of Michigan in 2001. During his career, Dan served on the Council of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan from 2015-2017, and several State Bar of Michigan committees including the Client Protection Fund Committee, the Committee on Grievance, and the Character and Fitness Committee.
Sharpe Class Postma, Bonita Gayle, 63, died March 25, 2018, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Over her work career, she managed Whiskey Creek Campground with her husband Dave for three years, served as an EMT in Grand Rapids, worked for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department answering emergency calls, served as a supervisor for Ottawa County Central Dispatch, and then supervisor of Records and FOIA. 2010
Woodbridge Class Snyder, Brent D., of Lansing, died May 24, 2018.
Zoeller, Jeffrey Robert, 57, of East Lansing, Michigan, died Sept. 4, 2018. He opened his own law practice and became a partner in Witzel & Zoeller Lawyers, PC, in 1992.
Morgenstern, Chelsey Lynn, 31, of Howland, Ohio, died July 7, 2018.
Moore Class O’Connor, Lucille Horrigan, 84, died May 25, 2018. Ms. O’Connor left a substantial bequest to WMU-Cooley upon her passing.
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Remembering our Founder - The Hon. Thomas E. Brennan has been called one of the most important innovators in legal education. His legacy rea...
Published on Dec 14, 2018
Remembering our Founder - The Hon. Thomas E. Brennan has been called one of the most important innovators in legal education. His legacy rea...