WMU-Cooley Students Learn about the Law, New Cultures in Foreign Study Programs

Hear what WMU-Cooley students Mao Lee and Celene Delice have to say about their experiences in Australia and New Zealand.

Students at WMU-Cooley Law School have the opportunity to expand their horizons through a variety of foreign study programs.  Travelers can continue to earn credit toward their law 1.  2014 AU-NZ.Group at Menzies Creekdegree, experience new cultures across the globe, and make lifelong friends — all through WMU-Cooley’s ABA-accredited study programs in Australia and New Zealand; Oxford, England, and Toronto, Canada.

Between the classes and the opportunities to explore the host countries, the experience can be a life-changing one. But don’t take our word for it. Listen to the students themselves as we present a series of interviews with foreign student students about their experiences.

Mao is “… a fan of Lord of the Rings…”  Air New Zealand is the airline of Middle-earth…check out the pre-flight video!

Mao is “… a fan of Lord of the Rings…” Air New Zealand is the airline of Middle-earth…check out the pre-flight video!

“Hey Mate!” says Celine.  Leave Melbourne and travel along the Great Ocean Road to visit the iconic Twelve Apostles.

“Hey Mate!” says Celine. Leave Melbourne and travel along the Great Ocean Road to visit the iconic Twelve Apostles.


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WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Sought Out to Help Make Sense of Affordable Care Act

One of the benefits of having an in-house expert on a complicated subject is that when the news is swirling with the latest development or deadline, you have a close-at-hand ally to make sense of it all. WMU-Cooley Law School has such an expert when it comes to the Affordable Care Act — Professor Lisa Sewell DeMoss,  director of the school’s LL.M. program in Insurance Law.Demoss_Lisa

With the deadline to sign up for health insurance looming on Monday, Dec. 15,  DeMoss has been much in demand as various media outlets seek out her expertise, explanations, and insight. In addition to her work with WMU-Cooley’s popular insurance law program, DeMoss’ expertise also includes time as general counsel and corporate compliance officer for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan in Detroit.

A couple important points DeMoss stresses are:

  1. Most people must have coverage or pay a penalty.
  2. You may already be covered through your employer based plan, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, or other government sponsored plan, or you may be exempt from the coverage requirement.
  3. Each state offers several health plans that provide coverage at different price points corresponding to the enrollee’s cost sharing responsibilities for the health services incurred during each annual coverage period.

Sought out for that insight, DeMoss’ latest contributions to the health care conversation include an extensive article on EmaxHealth, a feature interview on the program Inside Maine, on WGAN; a story on WWMT on the west side of Michigan , and a practical interview on Click on Detroit.

Congratulations to Professor DeMoss for helping listeners and readers across the country make sense of this complicated subject. She has helped people wade through the politics and challenges, to understand the forces at play, and to understand what they need to do next on a matter of both personal and social importance.

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WMU-Cooley Grads Lead the Pack of 2014 Up and Coming Lawyers

Nine alumni of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School are among 30 attorneys honored Dec. 4, 2014, by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as “Up and Coming Lawyers for 2014.” This prestigious award is given to young attorneys who have been in practice for less than 10 years and have already made their mark on the profession with their leadership, professional accomplishments, and activities in professional organizations.  WMU-Cooley graduates selected for the honor were:

Joseph A. Bellanca, of Hertz Schram PC, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,  specializes in entertainment law. He is active in the entertainment community and is a partner in the artist management and event production company, Grand Circus Media. Joseph is a 2008 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Daniel J. Broxup, of Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones PLC, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, practices securities law, business and commercial litigation, civil litigation, and immigration law. He is a member of the Emerging Leaders Advisory Council to the board of the Special Olympics of Michigan. Daniel is a 2009 magna cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Nathan A. Dodson, is a shareholder with Garan Lucow Miller PC, in Detroit, Michigan. He focuses his practice on premises liability and auto negligence defense, casino litigation, and sports & recreation law litigation. Nathan is a 2005 cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Chad D. Engelhardt, of Goethel Engelhardt PLLC, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, focuses his practice on medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury. He has volunteered as a guardian ad litem for Oakland County Probate Court and Oakland County Circuit Court Family Division, as well as the Lakeshore Legal Clinic (Family Law Assistance) and Making Meals Happen.  He was named to the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 40 under 40 in 2012, and to that group’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Michigan in 2013. Super Lawyers named him a Michigan Rising Star 2010-2012, a Super Lawyer in 2013, and to its Top 50 Consumer Lawyers in Michigan list in 2014. In addition, the New York Times named Chad to its Top Young Attorneys in Michigan 2010-2013, Detroit Business Magazine named him as a Top Lawyer in medical malpractice, personal injury, and professional liability in 2011 and 2013, and the Michigan Association for Justice named him a Pace Setter in 2013. Chad is a 2005 magna cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Nicholas F.X. Gumina, of Eardley Law Offices PC, in Rockford, Michigan, , focuses his practice on complex legal and medical malpractice litigation, employment and civil rights matters. He is a 2010 magna cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Raymond A. Harris, of Bernick, Radner & Ouellette PC, in Lansing, Michigan, focuses his practice on Medicaid, disability and elder law; estate planning, probate and trust administration, probate litigation, guardianships and conservatorships. He is a member of the board of trustees for the Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation, and the boards of directors for Elder Law of Michigan, the RJ Scheffell Memorial Toys Project, and Fenner Nature Center. He also serves as the treasurer for the Toys Project and Fenner organizations.  Raymond is a 2007 cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Ryan C. Plecha, of Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein PLLC, of Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein PLLC, in Birmingham, Michigan, focuses his practice on civil litigation and complex commercial litigation, estate planning, and bankruptcy. He was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2013 and 2014. Ryan is a 2008 magna cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Robert A. Welch Jr., an associate principal with Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook, in Detroit, Michigan, focuses his practice on birth trauma and medical malpractice litigation. Robert was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2012 and 2013. He is a 2009 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

Jesse L. Young, of Sommers Schwartz PC, in Southfield, Michigan, is a member of the firm’s complex litigation group. He manages the day to day operations of the firm’s national wage and hour practice, and focuses primarily on federal and state wage and hour claims. He became a member of the Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors in 2012, and was named 2011 Volunteer of the Year by that organization. Jesse has been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star (Michigan) 2012-present. He is a 2009 cum laude graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School.

The Cooley alumni, along with law school alumni from Wayne State University Law School (7), Michigan State University (6), University of Michigan (4), University of Detroit (3), and Valparaiso (1) were honored at a special luncheon at the Detroit Marriott in Troy, Michigan.

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WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project Gains Freedom for Yet Another Wrongfully Convicted Man

Donya Davis and Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon

Donya Davis and Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon

WMU-Cooley’s Innocence Project seeks to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes.  The exoneration of Donya Davis announced today is the project’s third exoneration. 

Congratulations to Professor Marla Mitchell-Cichon and her WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team of students and alumni on their great efforts to obtain freedom for Donya Davis, a young man who was convicted in Wayne County, Michigan Circuit Court and imprisoned for seven years for a crime he did not commit.

Not only did the team use DNA evidence to obtain an order setting aside the conviction earlier this year, they more recently convinced the prosecutor to dismiss the charges altogether.  The case is over.  Donya Davis is now free.

This exoneration, the third for the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team, demonstrates how legal expertise and hard work can combine to provide liberty and justice for the oppressed, all while giving our students the clinical experience of a lifetime. The WMU-Cooley community is proud of Professor Mitchell-Cichon and her Innocent Project students and alumni for their outstanding efforts to free this innocent man.

You can read the full story here.
See the Law School’s website generally at wmich.edu/law.

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4,000 WMU-Cooley Community LinkedIn Group Members!


This week we enrolled our 4,000th WMU-Cooley Law School Community LinkedIn Group member.  In slightly more than two years, we have doubled our membership.  This rapid growth demonstrates the value of staying connected with fellow Cooligans around the nation through our LinkedIn group.  Cooley alumni reach out to one another, share job opportunities, refer cases, send tips on interviewing, and offer their thoughts on law practice.

If you are not already a WMU-Cooley Community Group member, joining is easy. First, establish an account and professional profile with LinkedIn.  Then search for “WMU-Cooley Law School Community” and click on the “Join” button.

We are proud of WMU-Cooley’s alumni and want to use our group as just one of many ways to promote each others’  success.  Now let’s see how quickly we can get to 5,000 members.  Tell other WMU-Cooley graduates to sign up for LinkedIn and join the WMU-Cooley Community Group as well.  Above all, stay connected!

In addition to LinkedIn, see WMU-Cooley’s Alumni Website Page.

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With Baby on the Way – Right Now! – One WMU-Cooley Student Comes to the Rescue of Another

WMU-Cooley student Kaitlin Locke might not be a “Super Hero” in the conventional movie sense of the word, but she’s the world’s best heroine to one grateful Grand Rapids, Michigan, family.

Samantha, Ryker, Kevin  and Aurora Sutherland welcome baby Piper.

Samantha, Ryker, Kevin and Aurora Sutherland welcome baby Piper.

In the wee hours of the morning on September 12, 2014, WMU-Cooley student Kevin Sutherland’s wife, Samantha, went into unexpected, sudden and accelerated labor with the couple’s third child. At 2:15 a.m., it was clear the baby had no intention of waiting until relatives could arrive at 3:30 a.m. to watch over the couple’s other children, Aurora, age 3, and Ryker, age 1. Kevin Sutherland remembered a conversation with fellow student Kaitlin Locke, who had told him to let her know if he and his family needed any help.

Kaitlin Locke

Kaitlin Locke

And they definitely needed help. Baby Sutherland was coming, whether the family was ready or not, and they had to get to the hospital.

Sutherland called Locke at 2:17 a.m. and asked her to come watch his sleeping kids until family members could get there.

“Not only did Ms. Locke answer her phone in the early hours of the morning, I sent her my address and she rapidly came to our rescue,” said a grateful Kevin Sutherland.

Less than a half hour later, Piper Sutherland was born – narrowly missing making her debut in transit.

“My wife was two minutes from delivering the baby in the car,” Sutherland recalled. “Without Ms. Locke’s help, my wife and child would not have had the immediate care of the hospital she needed. We arrived, just in time, with only Ms. Locke to thank for her courageous and selfless act of helping a fellow classmate in need.”

Sutherland said that he and his wife won’t forget the kindness or the rescue. “Ms. Locke will certainly forever be a part of our crazy story,” he said. “Mom and baby are healthy and happy. And thanks to Ms. Locke, I am too!”


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Senior Cooley Student Recognized for Helping Consumers Understand Real Estate, Consumer, and Bankruptcy Issues

WMU-Cooley Law School Student Erin Bannister found herself in the limelight recently, featured in the American Bar Association’s Student Lawyer magazine. Bannister, a third-year student at WMU-Cooley, was highlighted in the September 2014 issue of the publication for her work with the organization 10CORE, (Ten Commandments of Real Estate Law Society).blog_bannister

“My mentor, Professor Neville-Ewell founded the organization and encouraged me to join,” Bannister told Student Lawyer. “I came to law school so that I can help people and to make a difference in the community. 10CORE Law Society has allowed me to do just that.”

10CORE, which has expanded from its beginnings in metro-Detroit to selected states throughout the country, provides educational resources to the public on real estate, consumer, and bankruptcy issues.

“With basic knowledge about real estate law, people can make better decisions,” Bannister said.

Bannister works primarily with 10 CORE’s Educational Outreach Committee, although she has also service on the organizations scholarship and computer donations committees. She has served as a speaker, but can be most often found working in the background, designing brochures and PowerPoint presentations. She also works on scheduling, marketing, and surveying potential audiences.

10CORE presents educational programs throughout the year. “We go into communities and provide a resource to people that they might not otherwise receive without our efforts,” Bannister said, explaining that programs vary according to the identity and needs of the audience. To learn what those needs are, they conduct a pre-program survey.

Bannister told Student Lawyer she found her participation in 10CORE to be both personally and professionally rewarding. “Substantively, I’ve learned a lot about property and real estate issues,” Bannister said. “More importantly, my experience in 10CORE has taught me real-world skills and allowed me to help people with real-world problems.”

Much of Bannister’s work may be “behind the scenes,” but it has not gone unnoticed. Neville-Ewell said Bannister “has been instrumental in taking the lead on and completing a number of the organization’s projects. She is one of the hardest-working students I know. She gets things done!”

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