WMU-Cooley Faculty Member Honored one of 2017 Women in the Law

WMU-Cooley Law School Director of Academic Services and Associate Professor Emily Horvath was chosen by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as one of its 2017 Women in the Law. Each year, the Women in the Law program honors 30 high-achieving women lawyers in Michigan and their accomplishments.

Associate Professor Emily Horvath

Emily Horvath

Horvath joined WMU-Cooley Law School faculty in 2005. In addition to teaching Wills, Estates & Trusts at the law school, Horvath also serves as the director of Academic Services, where she works with students and faculty to develop programming to improve student success on the bar exam. In 2014, she received the distinction, Most Outstanding Professor of the Fraternity in the Nation, from Delta Theta Phi, International Law Fraternity.

Horvath is an advocate for human rights. She has served as co-chair of Michigan Pride to plan and execute the annual Statewide Pride March, Rally & Festival for LGBT rights. She also has served as president and chair of “Ways & Means” of the Zonta Club East Lansing Area (ZCELA), a group of individuals dedicated to improving the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women at the global and local level through service and advocacy.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly selected Professor Horvath not only because of her commitment to the legal profession, but for her commitment to helping the community at large,” said Christine Church, WMU-Cooley associate dean of academic programs.  “She is well deserving of this honor and we are proud of her accomplishments at the law school and beyond.”

Before joining WMU-Cooley as a faculty member, Horvath was an associate attorney with the firm of White, Schneider, Young & Chiodini, P.C. In this position, she developed an estate planning practice for the 13-member law firm, including planning for young families, domestic partners and estate tax avoidance. Her legal career began in 1999 at the firm of Willingham & Coté, P.C., first as a paralegal, and later as an associate attorney.

In addition to Horvath, WMU-Cooley Law School graduates Susan Cook, Laura Genovich, Mary Pigorsh, Sarah Ostahowski and Cinnamon Rice have also been selected as members of Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s  2017 class of Women in the Law for their work in the legal profession.

Cook is a partner at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP with more than 35 years of experience in the areas of bankruptcy, business reorganization, commercial litigation and business transactions. Genovich, a shareholder of Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, practices municipal and commercial law in the firm’s Grand Rapids office. Pigorsh practices family law and domestic relations with Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge. Ostahowski owns Sarah’s Law Firm, which offers services in estate planning, and probate and estate administration. Rice is a shareholder at the law firm of Zausmer, August & Caldwell PC. She handles civil litigation matters, including first-party no-fault and third-party automobile negligence claims, premises liability, construction accidents, fraud and insurance coverage disputes.

A luncheon celebrating the Class of 2017 Women in the Law will be held Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. The Woman of the Year, selected by a vote of the class, will be announced at the event.

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Attorney Choi T. Portis Honored with the Barristers President’s Award from the Detroit Bar Association

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Choi T. Portis has been selected by the Detroit Bar Association as this year’s winner of the Barristers President’s Award, which recognizes a young attorney whose early career has exhibited high standards of service to the profession, his or her clients and the public. Portis, associate general counsel for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, was presented the award during the Detroit Bar Association’s Summer Breeze event on July 19, 2017 at the Detroit Yacht Club.

Jim Robb and Choi Portis

WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean of External Affairs and General Counsel James Robb presents WMU-Cooley graduate Choi T. Portis with the Detroit Bar Association Barristers President’s Award. Portis was selected by the Detroit Bar Association as this year’s winner of the Barristers President’s Award.

“I was honored to present the Detroit Bar Association Barristers President’s Award to a woman who has made her law school proud by already distinguishing herself as a leader in our profession,” said James Robb, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean of external affairs and general counsel. “In the legal community, leadership requires professional excellence, of course, but it also requires responsible participation in the organized bar and meaningful participation in service to our communities. Choi has exemplified each of these requirements. Through her outstanding work as Associate General Counsel of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department and in her prior work representing abused children and handling corporate transactions, Choi demonstrates superb legal skills.”

In her position with the Water and Sewage Department, Portis handles in-house litigation, internal personal injury and property damage claims, damage claim appeals, billing disputes and contract review. She also serves as counsel to the department director regarding various legal issues, serves on the Damage Claims Appeals committee and supervises the department’s Environmental and Safety team.

In addition to her work with the city of Detroit, in February, Portis started Portis Legal, PLC, a small solo firm designed to provide low-cost, transactional legal services to clients. She primarily focuses on business entity formation, contract formation and review, but also offers copyright and trademark registration services as well.

Portis is an executive council member of the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, and serves on the organization’s Diversity Committee. She is also the district representative for the state of Michigan, and a vice director of Diversity and Inclusion for the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. Portis serves as a mentor to many, tutoring bar candidates through the Wolverine Bar Association Minority Bar Passage Program. She was recently honored as a member of the Michigan Chronicle’s “40 Under 40 Class of 2017.”

 Portis is admitted to practice in the State of Michigan and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She earned her J.D. from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

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WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Honors Convocation in Grand Rapids

WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus honored students for their leadership roles with various student organizations and for achieving academic excellence by receiving Certificate of Merit for the highest scores in classes and being named to the Dean’s List or Honor Roll at the Honors Convocation on Monday, July 17, 2017.

Shane Henry

Shane Henry

Shane Henry received the Dawn C. Beachnau Award. The award recognizes the member of the WMU-Cooley Law Review Board of Editors who has made the most significant contribution through leadership and dedication to the Law Review.

Jada Manggrum received the Leadership Achievement Award, which acknowledges a student who has consistently, comprehensively and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities.

Jada Manggrum

Jada Manggrum

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WMU-Cooley’s Lansing Campus to Host Seminar on Marijuana Laws

Law students and lawyers will gather at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus to review and discuss legal aspects of current marijuana laws on Thursday, July 27 during a seminar co-hosted by WMU-Cooley Law School and the State Bar of Michigan’s Solo and Small Firm Section. The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. in the Cooley Center.

The seminar will feature a diverse panel of legal experts including Mary Chartier, criminal defense litigator and partner, Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C.; Robert Hendricks, business attorney, Wrigley, Hoffman & Hendricks, P.C.; and Mike Nichols, trial attorney, Nichols Law Firm, PLLC.

Mary Chartier is a criminal defense litigator and partner at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C., with offices in Lansing and Grand Rapids. She practices in courts throughout the state and in federal court. Chartier is a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College of DUI Defense. She is also the Appellate Unit chairperson of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, chairperson of the Ingham County Bar Association’s Criminal Defense Section, vice chairperson of the State Bar of Michigan’s Marijuana Law Section, and vice chairperson of the Ingham County Bar Association. Chartier has taught at WMU-Cooley Law School for over 10 years, including teaching the nation’s first medical marijuana class. She has presented at numerous nationwide and state conferences on topics related to criminal defense, including at conferences organized by the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Michigan Judges Association, State Bar of Michigan, National College for DUI Defense and the Institute for Continuing Legal Education.

Robert Hendricks is a business attorney at Wrigley, Hoffman & Hendricks, P.C. in Grand Rapids where he has practiced since 1984. In response to Michigan’s movement toward legalized marijuana, he and his partners developed a marijuana business practice called CannalexLaw. Hendricks is a member and officer of the State Bar of Michigan’s Marijuana Law Section and the National Cannabis Bar Association. Hendricks speaks regularly on marijuana and business including to the Food and Drug Law Institute, the Michigan Township Association, ICLE, the Public Corporation Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, various business sections of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and to the Law & Justice Committee of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Mike Nichols is a nationally recognized trial attorney in the area of drunk driving and drugged driving defense. He is the author of the Michigan OWI Handbook for West Publishing. He is a professor of drunk driving law and practice at WMU-Cooley Law School. Nichols also authors several publications for organizations including the National College for DUI Defense. He is on the Controlled Substance Benchbook Committee for the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrator’s Office, which publishes reference materials for Michigan judges. Nichols is a faculty member for the National College for DUI Defense and a founding member of the DUI Defense Lawyers of America and the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys. Nichols is on the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Body Cam Task Force, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan Rules and Laws Committee and the State Bar of Michigan Criminal Law Section Council and the SBM Task Force on 21st Century Law Practice.

 The seminar is open and free to law students who register for the event by July 24. Registration is available at e.michbar.org, or by contacting Elizabeth Silverman at 248-538-1177 and costs $20 for Solo & Small Firm Section members or $25 for non-members

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WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Honors Convocation in Auburn Hills

On Thursday, July 13, 2017, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus held its Honors Convocation recognizing students for top course grades, Dean’s List, Honor Roll, and leadership and skills competition achievements.

The recipients of the Leadership Achievement Award were Eric Langton and Erika Morgan. The award acknowledges students who have consistently, comprehensively and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities.

Leadership Award winners

Leadership Achievement Award recipients Erika Morgan and Eric Langton hold the awards during WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills Honors Convocation on July 13.

During the event, WMU-Cooley Associate Professor Frank Aiello was presented the Distinguished Faculty Award.

Aiello, who presented the evening’s keynote, spoke to students, staff and faculty about what he has learned over the years, and reflected on the intersection of his personal and work life. He offered what he referred to as “quasi-wisdom,” encouraging students to be kind, speak less, listen more and utilize their strengths.

“Having now taught here for almost 12 years, I have the pleasure of observing many incredible WMU-Cooley alumni who are doing amazing things — lead counsel to the police and fire unions in the Detroit bankruptcy, representing famous Detroit musical artists, working on behalf of the disadvantaged at legal aid organizations, incredible prosecutors and defense attorneys and wildly successful civil litigators,” Aiello said. “I am humbled by the accomplishments of my former students and can’t wait to see what you do.”

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Lynn Helland Honored with WMU-Cooley Law School’s Integrity Award

Lynn Helland, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission was the featured speaker and Integrity Award recipient during the “Integrity in Our Community” speaker series at the WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus, July 14, 2017. The Integrity Award is presented to legal professionals who demonstrate the highest integrity in their profession. The event was co-hosted by the law school’s newest student organization, the Society for Personal and Professional Integrity.

Speakers at Integrity event

Pictured (left-right) Patrick Corbett, assistant U.S. attorney and WMU-Cooley Law School visiting professor; Joan Vestrand, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean; Lynn Helland, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission; and Alan Gershel, attorney grievance administrator during the “Integrity in our Community” speaker series at the WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus on July 14.

Alan Gershel, past recipient of the Integrity Award, former U.S. attorney  and current Michigan attorney  grievance administrator, who worked with Helland on a number of cases while each were employed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, provided Helland’s introductory remarks.

“We often said that a measure of a prosecutor’s integrity is not what he or she does in public, in a courtroom, when people are watching, when it’s easy to make the right decision,” said Gershel. “The more difficult times really occur when no one is looking, when the lights are not on, so to speak. Lynn was the gold standard. He led by example. He always did the right thing.”

Integrity Award winner

Lynn Helland, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, was the featured speaker and received the Integrity Award during WMU-Cooley Law School’s “Integrity in Our Community” speaker series on July 14 at the law school’s Auburn Hills campus.

Helland’s presentation was on the topic of personal integrity, and spoke about how individual integrity can influence the community at large.

“None of us think that our integrity is responsible for that overall level of national trust, but it is. Each contribution we make, for better or for worse, has an impact on the whole,” Helland said.

Helland identified and discussed two types of integrity: moral integrity and integrity of thought. He spoke of the importance of remaining objective and honest. He also emphasized the challenges of having integrity, citing brain research that he said shows people are wired so that they handle information that undercuts their beliefs by disregarding or discounting that information.

“For the good of all our communities, I encourage all of us to embrace both moral integrity and thinking integrity. We all want to do that, you already said that, but I encourage you also to recognize how hard it is, and to embrace how hard it is and to try to work through how hard it is,” Helland said.

Group at integrity event

Pictured (left-right) Helen Khouli, president of the Society for Personal and Professional Integrity; Lynn Helland, executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission; and Alan Gershel, attorney grievance administrator during the “Integrity in our Community” speaker series at the WMU-Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus on July 14.

Before Helland was appointed to serve as executive director of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, he served as assistant United States attorney. Helland has significant experience with Michigan legal ethics as a professional responsibility officer, discipline hearing panelist and ethics instructor. He has been responsible for helping colleagues comply with the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

During Helland’s 34 years as a federal prosecutor, he was assigned to complex crimes involving public corruption, health care fraud, national security and civil rights. He has investigated complex economic, environmental and non-drug money laundering crimes. In addition, he has worked internationally within legal systems to obtain documents and/or testimony for prosecution of complex economic crimes. Helland also served as senior legal adviser for the United States Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan.

Helland served as law clerk to the Honorable Cornelia Kennedy, who was on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His community involvement includes serving as a board member for Save the Afghan Children, a charity that supports a girls’ orphanage and school in Kabul, Afghanistan; was a board member for Veahavta, a charity that supports a girls’ orphanage in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka; served as a board member and president, Parent’s Association, Oak Trails Montessori School; and has participated in humanitarian trips to Sri Lanka and Haiti.

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WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Honors Convocation in Florida

On Wednesday, July 12, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus held its Honors Convocation recognizing students for top course grades, Dean’s List, Honor Roll, and leadership and skills competition achievements.

Sheila Lake received the Alumni Distinguished Student Award for her academic success, professionalism, and participation and leadership in student organizations.

Lake also won a Leadership Achievement Award, along with classmates David Lee and Selena Neal. The award acknowledges students who have consistently, comprehensively and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities.

Selena Neal with award

Selena Neal

Sheila Lake with award

Sheila Lake

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