Living in Tampa, Florida: Unique study spots for students

So, you’ve decided to continue your education in beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida. Smart choice! If you’re new to the area, finding places to study may seem like a scavenger hunt. There are several quiet nooks and hidden hideouts in this lively coastal region, but here are five student favorites to jump-start the process.

Living in Tampa, Florida

The Oxford Exchange

Located in West Tampa, this European-inspired space is a restaurant, bookstore, coffeehouse,[MS2]  and décor shop rolled into one. In its four years of existence, the Oxford Exchange has become a popular spot for business meetings, study groups, and relaxing. It’s important to note that the OE doesn’t offer WiFi, so it’s a great spot if you’re just looking to hit the books or write term papers. If you do need WiFi, check out the Commerce Club. A membership is required, but it includes access to the Shaw Library which features individual desks, multiple conference rooms, private phone booths, group tables, and couches for comfortable seating. The OE is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Kaleisia Tea Lounge

Voted best teahouse by Yelp in 2014, Kaleisia Tea Lounge has become a staple for students living in Tampa. Located 15 minutes northwest of WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay [MS3] campus, Kaleisia features a sanctuary specifically for people looking for a quiet space to work, study, or reflect. The lounge is closed on Tuesdays but open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sundays, giving students ample time to pack in a study session.

Ginger Beard Coffee

This local favorite specializes in crafting nitrogen-infused cold brewed coffee. Operating out of the Pour House[MS4]  in Grand Central, WMU-Cooley Faculty Secretary Cody Babb says it’s the best cold-brewed she’s ever had. They also offer three varieties of doughnuts from Datz Dough daily — maple bacon, Fruity Pebbles and Crème Brule. Bonus: they offer discounts to students! Take your books into Ginger Beard Coffee on #TextbookTuesday for 10 percent off. This coffee shop is best for early morning studiers, as it’s open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday – Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Sail

If you’re looking to soak up some Vitamin D while reviewing your notes, or prepping for your next big exam, The Sail near the Tampa Convention Center is just the spot. Nestled in the heart of downtown Tampa, The Sail is a 360-degree pavilion that provides visitors with spectacular views, delicious food, and a variety of unique drink options. When’s the last time you watched the sun set while studying?  The sail opens at 11 a.m. every morning and closes at 2 a.m.

Brandon Regional and Riverview

If you’re looking for a traditional study space, be aware that there is a plethora of libraries to choose from in the area. Brandon Regional Library and Riverview Branch Library are known to be two of the best for students. Both offer free WiFi, two and a half hours of free computer use, printing, and copying. Riverview’s library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and are closed on Sunday, and closest to the Tampa Bay campus. If you do want to hit the library on a Sunday, the good news is Brandon Regional Library is open. The two-story space located in the Sandy Rodriguez Center, is just five miles from WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12:30 p.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday.

If you’re like most students, you’ll need a change of scenery throughout the year. So use this as a bucket list and try them all. You’ll likely find your own favorites as you settle in. Already have one? Tell us what you would add to this list in the comments section below!

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Ross Berlin: Passion, Core Values and Principles Set the Standard

Ross Berlin, WMU-Cooley (Kavanagh Class, 1981), is the cover feature story in the Summer 2017 issue of Benchmark Alumni Magazine. Berlin was a gifted athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball in college. After obtaining his juris doctor from WMU-Cooley Law School, he began a remarkable career encompassing wide-ranging experiences, beginning as an associate at a Los Angeles sports and entertainment law firm, advancing to general counsel of a public works/environmental systems enterprise; then to Senior Vice President of Venues, 1994 World Cup USA; followed by work as a consultant for the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama, Spain.

He then became PGA TOUR Vice President for Sales and Marketing for the World Golf Championships and then a William Morris sports agent for LPGA phenom Michelle Wie. Ultimately he returned to the PGA TOUR as Senior Vice President, Player Relations.

CLICK HERE to read Ross Berlin’s cover feature story in its entirety. It published in the Summer 2017 Benchmark alumni magazine, along with other interesting WMU-Cooley Law School graduate stories.

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WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project’s Efforts Free Detroit Man After 42 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

LeDura (Ledora) Watkins was released today after serving 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit. Based on the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project’s motion for new trial, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office agreed to vacate the judgment of conviction and dismiss all charges in the 1975 murder of a Detroit woman.

Watkins was sentenced to life without parole on April 15, 1976. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for new trial on January 19, 2017. The prosecutor’s office agreed that hair comparison evidence used against Watkins does not meet today’s scientific and legal standards. Watkins was sentenced to life without parole on April 15, 1976. The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project filed a motion for new trial on January 19, 2017. The prosecutor’s office agreed that hair comparison evidence used against Watkins does not meet today’s scientific and legal standards.

LeDura Watkins was released after serving 42 years for a murder he did not commit.

LeDura Watkins was released after serving 42 years for a murder he did not commit.

In 2013, the FBI disavowed testimony by FBI-trained analysts, finding they often overstated their conclusions. The Detroit lab analysts, trained by the FBI, tied Watkins to the crime scene based on a single hair.

Innocence Project team members

WMU-Cooley Innocence Project team following the release of LeDura Watkins who served 42 years for a robbery and murder he did not commit.

“Hair comparison is not based on science; it is simply a lab analyst’s subjective opinion and has no place in our criminal justice system,” said Marla Mitchell-Cichon, director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. “This is why a state-wide review of hair comparison cases is critical.”

Mitchell-Cichon commended Prosecutor Kym Worthy and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office for working with her office to resolve the case. The prosecutor’s office agreed that the new scientific standards are “newly discovered” evidence.

Mitchell-Cichon also noted that over the years, Watkins never stopped fighting for his freedom. He never gave up on the belief that the truth would come out. His family also got their wish; he will attend the annual family reunion in August.

 According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Watkins will be the longest-serving wrongly convicted person in Michigan.

About WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project: WMU-Cooley’s project is part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with the release of over 350 wrongfully accused prisoners through the use of DNA testing. The WMU-Cooley project has screened over 5500 cases since 2001 and is responsible for the exoneration of Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), and Donya Davis (2014). The Project is staffed by WMU-Cooley Law School students and Western Michigan University undergraduates, who work under the supervision of WMU-Cooley Project attorneys. Staff Attorney Eric Schroeder and Legal Intern Wisam Mikho served as lead counsel in this case. Those interested in donating and supporting the work of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project can email innocence@cooley.edu

About Western Michigan University Cooley Law School: WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined WMU’s status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Since the law school’s founding in 1972, WMU-Cooley has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.

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Filed under Latest News and Updates, Student Experiences, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project

WMU-Cooley Law School Student Bar Association Awarded $500 Grant from the Oakland County Bar Foundation

The Student Bar Association (SBA) at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus recently received $500 in grant funding from the Oakland County Bar Foundation to support the organization’s Barrister’s Ball.

SBA officers in Auburn Hills

Pictured: WMU-Cooley Auburn Hills campus Student Bar Association officers (left-right) Qasem Belbeisi, Ashli Bynum, Arturo Alfaro, and Shilpa Bodalia.

SBA organizes the Barrister’s Ball annually to celebrate the future of the legal profession and recognize the accomplishments of the law school’s students and nationally recognized organizations. The event also provides students, faculty and staff an opportunity to network with other legal professionals in the community while raising funds to support a local charity.

“We are so thankful to the Oakland County Bar Foundation for this opportunity,” said Ashli Bynum, WMU-Cooley SBA president. “This grant helps increase our capacity to support nontraditional law students by making professional networking opportunities, such as the Barrister’s Ball, more accessible to all.”

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Grand Rapids High School Students Debate at WMU-Cooley Law School on Issues of Search and Seizure

Students from Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) recently participated in a debate on Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus on issues of search and seizure. The debate was a part of a capstone event for the 3R’s program, a year-long collaboration between the Grand Rapids Bar Association, GRPS and WMU-Cooley Law School. During the event, students were coached by area leaders in the legal community including Kent County District Judge Jennifer Faber.

Attorney and school superintendent speak to high school students

Attorney Steve Drew (left) and GRPS Assistant Superintendent and Executive Director of Public Safety and Security Larry Johnson speak to GRPS high school students about how to handle themselves if they are stopped by police, during a debate on WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus on issues of search and seizure. The debate was a part of a capstone event for the 3R’s program, a year-long collaboration between the Grand Rapids Bar Association, GRPS and the law school.

The 3R’s program aims to help high school students in social studies classes better understand and respect the rule of law and the Constitution, as well as increase students’ interest in civic and government issues. Students also received career counseling as a part of the collaboration in an effort to improve the pipeline of persons of color into legal careers.

“We’re always eager to help surrounding youth learn about civics and the rule of law,” said Chris Hastings, WMU-Cooley Law School professor. “It’s been special to see the students grow in their understanding of civic and government issues over the course of this year’s 3R’s program. This debate was an exciting way to end the program and let the students apply their knowledge in a hands-on learning experience.”

Judge talks to students

Kent County District Judge Jennifer Faber helps coach high school students from Grand Rapids Public Schools during a debate on issues of search and seizure on WMU-Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus.

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WMU-Cooley Holds Inaugural Initiation Ceremony for Newest Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International

On May 26, an official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony was held for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International’s newest chapter, the Janet Reno Chapter of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. Phi Alpha Delta Law is a professional law fraternity aimed at advancing integrity, compassion and courage through service to the student, the school, the profession and the community.

Phi Alpha Delta’s District XXXII Justice Jason Harber swore in the officers of the new chapter: Sheila Lake, justice; Kimberly Pinder, vice justice; Christine Simon, clerk; Stuart Bowes, treasurer; Brian Rubright, marshal; Lashawn McQueen, parliamentarian; and Amanda Martinez, constable.

Janet Reno Chapter Justice Lake initiated all other new members in attendance, which included  Robert Johnson, Danny Torres, Jenanah Amatullah-Muqsit, Dremma Sweetwine, Carla Walters, Devan Hardaway, Ayana Clark and Iris Weller. Those who were unable to attend the ceremony will be initiated later this term with the rest of the newest members of the fraternity. Those individuals include Sabrina Franco, Ebony Smith, Amir Behreini, Lauren Pack, Rebecca McCall and Katherine Semone.

More than 15 initiates were sworn into the new Janet Reno Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity during the official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony on Friday, May 26 at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus.

On May 26, WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus held an official chartering and inaugural initiation ceremony for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity International’s newest chapter, the Janet Reno Chapter.

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WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Annual MentorJet Networking Program

On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills campus, held its annual MentorJet  program co-sponsored with the National Association of Women Judges, matching law students with leading lawyers and judges to learn about law practice and job opportunities.

On June 7, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills campus, held its annual MentorJet program, a speed networking event matching law students with leading lawyers and judges to learn about law practice and job opportunities.

The speed networking event was hosted by NAWJ District 7 Director, the Hon. Michelle M. Rick (29th Circuit Court), the WMU-Cooley Law School Career and Professional Development Department, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter), the Jewish Law Students Association and the Shirin Ebadi House Council.

“We are so thankful to Judge Rick and all the attorneys and judges who volunteered their time for this important program” said Shari Lesnick, WMU-Cooley Law School Career and Professional Development coordinator. “Their support, combined with our ongoing collaboration with the National Association of Women Judges, helped make this year’s event successful.”

Front row (left-right): Hon. Edward Sosnick (ret.), Hertz Schram, P.C.; Hon. Denise Langford Morris, Oakland County Circuit Court; Hon. Carmen Fahie, Administrative Law Judge, State of Michigan Licensing & Regulatory Affairs; Hon. Cynthia M. Arvant, 46th District Court; Hon. Bari Blake Wood, Magistrate Judge 36th District Court. Middle row (left-right): Rebecca L. Wilson, The Dobrusin Law Firm, P.C.; Samantha Jolene Orvis, Garan Lucow, PC; Shannon C. King, The Miller Law Firm; Lyndsey Kitson, Sullivan, Ward Asher & Patton; Ben C. Lesnick, Olsman, MacKenzie & Wallace; Katherine M. Pacynski, The Dobrusin Law Firm; Choi T. Portis, City of Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage. Back row (left-right): John Cipriani, United States Drug Enforcement Administration; Yolanda Bennett, Michigan Board of Water and Light; Michael N. Hanna, Morgan & Morgan; Bryant M. Frank, Soave Enterprises, LLC; Barry Malone, Lakeshore Legal Aid; Vassal N. Johnson II, Law Offices of Vassal N. John PLLC.; Kwame Rowe, Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office.

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