Monthly Archives: February 2015

Newly Retired Registrar Reflects on Time at Cooley, New Career in Art

Sherida Wysocki

Sherida Wysocki

“People go through their entire lives without having a co-worker as good as Sherida – much less a boss,” said Dan Membiela, coordinator of student records at WMU-Cooley Law School.

Sherida Wysocki recently retired from a 30-year career as Registrar and Assistant Dean at WMU-Cooley. Ask anyone at the school about their favorite memory of Sherida and you get a brief silence as their brain locks up from the multitude of accolades colliding to gain voice at the same time.

“A favorite memory would be her calmness,” said Robin Benson, enrollment student services specialist. “She mastered how to deal with all types of students, co-workers and employees.”

Sherida Wysocki, left, and Dan Membiela

Sherida Wysocki, left, and Dan Membiela

“She was an incredible worker,” Membiela recalled.

“I don’t know anyone like her,” said Amy Timmer, associate dean of students and professionalism. “She has friends all over the country who would do anything for her.”

With a quick smile, endless patience, and a legendary sense of humor, Wysocki made loyal lifelong friends, solved complex problems with aplomb on a daily basis, and inspired students and colleagues alike to do their best.

Wysocki became the Registrar at WMU-Cooley on April 30, 1984. In 1999, she was made an Assistant Dean. She says she never really thought about the longevity of her tenure with WMU-Cooley. “If you enjoy what you’re doing and like the people, it’s a daily part of who you are. It’s your family,” she explained.

She shepherded her department through some monumental changes, staffing the office with student-focused professionals, weighing in on the office design when the Cooley Center opened to maximize efficiency, and overseeing the move to online registration.

Amy Timmer, left,and Sherida Wysocki

Amy Timmer, left, and Sherida Wysocki

Unflappable as always, Wysocki had a go-with-the-flow approach to the various office changes. She was always more focused on the students and met with them on nearly a daily basis. Until a few years ago, Wysocki did all the academic counseling for students, and she worked closely with students going through some significant challenges.

“My greatest accomplishment was being able to help the students,” Wysocki recalled. “You can make a difference in someone’s life.” She saw many progressions of struggle, adjustment, and success. She treasures the emails she received from students letting her know they had made it through a hurdle, or notes sharing that they’d made the Dean’s List, and more.

Timmer said she was often impressed by how focused and caring Wysocki was with students. “She would take them to task if they needed it, but she would do whatever she could for them.”

Artwork by Sherida Wysocki

“Night Ocean” glasswork, by Sherida Wysocki

It was also important to Sherida to be a good co-worker. “I hope I’ve been a good colleague,” she said. “That’s important, too — to be caring, congenial, and helping, to smile and have a good sense of humor. I’ve been fortunate to hire people with a good sense of humor.”

"Treasured" collage work, by Sherida Wysocki

“Treasured” collage work, by Sherida Wysocki

Wysocki’s own sense of humor was the reason Membiela joined Cooley rather than another school he was interviewing with at the same time. “Sherida laughed, and had me laughing through the entire interview,” Membiela recalled.

“The best thing about working with Sherida,” Benson recalled, “was her kind and caring way, her thoughtfulness. She sincerely cared about her co-workers and employees in every way.”

Wysocki is reveling in her new retired lifestyle where she can make the artistic endeavors she’s pursued over the years into the primary focus of her day. Already known for her jewelry work, Wysocki has more recently immersed herself in glass work, mixed media, batik, watercolors, collage work, and more. Her first glasswork was accepted into a juried show, displayed in a place of prominence in the gallery, and sold, in the term before she retired.

The cake at Sherida Wysocki's retirement party.

The cake at Sherida Wysocki’s retirement party.

Now wintering in Florida, Wysocki has signed up for art workshops, discovered the artsy area in St. Pete, and is actively pursuing art. She identifies herself as an artist now and is excited about what the future holds for her in this new arena. “Ultimately, my dream is to have a place where I can have my own studio/workshop.” There she can pursue her passions in jewelry, collage work, mixed media, and glass work, and get a kiln and explore that medium as well.

Her colleagues wish her well and know she’ll continue to find success. “She is so creative,” Benson said. “That woman has some serious artistic talent and ability.”

 See us on the web at

Leave a comment

Filed under Latest News and Updates, Uncategorized

South Pacific Study Abroad Checks Life’s Bucket List

Xiomara Rivera is no stranger to seeing new places. She’s traveled extensively as a member of the military and has seen nearly every part of the world.  Yet there was one place she hadn’t visited.

The South Pacific.  A destination that topped her Bucket list.

Xiomara  Rivera didn't have any problem finding kangaroos in Australia with this kind of signage!

Xiomara Rivera didn’t have any problem finding kangaroos in Australia with this kind of signage!

As a law student, she didn’t think she could consider or have the time to travel. That is until she heard about WMU-Cooley’s Foreign Study program Down Under.  The chance to visit and study the law in the South Pacific was calling her – and she answered quickly – signing up for WMU-Cooley’s Australia/New Zealand Winter 2014 program.  Bonus: January Down Under is their summer!

Visiting Australia and New Zealand, along with side trips to Indonesia and Tahiti, was a dream come true for Xiomara – making it on another list – The South Pacific is one of her favorite places in the world!

You have the opportunity at WMU-Cooley Law School to expand your horizons through a variety of foreign study programs.  You can earn credit toward your law degree, experience new cultures across the globe, and make lifelong friends — WMU-Cooley has ABA-accredited foreign study programs in Oxford, England; Australia and New Zealand; and Toronto, Canada.

Leave a comment

Filed under study abroad

Online Exclusives – Interview with Greg Coleman, Florida Bar President

coleman_gregGreg Coleman, partner at Critton, Luttier, and Coleman, a law firm in West Palm Beach, Florida, and current President of the Florida Bar was interviewed by WMU-Cooley Law Review member Jerrod Simpson.

President Coleman talks about technology, the bar exam, diversity, access to justice, and ethics.

“Technology has invaded our lives both personally and professionally, and it’s drastically affected the way we practice law. ” – Greg Coleman

Download the condensed text of the interview.

Leave a comment

Filed under Student Experiences

Abuse of LSAT Scores

Cooley President and Dean, Don LeDuc

Cooley President and Dean, Don LeDuc

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s President and Dean, Don LeDuc, publishes commentaries on our website about the Law School, legal education, legal employment, and related topics.  This post summarizes President LeDuc’s commentary in which he takes on those who misuse — and abuse — the LSAT.

Commentators, including academics who should know better, are improperly using the Law School Admissions Test to justify assertions regarding the quality of potential law students and the law schools they consider, contrary to published limitations on the proper use of the LSAT by the Law School Admissions Council, which creates and administers it.

Two false premises have dominated the blogs. The first is that a lower LSAT number in a school’s entering class means that the school’s graduates will be less capable of passing the bar. The second premise is even worse—that a lower LSAT number means that a school’s graduates will be less capable to practice as lawyers and that those below a certain number will be incapable of practicing law.  These assertions are blatantly contrary to limitations on the use of LSAT scores issued by the LSAC.  Here is the truth about the LSAT

Use of an LSAT score for any purpose other than law school admissions is improper

The LSAC says that “[t]he LSAT was designed to serve admissions functions only. It has not been validated for any other purpose.” Using the LSAT to make judgments about the capability of an individual—or a group of individuals like a law school’s entering class—to pass a bar examination is a misuse of the LSAT.  The LSAC has declared that the LSAT has not been validated as a predictor of future bar results.

Bad as that claim is, the assertion that a low LSAT score foretells incapacity to practice law is even worse. Again, the LSAT has not been validated in that regard. Nor has anyone been able to define what is or is not the capacity to practice law, much less measure who is likely to practice it well. Any claim that the LSAT does so should be completely disregarded, if not derided.

The LSAT cannot be used as the sole criterion for admission to law school.

The LSAC says that “[t]he LSAT should be used as only one of several criteria for evaluation and should not be given undue weight solely because its use is convenient. . . . [because] the LSAT does not measure every discipline-related skill necessary for academic work, nor does it measure other factors important to academic success.”   The LSAC further states that LSAT scores “do not measure, nor are they intended to measure, all the elements important to success at individual institutions” and that LSAT scores “must be examined in relation to the total range of information available about a prospective law student.”

The LSAT is not the best predictive measure for law school success.

The LSAC tells us that the LSAT is intended to “assist in assuring that there is a demonstrated relationship between quantitative data used in the selection process and actual performance [at a particular school].” But the LSAC’s own correlation studies invariably find that neither the LSAT score alone nor the UGPA alone are better predictors than the use of those two factors combined in the context of previous levels of academic success at that institution. Indeed, what the LSAT does is attempt to predict the likely first-year grade point average for the person being considered for admission to the particular school, based on how well those previously admitted with the same combination of the two factors did.

There is no bright line LSAT score below which a school should not offer admission.

The LSAC declares that “[c]ut-off LSAT scores (below which no applicants will be considered) are strongly discouraged. Such boundaries should be used only if the choice of a particular cut-off is based on a carefully considered and formulated rationale that is supported by empirical data . . . .”  Cut-off scores may have a greater adverse impact upon applications from minority groups than upon the general applicant population.

Those who claim that the LSAT score bears any relationship to the ability to practice law are ignorant at best.

The assertion that LSAT scores predict bar results is without support. Those who create and provide the test have stated that a correlation of LSAT scores to the passage of a bar examination has never been validated, certainly not by them.  One reason that a valid connection is not possible is that there is no such thing as “the bar examination.” Each state administers, scores and weighs its own examination in such a way that a person with identical LSAT scores and multi-state scores could pass in one state and fail in another.

Rankings and ratings based on LSAT scores are flawed.

Unfortunately, we are fascinated with labeling and ranking. We rank schools based on LSAT scores, we rank schools based on bar results, and we characterize law schools by tiers and students by LSAT scores. We assert that students with LSAT scores below a certain number are inferior and unworthy, but fail to take into consideration that the creators of the LSAT affirmatively declare that such a conclusion is not valid and is an improper use of the LSAT score. We assert that the LSAT test measures the ability to practice law, again contrary to the proper use of the LSAT and again despite the fact that there is no evidence to substantiate the claim. We disregard that minority groups are arguably adversely affected by multiple-choice tests.

In the land of opportunity, those who would deny anyone who has graduated from college the opportunity to fulfill a dream based on an LSAT cut-off score are elitist, paternalistic, and ignorant of the purpose of the very test they rely upon as the basis for their denial. Law school applicants and law schools deserve better treatment.

Read this commentary in full.       

Click here for all of President LeDuc’s commentaries.

Scroll below to comment on President LeDuc’s commentary.

See us on the web at wmich,edu/law.

Leave a comment

Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education

Law Student Couple Win in Love and Regional Client Counseling Competition

WMU-Cooley law students and married couple Elizabeth and Bryan Devolder were named the top team in the ABA Client Counseling Competition held in Pittsburgh, Penn. on Feb. 7. The Regional Competition winners will advance to the national competition where 12 teams (top school in each region) will compete for the national title.

WMU-Cooley law students and couple Elizabeth and Bryan Devolder were named the top team in the 2015 ABA Client Counseling Competition in February.

“Who needs just red roses and dark chocolate when what I really love is working together and solving problems with my husband as a team,” exclaimed Elizabeth Devolder about the couple’s Valentine win in the ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Feb. 8th.
The WMU-Cooley Tampa Bay campus evening students Elizabeth and Bryan Devolder were crowned regional champions and now advance to the national competition held in North Carolina in March, where 12 teams — the top school in each region — will compete for the national title. WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Coach Chris Church was impressed with the couple’s problem solving skills in the competition, and loved the pair’s style and chemistry.
The national topic was family law.  The Devolders began their interview by revealing that they were a married couple, and talked about the advantages of gaining both a male and female perspective. They had framed pictures of their two children on the desk, completing the family theme.
“Elizabeth and Bryan had a no-nonsense, practical approach to solving client problems — and it was evident in the competition that their relationship and life experience gave them a true advantage over any other team in the competition,” stated Church. “The other two finalist teams took everything the client said as gospel — and offered to take the case pro bono. Bryan and Elizabeth approached the representation with a healthy dose of skepticism.  They understood that the client wasn’t telling them everything, and that trust takes time.  They didn’t jump into a pro bono custody case — they said they needed to do more investigation first.  But they left the client with options, referrals, and a promise to look into things and get back with her. That’s what great lawyers do.”

This is the 7th win in 10 years for WMU-Cooley teams at the hotly contested Client Counseling Regional Competition. Our 2011 team of Erin Moss and LaToya Palmer won the ABA national championship. This year, WMU-Cooley team Devolder beat over 11 teams to win the regional competition, including teams from the University of Michigan, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Akron, the University of Louisville, Duquesne University, and Northern Kentucky University.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Seniors Surprise Professor with Unexpected Award

“Oh my gosh! What am I supposed to do?!” a stunned Erika Breitfeld frantically asked when her name was called as the winner of a prestigious teaching award. “Do I have to say something?”

Breitfeld, an assistant professor at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills, Mich., campus, was understandably surprised. At WMU-Cooley’s recent commencement ceremony, the young faculty member became the first-ever Research and Writing professor to win the school’s coveted Stanley E. Beattie Award for Excellence in Teaching. At the same time, she also became the first-ever faculty member from the Auburn Hills campus to win the award.

“To say I was shocked, is an understatement,” Breitfeld recalled. “I was completely blown away.”

WMU-Cooley Assistant Professor Erika Breitfeld

WMU-Cooley Assistant Professor Erika Breitfeld

Fellow professor Tammy Asher whispered back, “Yes, you have to do something. You have to make a speech!” Asher, who Breitfeld views as her mentor, said she could see Breitfeld absorb the shock and adjust on the spot.

“This calm comes over her and she gives this amazing speech,” Asher said.

Breitfeld joined the full-time faculty at WMU-Cooley in 2011. She teaches Research and Writing, as well as Advanced Writing. Both subjects feature small classroom populations and a heavy emphasis on professorial critiques of students’ writing projects. It’s hard to get a lot of “warm fuzzies” in that kind of setting to win a favorite teacher award that is voted on by members of the graduating class.

But Breitfeld transcended that difficult dynamic to break through the barriers and win the award.

How did she do it? A visit to Breitfeld’s office tells part of the story. Liberally decorated with personal memorabilia, including photos from Breitfeld’s recent wedding, the office is the professor’s home away from home. She’s there often and her door is always open to visitors. Whether they need to talk about a sticky problem with class material or something more personal, students have quickly learned they will find a willing listener in Breitfeld.

A chat with Breitfeld tells more of the tale. She is comfortable sharing her non-faculty life with others. She blog_group_finaloften uses real-life examples from her years as an assistant prosecutor in Macomb County, Mich., and doesn’t hesitate to share stories of challenges both in the courtroom and when she was a student.

For Breitfeld, the honor is not the unusual-looking statue, but what the award means in terms of support.

“It’s such a nice feeling,” she said. “It’s a validating feeling and makes me feel like I belong here.” The immediate and enthusiastic reaction from her fellow faculty members is also treasured by Breitfeld. “That was really touching – the faculty support,” she recalled. “You could feel how happy my colleagues were for me!”

Breitfeld was able to share her fantastic news with her husband in a post-graduation phone call, and with her family at an already planned dinner on that same Sunday. Then she was back in action, answering emails at all hours, meeting with students in both planned and impromptu meetings, guiding students in the classroom, and reveling in a career where she feels truly welcome.

We welcome your comment.

See us on the web at


Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Uncategorized

Come to a WMU-Cooley Information Session Near You

Info Sessions 2015Thinking about law school? Attend an Information Session near you.  Sign up here.

» Northern New Jersey (Whippany): Wed., February 11, 6:30 p.m.
» Brooklyn, NY: Thurs, February 12, 6:30 p.m.
» Indianapolis, IN: Thurs, February 19, 6:30 p.m.
» Buffalo, NY: Thurs, February 26, 6:30 p.m.
» Houston, TX: Wed., March 6, 6:30 p.m.
» Dallas, TX: Thurs, March 7, 6:30 p.m.

What we will talk about at the Information Session

  • What to think about as you consider attending law school.
  • How to differentiate one law school’s curriculum from another. What to look for, and what’s important to understand in choosing a law school.
  • What “practice ready” really means and how you will know that you are ready for law practice.
  • Cost:  Law school is a worthwhile but big investment.  We will talk about how you prepare for the cost. hurdle?

Other ways to learn about the Law School

There are many convenient ways to learn about our great law school, whether through a campus tour, an informative campus open house event, or through webinar events we hold from time to time.  And be sure to see our free e-guides on How Our Legal System Works and What Lawyers Do.

Find your excellence — become the lawyer you aspire to be.  Enroll at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Register and get details about WMU-Cooley information sessions and open houses here.

See us on the web generally at

Leave a comment

Filed under The Value of a Legal Education

The Sky Is Not Even the Limit!

The latest WMU-Cooley traveler is law student Eula T. Bacon who participated in WMU-Cooley’s Oxford, England program last summer. You will find yourself catching some of Eula’s positive energy and excitement as she tells you all about the things she learned during her experience in Oxford, and also sharing some sage advice.  Enjoy reading more about Eula’s life lessons in the bullet quotes below! 

  • Being in Oxford was “one amazing experience after another. I felt like I was on a movie set, but better! I’m walking in a 200-year-old building! We were living in a building that was over 150 years old.”
  • Being in a different country “made me think of things in a broader way” and that “maybe I could be more creative in some of my solutions.”
  • “Different doesn’t mean one is better than another; they’re just different … It’s not driving on the wrong side of the road, it’s just driving on another side of the road.”
  • “I learned from everybody and tried to talk to as many people as I could.” Hearing about how her friend in Oxford downsized her expenses to the point that she “now lives in a box because she wanted to spend all her money  on travel,” got her to “think about about what I wanted to spend my money on … If you reduce some things in your life, you might be able to travel more!”
  • “I’ve owned three businesses in the United States,” but sitting and talking to professors and law students from around the world “got me to think about opening an international business.”
  • “I met new students … some were from Cooley, but we also had several students who were not from Cooley … and in all of my classes I got to sit next to a student from Germany. She was a wealth of information and actually experienced some of history. She brought a whole new perspective to the room.”
  • “One of our professors was a magistrate … and he had so many stories that made the class so interesting … before you knew it the time was up and you learned the information; but you could actually tie it together with reality.”
  • “If you’re starting to get into Shakespeare, do it in Oxford!”
  • “Most people working full-time don’t do study abroad, but I did! I almost did not follow up (on going abroad) because I didn’t think I could afford it, but I didn’t take the advice I give to others; consider the source and go to the experts. At least ask. My employer was excited for me.”

You have the opportunity at WMU-Cooley Law School to expand your horizons through a variety of foreign study programs.  You can earn credit toward your law degree, experience new cultures across the globe, and make lifelong friends — WMU-Cooley has ABA-accredited foreign study programs in Oxford, England; Australia and New Zealand; and Toronto, Canada.

Eula is getting ready to drop her friends "Greetings from Oxford, England."

Eula getting ready to drop her friends “Greetings from Oxford, England.”

Oxford, England Professor Grimal with WMU-Cooley Foreign Study students, Kirk Seleski, Janelle Wicker, Eula Bacon, and Susan Watts.

Oxford, England Professor Francis Grimal with WMU-Cooley Foreign Study students, Kirk Seleski, Janelle Wicker, Eula Bacon, and Susan Watts.


Filed under study abroad

WMU-Cooley’s Lansing Campus Is One of Nation’s Best Affordable Places to Live

Lansing is ranked as one of the nation’s best affordable places to live, in fact the fourth best of all, according to a major source on lifestyles nationally,  The site salutes the great value to be found in Lansing from housing and transportation costs to bargains with entertainment, shopping, and education.

Livability places Lansing at the top with other great cities, noting: “These budget-friendly cities offer lots of things to do and help families stretch their paychecks further. ”  It specifically highlights the outstanding culture and recreation our city has to offer:

With many restaurants, bars and music venues catering to the college crowd, residents can easily find great deals. Lansing City Market, which overlooks the Grand River in downtown, provides a lively setting for residents to procure farm fresh produce, artwork and crafts. Bike trails, walking paths and gardens tempt outdoor lovers to engage in the recreational activities Lansing offers. Kayakers are often seen paddling through town.



Lansing’s high ranking comes as no surprise to us.  As we wrote last year, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s students, faculty, and staff have long enjoyed the benefits of living, working, and studying in Lansing.  We in the Lansing community share in outstanding cultural diversity, a host of arts and entertainment, wonderful recreational activities, great restaurants, major historical attractions, and, of course, abundant educational opportunity.  For a taste of the city, see the video This is My Downtown.

Come and visit Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Lansing campus.  It’s a great place to learn the law.  We would be glad to show you around!


See us on the web generally at

Leave a comment

Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Cooley's Great Locations, Latest News and Updates