Monthly Archives: June 2017

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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Trifecta: WMU-Cooley Law alumna has a three-pronged plan

Julie Lawler-Hoyle’s passion for the law was awakened when her wife became disabled from a stroke. “We lost 80 percent of our household income literally overnight,” she says. “The lawyers who helped us through the ensuing financial fallout made a real difference to our family and were my inspiration to apply to law school.”

Julie Lawler-Hoyle was honored with the Distinguished Student Award at WMU-Cooley Law School's May graduation. She is pictured with her wife, Sally, and in-laws Jim and Connie Hoyle.

Julie Lawler-Hoyle was honored with the Distinguished Student Award at WMU-Cooley’s May graduation. She is pictured with her wife, Sally, and in-laws Jim and Connie Hoyle.

Lawler-Hoyle was a May graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School, where she was the Lansing campus recipient of the Distinguished Student Award.

“I was honored,” she says. “And the special diploma frame I received will look spectacular on the wall of my future office!”

Lawler-Hoyle last trod the halls of academe in the mid to late ’80s, when she earned her undergrad degree in English, cum laude, from Barnard College, Columbia University, in New York City; and a master’s degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C., where she focused on English and Medieval & Renaissance studies.

Returning to school nearly three decades later was a joy.

“I sound like a total geek if I say I loved the rigor of the academic program, but it’s true,” she says. “My undergraduate and graduate degrees are from more prestigious schools. But, I can honestly say I never worked harder academically than I did at WMU-Cooley Law School.”

The biggest advantage of being a mature student was self-awareness, she says.

“I know what I don’t know and I’m not shy about admitting when I’m clueless. I have zero inhibitions about making a fool of myself and it’s pretty darn difficult to embarrass me. As it turns out, these are all excellent qualities in a law student.”

Lawler-Hoyle particularly appreciated the diversity at Cooley Law, that she says goes way beyond race and ethnicity.

“It encompasses age, economic background, income, disability, family situation, gender, gender expression, and more,” she explains. “Colleagues are candid about our differences and openly inquisitive about other’s experiences.

“At the Lansing campus graduation reception, I told a story about my Sunday morning Constitutional Law class with retired Brigadier General, Dean Michael McDaniel. I’m sure I wasn’t the first openly gay student he has taught, but Con Law lends itself to spirited discussions—and we had a few!

“One day he said ‘LGBTQ – I don’t even know what the Q stands for,’ and before I could say anything, he followed it up with ‘but I know we need to protect their rights.’ That moment, for me, exemplified WMU-Cooley’s commitment to diversity.”

Lawler-Hoyle has a three-pronged plan for her future practice. First, she hopes to transition to a legal role with her current employer, Pet Supplies Plus, where she worked full time in the corporate office in Livonia during law school and is still working full time while studying for the bar exam.

Second, she plans to have a solo practice that focuses on estate planning for pet owners. And third, she wants both these plans to be so successful that she can take on veteran cases pro bono.

“As a volunteer pet therapy team, with my dog, Sam, at the Veteran’s Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System, I’ve seen first-hand the special legal needs of our service members and I want to do my part to honor their service,” she says.

In addition to Sam, Lawler-Hoyle and her wife, Sally Hoyle, have a service dog, Katie, cats Hazel and Harley, and birds Abby and Giizis sharing their cottage on the canal that leads into Whitmore Lake, north of Ann Arbor.

“It’s a very beautiful and peaceful place, perfect for retreating from the ‘real world’,” she says.

This article about WMU-Cooley graduate Julie Lawler-Hoyle was written by Legal News writer Sheila Pursglove originally published by the Legal News on June 6, 2017. It is reprinted here with permission of The Detroit Legal News. 

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WMU-Cooley Law School Graduate Hardam Tripathi to Advocate For Full U.S. Funding for the United Nations at 2017 UNA-USA Leadership Summit

Hardam Tripathi

On Tuesday, June 13, Hardam Tripathi, a WMU-Cooley Law School graduate and membership director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), Tampa Bay, will join the UNA-USA delegation to stand united on Capitol Hill and urge Congress to maintain robust U.S. support for United Nations agencies and programs. The convening is part of the 2017 UNA-USA Leadership Summit, which trains and mobilizes Americans who support the work of the U.N.

“The 2017 UNA-USA Leadership Summit provides me the opportunity to follow my passion to serve the public and be on the front lines of driving change in the Capitol by advocating for strong U.S.-U.N. engagement,” Tripathi said. “This experience will exemplify my future ambitions to work in the policy arena, where I will work with major allies to solve global problems, thereby serving as a qualified advocate, representing the needs of our citizens and communities.”

The leadership summit is expected to be the largest convening ever of Americans on Capitol Hill advocating for strong U.S.-U.N. engagement with an estimated attendance of more than 300 individuals. With the future of America’s international engagement in the spotlight, the UNA-USA advocacy event comes at a pivotal moment for the U.S.-U.N. relationship. UNA-USA advocates will collectively call for full U.S. funding for U.N. regular budget and peacekeeping dues in the fiscal year 2018 budget through face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff.

“If successful, I believe this will impact the nation in a positive light with respect to U.S. foreign policy. United States engagement will promote peace, national security and humanitarian efforts here in our homeland,” Tripathi said.

U.S. support and funding for the U.N. are under threat both on Capitol Hill and at the White House. While political leaders may be in disaccord, research shows that registered American voters from both major parties agree that sustained U.S. leadership at the U.N. is vital. A nationwide poll released earlier this year by the Better World Campaign found that a vast majority of Americans (88 percent) believe it is important for the U.S. to continue its active role at the U.N. Further, 67 percent support the U.S. paying its dues to the U.N. on time and in full.

WHO:              Delegation of UNA-USA, Tampa Bay directors and UNA-USA members nationwide

WHAT:            2017 UNA-USA Leadership Summit, the largest convening ever of Americans on Capitol Hill advocating for strong U.S.-UN engagement

WHEN:            Tuesday, June 13, 2017 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET

WHERE:           United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Please contact Hardam Tripathi at tripathihard@gmail.com or 863-370-2427 to interview someone from Tampa, Florida who is participating in this historic advocacy event. Photos from the event can be made available.

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Ontario Bar Association Interviews WMU-Cooley Professor Joseph Kimble for New Legal-Writing Series

The Ontario Bar Association recently interviewed Joseph Kimble, a distinguished professor emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, to kick off the first column of its new legal-writing series, titled “Choice Words.”

As part of the association’s legal magazine, JUST, “Choice Words” is a platform for legal writers to debate and educate one another about legal writing. In the interview, Kimble described good legal writing and why it matters, provided tips on how young lawyers can improve their writing, and addressed challenges that writers face.

When asked why plain language is needed in legal writing, Kimble responded, “Because lawyers think and write and speak for a living. And good communicators deliver their message as clearly and concisely and accurately as possible. That’s what plain language is all about.”

Kimble is the longtime editor of the “Plain Language” column in the Michigan Bar Journal and the senior editor of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, published by Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers). Kimble has published dozens of articles on legal writing and written two acclaimed books—Lifting the Fog of Legalese: Essays on Plain Language and Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law.

Kimble joined WMU-Cooley in 1984. He is a past president of Clarity, an international organization promoting plain legal language in law, and a founding director of the Center for Plain Language, which rewards clear communication and shames “complex, confusing or just plain bad writing and the companies that produce them.”

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Conflict: Molding a workable resolution

For as long as I have been teaching, yet never when practicing law, I have pondered and lamented over the “5 to 4 Decisions of The Court.” We want to believe judges remove their personal feelings, emotions, proclivities and biases before donning the robes. We, as rational decision-makers, have the capacity to separate our emotions and arrive at rational choices. Yet, doing so is a constant battle within.  It often leads to a governing majority or a philosophical majority resulting in the 5 to 4 split – WMU-Cooley Center for the Study and Resolution of Conflict Director Graham Ward

WMU-Cooley Center for the Study and Resolution of Conflict

It leaves the law as certain as the life span of a single justice. It causes an uncomfortable uncertainty in predicting laws when the next case arrives for decision. It is a hindrance to those who attempt providing advice regarding long-term policy decisions. It polarizes the Court and generates social, economic and cultural conflict within the citizenry.

Can we propose either a better model or promote an understanding of the inherent value of the unanimous decision?

Judges on our Supreme Court do have the capacity to act as would the conservative, strict-constructionist might encourage, by narrowing the question presented to that upon which most, if not all can agree? Should the Court take those cases where a greater potential exists for that 5-4 vote rather than 9-0 or 8-1?

Two examples of effective use of a mandated unanimous decision – one quite old and the other in use today. 

First, a gift from The Roman Republic. The executive during that 500 year effort was composed of two counsel. Elected from the Senate and by the Senate, for a one year term, seldom extended for a second and hardly ever consecutively. A no vote of a counsel always overruled the yes of the other. The only exception was when they were on campaign and then the decider rotated from one day to the next. (Hannibal famously used his knowledge of that practice to present his army on a day when the impetuous counsel was in charge). It generated a status quo as well as supported change by insuring no minority report when both agreed to something new. With very few exceptions a consistency and collegial commitment was preserved.

Second, a two person arbitration with the mandated unanimous decision. Arbitration is becoming a favored approach to conflict resolution either by voluntary choice of the parties or broadened enforcement of arbitration clauses by the courts. Often these processes are conducted by a three person panel and with each party choosing their arbitrator and the third selected in a number of agreed upon ways. When a party chooses their arbitrator, it is often the case the arbitrator becomes an advocate in the decisional forum as does that of the other party. The neutral/third arbitrator can, and often is, in the uncomfortable position of looking for a resolution within a range of potential agreement, to generate a unanimous decision.  These advocate/arbitrators often will not agree and generate that unanimous decision. A unanimous decision is good in that it is harder for either party to argue they all got it wrong, including the arbitrator they selected. The decision is more likely to be complied with and where orders of the Court are not needed to insure enforcement.

Advocate arbitrators often force the neutral to threaten “baseball arbitration.”  

In such a case the frustrated neutral arbitrator will say, give me your best number (these are often in what we call distributive conflicts where the pie cannot be expanded or efforts to do so have been unsuccessful, unproductive) and I am going to choose one. That choice will make one party happy, though likely less so than they had hoped, and will disappoint the other.  Agreeing to a two person arbitration with the decision required to be unanimous, mandates the arbitrators fashion a result which both sign. By definition it recognizes the need to resolve within the zone of potential agreement which a neutral would suggest, the zone, not the decision itself, and allows those two arbitrators to use their skill, knowledge and experience to generate the result.

Is this something for learned, experienced attorneys to suggest when they have intransigent clients? When one client or both feel they are in that reasonable zone which their opponent is not? To generate a decision which as they know they are more right will be in their favor? Is it a way to avoid the potential loss of a “baseball arbitration” which can often be generated without their actual input? Is it a subtle or not so subtle unwritten, unspoken direction to the arbitrators to be reasonable when clients or even their attorneys might not so be? Could it produce the decision of the parties who, when confronted with the risk of being the looser in that “baseball arbitration,” often sharpen their pencils enough to get close enough to say “yes” and get together?  Is it something which implicitly creates a workable high-low agreement?

This is one more tool in the tool belt, for a specialized need project and to help mold a workable resolution. It can also help encourage parties to recognize the value of creative thinking about processes which are all too often fixed in our minds by the power of inertia or adherence to a status quo.

How do you deal with conflict? How has it worked for you? I would like to hear your solutions at wardl@cooley.edu.

WMU-Cooley Professor Graham WardBlog author Graham Ward is WMU-Cooley’s director of the Center for the Study and Resolution of Conflict. The program teaches participants how to improve the way they deal with conflicts by using new, creative tools and modify existing ones, creating the “ultimate due process,” as well as better ways of “Getting to Yes.”

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Librarians quiet and introverted? Think again! How to make staff in-service days fun and effective.

Spring is the time of year when many libraries are looking at the calendar and realizing that an annual staff in-service date is not too far off. As an organizer of dozens of in-services over the years, I can tell you there are some key components to making them fun, effective, informative, and interesting. Librarians need to wear their organizer hat to develop a program, but also a fun and creative hat! – Duane Strojny, WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean of Library & Instructional Support

WMU-Cooley Associate Dean of Library and Instructional Support Duane Strojny

In 2002 when we hosted an ABA inspection for our additional campuses across Michigan, I was asked “How will you develop a community with the library across multiple locations?” My quick answer was, “Of course we’ll have in-services and since we have three breaks a year, we’ll do one every break!” That began the long road of in-services that spanned the bridge of creative possibilities. We liked the Olympic theme so much we used it twice. There was the Survivor one, another based on TV Guide, a series of three in one year covering “Who, Why, and How,” and one dealing with employee wellness. Through it all, I would be remiss to say that I couldn’t have done it without a very creative associate director. We would hash out content and creative approaches to so many ideas (some of those listed above).

We have had guest speakers from a silver medal Olympian to the president of a national insurance company. Someone spoke to us about organizing our offices and someone spoke to us about how law school financial aid works. We gave presentations on our budget that actually included numbers. The IT Department visited a few times to give insight into technology. At our height, we would let people sign up for classes (three choices over three different hours of the day). That one was tough to coordinate, but I think most of the employees liked the variety.

In 2012, we added a campus in Florida, so our challenge was to bridge the gap between there and Michigan. During one of our in-services that year, we acknowledged the first day of a new Florida employee. There was a lot of video conferencing. During one in-service team-building exercise, each small group had an iPad or laptop so at least one member of their team was from Florida. Challenging, yes, but always interesting from an administrative perspective.

Here are some of the planning and implementation tips for that long litany of programming:

Start planning early.

We usually began discussing the next in-service a week or two after the last one finished. Since one occurred every four months, two to three months of planning seemed like a lot to us. We talked weekly so that helped speed up the timeline. Bring in others early, especially if you want them to help present or coordinate events the day of the event.

Think outside the box.

No topic or theme was too outrageous. We made towers out of marshmallows and spaghetti. I was taped to the wall. Teams had to do scavenger hunts. I constantly reminded staff the primary goal was to get to know your colleagues from across the campuses. If you learned something to take to your desk the next day, that was a plus.

Use either a place in the law school away from the library or go off campus. We often meet in our main classroom spaces. We used a movie theater. We volunteered at Toys for Tots (in multiple cities at the same time). We toured a local courthouse. A group went to Dave and Buster’s. If you have funding, there are a lot of options. If not, consider the meeting room at your local public library or the clubhouse of an apartment complex. The typical locations where kids have birthday parties can be very quiet on weekdays and provide the break from the usual workplace.

Plan to have an icebreaker.

A lot of people don’t like these, but they do help set the tone for the day. This isn’t an ordinary work day. We want staff to interact in a different way. I like The New Encyclopedia of Icebreakers and The Encyclopedia of Group Activities. There are a lot of others as well as quite a few websites with ideas to be had for free.
Have some substantive content. Presenting information is important even if the topic doesn’t appeal to everyone. This can help pull together a theme or push an agenda item. We had someone speak about our new Professionalism Program and the library staff became the first group on campus to endorse it as a department. Our discussion about how a prospective student is recruited and enrolled gave everyone a great perspective of what happens in Admissions. The take away doesn’t need to be something to use at your desk, but rather helps give a greater perspective of how the school operates and the mission we serve.

Use experts at the law school or university.

Our law school president spoke. Our vice president of finance spoke. A faculty member led staff through a mock class. The career services director spoke. The chairman of our board spoke. The founder of our law school spoke. We had great speakers with little cost other than a meal. This creates a great sense of camaraderie between library staff and other departments at the school.

Seek feedback.

We always had evaluations. Of course, we never please everyone. The criticism of food drove me crazy, so we eventually took that off the evaluations. Hey, it was a free meal and we always had options that could accommodate every possible need. We also provided snacks galore during the course of the day. Plenty of fruit and yogurt, as well as the usual cookies and brownies appeals to everyone. Some people regularly said it was a waste of their time. They were busy. Remember, though, what your goal is: building community is number one. You want to be successful so evaluations help you learn from missteps.

With some thought and planning, an in-service can be a very useful event. Involving others in the planning can also give the person you least expect to lead an opportunity to shine. We have assigned tasks to groups, assigned tasks to individuals, and asked for volunteers. All approaches have worked well with the caveat that you cannot please everyone. When our staff was nearly 100 people, it was quite an undertaking. We invited permanent part-time staff, part-time reference librarians, and often, student employees. Now that we are a smaller group and our associate director has left, I have been forced to rethink the in-service concept. In the past we had special department in-services, librarian in-services, support staff in-services, and optional in-services. Today, with less staff, it is still important to have a goal when planning for an in-service. For me, that has not changed; build community by getting to know your colleagues and hopefully take something back to your desk for tomorrow.

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WMU-Cooley partnership continues to evolve: Plans include more law classes in Kalamazoo, accelerated program

This article about the Western Michigan University and Cooley Law School  affiliation was written by Michigan Lawyers Weekly writer Lee Dryden originally published on May 31, 2017 in News Stories. It is reprinted with permission by Lee Dryden and Michigan Lawyers Weekly. 

WMU-Cooley now offers classes in WMU's Schneider Hall on its home campus in Kalamazoo.

WMU-Cooley now offers classes in Schneider Hall at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

Opportunities provided by the affiliation that resulted in the dual-titled Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School continue to grow. The public university and private law school have partnered in various ways since 2001, culminating in the 2014 collaboration that changed the law school’s name. The effort expanded in 2016 with Cooley offering 15 credits of first-year law school classes on WMU’s Kalamazoo campus.

Now, Cooley is working toward offering up to 60 credits at WMU. Also on the horizon is an accelerated program where students could take classes that would count for both undergraduate and law school credit.

It’s all part of an effort to serve students through the efficiencies that flow between the two schools.

“We think that the affiliation will give improved opportunities for our students,” said James D. Robb, Cooley’s associate dean of external affairs and general counsel. “We’re so pleased with the way it’s going. There’s such a high degree of respect between the leadership of the institutions.”

K’zoo expansion
As of fall 2016, WMU-Cooley law students have been able to begin their legal education with the first 15 credits in Kalamazoo. To continue, they must proceed to one of the law school’s four campus locations in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Auburn Hills or Tampa Bay, Florida.

The 15-credit option has been well received, Robb said.

“It’s convenient for people in the Kalamazoo area, they don’t want to move quite yet, test it out, and it’s being taught by our regular faculty,” he said. “The faculty may teach a course in Grand Rapids in the morning and teach the same course in Kalamazoo in the afternoon.”

WMU-Cooley is seeking approval from accrediting bodies — the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission — to expand its program to 60 credits in Kalamazoo beginning in fall 2017, according to the law school website.

The ABA already conducted a site evaluation of the Kalamazoo location and issued a report, according to the website. If the ABA approval is received without HLC approval in time for fall 2017, the law school will expand its program to 44 credit hours.

Double your pleasure
Acknowledging the high cost of higher education at all levels, Robb said an accelerated degree program is in the works. It could help students earn both degrees in less than the traditional seven years, saving tuition and living expenses.

“It’s coming down the pike,” he said.

Undergraduate students who enroll in the law school could take law classes that count toward their undergraduate requirements and law school credit. The key would be being accepted to law school as an undergrad as the ABA forbids taking law school classes for credit before admittance.

Joint efforts
Robb offered examples from a list of 160 initiatives between the two institutions.

A Cooley faculty member has taught a health law course at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. The law and medical schools teamed for an Affordable Care Act symposium.

Cooley instructors have consulted with WMU faculty on designing instructional programs as the university is known for its efforts to enhance teaching methods based on how students learn, Robb said.

The schools have worked on literacy and diversity efforts and much more.

“Ultimately, we hope and expect, that by operating under the Western Michigan banner, it will improve the reputation of the law school,” Robb said.

He said the evolution of the relationship has been organic as the faculties and management are encouraged to explore ways to collaborate at all levels.

There also are partnerships that pair law degrees with Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration and Master of Social Work degrees.
Robb said a $418,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant in 2015 for the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project wouldn’t have been possible without both institutions on board. The project seeks to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted of serious crimes.

Cooley houses the Innocence Project, while WMU obtained the grant as it had to be awarded to a public institution, Robb said.

“It’s a great example of the benefit of the affiliation,” he said.

Law school employees and their dependents receive reduced tuition at WMU as an employee benefit — and vice versa. This helps attract faculty and staff, Robb said.

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WMU-Cooley Couple Brandon Moultrie and Liesl Griffin Talk Love in Law School and Beyond

Brandon Moultrie and Liesl Griffin are two of our latest WMU-Cooley Law School lovebirds who met during law school and decided to tie the knot! They plan to marry in Clearwater Beach, Florida, in November 2017. Enjoy their WMU-Cooley couple story below.

DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL?

Brandon: I was part of a college basketball program and getting my master’s degree at Cleveland State University when I decided it was time to start looking into law school. I knew that law school was what I need to do because I really wanted to be in a profession that not only helped people but could make a positive impact on people’s lives. I initially thought that path was coaching basketball — either coaching young kids, high school kids, college kids or even professional athletes. But after going down that road, I realized other careers are more suited to help others.  That profession is a career in the law. I took the LSAT and started looking into law schools.

Griffin: I have an entirely different story! I started out NOT wanting to go to law school. But I guess I really never knew what I wanted to do! I dabbled in a few jobs here and there after undergrad, then I quit a job working for a mortgage company to move to an opportunity in Houston, Texas. That didn’t work out for me, so I then returned to Los Angeles. It was 2008, and at that time the economy had tanked. It seemed like everybody lost their job. The only job I could find was a job at a worker’s compensation law firm. There were a lot of claims being filed during that period. During my time at the firm I kept hearing stories about the economy and jobs. They talked about the medical field, teaching jobs, and government jobs, despite thinking they were safe, they really weren’t. They were losing their jobs. The only jobs that were hiring were law firms. I started reading cases and getting involved at the firm. I found out fairly quickly that it was all very interesting. And the partners encouraged me to go to law school, especially after they heard I went to USC for undergrad. They were very persistent. I finally just took the LSAT. That’s pretty much my start to law school.

HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?

Griffin: We actually met at a party. It was our second semester during law school at WMU-Cooley, and a mutual friend invited us to a house party. We watched a boxing match together.

Moultrie:  It was a Saturday night, and a bunch of us were big boxing fans. I don’t think Liesl was, but we got to talking together as part of the big group of law school friends. Many of us from the Tampa Bay campus were just trying to do extra things outside of classes to meet up and just hang out. We would hook up to play basketball or some other sport, or we would participate in the WMU-Cooley sanctioned events like the welcome back mixers and pro bono activities. For both of us, it really wasn’t love at first sight.

Yet by the end of our third semester, we had really built a strong friendship. It was gradual, and over time. We were in law school, and that was the focus and priority. Plus we were just enjoying our law school experience. Liesl is very athletic so that was a fun connection. We played on the flag football team together at WMU-Cooley. We started going to a lot of parties together. We would go to other events, like my Florida State alumni events. I remember fondly the time she took me out for my birthday in 2014. But law school was all encompassing and it wasn’t  until after I graduated, and she was about to graduate a term later, that we started talking about taking our relationship to the next level.

HOW DID YOU MANAGE THE WHOLE LAW SCHOOL THING? 

Griffin: We purposely stayed away from getting into a relationship during law school. We were able to maintain a friendship, which was important. I think it was a combination of things that brought us together as a couple, starting with us both going through law school together. As law students you spend a lot of time together regardless. You don’t have time to anything other than law school related activities. You know people because you may get to school early, and you’re sitting in the lounge, and you’re just engaging in conversations with people who are already there, or you’re talking about classes, and there’s always some sort of topic to discuss from a class you were in together.

Moultrie: Liesl is the one of few words in our relationship, and I am the one who likes to talk. But we balance each other out. I remember I was studying for the bar with her for hours, then hanging out to relax after. We needed that. I think we both feel, even though it’s something you don’t realize it at the time, what a close-knit group we had in law school.  I’m not just saying that for the camera. You really do feel like part of a family. I appreciate that. People who haven’t been to law school or studied for a bar exam don’t realize what it’s like. We were there for each other and supported each other through it. The relationship was shaped over time and it was a combination of things that made our relationship whole.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW, OTHER THAN PLANNING A WEDDING? 

Moultrie: Since I graduated in August 2015, and passed the February 2016 bar, I quickly got a job at the state attorney’s office of Hillsborough County, which is in downtown Tampa. I’m working as a prosecutor, along with several other WMU-Cooley graduates, by the way.  I’m licensed here in Florida, but in a couple weeks I will be swearing into the D.C. bar.

Griffin: Right now I work for a law firm in Los Angeles doing legal work for them while I study for the bar exam. I’m learning a lot from that.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE GOALS?

Moultrie: My long-term goal, believe it or not, is to be a collegiate athletic director. I would love to practice for awhile, then consider transitioning into college athletics over time.

Griffin: After we get married, I plan to move to Tampa and look for a job in federal law, or possibly tax law or immigration law.

OTHER GOALS?

Moultrie: Well, we would like to start a family, but we have a rule. Let me tell you what it is. Liesl is Miss World Traveler. She has her father’s traveling spirit, as do I. The rule is that I have to take her to four countries that she’s never been before we start a family. I’m excited about the idea travel and starting a family so win-win for me!

Griffin: Right! And I mean countries, not just a quick trip to Jamaica, or something that’s an hour flight. I mean somewhere in Europe or Asia or another hard-to-get-to destination.

Moultrie: Yes! I think we’re looking a European honeymoon, maybe London and Dublin.

WMU-Cooley graduates Brandon Moultrie and Liesl Griffin

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