Category Archives: Awards

WMU-Cooley students and graduates shine brightly during Davis-Dunnings Bar Association Award Banquet

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association held its 20th Annual Otis M. Smith Scholarship Banquet this spring at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing, Michigan, and the WMU-Cooley family was represented very well.  Two WMU-Cooley students won scholarships. ReNita Antoine received the Hon. Otis M. Smith Scholarship and Tiffany West received the Stuart J. Dunnings, Jr. Scholarship. WMU-Cooley graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, Esq. was the Rising Star award winner, and WMU-Cooley graduate, Board Chair, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan received the Trailblazer Award.

ABA Past President Paulette Brown (center) with WMU-Cooley Davis-Dunnings Bar Association award winners student Tiffany West , graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, student ReNita Antoine, and graduate, Board President, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan. (Photo credit: Traci Lee, LLC)

ABA Past President Paulette Brown (center) with WMU-Cooley Davis-Dunnings Bar Association award winners, student Tiffany West , graduate Taneashia R. Morrell, student ReNita Antoine, and graduate, Board President, and State Bar of Michigan President Lawrence P. Nolan.

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association is a special interest bar association with the mission of inspiring outreach to the underserved and under-represented members of the greater Lansing community. American Bar Association Immediate Past President Paulette Brown was the keynote speaker for the evening.  Brown made history as the first African American woman to head the American Bar Association.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Takura Nyamfukudza, another WMU-Cooley graduate, was elected president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association this year. A top criminal defense and appellate law attorney, Nyamfukudza is very active in his community, serving as chairperson, director, treasurer, mentor and volunteer for organizations across the greater Lansing area. He also served 12 years in the U.S. Army. He was recognized in Super Lawyers, Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Up and Coming Lawyers,” Ingham County Bar’s “Top 5 Under 35” and the Davis-Dunnings’ “Rising Star Awards.”

(Photo credit: Traci Lee, LLC and WMU-Cooley Law School)

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Stories and News, Awards, Latest News and Updates, Student News, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Professor Joseph Kimble Honored By Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers

Joseph Kimble, WMU-Cooley Law School Distinguished Professor Emeritus, was recently honored by Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers) with the renaming of the organization’s Distinguished Service Award to the Joseph Kimble Distinguished Service Award. Kimble, a former executive director and 15-year board member of Scribes, was surprised with the honor during Scribes’ 2017 CLE conference at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Scribes - The American Society of Legal Writers - Honors WMU-Cooley Professor Joseph Kimble

Scribes was founded in 1953 and is the oldest organization devoted to improving legal writing and honoring legal writers. Kimble joined the organization’s board of directors in 2001, when he became the editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, a position he held for 11 years. He is now senior editor of the Journal. In 2005, Kimble was appointed as executive director and served dual roles with the organization for the next five years.

“No one has ever deserved an award such as this more than Joe,” said Professor Ralph Brill, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, coauthor of A Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs and eminent figure in the field of legal writing. “His work instilling the goal of writing in plain English is so important and has been so successful.”

Kimble joined the WMU-Cooley in 1984. He is the longtime editor of the “Plain Language” column in the Michigan Bar Journal. He 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.

When speaking about Kimble’s work teaching attorneys and law students to use plain language in legal documents, Professor Laurel Oates, Seattle University School of Law and cofounder of the Legal Writing Institute, said, “Joe Kimble has, in fact, changed the world.”

Read JUST. April 23, 2017  article An Interview with Joseph Kimble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University–Cooley Law School and  longtime editor of ‘Plain Language’ in the Michigan Bar Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Faculty Scholarship, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley graduate will capitalize on first career to begin on second in the law

“I wanted to push my boundaries,” says Chris DeLucenay of his decision to pursue a legal career after 10 years as a hardware engineer specializing in digital design custom logic. “I’m kind of a lifelong student,” DeLucenay says. “I was originally looking into an MBA, but I didn’t want to go into business. Then my wife noticed that I could do law school part time and keep working if I went to Cooley. I was always interested in IP law, and I love problem solving, so that was a great solution.”

WMU-Cooley student Chris DeLucenay

The Indiana native worked for five years for Rockwell Collins and five years for GE Aviation, at the latter designing components that went into flight data recorders and “other processing elements.”

Though of course his exemplary years at WMU-Cooley were a large factor, it was also that expertise that landed him a position at Gardner, Linn, Burkhart, and Flory, which is dedicated exclusively to Intellectual Property law.

GLBF was the subject of a 3/13/2013 Grand Rapids Legal News article, when it was the only firm in West Michigan to receive a first-tier ranking in all six of the categories in the prestigious U.S. News and World Report/Best Lawyers ranking: Patent Law, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Litigation-Intellectual Property and Litigation-Patent. The 2012-2013 designation was the second time for the firm, and it has continued its first-tier ratings since.

DeLucenay barely skipped a beat between school and employment. He took off Monday and Tuesday, but returned to school Wednesday for his last exam, and started work on Thursday of last week.

While he is not an attorney yet since he does not take the bar exam until July, DeLucenay is eligible to work at the firm as a registered patent officer because he has already passed the patent bar.

That makes him feel somewhat more comfortable with the bar exam than many of his fellow students. “Most take a couple months off to study for the bar,” he says,” but I can’t do that. Still, I’m dedicated to working on my bar prep around my work schedule, and I think I’ll be all right.”

He says that he did find law school challenging. “Engineering school was hard, so I was prepared. But even though it wasn’t really that hard, law school was more work than I thought; the hardest part was balancing the time for classes and all the reading with continuing to work full-time.”

DeLucenay gives WMU-Cooley a great deal of credit. “I thought the teachers were fantastic to be honest,” he says. “I was really impressed with the professors and especially with Dean [Nelson] Miller.”

Especially notable, DeLucenay says, were David Berry, who is Of Counsel at Brooks Kushman and has taught at WMU-Cooley since 2002, and Gerald Tschura, who is now director of the Intellectual Property LL.M. program.

WMU-Cooley Team Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay

WMU-Cooley Team Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay

It was Tschura who coached the winning team of DeLucenay and Joyce Hill (from the Auburn Hills campus) in the Detroit U.S. Patent Office’s Midwest Regional International Patent Drafting Competition. In the competition’s inaugural year, 2016, the team came in second, but the field was small. By the second competition earlier this year, 14 teams from different states and even Canada, including several from Michigan, participated; WMU-Cooley was the only Michigan school which advanced to the finals.

“I was a little disappointed with getting third, but we beat a lot of the big schools in Michigan,” DeLucenay comments.

Regardless of outcome, the experience was quite worthwhile for DeLucenay. At the time of the 2016 competition, he was quoted as saying, “Professor Tschura was the only team coach that attended the competition. We were fortunate to have one so well versed in intellectual property law there to assist… He also introduced us to some of the law partners, examiners, and managing directors in the IP industry. What a fantastic networking opportunity that was! I learned that each practitioner, corporation, law firm and USPTO has their own unique way or spin on writing patents.

“I was honored to represent WMU-Cooley respectably.”

Originally from the very small town of Angola, Ind., DeLucenay received his bachelor’s from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terra Haute, and went to Iowa State University for his graduate degree.

He married his high school sweetheart, and the two live in Ada, which he says is a very comfortable two hours from their childhood home. “We’ve put our roots down here in Grand Rapids,” he says. The couple has one daughter, born a few months after DeLucenay started at law school.

DeLucenay was particular about what firms he wanted to work for, particularly about the not-too-big, not-too-small size he sought.He did a lot of research and started his job search early.

He recognizes that he is lucky to have succeeded in obtaining employment immediately after law school in a market that can still be glutted, though he comments, “It’s strange, you always hear there are too many lawyers but on the other hand we have massive problems with people having representation.”

He attributes that success to choosing IP law as his concentration and to his experience. “At GE Aviation I volunteered in the legal department for the last two years, so I’ve been doing similar work,” he notes.

WMU-Cooley Team Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay

WMU-Cooley Team Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay

“My degree impacted my employment directly in that I couldn’t have taken the patent bar without it,” he says, adding, “You need to be able to understand the technical merits of their work. There are varying degrees of complexity; I’m sure some will be way over my head. But my specialty in electrical and computer is in the field with the highest demand in the patent area, which also factored into my decision to pursue IP law.”

Burkhart Gardner Linn and Flory is expanding. At the time of the Grand Rapids Legal News article there were six attorneys, but DeLucenay will be the ninth and there are plans for at least one more this year.

One of the main attractions of for DeLucenay is the firm’s commitment to mentoring. “The primary reason I went to this firm is because they really emphasize the training. I won’t have one specific mentor, they’re all going to mentor me,” he says.

“It’s just a great opportunity, because they’re really good at what they do.”

This story was written by Grand Rapids Legal News writer Cynthia Price and was originally published by the Legal News on April 19, 2017.  It is reprinted here with permission of Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC.

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Faculty Scholarship, Student Experiences, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel Inducted into U.S. Army ROTC Hall of Fame at St. Bonaventure University

Retired Brigadier General and current WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean and Professor of Law Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the alumni ROTC Hall of Fame for the Seneca Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at St. Bonaventure University, located  in Olean, New York, on April 1, 2017. Following the induction ceremony McDaniel presented the keynote during the University’s annual ROTC Military Ball.

On April 1, Brigadier General (ret) and WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame at his alma mater St. Bonaventure University.

Brig. General (ret) and WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel was inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame at his alma mater St. Bonaventure University.

During his remarks McDaniel advised the audience of cadets, alumni and guests that what makes our military great is still our people, the men and women in uniform, and always will be.

“It is because of the values not just instilled in us but required of us, as students of St. Francis, here, at St. Bonaventure University, because we take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, not a loyalty oath to the Commander in Chief​, and because our Army values are based on that legacy,” he said.  “The oath to the Constitution is in the Constitution, significantly placed at the end of the body and before the Bill of Rights. The oath then is to defend both the system of co-equal republican government and the rights of the individuals. And so we fight, voluntarily, for the principles in the Constitution and because of the promise to all Americans embodied in the Constitution.”

McDaniel, a 1975 St. Bonaventure graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in history, then earned his Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1982.  Having been an active participant in the Army ROTC program for two years as an undergraduate student, he applied for and received a direct commission from the Michigan National Guard as a Judge Advocate General Corps officer in November 1985.

He began his career as the staff judge advocate for the Camp Grayling Joint Training Center, then served as trial counsel and then staff judge advocate for the 46 Infantry Brigade, 38th Infantry Division, and  as detachment commander (Mich.) for the 38th Inf. Div. He served as a military judge, then, upon promotion to colonel, as state judge advocate.

His civilian career as a trial attorney with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office began in January 1984. From 1998 to 2003, he was the assistant attorney general for litigation in the Executive Division of the Michigan Department of the Attorney General. His duties included the review of all civil and criminal actions proposed to be initiated by the department in state or federal trial courts, and evaluation of all proposed settlements of every court case.

Appointed by the governor as Michigan’s first Homeland Security adviser in 2003, he served in that capacity until July 2009. In this position, McDaniel was the liaison between the governor’s office and all federal, state and local agencies for homeland security, with responsibility for developing statewide plans and policy on homeland security preparedness. During this assignment, he served concurrently as the assistant adjutant general for homeland security in the Michigan National Guard.

From August 2009 to January 2011, McDaniel was the deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense strategy, force planning and mission assurance at the Department of Defense.  He advised the DOD secretary, undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and assistant secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America’s Security Affairs on all homeland defense-related strategies (quadrennial defense review, homeland defense & civil support strategies, the mission assurance strategy, and domestic counterterrorism and counter-narcotics strategies, among other efforts).

McDaniel graduated from the U.S. Army War College and earned a Master of Strategic Studies in 2005. He also earned a master’s in security studies (homeland security) from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2007. He was promoted to brigadier general in 2007 and his final military assignment was as assistant adjutant general for Army Future Missions, Michigan National Guard, from January 2011 until October 2012. He retired in December 2012.

Professionally active, McDaniel served as a member of the National Governors Association’s Homeland Security Advisors Council, where he was elected to the Executive Committee in 2006 and 2008. He was named by the Office of Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security, as chair of the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council in 2007. He joined the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School faculty as a full-time constitutional law professor in 2011 and was promoted to associate dean in 2016.

McDaniel’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (with 2 devices) and the Michigan Distinguished Service Medal (Fifth Award).

Leave a comment

Filed under Achievements, Awards, Faculty Scholarship, Latest News and Updates, Military Feature, Uncategorized

Judge Donald L. Allen: Years to Develop your Reputation, Seconds to Destroy it

“We talk a lot about integrity. I think there is one thing people need to understand. It takes years, maybe even decades, to develop a reputation for your integrity, for your professionalism. It takes years and years of doing the right thing, but it only takes seconds for that to be destroyed. Think about that for just a second. Years to develop a reputation that you would be proud of, seconds to destroy.” – Judge Donald L. Allen on integrity during WMU-Cooley Law School’s Integrity in Our Community award ceremony.

Judge Allen spoke to WMU-Cooley law students, faculty and staff about the importance of values, integrity and preserving one’s reputation at the Integrity award ceremony. He went on to say, “The ability to help others challenge injustice and to make sure what is wrong is made right is one of the privileges of a law degree. Law students are learning how to be in a position to earn a living basically helping other people. That is a tremendous privilege. I want to leave you with a quote, and this quote comes from John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He says, ‘With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.'”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Judge Allen is the presiding judge of the 55th District Court Sobriety Court, which focuses on the rehabilitation of repeat offense substance abusers in Ingham County. He has spent most of his professional career as an assistant attorney general at the state’s attorney general office. In 2005, Allen was appointed deputy legal counsel to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The following year, Granholm appointed him to serve as director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, which he served until his 55th District Court appointment in 2008. Judge Allen was appointed chief judge of the court by the Michigan Supreme Court on Jan. 1, 2016. Watch Judge Allen’s speech (25:31)

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Ethics, Latest News and Updates, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

WMU-Cooley Patent Law Team Place High in U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Competition

“Team Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay truly demonstrated an initiative and work ethic that one usually only finds in seasoned Patent attorneys,” declared WMU-Cooley Professor and Coach Gerald Tschura after his two Intellectual Property students brought home the overall third place trophy in the Midwest Regional International Patent Drafting Competition. “I was impressed by their creativity and competitive spirit. Joyce and Chris exemplify exactly that caliber and high degree of competency you need to to succeed as patent attorneys today.”

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gerald Tschura, Me, Joyce Hill, Chris DeLucenay, Dr. Christal Sheppard

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gerald Tschura, Me, Joyce Hill, Chris DeLucenay, Dr. Christal Sheppard

For the second consecutive year, WMU-Cooley students performed exceptionally well during the Midwest Region International Patent Drafting Competition.  The competition is hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

“Joyce and Christopher worked extremely hard, beginning in December, to conduct a thorough patent search and to prepare and submit a patent application based on a hypothetical invention provided by the competition,” explained Tschura. “Our submission, along with all the other competing schools, were then scored by a select panel of judges. Teams were then selected to orally present and explain their applications before two separate distinguished panels of judges and examiners from the USPTO as well as leading practitioners in patent law.”

“The team did an outstanding job and represented their school with distinction,” punctuated Tschura. “This second year of the competition saw a significant increase in the number of competing schools which made the competitive arena that much stiffer. After all written submissions were completed in mid-January, the field whittled down to nine schools that orally presented in February and defended their cases to panels of judges in at the USPTO office in Detroit. Competing teams were identified only by number for all submissions and during the presentations to assure anonymity in judging.”

dsc01367

Professor Tschura went on to explain that “after the final round, the judges announced that only one point separated the top three teams. We finished in third, but only slightly behind St. Louis University and York University (Toronto).  I like to note that WMU-Cooley was the only law school of the four in Michigan to finish in the top three at the competition, and the only law school to have placed in the top three twice!”

Professor Tschura had only kudos for his team, and they for him. “Many thanks go to Joyce and Chris for their effort and hard work and for making WMU-Cooley proud.  Future inventors and clients will be very lucky to have either of these two outstanding future lawyers as their patent attorney!”

Joyce Hill was also pleased with how the team did in the competition, but also enjoyed her time at the competition. “I thought it was a great learning experience,” stated Hill. “I have so many to thank, but especially Professor Tschura for all of his help and guidance in making the competition such a success.  There is nothing like practicing what you have learned in school.”

The competition, hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is now an annual event, with ambitions of including competitions at each of the USPTO regional satellite offices across the country.

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Student Experiences, Student News, Achievements, Awards, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Professor Christi Henke Personifies Griffith Award Tribute

The Frederick J. Griffith III Adjunct Faculty Award recognizes “that member of the adjunct faculty whose service best reflects the character and attributes of Professor Griffith: dedication to the law school; excellence in teaching; passion for persuasive advocacy; compassion for law students; and optimism about life and the future of legal education.” To show our gratitude, WMU-Cooley pays tribute by honoring one of them with this annual award. They are the unsung heroes of legal education. 

Griffith award winner Professor Christi Henke with Rick Griffith’s widow Margie Griffith.

Past award recipients have included judges and state officials, Assistant Attorneys General and local prosecutors, defense lawyers, solo practitioners and big-firm partners, corporate house counsel, and even a Canadian barrister.

This year’s recipient,Christi Henke, has taught Contracts I and II since 2008. She has also taught Sales, Agricultural Law, a Multi-state Bar Exam Skills course, and trained professors in both Contracts I and II.

About a year and a half ago, Professor Henke started teaching Con Law I, and this term is teaching Con Law II.  One term she taught five classes on three campuses! (Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Auburn Hills).

As hard a worker as she is, it is the quality of her teaching that makes her shine in the eyes of her students. Over the years, Professor Henke’s teaching effectiveness score on student evaluations averaged a superlative 9.87 out of 10.

Associate Dean Michael McDaniel shared these sentiments from her evaluations:

  • She provides her students with the tools to succeed in law school.
  • She affords each student the opportunity to ask questions and seek guidance both in the classroom and individually.
  • She shows tremendous compassion for students.
  • She encourages students to be passionate about the law.
  • She prepares her students for success in a legal career.

RateMyProfessor.com gives Professor Henke high marks as well. She has been tagged as:

  • Respected
  • Gives good feedback
  • Caring
  • Amazing
  • Hilarious

Overall, she scored 4.8 on a 5-point scale for “Awesomeness” and was awarded a Chill Pepper for Hotness!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

WMU-Cooley Law School established the Frederick J. Griffith III Adjunct Faculty Award in 1997 as a memorial to Rick Griffith, and to recognize the contributions that WMU-Cooley’s adjunct professors make to the mission of the law school. Rick Griffith was a former Michigan Supreme Court Commissioner, and practiced law Of Counsel with the Lansing firm of Murphy, Brenton & Spagnuolo, while teaching at Cooley as an adjunct professor for nearly two decades, until his untimely death at age 52.

The award was endowed by contributions to the Griffith Memorial Fund made in Rick’s memory by his family, friends, associates, and faculty colleagues. The award carries with it a cash stipend and a memento recognizing the recipient’s selection. The memento is a commemorative ceramic tile created by Detroit’s renowned Pewabic Pottery, commissioned specifically for this award.

From left: Distinguished Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer, Griffith Award winner Christi Henke, Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel, Rick Griffith's widow Margie Griffith.

From left: Distinguished Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer, Griffith Award winner Christi Henke, Associate Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel, and Margie Griffith.

Blog contributor Distinguished Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer began his teaching career at Cooley Law School as an adjunct professor in 1976. Over the years he has also taught as a visiting professor at Mercer University Law School and California Western School of Law. At one time, before entering teaching, he was Rick Griffith’s supervising attorney at the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Leave a comment

Filed under Awards, Faculty Scholarship, Uncategorized