Category Archives: Cooley’s Great Locations

WMU-Cooley Law School Holds Honors Convocation in Grand Rapids

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

Shane Henry

Shane Henry

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

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

Jada Manggrum

Jada Manggrum

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Graduate Aaron Sohaski: WMU-Cooley Law School felt the most like home for me

My first year of law school, I actually didn’t spend at WMU-Cooley. I was at another law school out of state, and while I had a good experience there, it wasn’t the educational outcome that I had desired. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was disheartening because I usually consider myself a very wise consumer. After my first year there, I had to re-evaluate. This was the first time in my educational career that I had to look again at a school. I know that attending WMU-Cooley was ultimately the happiest decision I could have made. – WMU-Cooley 2016 graduate Aaron Sohaski

I started looking at law schools in the Detroit Metro region because I was offered and took a full-time job there. It was a wonderful opportunity to return to the area. I ultimately decided to transfer to WMU-Cooley Law School. It felt the most like home for me. It felt grounded. I could see that the professors really cared about the students. And the honors scholarship also made it the right economical decision for me.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski, Lansing campus

Once classes started, and despite coming in a little scared as a transfer student, I felt ingratiated and part of my class right from the get go. As a non-traditional student, I appreciated that there were a lot of other students who also worked full time. It was a refreshing change from where I previously came from. Most of the students were enrolled full-time, just coming out of undergrad, and had no previous work experience. It was different at WMU-Cooley. While there are plenty of traditional students, there were also many students like me.  I especially admired those second career students who balanced work and family while going to law school. It was inspiring.

My time at WMU-Cooley was highly punctuated by strong relationships with my professors. If I ever had a question after class, I knew that I could contact a professor at any time. They were dedicated about their career and their tenure as a professor. What really set them apart from any other professor I had was the fact that many of the professors were working professionals, with many years of practice experience. I knew going into a Contracts II class, for instance, I would hear war stories about something that was going on now and was relevant to the class. That’s how I personally learn the law best – through those examples. I would take a professor’s teachable moment in the classroom and apply them to my life – learning how not to make the same mistakes.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski, Lansing campus

The professors also understood that people had lives and believed in the law school’s mission of giving students practical skills and experience. Despite my work and law school schedule, I was able to still participate in the estate planning clinic for two semesters. What a wonderful experience. The professors encouraged me to try different things and to ask questions –  to reach outside the box. Professors supported you every step of the way.

I’ve always been somebody who wants to take on forms of leadership in my life, so I immediately became involved during law school. There are so many different organizations, plus tons of opportunities to be involved in your local or state bar associations. The law school really encourages that kind of involvement. And I am still very involved as first-year attorney, including being a member of the Detroit Bar Association, Inns of Court, New Lawyer’s Council for the Oakland County Bar Association, and the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section Executive Council.

My sense is that WMU-Cooley students have a confidence, and they aren’t afraid to venture into anything. And do it at 110 percent, as do all the professors. WMU-Cooley imparted in me to be a lifelong learner. I use my law degree every single day.

It amazes me how many WMU-Cooley grads are involved in organizations and pro bono work.  And it’s not just in Michigan. I’ve met fellow graduates in New York, Florida, California,  just about everywhere. We touch all corners of the United States. It makes me proud to be a part of the WMU-Cooley network.

WMU-Cooley graduate Aaron Sohaski

Aaron Sohaski is a January 2016 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School. He works for the Henry Ford Health System as an attorney focusing on regulatory compliance and regulatory affairs within the health system. He enjoys learning the ever-changing new healthcare laws and regulations, and focuses on contracts and business association agreements, third party payer agreements, and works directly with others across the healthcare system. Henry Ford is the fifth largest employer in the city of Detroit with over 28,000 employees.

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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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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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Howard Soifer’s Life Remembered in Sports and Entertainment Law Lecture Series

Howard Soifer was a proud 1977 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School and an accomplished lawyer and a shareholder in the firm of Loomis, Ewert, Parsley, Davis & Gotting, P.C., until the time of his death on January 29, 2003 at the age of 53. It is Howard’s great passion and loyalty that the Soifer Committee created the Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture Series in Sports and Entertainment Law. The Committee feels strongly that the event is a meaningful way to honor Howard’s memory and to endow the lecture series for perpetuity.

He was born in the Bronx and moved to Monsey, New York in 1963. Following graduation from the Spring Valley High School Class of 1967, he attended the University of Toledo for two years and received his undergraduate degree from Long Island University in Brooklyn. Howard’s passion for basketball, baseball, and football led him to represent several prominent professional athletes during his career. He was a dedicated family man, devoted to his wife and friend of more than 30 years, Sandy Kirsch Soifer. He was very proud of his two daughters, Marci and Halie. All who were part of Howard’s life remember him for his great sense of humor and his extreme loyalty, integrity, and strength.

MICHIGAN: MSU STAR AND NFL GREAT TODD DUCKETT 

For WMU-Cooley Law School’s 10th Annual Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture in Sports and Entertainment Law, Todd “T.J.” Duckett, Michigan State University standout and former National Football League running back, and Joseph Bellanca (Sharpe Class, 2008), entertainment and media attorney at Hertz Schram PC, spoke at the Lansing campus this past year.

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TAMPA BAY: HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER, NBA STAR CHARLIE WARD

In early 2017, WMU-Cooley Law School, Tampa Bay campus hosted its first Howard Soifer Memorial Lecture. Featured speakers were college football Heisman Trophy winner and retired NBA player Charlie Ward, along with president of the Sarasota Bar and college football standout Keith DuBose.

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Previous Soifer Memorial Lecture speakers over the past 10 years include Tom Izzo, Michigan State University men’s basketball coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame; Kevin Poston, president and CEO of Detroit area based DEAL Elite Athletic Management; Steve Smith, broadcaster and former MSU and NBA all-star basketball player; and Steve Garvey, former MSU and Major League Baseball all-star and MVP.

Howard Soifer’s Life Remembered in Lecture Series

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WMU-Cooley graduate Brandon Moultrie: Forging lasting memories and lifelong friendships

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Brandon Moultrie knew he wanted to go to law school, and knew that he wanted to do it Florida. Ever since he did his undergrad in the Sunshine State, he relished the opportunity to come back. It took one campus visit to WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus to be convinced. Everybody made him feel like he was already home.

“Once I was on campus,” remembered Moultrie, “I got to meet all the staff members. They showed me around the campus and explained to me what life would be like in law school. I got to meet lots of students – they were already sitting in the library, so it was easy to chat with them and get their take.”

Moultrie found his education at WMU-Cooley invaluable, including his Trial Skills classes, which really stood out for him in terms of how prepared he felt in the courtroom.

“My Trial Skills training really gave me a solid foundation for what I do today as a prosecutor,” stated Moultrie on his time at WMU-Cooley. “In Trial Skills you get three full trials. We had a witness. We had to go through the steps of examining the witnesses, cross-examining the witnesses, scouring over all of the evidence, seeing what was relevant, seeing what was not. We got a trial partner. We got to go up against our colleagues. It was actually my only experience before getting a job and doing it for real.”

“I also felt I forged a lot of lifelong friendships among the students. I know that people don’t really imagine when you are sitting in orientation, or sitting in your first semester class taking Intro to Law, or that the people sitting to your right or your left, or in front or behind you, are going to become your friends over the next few years, but that’s what happens. Next thing you know, you will be professionals and referring cases to them and they will be referring case to you.

Moultrie also appreciated how prepared he felt during the bar.

“I took the bar and passed it the first time. Not only that, I felt prepared going into the exam. The bar prep courses at WMU-Cooley teach the concepts you will need to know. For me, studying and taking the Florida bar, was not learning something new, but a matter of reviewing concepts you knew. So when I was reviewing Contracts, I heard Professor Renalia DuBose’s voice during her Contracts class from years ago – the same for my other classes.

” That’s when you really learn to appreciate the value of your school – because you know they didn’t sell you short. They didn’t just push you through or kick you out or leave you hanging when it really counts – when you’re studying for the bar.

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Brandon Moultrie

It’s obvious that Moultrie is proud of his accomplishments and his alma mater.

I’m not even a big “rah-rah my school” guy, but I never imagined the pride that I would feel for WMU-Cooley. Today, when I see another WMU-Cooley lawyer walk in, I’m so excited to see them. It’s like seeing family you haven’t visited in a long time. Many I see on a day-to-day basis.

“We all come from different backgrounds and different cities and states. The WMU-Cooley alumni network is far and wide. I can tell you firsthand that my fiancée, a fellow WMU-Cooley graduate, is from Los Angeles and attended the Tampa Bay campus. She went back to LA to study for the California bar. While she’s been out there though, she was able to attend a WMU-Cooley networking event. It’s kind of crazy to think that you can go to law school in Tampa Bay and still meet up with fellow graduates on the other side of the country. She already has their phone numbers and contact information!

WMU-Cooley Law School graduate Brandon Moultrie

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WMU-Cooley graduate Hardam Tripathi: Diversity, culture and a passion to help others

WMU-Cooley is a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School. This month’s military blog feature is recent WMU-Cooley graduate Hardam Tripathi. Learn about his law school journey and his new position as an Officer and Judge Advocate with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps.

Early on, Hardam Tripathi knew he wanted to be an attorney. He knew he liked working with people and he knew he wanted to do something that could make a difference in his community. Yet his path to his ultimate career choice was winding. He originally thought his educational background would lead him to a career in the health industry, especially after obtaining a master’s degree in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy.

But it wasn’t until he went to law school that he discovered his real passion.

“I remember looking into law schools after I finished my graduate degree from the University of Florida,” recalled Tripathi. “I didn’t know about Western Michigan University Cooley Law School because it was new in the Tampa Bay area. A friend of mine, who is in the Army special forces, was attending WMU-Cooley and he had a lot of good things to say about the law school. He told me that WMU-Cooley was a great place to study law for someone with a military background or interested in a military career. He told me that WMU-Cooley was a very military friendly school and it offered a great program in support of the military like offering military law classes and homeland and a national security law review.

“My friend told me that all of the professors had practiced law in the industry for many years, and they knew exactly how the law was applied. When you have a practitioner teaching you the law versus someone who is just teaching theory alone, it makes for a much better experience as a student.

But what really made my mind up was the personal and friendly relationships I made with the people and my belief in the law school’s inclusive mission. That’s why I chose Western Michigan University Cooley Law School over any other law school in the Florida state area.”

“Culture is key,” stated Tripathi. “Culture is who we are. It’s what we’re made up of. It is the fundamental part of life that sticks to us in all different societies. It is the United States of America. It’s culture. It is diversity. So, when you want to become a practitioner and study law, and practice law, diversity is very key. It’s something that’s so important in our day-to-day lives. It’s what attracted me to Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

“The thing is, when you go into the real world, you’re not going to be working with people just like you. You’re going to be working with people of all different types of races, cultures, religions and creeds. I believe WMU-Cooley instills this in their students – to respect diversity. To respect culture. To respect a life where people respect other views and their viewpoints.”

During his time at WMU-Cooley, Tripathi honed in on his career options and potential by taking advantage of the law school’s clinical opportunities and extra-curricular activities.

“It was during my internship with the Community Legal Service in Florida, where I discovered my interest for government work,” recalled Tripathi. “After that internship, I worked with the DEA (Diversion Control Division), the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and then the U.S. State Department, where I learned about veterans law and worked with veterans. I loved it!

“I then got to participate in an internship with the U.S. Air Force JAG Corp at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. I felt so lucky to be selected, especially since there is a lower than 5 percent acceptance rate in the program.

“My experience at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School really comes down to the professors and the students. Our people are the grain that makes up this university. My professors taught me how to handle certain situations and issues and how to advocate zealously for your clients, professionally and responsibly. These are the kind of professors that we breed here at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. They are great because they teach and ingrain these values in the students to make sure that you aren’t just a decent attorney but a great person and a great professional. I would say there are some experiences I had with my professors that will have a lasting impact on me.

It was his experience with U.S. Air Force JAG Corp though that solidified his love and passion to serve in the military as a judge advocate.

This past April, Tripathi graduated from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. He found it to be one of the most memorable experiences of his life having his classmates, professors, family, friends, and all his loved ones there in support of his accomplishment. What was even nicer was that he already had a job.

“I am proud to say I will be serving the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps as an Officer and Judge Advocate. I am very excited to start and to serve my country.”

Tripathi has already set new goals for himself. He believes in having short-, mid-, and long-term goals, but his ultimate goal is to help his community and to serve.

“What is the purpose of going to law school,” questioned Tripathi, “if it is not to help those who can’t help themselves?

“I think it is very important, especially in the legal profession where you are entrusted with the responsibility to help others, that you are always professional and work with your clients in an ethical manner. My immediate goal is to serve in military and immerse myself in the legal field and profession. After that, I can see myself possibly in the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor.

Tripathi is a self-proclaimed family man. Coming from an Indian descent, he feels his background and its cultural traditions play into his dedication to family and community.

“Ultimately, why do we all do this – it is for our families,” declared Tripathi. “Why do we become doctors? Why do we become lawyers? Why do we become engineers? Why do we do anything that we do? It is for our families.”

Tripathi enjoys playing drums, singing, sports, and travel.

“We love to sing and do a lot of singing events,” smiled Tripathi. “We will go out to different places and play music together. It’s a wonderful way instill culture and joy to my family. I also love being active and participating in sports like basketball and running. Staying active physically keeps me going.

“Another important thing to me is serving on the executive board of directors of the United Nations Association. It has expanded my awareness of my culture and other cultures and learn what is going on the world around us. In India, there is a spring festival called Holi. It’s known as the festival of colors and signifies good over evil. It’s always a fun day to gather together to play, laugh, forget and forgive. The powders and colors are used symbolize love and repair of broken relationships.

Traveling is also key though. We relish our family cruises and trips to other states and countries. It’s a wonderful to just get away and relax. Ultimately, we plan to make a sojourn to India.

Hardam2

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Tanya Gibbs: Business and Law Background Connects WMU-Cooley Graduate to Her Tribe’s Culture and Heritage

Tanya Gibbs knew she wanted to be an attorney since the 11th grade when her high school math teacher suggested she go to a national student conference in Washington, D.C.  For 10 days she learned about the laws that govern our nation, toured the city, and even met the Supreme Court justices and several high-end defense attorneys. “I just thought it was the coolest thing, and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Gibbs.

From that point forward, she prepared herself for a legal career.

“Knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer, I decided that I would go to a liberal arts school and concentrate in political theory and philosophy, which really helped,” said Gibbs. “I fine-tuned my analytical skills and engaged in a number of entrepreneurial activities.  I even ran my own business for a few years, which was very successful. It was that experience that helped me realize that business law was where I wanted to go and where I would focus my legal education. When I graduated from MSU, I knew that I wanted to go right to law school, and I knew that I wanted to be in Grand Rapids. I also knew WMU-Cooley was in Grand Rapids. I heard good things about the school, and I applied. I’m the type of person that, once I make my mind up about something, that’s just where I go and what I do.

Once Gibbs started law school at WMU-Cooley, she knew she had made the right decision.

“Even sitting in my first Property class, which might sound boring, I found learning about property law, even in the 1800s, was really interesting, and that business law was definitely the right career choice. During my time at WMU-Cooley, I was able to not only learn the theory behind the law, but really learn the things that I needed to know about the practice of law, and how to be a lawyer.”

But it was WMU-Cooley’s real-world, hands-on approach that she found so crucial in law school — particularly as to how it related to her heritage as a Native American.

“My law school  internship with my tribe (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) during my second year was amazing,” exclaimed Gibbs. “I was able to work with them on business and economic development issues and actually applied the things I had just started learning about in law school. I found it to be important work. I was able to help answer questions my tribe had about creating and operating businesses and go to bat for them on a number of legal issues they were facing. I continued to learn more  those more about business in my third year — things like legal structures, operational issues, compliance issues and real estate development — all areas I was able to take back to my tribe and make a difference, even before I graduated and while I studied for the bar. It was very, very helpful. I think that’s one of the great things about WMU-Cooley is that you learn the things that you really need to know. Even in my practice just about a month ago, I was referring back to my notes from my business planning class my 3L year, so definitely real life, practical information.”

WMU-Cooley graduate Tanya Gibbs

Gibbs works for a small boutique nationwide firm that specializes in non-gaming economic development – which includes every type of business that an Indian tribe might own and operate outside of a casino.The firm is majority native-owned and works with Indian tribes and their wholly owned businesses.

“Each Indian tribe is a sovereign nation, which means they have the ability to make their own laws and self governed,” explained Gibbs. “I do everything from help the tribal government draft and enact a limited liability company code  to helping them engage their own business by creating a separate legal entity, wholly-owned by the tribe. This can be anything from owning a fuel station, to real estate development, to e-commerce and consumer financial services-type business. It encompasses all kinds of things.  I’ve been able to do very large, hundreds of millions of dollars, merger and acquisition, as well as regulatory compliance and contract reviews.”

Gibbs finds her career intensely interesting and rewarding.

“In my work, there are lots of fun waters to navigate,” smiled Gibbs. “As a sovereign nation, the tribes aren’t subject to state laws, and they are only subject to federal laws in certain situations. It’s an interesting regulatory and legal landscape when you have three different jurisdictions, or three different regulatory bodies that are interested in the same activity that may or may not be occurring on Indian land.

WMU-Cooley graduate Tanya Gibbs

Gibbs reflected on her own ancestry and Tribal culture.

“I’m a descendant of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, on my dad’s side of the family, and have always known about my culture. Growing up, my father’s family never was very traditional or involved in their tribal culture. I think it might have had to do with the politics associated with being native in the ’80s. State and federal governments were taking Indian children from Indian homes, which resulted in Indian Child Welfare Act and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. Lots of my older family back then didn’t want to associate with the tribe, including my dad.

“Yet, there was a local attorney who moved his family to my hometown when I was in the third grade. They became my pseudo-Indian family. I was able to join his family in lots of cultural and traditional events and activities, and they taught me a lot of about our native culture and what it means to be part of a tribe. So when I had the opportunity to go back to my tribe to do an internship during law school, I was really excited because I had never really spent much time on my reservation and on Indian land. It was very cool to learn about the government, our different traditions. About how we work and to learn about our values. It’s just been really wonderful!

“That experience solidified my desire to do business law, but more importantly that I wanted to do it for Indian tribes. I feel very fortunate to be able to walk out of law school and be able to do exactly what I planned to do all along. My practice is especially wonderful because, although we work primarily with tribes in Michigan and Wisconsin, our firm, as a national firm, works with tribes all over the country. Each tribe is different and has a different culture and different traditions. Getting to know all different types of people is so cool for me, and it’s a feeling of being connected. A lot of my clients, we don’t just give a handshake, we hug. We’re all family and you get to know people and get close to folks.

The ability to meet different people and different kinds of tribes, and to learn about different kinds of issues is, for me, simply fun.

WMU-Cooley graduate Tanya Gibbs

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Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective

The Western Michigan University Cooley Law Review cordially invites you to join a lively discussion surrounding the important issues facing healthcare today. Listen to attorneys and experts in the fields of healthcare, non-profits, state government, and corrections. Join the conversation:

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017 from 1:00-4:00 p.m., WMU-Cooley Law School Lansing Campus, Cooley Center, Room 911.

WMU-Cooley Law Review Symposium Mental Health: A Michigan Perspective

SYMPOSIUM DISTINGUISHED PANEL OF SPEAKERS

Lt. Governor Brian Calley, Michigan Lt. Governor

Beverly Griffor, Managing Partner of Collis & Griffor, P.C.

Milton L. Mack, Jr., Court Administrator for the Michigan Supreme Court

Lauren Rousseau, WMU-Cooley Law School Professor

Major Sam Davis, Corrections Major for Ingham County Sheriff’s Office

Mark Reinstein, President & CEO of Mental Health Association of Michigan

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Open Forums on Policing Build New Community Relationships and Create Economic Benefits

“We don’t want to do Detroit again when 50 years later the city still hasn’t fully recovered,” stated one participant during one of several open forums on police and community relations held at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus this summer. Participants not only found the forums revealing, they heard things that they hadn’t heard before, from people whom they did not yet know. They also disclosed things that they hadn’t shared in a long time if at all. In doing so, they made significant new relationships while changing old relationships for the better.

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Every forum also asked whether these gatherings, held here and across the nation, make any difference.

Failed police/community relations carry huge social and economic cost. Residents want peace and order without the sense of an oppressive occupying force. Police officers want to return home alive and uninjured, with the respect of those for whose security they risk their lives. Somewhere in that tense mix, communities find themselves torn by deadly police/resident conflict.

Forums recognized that communities tear themselves apart with resident-on-resident violence of domestic, drug-gang, mental-illness, terrorist, and other variety. They also recognized that every occupation, policing or otherwise, has its dangerous kooks and that no solution is likely to eliminate all such horrors. The forums also concluded that police have a higher duty, one that police seem fully ready to accept. One awful incident is too many, especially when the stakes so quickly spread beyond that one precious life to other lives affected by breakdowns in police/community relations.

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Fortunately, law is action logic, not simply group therapy, as helpful as talking can be for relationships, understanding, and even peace of mind. Law wants peace in neighborhoods, real peace of the physical-security kind, but with liberty, not the peace of an occupying force. So what do these forums produce?

First, we recognize new trends and circumstances. Increased access to concealed-weapon permits is one example, as are changes in local and national economies, family structure, and mental-health resources. Law and policing must recognize and respond to those changes, just as they currently are doing. Keep talking about those changes.

Second, we see the influence of new technologies, particularly smartphone video, body cameras, and social media, but also new body armor, tasers, and other disabling and protective devices. With video in particular, we now so rapidly share compelling recordings, often made all the more compelling by the unfortunate fact that they may be critically incomplete. We need to monitor and deploy these new technologies while recognizing their challenges and limitations. Judge surely, but don’t rush to judgment.

Third, we have abundant new data, some of it in those very same recordings and social-media accounts but also in digitalized hospital records of police-injury reports and records maintained and distributed by the police agencies themselves. We also find that the data is critically incomplete. While scholars are hard at work discerning patterns and trends from what data we have, we need more and better data. It’s coming. Encourage it.

Fourth, we find familiar stressors for both community and police alike. Veterans returning from undeclared wars reenter communities and join local police forces, bringing their trauma with them. Neighborhoods produce their own battle-like stresses. Medicine offers new testing and therapies for stress-induced conditions. We need to take greater advantage of those resources.

Fifth, we find opportunities for new policies, protocols, and practices, guiding officer training, rotation, relief, and testing, how to respond to citizens lawfully carrying concealed weapons, and of course when and how to intervene using reasonable and necessary force.

Talk may be cheap, but talk can work, as these themes emerge and actions follow.

I once represented in a civil-rights action a young man whom an officer shot in the back while the young man lay defenseless on the ground with his hands behind his back. I have a low opinion of human nature but high opinion of human capacity. My hope is that in talking, studying, and law reform, young men like that former client of mine will not have been shot. Let’s keep talking using words and forming relationships that promote peace, law, security, liberty, respect, and order, not violence. Let communities then flourish.

miller_nelsonBlog author Nelson Miller is the Associate Dean and Professor at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus. He practiced civil litigation for 16 years before joining the WMU-Cooley faculty. He has argued cases before the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and filed amicus and party briefs in the United States Supreme Court. He has has many published books, casebooks, book chapters, book reviews, and articles on legal education, law practice, torts, civil procedure, professional responsibility, damages, international law, constitutional law, university law, bioethics, and law history and philosophy. He also teaches law classes on the Kalamazoo, Michigan campus of Western Michigan University.

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