Category Archives: Cooley’s Great Locations

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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WMU-Cooley Juneteeth Keynote Speaker Edward Keith DuBose: Achieve Professionalism At All Times

It’s necessary to uphold your professional reputation, be involved in community, and manage client trust carefully. There is no substitute for hard work, which will bring success.” – Edward Keith DuBose, WMU-Cooley Juneteenth keynote speaker

Edward Keith DuBose

Edward Keith DuBose

On June 16, the Black Law Student Association at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus hosted the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth. The featured speaker during the celebration was Edward Keith DuBose, Sarasota County Bar Association president and partner at Matthews Eastmore Trial Lawyers.

WMU-Cooley Professor Renalia DuBose introduced the keynote speaker with great personal pride.

“Successful attorneys are  not sitting in their offices looking out the window. They are in their communities working hard.  That is why I invited Keith to be our speaker. He is a visible, sincere servant in his community.”

In his talk, “Keys to Demonstrate Professionalism Personified,” he spoke to faculty, staff and students about how to best demonstrate professionalism and what steps an attorney must take to become a partner at a law firm, including:

  • Achieve professionalism at all times
  • Stay involved in your community; participate in the spirit of service and give back to the community
  • There is no substitute for hard work; which brings success
  • Take good care of your personal and professional integrity
  • Choose clients carefully; some can cause you trouble with the Bar
  • Manage trust accounts carefully

“Understanding the history of diverse groups makes us better attorneys,” said DuBose. “We can help our clients seek justice and help them heal ”

WMU-Cooley Professor Stevie Swanson spoke about the meaning of Juneteenth during the celebration.

“Slaves in Texas were not freed until June 19, 1865 even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 that freed all slaves in the Confederate States of America on January 1, 1863,” said Professor Swanson. “As an African and African American History major from Yale, Juneteenth to me is a reminder that we need to recognize the past of all races and ethnicities. This day should be a reminder to work hard to make our communities better.”

(left-right) WMU-Cooley student Sylvester Stokes, BLSA member, Professor Stevie Swanson, Professor Renalia Dubose, Keynote speaker Edward Keith DuBose, Tamike Laroque, BLSA vice president, Jazmin Shorter, WMU-Cooley BLSA president, Joe Cline, BLSA treasurer

(left-right) WMU-Cooley student Sylvester Stokes, BLSA member, Professor Stevie Swanson, Professor Renalia Dubose, Keynote speaker Edward Keith DuBose, Tamike Laroque, BLSA vice president, Jazmin Shorter, WMU-Cooley BLSA president, Joe Cline, BLSA treasurer

Edward Keith DuBose received his Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in 1993 and was a member of the 1989 football team that won the A.C.C. Championship led by Steve Spurrier. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1996 from the UF College of Law. As a shareholder in Matthews Eastmore Trial Lawyers in Sarasota, Florida, his practice is devoted to plaintiff’s personal injury cases. He is active in his community and champions programs benefiting area youth, and donates countless hours to the United Way, Paddock Foundation, Selby Foundation, Sarasota Bar Association, youth football, New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church and frequently gives motivational talks at community functions and local schools. In 1989, the Sarasota Bar Association presented him with the prestigious C.L. McKaig award, recognizing his extraordinary community accomplishments. Mr. DuBose is currently the president of the Sarasota Area Board of the United Way and is the first African American president of the Sarasota County Bar Association.

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Facility Sharing Bears Affiliation Fruit

WMU-Cooley President Don LeDuc and WMU President John Dunn

WMU-Cooley Dean and President Don LeDuc and WMU President John Dunn

In January of this year, WMU President Dr. John Dunn and WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc signed a ground-breaking facility-sharing agreement between the university and law school. The agreement gave both institutions opportunities to use one another’s facilities to promote their educational missions, improve programs, and extend their geographic reach.  Immediately, the law school was able to use a WMU classroom in Kalamazoo to offer two elective courses in Employment Law and Environmental Law, the first law school courses offered in Kalamazoo.

The university has now relocated its WMU-MetroDetroit offices and distance-education classrooms from Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak to a suite at the law school’s Auburn Hills campus.

springThe relocation enables the university to accomplish at least three affiliation synergies.  One advantage is that the university can now maintain its high quality WMU-MetroDetroit offices and distance-education facilities at reduced cost under the facility-sharing agreement.  A second advantage is that the university now has a strong and convenient local presence in Southeast Michigan’s famous Automation Alley, a key technology, business, and engineering hub.  A third advantage is that the university increases its access for residents of Oakland, Livingston, and other suburban counties. The law school’s Auburn Hills campus lies at the intersection of two major Southeast Michigan arteries, the north-south Interstate 75 and east-west M-59, directly across the street from Fiat-Chrysler’s headquarters and right nearby the sports-complex Palace of Auburn Hills.

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Representatives of each institution have inspected other university and law school facilities in Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and even Tampa, Florida, for reciprocal use under the facility-sharing agreement.  The law school just announced that it will hold first-term courses on WMU’s main campus in Kalamazoo starting this September in WMU’s Haworth College of Business building.  Expect more facility-sharing announcements soon.  Both institutions have long held strategic visions to offer premier learning facilities.  The facility-sharing agreement was a perfect extension of each institution’s commitment to provide new, attractive, comfortable, convenient, and accessible facilities for students, faculty, staff, and community use.

“The facility-sharing agreement took significant work,” law school Associate Dean Nelson Miller said, “particularly on the part of the school’s facilities leaders and general counsel.  Once the presidents put the agreement in place, though, things felt as if they were ready to really take off.”  The schools also have in place master-academic and parking-services agreements, and just recently put in place an employee-and-student-services agreement that gives law students and WMU graduate and undergraduate students access to health, recreation, library, and other facilities and services.  “I can’t say enough how encouraging the affiliation has been and remains,” Miller added, “and we still are only scratching the surface of a powerful affiliation.”
(Left to right) WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller, WMU President John Dunn, WMU-Cooley President Don LeDuc, WMU Professor and Affiliation Liaison Mark Hurwitz, and WMU Provost Timothy Greene

(Left to right) WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller, WMU President John Dunn, WMU-Cooley President Don LeDuc, WMU Professor and Affiliation Liaison Mark Hurwitz, and WMU Provost Timothy Greene

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Top Ten Things Law Students Should Know About Western Michigan University

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 is now teaching law classes on the Kalamazoo, Michigan campus of Western Michigan University.

1. Now that the law school is holding elective courses on WMU’s Kalamazoo campus, where are the law classes? For now, Western Michigan University is sharing with the law school Room 1412 in its Health & Human Services (HHS) Building on WMU’s East Campus off Oakland Drive, behind (south of) the football stadium and sports complex on Stadium Drive. The HHS Building location makes sense in that the law school already has a dual JD/MSW degree program with the College of Health & Human Services’ School of Social Work. The HHS Building is a spectacular, first-class facility with wonderful natural-light design, a cafeteria, lots of relaxed seating, and convenient parking. Room 1412 is a team-based learning room with cart-available distance-education technology.

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2. What is the medieval-looking bell-tower-like structure next to WMU’s HHS Building where the law school holds classes? The HHS Building is next door to the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. Its tower is not, as rumored, to restrain the insane, but for the better part of a century supplied the hospital’s water. At one point in the tower’s storied history, its water saved Kalamazoo from burning when the city’s own water system failed as firefighters attempted to douse a severe downtown fire. Although the water tower is a historic landmark, locals not too long ago made an effort to have it razed, relenting only when private funds donated for maintenance exceeded the six-figure cost of its razing.

3. What is the heart of WMU’s Kalamazoo campus? Where does everyone go? Bernhard Center, located roughly in the middle of WMU’s Main Campus, houses the bookstore, Bronco Mall, cafeteria and food court, financial-aid office and other student services, student-organization offices, and large conference spaces. While the building’s exterior is a little older, WMU has renovated many of its interior spaces, making it both very comfortable and also a showcase.

4. Where should one park on campus? Depends on where you’re going. The best practice is to order a $5 daily visitor pass online before you go, then use the WMU Interactive Campus Map, choosing the Parking Lots option from the Layers link in the Map’s upper right. The $5 daily visitor parking pass grants you access to the R Lots where both visitors and WMU employees park. Commonly used R Lots are (1) on the west side of the Main Campus by Schneider Hall for convenient access to the business school or a short walk to the center of Main Campus, (2) at the south side of the Main Campus by Miller Auditorium for convenient access to the College of Arts & Sciences, and (3) alongside the Health & Human Services Building on East Campus. For a single short-term visit, you may choose instead to park at a visitor meter, although you’ll need lots of quarters (the cost is a quarter for every 12 minutes or so). Metered parking can also be paid by a cell phone through Parkmobile.com. Instructions are listed on each campus meter.Here is the parking map, with the R Lots in yellow:

5. Where can you eat on campus? Lots of places. While the Bernhard Center has the well-developed food court with national fast-food chains, a Biggby coffee shop, traditional cafeteria, and lots of comfortable seating, several other buildings also have public cafeterias including the HHS Building housing the law classes, Schneider Hall housing the Haworth College of Business, and Sangren Hall housing WMU’s large College of Education. The Plaza Cafe, located on the Fine Arts Plaza in front of Miller Auditorium, is also open to the public. To locate food on campus–Go to the WMU Housing and Dining map to get the precise locations of the buildings with cafeterias.

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6. Who are WMU’s most-distinguished alumni? Tim Allen, anyone? The popular film and television actor is on its Distinguished Alumni wall in the Bernhard Center (see the wall on the second floor for a great way to get to know WMU’s national leadership). WMU’s most-recent distinguished alumni awardee is former U.S. Attorney and WMU-Cooley adjunct James Brady, whom the law school honored recently with the Marion Hilligan Public Service Award. (The other 2015 awardee was the CEO of the world’s largest tire and wheel retailer.) Other lawyer/judge WMU distinguished alumni include former ABA President Dennis Archer, Sixth Circuit Judge Richard Griffin (son of Senator Robert Griffin), Richard Whitmer, former State Bar of Michigan President Nancy Diehl, and of course WMU-Cooley graduate and board member Ken Miller. Other distinguished alumni include former Detroit Tigers owner John Fetzer and former Tigers and Marlins and present Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski.

7. Tell me about the WMU library and its resources. With more that 4.5 million items, including thousands of electronic subscriptions, the libraries provide access to a wide variety of materials in support of its many educational programs. Over twenty reference librarians, many with subject specialties, are ready to assist students with their information and research needs. The library has recently initiated an experimental telepresence robot to aid in research interactions between students and librarians. Four floors of newly renovated state of the art facilities provide comfortable spaces for collaboration, research, and study.

8. What’s your favorite location on campus? Whether or not you have business there, consider visiting Sangren Hall in the center of WMU’s Main Campus. One of President Dunn’s many initiatives has been the improvement of WMU’s physical facilities. Sangren Hall, home to WMU’s oldest college–the College of Education–is the spectacular centerpiece of that initiative.Sangren-Hall-SHW-Group-6

It has every feature of a next-generation higher-education facility including state-of-the-art team-based-learning classrooms with distance-education technology and wide, spacious, and well-lit public areas with abundant comfortable seating and study areas, not to mention a great-looking library and convenient cafe. It even rivals the spectacular new WMed facility downtown (WMed built with substantial private and corporate contributions). WMU has constructed several other large, inviting, and very attractive facilities that make you feel very much a part of the latest and best in higher education.

9. For what does the public know WMU? What distinguishes it? WMU was initially a teacher’s college, and its College of Education remains its largest program. That history and emphasis may have influenced its mission and vision as a learner-centered university combining clinical education with research focus. Students matter, but so does research and expertise. Many of WMU’s Ph.D.-level faculty are recognized national and international experts in their fields with heavy demands for their expertise. WMU is also diverse, recruiting heavily from Southeast Michigan and other urban areas. It has had a global reach for decades, with faculty from around the globe and international students from 100 other nations.  A Carnegie-designated national research university, WMU is in the U.S. News top tier of public research universities. Many also know WMU for programs as diverse as its nation-leading aviation program and its internationally recognized offerings in creative writing, medieval studies, behavior analysis, blindness and low vision studies, integrated supply chain management and jazz studies. WMU also has a decades-long reputation for a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship that won it the U.S. Building Council’s award in 2014 as the best green higher-education school in the country.

10. Okay, but how’s the football team doing? Great. WMU has a Division I (top division) football program competing with the best collegiate programs in the nation, including playing both MSU and Ohio State in 2015. WMU is in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) with in-state rivals Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, and out-of-state schools like Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green.

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While WMU has long been known more for its hockey team than for football success, WMU’s football teams have been to bowl games the past two years, winning the Bahamas Bowl just this year, and has had the MAC’s top-rated recruiting class the past three years. WMU’s football program is thus gaining national attention, as is its sought-after Coach P.J. Fleck. The program has a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and a football hall-of-fame building, both adjacent to the stadium with a large indoor president’s box seating 100. Apologies to WMU-Cooley Board Chair Larry Nolan, a WMU hockey-program veteran, for not touting WMU’s outstanding hockey team, which is part of the toughest hockey league in the nation–the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. See WMU’s sports Hall of Fame for WMU’s long list of stellar college and professional athletes.

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Law students settle into New Zealand life, land and law classes

“It is the beginning of a new year and an academic adventure for WMU-Cooley students in our Down Under Program!” – Down Under Director Kimberly O’Leary

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It’s been a great 2016 so far! Law students arrived at the beginning of the year, and they have settled nicely into their rooms on the campus of University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. Our first class was held on January 4, but unlike Michigan, the New Zealand landscape is full of fragrant flowers, green ferns and flourishing trees. It is in the prime of summer Down Under!

Students happily launched into their courses, such as Introduction to New Zealand Legal System with local co-director Cheryl Green, Comparative Chinese & Common Law Systems, with Professor Zhixiong “Leo” Liao, Indigenous Rights in Action with Valmaine Toki, while I teach Equity & Remedies to the law students. After just one week, our understanding of parliamentary, Chinese civil code/Communist party and indigenous systems has blossomed, just like the beautiful local flora!

We have also learned about a democracy where the Constitution isn’t written down and the importance of conventions and customs. In addition to studying and participating in classes, students have had time to explore Hamilton, including the outstanding Hamilton Gardens, the Riverwalk and the Hamilton Zoo. The students especially enjoyed feeding lemurs and a white rhinocerous at the zoo!

Over a weekend, students, faculty and family members fit in an excursion to Raglan, one of the best surfing beaches in the world and home of the famous black sand. After traveling through mountains to arrive, we viewed Bridal Veil Falls, which put on quite a show after holiday rains, and then we took a harbor cruise into the Raglan Bay, where we were served fish and chips. ­­The local co-director, Cheryl Green, has taken on a special role shepherding this American flock as we navigate through Aotearoa – the Maori name for New Zealand – which means, “land of the long white cloud.”

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 Kimberly E. O'Leary

Kimberly E. O’Leary

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary directs the law school’s Study Abroad program in New Zealand and Australia. She, along with her law students are sharing their experiences throughout the Hilary 2016 semester.

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