Category Archives: Faculty Scholarship

Cooley has one of the largest and most experienced faculty in the nation. Faculty members come to Cooley with years of experience in the practice of law. They combine “real world” knowledge with exceptional academic backgrounds. The full-time faculty make Cooley an outstanding legal education program. They are professionals dedicated to the ideals of practical legal scholarship and academic excellence.

President has “right” to fire Comey, but unprecedented action according to legal experts

WMU-Cooley Law School Constitutional Law Professors Devin Schindler and Brendan Beery were invited to share their expert analysis regarding the firing of FBI Director James Comey. WMU-Cooley Law School Constitutional Law Professor Devin Schindler shares expert analysis on the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

While speaking with WZZM TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Schindler said, “Let us remember that under Article Two of the Constitution the president has specific authority to appoint heads of departments of the United States,” said Schindler. “The president has the right to appoint these officers, but he also has the right to terminate them as well.”

Read more expert analysis on other issues from Professor Schindler here.

Beery, who was also interviewed by Tampa, Florida’s, Bay News 9, agrees with Schindler, but also reflects on the historical significance of Comey’s firing.  “It was unquestionably within President Trump’s constitutional authority to fire former FBI Director James Comey, said Beery. “It is also historically unprecedented for a president to fire an FBI director while that director is actively investigating the president’s administration. Trump’s allusion in his letter firing Comey to communications between Comey and himself also raises serious questions: such contact between the White House and an investigative agency is highly improper.”

Professor Beery is often tapped in the media as an expert on the Constitution. Viewers respect his clear, concise and objective analysis.

Want to understand more about the legal ramifications under the U.S. Constitution as it relates to the latest news and events? Read more from Professor Beery here.

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WMU-Cooley Law School Grand Rapids Launches Creative Writing Workshop Series

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Grand Rapids campus is launching Lawyer Storytelling in Fiction, a creative writing workshop series open to the public on May 16. The series consists of three sessions which will explore the concept, implementation and publication of original, law-related short stories. Sessions will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 16, June 14 and July 13 at the law school’s Grand Rapids location, 111 Commerce Ave. SW.

Throughout the series, each participant will create a 3,000 to 5,000-word fictional story. Workshop sessions will include panel speakers and small-group discussions. Upon completion of the series, participants will be able to submit their stories for editing and publication in a paperback print book collection.

“Lawyers must tell the true stories of their clients in compelling ways every day to be effective, which is why lawyers like John Grisham and Scott Turow have made such effective fiction writers,” said WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Nelson Miller, who will be leading the writing workshop series. “These workshops will explore the lawyer’s storytelling skill, both to help the public appreciate the value of that skill and law students and lawyers to improve their skill.”

Topics discussed during each workshop include

  • concept, May 16;
  • implementation, June 14;
  • and publication, July 13.

The series is open to WMU-Cooley Law School students, WMU graduate students and community members. Law students who register for Directed Study academic credit will pay WMU-Cooley tuition. Law students, who attend the series without seeking academic credit, and community members may participate at no charge. For more information about Lawyer Storytelling in Fiction, contact Nelson Miller at millern@cooley.edu.

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Boy Scouts of America to Honor WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Ret. Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel

A life dedicated to public service was the continuation of a journey that Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel began as Boy Scout. McDaniel, the Associate Dean of the Lansing campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Water and Woods Field Service Council, for his service on the local, state, and national level.  Water and Woods is part of the Michigan Crossroads Council, Boy Scouts of America. McDaniel will be honored during a breakfast on May 16 beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the Eagle Eye Golf Cub in Bath.

McDaniel joined a Boy Scout troop in his hometown of King Ferry, N.Y., when he was 11 and learned the importance of public service on a smaller scale.

“This gave me the confidence and ability to search out public service opportunities on a larger scale as an adult,” he said.

Scouting experiences encouraged McDaniel to participate in ROTC while in college and to join the Michigan National Guard in 1983.  He eventually went on to law school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

“I think it’s absolutely true that the values you learn in Scouting stay with you your whole life,” McDaniel said.  “I could rattle them all off now, but I think the bigger message is that I learned about the value and importance of a life of public service from my time as a Scout.”

Part of his work at WMU-Cooley involves training future lawyers to practice law with the highest degree of ethics.  His own adherence to a strict code of moral and ethical standards has been publicly acknowledged by officials who asked him to take lead roles in investigations into a controversy surrounding Lansing’s Board of Water and Light and later the Flint water crisis.

McDaniel led a Community Review Team that reviewed documentation and conducted interviews with BWL personnel, resulting in a report with recommendations on improvements in customer  service and emergency response.  He got involved as a liaison in the Flint water crisis at the request of that city’s mayor and Gov. Rick Snyder.

“General McDaniel’s decision to pursue a life of public service continues to positively impact the lives of countless individuals in ways too numerous to list here,” said Paul Schwartz, Scout Executive for Water and Woods FSC.  “He is a powerful example of the positive impact Scouting makes on the lives it touches and we are grateful to him for his willingness to share that story.”

McDaniel, who  joined Troop 53 in his hometown of King Ferry, N.Y., said his fondest memories are of time spent at camp as a participant and later as a counselor.

“The idea that you could go out in the woods all summer and go canoeing and swimming anytime you want was great,” he said.  “I had a natural affinity for that life.”

As a child, McDaniel said there were very few activities for kids where he lived and Scouting was a natural progression for him because his mother was a biology teacher who introduced him to outdoor activities such as bird watching and shell collecting.

That interest in nature helped him complete a beautification project at a cemetery in King Ferry for which he earned his Eagle Scout rank.  He said the skills he learned in Scouting as a youth remain relevant today.

“They’re designed to teach Scouts a large degree of resiliency and to be self-supportive,” McDaniel said.  “The lesson as a youth is that if you get lost in the woods, you’ll know what to do and the lesson as an adult may be that if you get lost in the city, you’ll know what to do.

“It’s the moral lessons you learn.  The values in the Scout Law are what you want a young man to learn.”

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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.

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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).

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Law graduates take Florida Bar’s Oath of Admission, along with Law Professor

The  Hon. Christopher C. Sabella of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court administered The Florida Bar’s Oath of Admission to WMU-Cooley Law School graduates this week, along with one of WMU-Cooley’s professors. International Law Professor Paul Carrier adds Florida to the states he now can practice in. The Oath contains important principles to guide attorneys in the legal profession.

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Carrier, who has taught at WMU-Cooley’s Michigan campuses since 2003, recently joined the law school’s Tampa Bay campus. He has been a member of the Michigan bar since 1991 and hopes to use lessons from the Florida Bar Exam while teaching. Carrier also plans to begin doing pro bono work at the law school’s debt relief clinic, which serves the Hillsborough County community.

In addition to Professor Carrier being approved for admission, other new admittees to The Florida Bar participating in the ceremony included WMU-Cooley graduates Eric Nelsestuen and Marisol Perez.

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From Pardons to Portraits: Gerald R. Ford Leadership Program Participants Wear Shoes of a Leader

Sixteen Michigan residents, including residents of Lansing, Grand Rapids, Portage, Baroda and Sidney, completed the Leadership in Times of Crisis program at the DeVos Learning Center in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in March.  The program is a joint initiative of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and The Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

"New York, New York, USA - November 3, 2012: A close up of the front page of the The New York Times newspaper dated August 9, 1974. The New York Times reporting President Richard Nixon resigns after the Watergate scandal, Vice President Gerald Ford taking office."

The unique leadership program is not only open to enrolled law students, but to the public. Participants in one class get to take on the role of advisor to President Ford (played by Professor Devin Schindler), including arguing for and against the pardon of Richard Nixon while seated around the cabinet table in the Ford Museum.

In another session led by Professor Paul Sorenson, participants negotiated a contentious issue using procedures learned earlier that morning, experiencing in the process of how President Ford’s renowned reputation as a deal maker was due to many years of arduous, patient work.

A fascinating exploration of the relationship between healthy cities and state funding policies was led by Kalamazoo County Commissioner Kevin Wordelman.

The last class session explores the war in  Vietnam and the fall of Saigon. Participants viewed artifacts during a tour of the Museum’s collection. Artifacts included the portrait of President Ford the American ambassador removed from the wall of the embassy while fleeing Saigon and service medals thrown over the White House fence by veterans angry with President Ford’s amnesty program for men who did not honor the draft.

Guest speaker Tiennga Cao recounted the harrowing story of how she and fellow Vietnamese refugees felt at that time, adrift at sea for over two weeks before being rescued by an American naval ship. At the time of her rescue she was so weak that she could not stand on her own. She was brought to Grand Rapids, President Ford’s home town, and, in her own words, has made it her mission ever since her rescue to help people in return for God saving her life.

Leaders Program guest speaker Tiennga Cao

Leaders Program guest speaker Tiennga Cao

The Museum’s Education Director, Barbara McGregor, led a tour of Museum pieces relevant to the fall of Saigon, including the actual staircase from atop the American Embassy where many Vietnamese people began the transition from their homeland into new lives in other countries.

The program received high marks from all participants. Reservations are being accepted for the Fall 2017 session starting in September.  The program consists of four sessions, one session per month on a Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The fee is $150. Participants receive a Certification of Completion bearing the name and logo of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum & Library.  For more information contact Professor Victoria Vuletich by email or by phone at (616) 301-6800, ext. 6960.

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Law school and journalists discuss Fake News: What can be done about it?

This story was written by Grand Rapids Legal News writer Cynthia Price and was originally published by the Legal News on March 24, 2017. It is reprinted here with permission of Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC.

It is difficult to find anyone who is in favor of what has come to be called “fake news,” but for some, the challenge it poses to truth and the rule of law is a subject they view as of overriding urgency.

Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Denning Moore is one of those people.

At a panel discussion Wednesday hosted by WMU-Cooley and sponsored by the Michigan Capital Chapter, American Society for Public Administration (known as ASPA/MICAP), Prof. Moore led out with a fiery speech about the need to hold purveyors of news accountable for the information they put foward.

“Truth is not optional,” she said. “It is necessary for maintenance of our democracy. Not only will the truth set us free, it will keep us free. So, we can’t just go our merry way — we can’t be passive consumers of information.

“Truth matters. We must seek it, we must pursue it. Truth is not the same as the most persuasive argument, and it is not a merger of options. We have to hold people accountable for their actions.”

Moore knows whereof she speaks. Prior to joining WMU-Cooley, she practiced in legal ethics and legal malpractice defense as an attorney for Moore and Pozehl; before that, she was staff counsel for the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission.

A firm believer in a strong ethical system in the law and in life, Moore has published a number of articles consistent with her philosophy, including “Reclaiming Civility”and “The Ethical Duty of Communication.”

As Moore finished, Moderator Meegan Holland, herself a former journalist and now the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor, commented, “I love your passion.”

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Holland also noted that she agreed with Moore’s reluctance to use the term “fake news.” The title of the event, “Social Media and the Ethics of Fake News,” notwithstanding, both Moore and Holland said they find the term misleading, since it implies there are shades of truthfulness permissible in reporting.

The other panelists were both working journalists: Emily Lawler, a reporter for MLive who covered the Trump campaign in Michigan and currently has the capitol beat for the statewide news organization; and John Lindstrom, the long-time publisher of Gongwer News Service.

In his welcoming remarks, WMU-Cooley Dean and President Donald LeDuc noted, “I’m opposed to poor ethics in any context.” Also referring to himself as “an unrepentant former public administrator” (working primarily in State of Michigan offices), he thanked ASPA/MICAP for putting the panel together.

Then Dean LeDuc added more seriously, “Our country’s embroiled in the greatest test of our country’s structure since the Civil War. There’s never been a more interesting time to be a law student, or to be in government — certainly not to be in administration of the law.”

Lindstrom, a seasoned professional whose specialty publication is aimed at decision-makers and politicians, pointed out that, historically, there has always been fake news, including falsely staging influential events. What makes it different now is the ability to disseminate information immediately, and without the filter that fact checkers provide.

“From the standpoint of a practicing journalist,” he said, “there’s an old saying ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ That’s the essence of what we are supposed to do as an industry, and in many respects that’s really what we should do as citizens of a free republic, and, frankly, as adults.”

Lawler is more of the generation that grew up comfortable with social media, but she expressed dismay at what widespread use of Twitter and Facebook has done to her own profession, and the distrust that causes in the eyes of the general public.

She said, “One of the most enlightening articles I read, right after the election, was in the Washington Post. They profiled some producers of fake news, including those with a for-profit model. One man was pretty honest in admtting that he’d manufactured the story about Hillary [Clinton] supporters being paid to go protest at Donald Trump’s events.

“He made a fake ad looking for people to go interrupt Trump campaign stops on a couple Craig’s List sites, and then he manufactured a story based off his own ad.

“That was something that made it into the natural rhetoric, and Donald Trump made some nods to that in his speecies, including one I covered.”

Lindstrom also noted that over the past 20 years brain science has made significant discoveries about human’s cognitive function. He said these add to an exploration of why “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” quoting the Paul Simon song “The Boxer.”

When Holland asked whether it was likely that news outlets could be persuaded to eliminate covering, for example, Donald Trump’s early-morning tweets, Lawler gave a fairly subtle response: one of the effects of social media is that stories can become so widespread independent of traditional media that they require journalistic coverage, and debunking, in order to assure that any semblance of truth continues to exist.

Moore drew parallels to the legal profession. “One principle that’s critical to achieving justice is for people to ask, ‘Where is the evidence?’ As lawyers, we’re trained not to just take somebody’s word but to find and look at the evidence.”

About 30 people attended the event at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus, drawn from a variety of places. Some were WMU-Cooley students, some members of ASPA/MICAP, and a few were members of the general public who had heard about the panel. The questions posed were thoughtful and ranged in topic from the need for viable business models for news organizations to the potential for ongoing sanctions and punishment if news was found to be false.

Pictured from left to right: WMU-Cooley Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Moore; MLive Capitol Reporter Emily Lawler; Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor Meegan Holland and Publisher of Gongwer News Service John Lindstrom.

Pictured from left to right: WMU-Cooley Professor and Auxiliary Dean Martha Moore; MLive Capitol Reporter Emily Lawler; Veterans Affairs Agency Senior Policy Advisor Meegan Holland and Publisher of Gongwer News Service John Lindstrom.

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Preparing for the Multistate Bar Exam Just Got A Little Easier For Law Students

Preparing for and passing the bar exam is no easy task. Professors at WMU-Cooley Law School now have something new to help students do well on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), a 200-question multiple-choice exam given in nearly every state.

“We take great pride in our students here at our Grand Rapids campus and how they have done on the Bar exam,” stated Associate Dean Nelson Miller, who leads that campus and its Bar Exam preparation. “We especially want every single student and graduate to do well on the Multistate Bar Examination component,” he asserts, “because comprehensive law knowledge is instrumental to practice success.”

To that end, Dean Miller and colleagues have recently published three new books on preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination. Volume I in the series offers four 100-question banks of specially designed practice questions, mixing all seven MBE subjects into each bank, just like the exam itself. The second volume offers seven 100-question banks separating each of the seven MBE subjects into its own bank, so that readers can practice each subject.

Beyond offering hundreds of new practice questions with answers and explanations for why each option is correct or incorrect, these two volumes have added value by being crafted in the same style as the MBE questions that test every topic and subtopic on the MBE.

“The examiners who draft the MBE publish a list of the exam’s roughly 350 topics,” explained Miller. “We figured, why not test every topic?”

In fact, the two volumes test every topic at least twice, keying each question, answer, and explanation to the MBE topics list. Those preparing for the MBE can now practice questions on every topic or on any topic on which they feel they need a test.

The effort didn’t stop there, though. Dean Miller explains, “In writing the hundreds of answer explanations, I realized that examinees might also benefit from a concise summary of the law on every MBE topic.”

So, the third volume in the series provides a summary page on each of the MBE’s approximately 350 topics.

“Law school, bar none, is the greatest intellectual exercise anyone can endeavor,” Miller contends. “Preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination is an extraordinary accomplishment and privilege. Anyone who does, deserves all of our support.”

The three legal preparation book volumes are available online at amazon.com and free in electronic form to any WMU-Cooley student or graduate.


Preparing for the multistate bar exam vol. 1Preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination: Multiple-Choice Strategies and Multiple-Choice Questions, Answers, and Explanations for Every MBE Topic and Subtopic (Volume I: All Subjects) (Crown Mgt. 2017) (authors Nelson P. Miller and Tonya Krause-Phelan);


preparing for the multistate bar exam vol. 2Preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination: Multiple-Choice Strategies and Multiple-Choice Questions, Answers, and Explanations for Every MBE Topic and Subtopic (Volume II: The MBE Subjects Separated Into Seven 100-Question Banks) (Crown Mgt. 2017) (authors Nelson P. Miller and Tonya Krause-Phelan);


Preparing for the multistate bar exam vol. 3Preparing for the Multistate Bar Examination, Volume III: An Outline of Every MBE Topic and Subtopic (Crown Mgt. 2017) (author Nelson P. Miller).


Are you prepared to take the MBE? Make sure you give yourself every advantage!

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Contracts quintessential first-year course: Law school professor makes his case

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Otto StockmeyerBlog author WMU-Cooley Distinguished Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer presented a paper at the 2017 annual conference of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts & Letters, held March 10, 2017, on the campus of Western Michigan University. He titled his presentation “Reflections on Teaching the First Day of Contracts Class.” Professor Stockmeyer offered his thoughts on why he believes Contracts is the most significant course in the first-year curriculum, why the study of contract law should begin with the subject of remedies, and why Hawkins v. McGee (the “hairy hand” case made famous by the book and movie versions of The Paper Chase) makes an ideal starting point.

In my view, Contracts is the quintessential first-year course. It presents an excellent introduction to the common law and legal reasoning. The course is foundational to several upper-level courses, and the best predictor of law school success.  Lawyers have reported that they use Contracts in their practice almost twice as much as any other law school subject.

Although traditionalists begin the course with offer and acceptance, there are both pedagogical and practical reasons to start with remedies. Studying remedies is not easy going for beginning students, who tend to hate working with numbers. But they tell me that they like difficult topics placed early in the term so they have longer to process the material.

The most important reason to start with remedies is the opportunity to begin the first day’s class with Hawkins v. McGee.

Here are my Top Ten reasons why:

10. The opinion immediately demonstrates to beginning students their need for a law dictionary. The first paragraph alone contains five legal terms.

9. The opinion shows how judges sometimes load their opinions with empty overstatements, such as “clearly” and “obviously” when the facts were neither.

8. The opinion demonstrates the process of analysis that courts employ when direct legal authority is lacking.

7. The opinion allows an early exploration of some distinctions between tort (medical malpractice) and contract (promise of 100 percent success) in a context readily understood by beginning students.

6. The opinion revolves around two of the central themes in Contract law: the objective theory of assent and the expectation objective of contract remedies.

5. The opinion is an excellent introduction to remedies and the difference between tort and contract damages.

4. The opinion illustrates that general principles are easier to state than to apply.

3. The opinion has more poignancy than the commercial disputes that will follow.

2. The case has a rich subsequent history that can be explored as time permits.

1. Three words: The Paper Chase. Many students will have read the book or rented the movie. They expect Contracts to begin with a study of the “hairy hand” case. Disappoint them the first day and they may question their choice of law schools.

The Paper Chase

The movie version of this law school classic contains two scenes that I’ve used in my class. The first is Professor Kingsfield’s ‘skull full of mush’ explanation of why law schools use the Socratic method. That needs to be addressed the first day.

The second is Kingsfield’s encounter with a student, Mr. Hart. After recapping the facts of Hawkins v. McGee, Kingsfield asks, ‘Now Mr. Hart, what sort of damages do you think the doctor should pay?’

I then would call on several students and ask whether Mr. Hart gave the right answer (no, he didn’t). The ice having been broken, another term of Contracts has been successfully launched.

Read the full text of Professor Stockmeyer’s paper on the Social Science Research Network.

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