Category Archives: Military Feature

Military Feature Gary Bauer: Air Force Navigator-Bombardier Flying High in Legal Profession

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. October’s monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gary Bauer. Professor Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and a Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft.

Military rank and title: Captain, U.S. Air Force, Navigator-Bombardier on B-52 and KC 135 aircraft

Decision to go to law school and why you choose WMU-Cooley: My decision was based upon a return on my investment. I was 38 when I attended law school for the first time. A person can practice law without limitations in spite of physical limitations as long the brain functions. So I figured the length of my career projected well into my 70s, if I chose to work that long. Also, the flexibility of a law degree gave me options geographically, subject matter choices, business settings, and whether I worked for someone else or independently. It was the return on my investment that drove my decision.

Professor Gary Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and Navigator-Bombardier. He proudly displays a photo in his office of the B-52 and KC 135 aircraft he flew during service.

Professor Gary Bauer was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and Navigator-Bombardier. He proudly displays a photo in his office of the B-52 and KC 135 aircraft he flew during service.

Military background: I spent six years in the Air Force after graduating from Purdue University. After my enlistment period was over, I went to work for a Japanese company as a Regional Sales Manager and covered up to five states. I did that for six years until the company pulled their operations out of the United States. It was then that I need to decide what to do for the rest of my life  –  law was it! No contest. This past summer I did a blog story I called Typhoon June and I got Personal. The story talks about about the time I flew right through a Typhoon, as ordered to do so, during the time of the Vietnam War. The story not only talks about the risks inherent with that task, but how, when you experience proximity to death, it changes you and makes it possible to better appreciate the life you have and what is really important in your life.

Future goals and why veterans make great lawyers: As a full-time professor of law, I love working with students who are hungry for knowledge and guidance, so I want to keep doing what I love to do — why would I want to do anything else? As far as why veterans make great lawyers, both military and a legal careers are perfect training in leadership. Plus, those with a military background know how to follow the chain of command, which is similar to the law and process. Individuals with a military background also know how to handle a competitive, adversarial system. You are trained to deal with the stress of combat and are able to make quick and accurate decisions – difficult decisions under stressful situations. I also feel that the military is a diverse and accepting culture, as is the law. There is a maturity about those in the military, along with their families. They know about responsibility, along with good time management skills and discipline. I also feel as though those with a military background have settled down – they have seen other cultures, experienced command subordination and the stresses of battle. Some would say they have hardened and are willing to follow instructions. It has been my experience that many of my very best students are former military members. Military students can also take advantage of the GI Bill – keeping debt load down or nearly zero at WMU-Cooley, especially if you attend part-time and remain working and take advantage of scholarships. Again, I truly feel that a legal career is one of the greatest and most versatile careers, in terms of location, subject matter and diversity of client base, and is one of the longest productive life career opportunities.

Tell us a little about you: Recently recognized by the American Bar Association with the Solo And Small Firm Trainer Award, also recognized this year by the Solo Section of the State Bar and will soon be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for the work I do helping students find their path to success. I come from Fort Wayne, Indiana and I am one of 12 children raised to be independent and productive members of society. I have a blog, sololawyerbydesign.com which I highly recommend. Read “Is Your Client a 20 Footer?” or “Avoid the Dog in a Basket” which are just two of well over 100 posts. And for military vets, read my post concerning Typhoon June and how I had to fly right through it.

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Military and Legal Career Brings Promotion to WMU-Cooley Graduate Col. John Wojcik

John Wojcik has served his country well. Not only serving as the General Counsel for the Michigan National Guard, which is a joint military organization that has over 11,000 military and civilian employees, three air bases, and two Army posts, and over 50 military facilities, he serves and oversees all state, federal, and administrative litigation for the Guard, with authority over $500 million of federal contracting projects each year.

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Wojcik is also a nationally recognized Fiscal Law instructor and specializes in federal construction litigation, teaching in the areas of  federal contracting, federal employment law, environmental law, real estate leasing and procurement, federal administrative law, and military justice. He supervises a combination of 25 full-time and part-time attorneys and paralegals.

His outstanding service was recognized this summer in a promotion to Colonel. He received his new rank from his wife Kimberlie in a ceremony at Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing, Michigan.

He has served as the general counsel for the Michigan National Guard since April 2002 and was appointed to his current position in May 2016.

A native of Edensburg, Pennsylvania, Wojcik graduated cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and was commissioned in 1993 into the Army Reserves as a distinguished military graduate from IUP’s ROTC program. He holds a J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School. During Wojcik’s 26-year career, he has served in a variety of assignments including infantry mortar man, trial counsel, trial defense counsel, command judge advocate, and assistant state staff judge advocate.

In 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan and served as chief lawyer for a theater detention facility. In his current assignment, he is an adviser to the director of Military and Veterans Affairs, providing strategic legal coverage for approximately 11,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

Wojcik is extremely active in teaching military law to lawyers and was instrumental in creating the Ingham County Veterans Court and the Military and Veterans Section of the State Bar of Michigan. In May 2016, he published a guide to assist lawyers in handling family matters that involve service members. He has taught numerous courses at WMU-Cooley Law School.

Wojcik’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal.

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Parts of this article are reprinted by permission of the Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC, and was previously published in the Ingham County Legal News on Aug. 22, 2016. 

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Day of Remembrance: 9/11 Day-Long Scout Salute to First Responders

“Everyone remembers where we were on that day and yet when you hear the phrase 9/11, you don’t think of anything other than the events from 15 years ago. We say 9/11 and everyone knows what we feel and what occurred, it was a visceral deep pain.” – Ret. Brig. General and WMU-Cooley Dean Michael C.H. McDaniel

The Gerald R. Ford Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and Museum come together each year on September 11 to honor those who sacrificed their lives during the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, by hosting a Community Day of Remembrance and day-long Scout Salute. 

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Associate Dean and retired Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, an Eagle Scout himself, was the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony. He joined scouts and their families, fire, police, EMS, and military personnel, as they saluted the flag being flown at the museum.

“These men along with the men and women who serve our country, whether in the service, police department, or fire department, they are our nation’s heroes,” said McDaniel. We should not be confused with entertainers and sports figures who consume much of the time during national newscasts. At most they could be considered role models, not heroes,” stated General McDaniel.

He continued by talking about the definition of a hero. A hero like Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department, and was a priest from McDaniel’s alma mater St. Bonaventure University.


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Mychal Judge was the first casualty on 9/11, serving in the capacity as chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. Although Father Judge was “a very small-framed, quiet, soft-spoken man,” stated McDaniel, “he was a man with the hugest heart of any man I have ever met.”

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, USA (ret.)

Brig. Gen. Michael C.H.  McDaniel, USA (ret.) is a professor and the director of WMU-Cooley’s Homeland and National Security Law Program. He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Strategy. His responsibilities included supervision of the Department of Defense Critical Infrastructure Protection Program and the Global Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Policy.

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Military Feature John O’Neill: Sees bright 2nd career in the law after serving country for 28 years

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month, we feature WMU-Cooley law student John O’Neill who retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years of active service.

Military rank and title: Ret. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Why law school and WMU-Cooley: As my retirement drew near, the natural progression for many of my peers was to go into government service or to serve as a civilian military contractor. Yet those options did not appeal to me. Law school did. My biggest concern, though, was time. I knew that I didn’t want to spend three years attending school after I retired. Fortunately I was stationed in Michigan when I heard about WMU-Cooley Law School’s flexible scheduling options and generous scholarships. I was able to start taking classes part-time while I was still on active duty, which allowed me to complete half of my courses before I retired. Now that I have less than a year to go before I graduate from law school, I am looking forward to launching a new second career as a public defender.

Career description:  While serving in Alabama in the ’90s, I completed a bachelor of science degree in Justice Studies from  Athens State College, along with a master of science degree in Management from Troy State University.  I received my commission as an Army Aviator from Alabama A&M University where I was cross-enrolled in their ROTC program. Over the decades, I have served throughout the world, including Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Germany. My military career consisted of: 4 years (1984-1988) as an enlisted infantryman with the second Ranger Battalion in Ft. Lewis, Washington, and 24 years (1991-2015) as a commissioned officer. During the years in between (1988-1991), I also served as a police officer in Huntsville, Alabama.

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Career responsibilities: I have served at every level of management in the U.S. Army, most recently as the Network Integration Lead for the Program Executive Office , Ground Combat Systems, until my retirement. I was responsible for the integration and commonality of all networked systems among the Army’s ground combat fleets, plus the coordination of all staff actions within a PEO that manages the entire Abrams Main Battle Tank fleet, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet, and numerous other ground combat systems.

Decorations: Legion of Merit,  Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (5),  Joint Service Commendation Medal (2) , Army Commendation Medal (3), and  Army Achievement Medal (4)

Skill Qualifications: Senior Army Aviator Wings, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Wings, Expert Infantryman Badge, Air Assault Wings, Jungle Expert Badge

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Military Feature Jordan Wilson: Distance No Barrier to Getting Sworn into the Michigan Bar While on Active Duty

WMU-Cooley, as a military-friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month we feature U.S. Army Judge Advocate Jordan Wilson who recently graduated from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, and was able to get sworn into the Michigan Bar while on active duty alongside his parents Larry and Melissa Wilson via video conference. Photos and video were also shared with Jordan’s siblings, including his brother in Ethiopia!

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“What an honor it is to be able to do this in here at the JAG’s in Virginia and be able to be sworn in in Michigan,” said Lt. Wilson. “The huge support I got from Cooley specifically and General McDaniel for putting this on, being able to do this for me is truly a great honor.” – WLNS TV 6 coverage.

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Amy Ronayne Krause administered the oath from the Michigan National Guard Headquarters, where Jordan’s family, friends and colleagues were able to attend the ceremony via video conferencing. The media was also there to cover Jordan’s important day. Wilson, who is serving at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, graduated cum laude in January 2016 from WMU-Cooley. He passed the Michigan Bar Exam in February. 

Military rank and title: First Lieutenant Jordan Wilson, Judge Advocate, U.S. Army
Why did you decide to go to law school and why did you choose WMU-Cooley: I knew that a legal career was always something that interested me. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to intern with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office during college. That experience helped to cement the decision that I wanted to attend law school. Cooley was a perfect fit for what I was looking for in a law school. Being from mid-Michigan, I was very familiar with the school and had close friends attend Cooley. I was really interested in the different scheduling options offered as it helped me to be able to work all throughout law school and meet my commitments as an officer in the Army Reserves. Cooley also has some of the best scholarships for incoming students that I could find anywhere.

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Career description: I attended Liberty University on an Army ROTC scholarship. After graduating, I commissioned into the Army Reserves as a Military Intelligence officer. During my time in law school I served with two different reserve units in Michigan. I had the opportunity to serve as a Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, and as a Battalion Staff Officer. Cooley allowed me the chance to be a full-time student and continue my service. One of the highlights of law school was being able to attend the foreign study program in Oxford. During my 3L year, I submitted an application for the Army JAG Corps and found out I was selected for Active Duty literally as I was getting ready to leave for my final law school exam. It definitely increased the pressure on the last exam – which was Secured Transactions!
Career goals: I am looking forward to a career as a Judge Advocate for the Army. The JAG Corps has a reputation for giving new attorneys hands-on experience from day one. One of the things that really intrigued me about the JAG Corps is that there is chance to get exposure in a wide range of legal fields: Criminal Law, Fiscal and Contracts Law, Operational Law, and Administrative Law. Most of all, I am excited for the chance to continue my military service by putting into practice my legal education.
Tell us a little about you: I have grown up in Michigan and would love to make it back after my career as an Army JAG is over. Outside of the Army and the legal field, I love Detroit Tigers baseball and University of Michigan football. I also love to go salmon fishing out on Lake Michigan.
Wilson was commissioned as a military intelligence officer in the United States Army Reserve after attending Liberty University on a four-year ROTC scholarship. He has served as a platoon leader, executive officer, and battalion intelligence officer. While attending law school, Wilson gained experience in various areas of the law, which included estate planning, federal appellate brief writing, policy analysis, and serving on the Ingham County’s Veterans’ Treatment Court. He also interned with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s office.

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Military Feature Mariko Willis: Military and Law School at the Center of Her Heart

WMU-Cooley, as a Military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month we feature WMU-Cooley law student Mariko C. Willis. Mariko has recently been selected to be a Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. Read more about Mariko in this April 21, 2017 Legal News story.

Military rank and title: Sergeant (Staff Sergeant Select), Platoon Sergeant, Utilities Platoon

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Why did you decide to go to law school and why did you choose WMU-Cooley: After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree at Western Michigan University, my father went to the University of Florida law school and, at age 29, was appointed by the governor as Judge in Van Buren County, Michigan. He is the youngest Judge in Michigan history, as well as the longest-serving probate Judge in Michigan, serving for over 38.5 years, retiring in 2015.  Following in his footsteps, my older brothers, Michael and Shaun Willis, both became attorneys and now practice in Michigan as well.  As a child, it was my intent to also go to law school; however, after my other brother (a Marine), Christopher Willis, died in a car accident shortly after his return from Iraq in 2003, I switched gears and joined the Marine Corps in my brother’s honor.

Career description: I joined the Marines in 2003, splitting an 8-year contract between reserve and active duty orders.  I was honorably discharged in 2011 and then continued my education obtaining a bachelors degree of science in business management.  After being out of the service for three years, I decided to re-enlist in the United States Marine Corps Reserves in 2014, at the same time deciding to pursue my education at WMU Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  I am in my second year of law school and currently have a total of 10 years in the Marine Corps. My decision to re-enlist in the military was an easy one – it has been at the center of my heart since I first joined in honor of my brother.  My decision to go to WMU Cooley was based not only on proximity, but due to my desire to practice in the Grand Rapids area upon passing the Bar.  I also serve as the Chief Operations Officer for the Corporal Christopher Kelly Willis Foundation (the “Willis Foundation”), which my brothers and I established in honor of our deceased brother.  The Willis Foundation provides college scholarships to children who have lost a parent (or whose parent has been permanently disabled) in a combat zone.  To date, we have awarded 14 scholarships to Michigan children, many from the Grand Rapids area.  It is our belief that these children have also given the ultimate sacrifice.

Career goals: I am fully dedicated to continuing my education, fulfilling my military obligations, ensuring that children of our fallen heroes are taken care of through the Willis Foundation, and being the absolute best mother I can be to my son, Tyson (6 years old).  As an attorney, I hope to make strides in the legal profession for the benefit of Veterans in the Southwest Michigan area.  I also hope to assist my brothers and sisters in arms on a pro bono basis, dedicating at least 10% of my practice to the men and women who have served our country honorably.  My current plans are to extern in the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office (the very first place my father worked out of law school), and then join my two brothers at Willis Law (the law firm they established in 2004).

Tell us a little about you: As a single mother, attending law school, working as a law clerk, serving in the military and volunteering for the Willis Foundation, I rarely have free time!  However, when I do have some time to spare, I enjoy spending time with my son, Tyson, my parents, my siblings and my nieces and nephews.  Other hobbies include shooting/marksmanship, hunting, bass fishing, softball leagues, reading, and traveling.  I am a member of the Kalamazoo Rod and Gun Club, Ducks Unlimited and the National Rifle Association.

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Military Feature Sierra Whitaker-Davis: Law Profession Shares Military Values of Integrity, Service, and Excellence

WMU-Cooley, as a military-friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month we feature WMU-Cooley law student Sierra Whitaker-Davis. Sierra is a  Master Sergeant with the United States Air Force Reserve.

Military rank and title: Master Sergeant (E7), United States Air Force Reserve

Why did you decide to go to law school and why did you choose WMU-Cooley: I decided to go to law school for various reasons. When I did decide to go to law school, I was still on active duty and stationed in Germany. I took the risk of applying to various law schools in hopes that once I was selected that I would be able to leave the active duty sooner than expected. Stars aligned and not only was I accepted to law schools, but I was also granted the opportunity to go into the Air Force Reserves and maintain my rank. I knew at that time it was meant to be for me. I chose WMU-Cooley due to its location and it being a flexible schedule. I am able to manipulate each term schedule to meet my rigorous personal schedule, as well as make time for internships. There is no other law school that has the flexibility that Cooley has when it comes to how many credits are taken during a term and the time of day that the courses are held. Additionally, the staff and professors are fantastic.

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Military Experience: Joining the Air Force is one of the best decisions I have ever made for my professional career. It granted me the opportunity to perform a job that would not have been experienced in the civilian world. Right after basic training, I was hand selected to join the elite honor guard in Washington D.C., which provides presidential support ceremonies as well as providing honors for the fallen in Arlington National Cemetery. This experience allowed me to march in President Reagan’s funeral procession, provided ceremonial honors to Chief Justice Rehnquist, various Tomb of the Unknown Soldier wreath- laying ceremonies, and much more. After that tour, I became a logistic planner. This job (which I still work) has afforded me the opportunity to deploy in support of OIF, OEF, as well as other operations. After over 10 and half years of active duty, I have joined the Reserves out of MacDill Air Force Base. The Air Force is rewarding and my love for the military will keep me around until I am forced to retire. I am looking forward to my second career in practicing law. I appreciate that the profession shares the same level of integrity, service, and excellence that I abide by.

Career Goals: I love the military and plan to utilize my degree to join the JAG Corps Reserve. With my civilian career, I am pretty flexible. After interning with various governmental agencies in the Tampa area, including a judicial internship with a circuit court judge, an appellate state court judge, assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the State Attorney’s Office, I believe that I will end up working for the government at some point. However, there is so much to learn in the civilian sector and I do have an interest in international law, contracts, and other transactional areas of law. In the end, my goal is to be successful in the law. “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” ― Abraham Lincoln

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Tell us a little about you: I am pleased to say that I am Californian, though I haven’t lived there in the last 12 years. I have been married to my best friend for seven years and am a full time mother to my two step-daughters that are now 13 and 9. They keep us very busy with their various activities. I also raised my baby sister during her teen years, who I am very proud of. She is a soldier in the Army National Guard and will be attending the police academy to become a law enforcement officer. Her twin, my other sister, has followed in my footsteps and is currently active duty Air Force. Traveling is the favorite activity that our family likes to do. We will take weekend trips and week-long trips, sporadically throughout the year. I am a huge animal lover (and so are my girls), as a result we have three cats and a greyhound. I love to support local animal charities. Lastly, you can find me most of the time in the gym, reading an autobiography, or making time for friends and family.

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Military Feature Michael C.H. McDaniel: Relish Challenge and Opportunity to Serve

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. May’s monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Michael C.H. McDaniel. Professor Michael McDaniel was a Judge Advocate General and Brigadier General before he turned his legal career to teaching for WMU-Cooley’s Homeland & National Security program. 

Military rank and title: Retired Brigadier General

Career Description: I participated in ROTC as an undergrad, but as I knew wanted to go to law school, a military career was put on hold. Some years later, I had just started with the Michigan Office of Attorney General. Almost the first case assigned to me was Harris v. Missavage. A soldier in the Michigan National Guard, on state training duty, had a ruptured Achilles tendon, misdiagnosed by another Guardsman, a young doctor. Harris sued, claiming malpractice. Because both soldiers were on state duty, the Feres doctrine, which bars one U.S. servicemember from suing another, did not apply. After we lost at trial, I successfully argued that the Court of Appeals should adopt a similar reasoning, that is, that there is a full system of benefits to cover medical and other needs and that to permit such lawsuits would irreparably damage unit cohesion and morale. After the Court agreed [see 165 Mich App 96 (1987)], the Michigan National Guard asked me if I wanted to be a Judge Advocate General.

McDaniel

Why law school was a great decision for you: It was the best decision I could have made as the JAG Corps permitted me to further my legal education, both in the classroom and the courtroom. It broadened my network of attorneys, provided a release from the office environment, as well as unique travel opportunities, and led to my involvement in Homeland Security and to further promotion. Those opportunities included working security at the Atlanta Olympics, attending the Jungle Operations Training Course in Panama, serving as both the Commanding Officer and exercise leader for a NATO training exercise which was a prerequisite to the Baltic States and Bulgaria’s membership, and many others.

On September 11, 2001, the governor’s legal counsel called me and asked me to draft an Executive Order for the governor to deploy the Michigan National Guard at Michigan’s international border crossings at Port Huron, Sault Ste. Marie, and at the Ambassador Bridge, tunnel and Detroit Metro Airport. And with that, my interest in Homeland Security and the needed laws and constitutional restrictions, began, culminating in the development of the Master of Laws in Homeland and National Security degree here at WMU-Cooley. That assistance on 9/11 and the new interest in Homeland Security directly led to being appointed the first state Homeland Security Advisor in Michigan and to being appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Planning, six years later.

Why law students with military backgrounds are successful: Law students with a military background tend to be older, to have diverse life experiences and to have gained organizational skills and an understanding of how large organizations work. Second, those with advanced training in many military operational skills, such as in military planning or intelligence, have already developed the analytical processes that law school teaches. Third, they already have lived a life of service; they know that service to others is their most important virtue. Undoubtedly, as attorneys they will be involved in public service professions or pro bono activities because duty to others has become deeply instilled within them. Most importantly, military members already have been trained to live by a code of conduct and to understand the reasons for that code, just as new lawyers must do.

Tell us about you: My daily goal is the same as my long-term goal, to live a life of public service. One of the greatest attributes of WMU-Cooley is its focus on service as well as education and scholarship. It has provided me the opportunity to serve the larger public in many ways, including my current project: the Flint mayor named me to lead the recovery efforts for the city of Flint. Drafting a recovery plan is challenging and complex, due to many economic, political, historic and engineering issues. But I relish the challenge and the opportunity to serve.

More Blogs featuring Professor Michael McDaniel:

Fight the ideology says Homeland Security law professor and ret. Brig. General Michael McDaniel

Veterans Court: A blessing to troubled treatment court graduate

Constitutional Law Professors Weigh in on Kim Davis Lawsuit

Day of Remembrance: Boy Scouts Honor Lives Lost in 9/11 Day Long Salute

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Military Feature Patrick Tolan: Military Students’ Strong Sense of Integrity Ideal for Legal Career

WMU-Cooley, as a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. April’s monthly feature is WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Patrick Tolan. Professor Tolan was a Lieutenant Colonel, Staff Judge Advocate, before he turned his legal career to teaching. 

Military rank and title: Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, Staff Judge Advocate

Career Description: I began my active duty career as a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in 1980 (I was 17 years old, and turned 18 in basic training). I graduated with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Basic Sciences, but my favorite classes (and professors) were in the law department. I served as a Lieutenant in the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. My job entailed reverse-engineering foreign (predominantly Soviet) weapon systems during the Cold War.

I looked into law school because I always wanted to be a lawyer. When the Air Force offered me the opportunity to attend the University of Michigan Law School through the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP), a competitive and selective program, I jumped at the chance. After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1990, I was assigned as the Chief of Civil Law, then the Chief of Military Justice at Eielson AFB in Alaska. There, I was the principal attorney advising the Wing Commander on environmental and government contract issues before becoming the chief prosecutor (of Officers and Airmen under the UCMJ and as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting civilians who committed crimes on the military installation (Federal property).

After that, I served for three years on the Air Force Trial Team defending the Air Force from contract disputes before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. From there I transferred to a teaching position at the Air Force Academy where I taught the Introduction to Law Class, Law for Commanders and Government Contract Law. After the Academy job, I was the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate and principal environmental attorney at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. I completed my LL.M. in Government procurement and environmental law before becoming the Staff Judge Advocate at Hanscom Air Force Base, between Lexington and Concord, Mass. I was the senior legal adviser to the Air Base Wing Commander and principal legal adviser for military justice issues to the 3-star Commander of Electronic Systems Center. I retired in 2005.

What makes law students with a military background so ideal for a legal career: I believe there are many reasons why law students with a military background make tremendous law students and lawyers. First, military members have integrity — they are used to a code of conduct and the highest moral standards. Second, service members are professionals; they have had training that instills characteristics like honesty, loyalty, perseverance, competence, dedication, and diligence. Third, they put the needs of others ahead of their own personal needs. Fourth, they strive for excellence in everything they do. Finally, the military instills discipline, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to success in law school and beyond.


Tell us a little about you:
My career goal is to have a long and distinguished teaching career, educating the next generation of attorneys. I enjoy church activities; hiking, fishing, kayaking, and outdoor activities; weight lifting, sudoku, and family time with my wife Tonya (of 28 years) and my four children.

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Military Feature Mark Patterson: The greatest honor a man can achieve is a life of service to others

WMU-Cooley, as a Military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School, talks to its military students, faculty and graduates about their journey from the military to law school and about their career goals. This month we feature WMU-Cooley law student Mark Patterson. Mark was a welder in the USMC 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion based in Tampa, Florida.

Military rank and title: E-3, Lance Corporal

Why did you decide to go to law school and why did you choose WMU-Cooley: I wanted to be an attorney since I was a young child. WMU-Cooley gave me the opportunity to go to law school on my schedule –with the option to obtain my Juris Doctor degree sooner, as a student in WMU-Cooley’s Accelerated Program. This schedule will allow me to finish in two years and one semester; all while continuing to work full-time. The location of WMU-Cooley’s Tampa Bay campus was a also a great benefit. I could stay close to both home and work, creating minimal disturbance to the time I want to spend with my children.

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Career Description: I was a welder (1316) in the USMC 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion based in Tampa, Florida – activated in 2003. Although I never deployed overseas, I served for seven years.

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Career goals: I would consider my career a success if I can be recognized as an advocate for people. I want to be the attorney people come to when an intricate case needs to be handled. I want my career focus to be in civil litigation, but would also like to offer my expertise in criminal litigation to a number of pro bono efforts I think are important. My career goals are simple: I want to provide the best representation, in every case, and for every client. In the end, I want to be proud of the work I did, as if my father was the client that I represented. This is what every client deserves.WMUCooleyTampa01072016-461

Tell us a little about you: In addition to the seven years I spent in the Corps, I spent eight years as a Deputy Sheriff in Polk County, Florida. I believe that we must live a life of service to others, and in that service, we will honor those who have done so before us. In life, everyone has a path to choose. I chose to lead by motivating, and working with an attitude of “we.” Titles have never meant much to me because I believe that when we succeed together, many are touched by the success. Teamwork works in life – across the board – whether it’s family, or friends, or school. I have had the honor of serving my classmates, family, and my fellow Marines. I hope that everyone with whom I have the opportunity to interact with will be Blessed and take that same opportunity to bless, motivate and inspire others.

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I have enjoyed and appreciated everything that I have been able to do while at WMU-Cooley Law School. I am certain that anyone who comes to our law school will build lifetime bonds, graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to confidently open their own firm, and ultimately join our Cooley Family that spans the globe.

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