Tag Archives: student experiences

Students in Sixty Plus Clinic Reflect on Their Great Experiences

Kimberly E. O'Leary

Kimberly E. O’Leary is professor of law and director of WMU-Cooley’s Sixty Plus. Inc. Elderlaw Clinic.  She is a national leader in clinical education, including having served as chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Clinical Legal Education.  Prof. O’Leary writes that “My students are the bright light in the room, always, for me.” She shares with us some of her students’ reflections about their Sixty Plus Clinic experience.

One student noted the feelings a clinical student goes through:
It was like a switch clicked and all of a sudden you know what you’re doing.  The most important skill is patience – with clients, with learning, with systems.  The first term, I had PTSD:  post traumatic supervisory disorder.  It’s all about time and how to manage it.
Here are important realizations from another student:
They actually valued my opinions and my ideas.  I realized I can do it.  I realized certain areas I need to improve.  I learned how you can become the lawyer you want to be.
Another student learned that there is plenty of room for good lawyers, especially those who can work as part of a team:

I heard there’s too many lawyers.  There’s NOT too many lawyers.  Instead, there are so many people who could benefit from a lawyer who don’t have access to one.

Good lawyers find a way to get paid to help people who need them.

There’s work to be done.

I learned a lot about the elderly.

I’ve always been independent. I was nervous about working in a team.

I’ve learned how to work with people in a professional setting.

Yet another offered practical suggestions to future clinical students at the Law School:

·         Write down new ideas so you don’t forget them.

·         Be confident in your role as a lawyer.

·         Act like you know what you’re doing.

·         You don’t have to write a lot to write something good.

·         It’s OK to smile.

Here are some gems:
Silence is OK, and sometimes it is necessary.  I can interact with a client.  I can be creative, think outside the box.  I learned that issues often intertwine.  Knowing where to start . . . .  Explaining the law to clients.  Huge boost of confidence.  Preparation is key.

This student realized that a lawyer sometimes encounters difficult clients:

The client sometimes changes her goals.

After we communicated, the client who initially felt lost instead felt relief and appreciated what I had done for her.

I learned it is OK to ask for help.

Sometimes it is best to gracefully withdraw when you think a client is being unethical.

This student loved the experience of working with colleagues:
I loved bouncing ideas back and forth, exploring issues, putting everything together, getting different perspectives from classmates.  I learned better ways of communication and the importance of staying organized.
And this student exclaimed how she has learned what she wants to do upon graduation, adding some practice pointers for us:

·         This experience led me to my passion.

·         I want to be a solo practitioner in estate planning.

·         Discussing your ultimate wishes is a favor to your family.

·         I want to do Medicaid planning.


·         Don’t take anything at face value.  Investigate.

·         Take deep breaths, and rub your temples.

·         Opinion letters are your best friend.

·         Remember the grand scheme of things.

These students performed admirably in the clinic, learning not only the law but how to serve their clients with skill and compassion.  WMU-Cooley Law School is proud of their achievements.  If you haven’t yet taken your clinic or externship, a valuable and exciting time awaits you.  If you have, please share your experiences with us by commenting below or writing us at alumni@cooley.edu.

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Filed under Faculty Scholarship, Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, Student News, Achievements, Awards, The Value of a Legal Education

When Science Fails Us and We Fail Justice

Thomas M. Cooley Law Review

Members of the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review have been writing on a broad range of topics.  This post summarizes an article by Colin Maguire about junk science.

The legal system is far from perfect. Sometimes, the system can even create gross injustices.

That was the case with David Gavitt – a man who served over two decades in prison after he was wrongly convicted of killing his wife and young children. At the time of his conviction, the scientific consensus was that someone set a fire that engulfed David’s house, injured him, and killed his family. With no other suspects, a jury convicted David of setting the fatal fire.

Years later, it was revealed that the “science” used to convict David was junk science . . . and David was not the only person affected as a result of bad arson science. The Thomas M. Cooley Law Review’s Publicity Editor, Colin W. Maguire, visited Imran Syed, Staff Attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Innocence Clinic. Mr. Syed started working on David’s case as a law student and was there to accompany David out of prison after he was exonerated. You can read the interview on the Review‘s website in a piece entitled “When Science Fails Us & We Fail Justice: A Conversation About the Tragic Case of David Gavitt.” In this in-depth interview, Maguire and Syed explore the details of this injustice. The interview also looks at remedies that attorneys and lawmakers should consider when dealing with a clear case of bad science leading to bad convictions.

Read Mr. Maguire’s article in full.

See the Cooley Law Review on line

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Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Student Experiences, Student News, Achievements, Awards, The Value of a Legal Education

The Digital Citizens’ Bill of Rights

Thomas M. Cooley Law Review

Members of the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review have been writing on a broad range of topics.  This post summarizes a piece by Anna Zagari that can be read in full on the Review‘s website.

The Internet, which is most regarded for its open and convenient access to countless types of information, is often celebrated by the masses, but there are some, especially owners of intellectual property rights, who have reasons to detract from the celebration.  Recent efforts by the government to stop online piracy on an international level have caused a stir, with opponents claiming the proposed legislation is too vague and would take away the freedom of the Internet.  After what was dubbed an “Internet Blackout” earlier this year, where thousands of websites literally blacked-out all their content, the bills lost major support and were withdrawn.

In reaction to the controversy, Congressman Darrell Issa, who opposed both of the bills, made an open invitation over the summer to help him draft the Digital Citizen’s Bill of Rights with the goal of keeping the Internet open and free.  Issa hopes to establish fundamental rights for citizens within the digital world to ensure “they are free to innovate, collaborate and participate in building a stronger America and better world.”  See the details on the Law Review‘s website.

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A Great Student Summer Research Project

Thomas M. Cooley Law Review

Members of the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review have been doing some interesting things.  Sarah Fuhrman, the Law Review’s Solicitation Editor, offers this piece about a project that colleague Colin Maguire undertook during the summer.

How did you spend your summer?  Colin W. Maguire, the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review’s Publicity Editor, jetted across the pond to meet with three attorneys at the London office of K&L Gates, one of the world’s largest law firms.  (By the way, 2006 Cooley graduate Billy M.C. Chen is an associate in the firm’s Taipei, Taiwan office.)

Colin’s  interview focused on a paper that they had published, but also goes in some different directions.

The result is an incredibly deep look at green building policies in the commercial real estate sector. There is a particular focus on Britain’s “Green Deal”and energy-efficiency requirements for commercial buildings. The lessons learned from the UK are applicable and beneficial to professionals and legal advisers in many markets.

 Here is the text of Colin’s interview as found on the firm’s own website.

See the Cooley Law Review on line.

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Filed under About Cooley Law School, History, Student Experiences, Student News, Achievements, Awards, The Value of a Legal Education