Monthly Archives: March 2016

Blue Jeans Brunch Promotes Women Empowerment and Encourages Women to “Strike a Pose”

Over 60 WMU-Cooley Law School women dressed up in their best blue jeans and braved the rain on Saturday, March 19 to join up with WMU-Cooley Professor Karen Fultz for her 2nd Annual Blue Jeans Brunch in honor of Women’s History month. The event was held in Ulele’s 2,100-square-foot spring brewery. Women enjoyed native Floridian fare as they mixed and mingled. The casual, fun gathering in downtown Tampa was designed to bring women together to network with their colleagues and to meet other women professionals in the community.

“The kick is, you have to wear blue jeans,” smiled Professor Fultz. “In order for you to feel comfortable and to get to know other women in the legal community. This is for my female students – for them to come and meet judges and lawyers in the legal community and learn how to socialize and network as they endeavor into their legal career.”

The conversation started with a robust game of Getting To Know You Bingo, and continued with a number of inspiring women speakers sharing their ideas, thoughts and words of wisdom.

Judge Claudia Isom was energized to be part of WMU-Cooley’s Blue Jeans Brunch and to see so many woman embarking on a legal career. “I am so happy to be here today because Cooley has helped make history for women in the Tampa Bay area,” proclaimed Judge Isom. “Cooley has  enabled women to go to law school and have the ultimate empowerment of being attorneys.”

Keynote speaker, Amy Reagan, associate attorney at DLA Piper, shared with the women her “Five Golden Nuggets” on how to build your brand in the legal profession. They especially liked hearing her explain why “Striking a Pose” helps put your best self forward to be poised for success.

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The word WOMAN stands for Wonderful, Outstanding, Marvelous, Adorable, and Nice female law students according to Professor Fultz. By the end of event, the rain turned to sun, and every woman was feeling every letter of that word.

Kimlyn Walker, a second-career law student at WMU-Cooley, was feeling wonderful and outstanding at the brunch as well. She was thrilled to know so many other nice women and thankful for the chance at a second career in the law.

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Law student Bailey Vos: Accelerated Program a perfect fit for someone with a “can-do” attitude

Bailey Vos is a 24-year-old student at the Grand Rapids WMU-Cooley Law School campus. She was born and raised in Grand Rapids and didn’t leave the west Michigan area until she headed east to attend the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She is an honors scholar on track to finish law school in two years by following WMU-Cooley’s Accelerated Program.

WMU-Cooley Law School student Bailey Vos

WMU-Cooley Law School student Bailey Vos

Bailey started her higher education track at the University of Michigan and graduated in 2013 with her bachelor’s degree in Performance Art Management. “I was in the Theater School and loved every second of it.” Her first job out of college was as a producer for a children’s theater group for a  year, but she ultimately decided to return to Grand Rapids to be closer to family.

When she was first considering moving back to Grand Rapids, Bailey also thought about the next few steps. Going to law school had always been a dream, but she wanted to be sure. She started looking into law schools in Michigan because she knew she wanted to stay near home. She ultimately decided to attend WMU-Cooley Law School – for a number of reasons. Not only did WMU-Cooley have a campus in her hometown of Grand Rapids, the law school also awarded her an honors scholarship and gave her the ability to take its Accelerated Program, finishing law school in two years instead of three.

Bailey started in WMU-Cooley’s Accelerated Program in January 2015 and hasn’t looked back. “Once I see a goal, I do anything I need to in order to reach it,” Bailey said.

As of now, many of those goals have already been achieved. She’s been able to make the Dean’s List and Honor Roll several times during law school, and once she is finished with her required courses in August 2016, she plans to move to Austin, Texas to do her externship, and ultimately graduate in January of 2017, finishing her law school in exactly two years.

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She’s been successful at making time for everything that is important to her, despite her busy schedule. She believes that the relationships she’s formed throughout law school are ones that will last a lifetime. Because of this, she does not hesitate to put a night of studying aside to make time for her family and friends.

“Most people who hear about my schedule think I’m crazy,” laughed Bailey. Yet, if you sit down and talk to her, you are immediately inspired by her positive attitude and endless energy. She’s not afraid to push herself to find her limits. Bailey serves as the Student Bar Association president, managing editor for the WMU-Cooley Law School Law Review, an Enrollment and Student Services graduate assistant, teaching assistant for Constitutional Law, Student Ambassador, Kaplan Head Liaison, and a Grade Appeals Board member and magistrate. On her days off, Bailey works two part-time jobs outside of the school. She also records the WMU-Cooley open house radio ads when needed! She accomplishes all of that on top of a more-than-full class load, averaging 16-17 credit hours per term.
“I love being involved and making a difference,” explained Bailey. “If there is ever a point when my schedule isn’t insanely hectic, I somehow seem to find other things to do! That’s OK though.”
As Bailey would say “Anyone can accomplish anything, if you believe in yourself and if you believe you can.” We at WMU-Cooley believe you can, Bailey.  Keep making goals and helping others. You will accomplish great things.

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Tribute to my Moomie, Gloria Iona Wynter, during Women’s History Month

“Every March is Women’s History Month. And every March since I can remember I have reflected on the greatest woman I have every known – my moomie. She has been my strength. My rock. My inspiration for my entire life. This March feels different. My mother died this past December, the day after Christmas.” – Dionnie Wynter, 2005 WMU-Cooley graduate

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Leaving home and our homeland

My mother, Gloria Iona Wynter, immigrated to the United States in 1987. She left our homeland, the island of Jamaica. She went alone. The decision to leave was not easy, but the family understood that it was the only way out of poverty and into freedom. The family also knew that mom was the strong one. The decision was made. My mother got her American Visa, the cow was sold, and the airline ticket bought. You see, my family did not have the money to get an airline ticket, so my father had to sell the family’s prized cow.

Moomie unselfishly undertook the journey abroad to help our family. My father, Roy Wynter, selflessly stayed behind on the island to “raise” the children. I was the last of the seven.

I remember the day my mother left Jamaica. It was a bright Sunday afternoon. It felt like any other Sunday. We woke up as usual. We had breakfast. We got dressed. This Sunday however, we didn’t attend church as a family.  You see, we were all going on a journey into Kingston to the Norman Manly International Airport to bid my mother goodbye.

The journey into the city was the longest trip I had ever taken. We hired Mr. Bennet, a family friend, to drive us into the city. My mother sat in the front seat, while my dad and the rest of the family sat in the back of the pickup. We did not want my mother’s clothes to get wrinkled. After all, she was going abroad. We bade my mother farewell at the airport. The tears flowed freely.  I still feel the emotions we felt that day today.

Life without Moomie

We returned to our home and tried to resume life as we knew it. Needless to say nothing felt the same. My mother’s absence was a clear void the moment we walked back into the house.

Who was going to prepare breakfast? Who was going to prepare dinner? Who was going to make sure we got out of bed on time? Who was going to reassure us life was going to be okay? Who, Who, Who?

I was 13 years old.

The next time I saw my mother. 

I was 19 years old. Moomie lived in New York City for six years before she ever made it back to the Island. She missed funerals, weddings, and birthdays. She visited for two weeks.  By then I was a mother myself. And my mother was now a grandmother.

I saw her again when I was 21 years old. This time though, my mother had come back to the Island to accompany me and my daughter Danielle back to the United States.  My mother had assisted my older sister Sharon to the United States before us. For the next two decades, my mother assisted all her children, one at a time, to make it over to the United States.

Opportunity, education and the law

While my mother took on the task of systematically shuttling her children across the ocean over a period of time, I took on the task of taking advantage of the opportunity she afforded me and the entire family. I knew that getting an education was the most important thing for me to do, and immediately enrolled in college. To date, I have obtained several degrees, including a Juris Doctor degree from WMU-Cooley Law School.  I am licensed to practice law in the states of Michigan and New Jersey, plus, in 2013, I was admitted to our highest court, the United States Supreme Court.

The high point of my life was April 19, 2002; the day I became a naturalized citizen. That day, I obtained the right to vote, the ability to apply for a federal job, and the right to proudly say I was an American. My mother was by my side. I stood next to her, along with over 1000 individuals from dozens of countries, while we all took our Oath.

On January 16, 2016, I laid my mother to rest on the beautiful island of Jamaica. Four days later I departed from my island home in Jamaica to return to my home in Tampa Bay, Florida. My mother was leaving me all over again; but this time I am armed with her loving spirit, her generosity, and most importantly, her eternal strength.

RIP Moomie: May 3, 1944 – December 26, 2015


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Naturalization Ceremony during Women’s History Month – March 2016

The reality is my story and these kind of decisions are made by many families, every day, around the world. Women especially face this challenge. Who will stay; who will go? Over two decades ago my mother was bold enough to navigate the United States Immigration system to give opportunity to her family. I know that my successes, my dreams fulfilled, are a direct result of a woman making an unselfish decision to leave her family behind to create a new home in a better place. It was an absolute honor for me to share my story at the Naturalization Ceremony during Women’s History Month. Thank you to Western Michigan University Cooley Law School for hosting this event. I know that all 75 women, representing 36 different countries, also had to make hard decisions and they have their own story.  I hope my story, in some simple way, brings a smile to their face and brings strength to their heart and souls.

Moomie at United States Supreme Court

 

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Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee: Checkmate

Professor Brendan BeeryBlog author, Constitutional Law expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery explores the ongoing political battle over the United States Supreme Court nomination process. Professor Beery, a summa cum laude graduate of the law school, teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Criminal Procedure at WMU-Cooley Law School, and is a frequent legal expert in the media.

Were I to advise an opponent of President Obama in just about any situation, I would say this: Don’t bring a checkerboard to a chess match. The President has put Republicans in a jam by nominating United States Circuit Judge Merrick Garland to be the next associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. There is no constitutional principle that compels the Republican-controlled Senate to confirm Garland. The Constitution provides only that the Senate must advise and consent; there is no timeline for its doing so, and the question whether the Senate may neglect to offer any meaningful advice or consider giving its consent for almost a full year is likely a political rather than a legal question. But that doesn’t mean that Garland’s chances are anywhere near zero.

Garland is the most qualified person for the job. That alone makes his nomination difficult to oppose. But the political dynamics at play make this a mouse trap in obstructionists’ cookie jar.  And it’s armed.

It’s no mistake that the President announced his nominee the morning after voters substantially clarified the presidential race. No sooner did Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton emerge as prohibitive favorites to become their parties’ nominees for president than Merrick Garland emerged as the President’s nominee for the seat left open after Antonin Scalia’s death. What you or I believe will happen in the upcoming election is not terribly important as to how this Supreme Court nomination will play out, but what Republicans in the Senate believe could be dispositive. And they seem to believe that Donald Trump will be steamrolled by Hillary Clinton; as has now been widely reported, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone so far as to give his Republican colleagues the green light to run against Trump to hold onto their own seats if he becomes the Republican nominee for president.

That leaves Republicans in the Senate staring down the barrel of a judicial 12-gauge that has Hillary Clinton’s finger on its trigger. Merrick Garland might be described as an extreme moderate; he takes the middle road at breakneck speeds. He is not an ideologue in any sense, which is to say that his intellect is not corrupted by any deep psychological need to conclude one way or another. He is simply a decent man with a good heart who applies reasonable legal principles to solve the cases before him. While he cannot be said to be a rigid absolutist in the mold of Clarence Thomas (or Antonin Scalia), he is also no raging liberal. This is, after all, the man who had Timothy McVeigh put to death.

So the dare is on. Republicans will have several months to decide whether they should seat this nominee on the Court. If public-opinion polls show Hillary Clinton poised to trounce Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz, or whomever the nominee might be), expect deep fissures to form in a wall of resistance that was thrown up as an ideological hissy fit rather than as a bastion of principled statecraft. By the time November rolls around, President Obama will have granted his opponents their wish: he will have withdrawn his moderate nominee and left them to deal with whatever far-left liberal judge Hillary Rodham Clinton sends their way. They won’t be able to stonewall for another four years, after all. “Go ahead,” the President is saying. “Reject my nominee.  I dare you.”

To that end, do not expect this President to use a recess appointment (which he is constitutionally entitled to do) or any other gimmick to get Merrick Garland seated on the Court. That is not the game that is being played here, and President Obama is not going to save his opponents from themselves. It is unlikely that President Obama will be deeply wounded if Garland never authors a Supreme Court opinion about abortion, LGBT equality, the death penalty, or the environment. If it is not Garland but somebody else who authors those opinions, the deeply wounded will more likely be those who could have kept the Court from listing leftward to the tipping point, but failed to do so.

Of course, with its aging justices, the Court is likely to list leftward under a Hillary Clinton administration regardless of the outcome of this nomination fight. So maybe Republicans will hedge their bets. There is always the chance that she will lose the election, and if she wins, the conservative project to remake the American judiciary will be over anyway. So why act now?

To see where this fight is going, keep one eye on the opinion polls and the other on the calendar.

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WMU-Cooley Team’s Talent and Efforts Paid Off in Patent Drafting Competition

For WMU-Cooley students Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay, the Midwest Regional International Patent Drafting Competition, hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, began back in December 2015. Each team received an invention for which they were to prepare and submit a patent application, along with the related documents relative to the invention. They were then scored by a select panel of judges. Teams had to do an oral presentation explaining their applications before a panel of judges, including a presentation of their search strategies and claims drafted. The three months of work paid off! Team Hill and DeLucenay took second place in the competition — missing first place by a hair!

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“I was the last team member to join and was thrilled to have the opportunity,” said Joyce. “Professor Tschura was the driving force behind getting a team together and I have him to thank for that. He was also very instrumental during the competition. 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 and to watch our WMU-Cooley team in action. 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 currently work as an intellectual property intern and this competition  gave me a whole new perspective on intellectual property law — one I had never seen before. I learned that each practitioner, corporation, law firm and USPTO has their own unique way or spin on writing patents. My original plan was to take the patent bar this summer, but after participating in this competition I decided to compete again next year. I will wait to take the patent bar exam the following summer.”

Chris learned about the competition while attending a Michigan Intellectual Property American Inn of Court meeting with Professor Tschura. “It sounded like a good opportunity to gain some practical experience in patent drafting and also to meet professionals in the industry. But what I really enjoyed was tackling new problems; problems I had never faced before when searching and drafting an application. I truly enjoyed working with Joyce. We worked very hard, in a limited time frame, to put our submission together. The competition presentation was a unique and great experience. I got to visit the Detroit USPTO satellite office and meet examiners, judges, and practitioners who gave us some great advice for our future careers. It was a tremendous opportunity. I am thankful to Professor Tschura for all he did and Joyce for being such a great teammate. I was honored to represent WMU-Cooley respectably.”

Professor and Coach Gerald Tschura could not be more proud of the team and their second place finish in the competition.

“I was delighted with our very talented team of Joyce Hill and Christopher DeLucenay,” stated Tschura. “I found them both to be extremely self-motivated, beyond the fact that they worked so well as a team. Their written submission, as well as their oral presentations, were absolutely outstanding. Both law students exemplify exactly the high caliber and degree of competency needed in patent law. Our team’s talent and efforts paid off as their written submissions and oral presentations were absolutely outstanding. WMU-Cooley continues to educate and graduate highly talented patent attorneys, most of whom are now employed by  intellectual property focused law firms in the region and throughout the country including as examiners at the USPTO.”

Joyce also felt what she learned from her internship at Dickinson Wright clearly gave her an edge in the competition.  “I am so grateful for all the programs and staff at WMU-Cooley who have been instrumental in putting me on the right track for success, especially Alana Glass and Sheri Lesnick from our Career Services Offices who got me my Intellectual Property internship with Dickinson Wright.”

The competition was the first of its kind, according to Professor Tschura. “The USPTO plans for the competition to become an annual event, and expanding it to regional competitions to be held at each of the USPTO regional satellite offices in Detroit, Dallas, Denver and Palo Alto, as well Alexandria, Virginia.

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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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Law students experience life in the big city of Melbourne

Law students on the WMU-Cooley Down Under study abroad program are now experiencing life in the big city of Melbourne, Australia – and loving it! Melbourne is a city of 4 million people, and you can feel the vibe on the streets, in streetcars and on trains. You can see it all around – in the markets, by the river, in the buildings, and everywhere. 

city scape

We toured the city far and wide, and up and down.

veritcal shots

The Monash law faculty building is located in the heart of the legal district of the city. The school is a block away from most of the Victoria courts.  It is common to see barristers, in black robes and white wigs, walking around.  Students visited the Victoria Parliament, seat of the state of Victoria.  Students even got to sit in the Speaker’s chair and hold the mace, where they used to open sessions of the lower house (and occasionally to remove non-conforming members).

The law students visited the upper chamber, which is decked out in red velvet and gold leaf.  They saw the most beautiful law library I have ever seen.

court images

Students also visited the Dandenong Mountains, where they hiked, fed large cockatoo parrots, and had some tea. They rode on Puffing Billy, a steam engine train, in the mountains.  They visited Healesville Sanctuary, where they saw Kookaburras, Kangaroos, and Koalas, as well as many birds and a duck-billed platypus. They visited a winery and a chocolaterie/ice creamery.

puffing billy

Students have plunged into coursework that is challenging, and are working hard. Professors John Duns, Leighton Morris, and Emmanuel Laryea are helping students understand international law related to Banking, Competition, and the Australian Legal System. Students and faculty alike are taking in their studies and all the city has to offer – from sun up to sun down. Can’t wait to see what more is in store in the big and beautiful city of Melbourne!

day and night

oleary_kimberlyWMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary is directing the law school’s foreign study program in New Zealand and Australia. She and her students are sharing their experiences throughout the Hilary 2016 semester. She and her Down Under study abroad students are now in Australia after spending the first part of the term taking classes in Hamilton, New Zealand.

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