Category Archives: Alumni Stories and News

Graduates share their success stories about attending law school and achieving their dreams.

High-Speed Internet is Not a Basic Right

By Sara Kubik

Sara Kubik

Sara Kubik

Sara Kubik holds a PhD in Technology and Gerontology, a MBA in Marketing and Management, a BA in Graphic Design, and is expecting to complete her Juris Doctor degree at WMU-Cooley Law School in December 2016. She is an extern at the Speaker Law Firm, an appellate boutique law firm representing clients in the Michigan and federal appellate courts. This article was originally published by Law Technology Today on July 6, 2016.

In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) classified broadband Internet service access as a public utility.

The move was focused around the concept of net neutrality. The FCC’s Open Internet Rules claim to protect consumers by prohibiting things like throttling data speeds or giving prioritization to higher payers of internet services.

I laughed reading these “bright line rules” because the cellular plan I’m on unabashedly states that they will throttle my data content when I reach a monthly limit. I’ve experienced this throttling; it makes viewing almost every web page impossible.

And the prohibition of speed prioritization? This same service “allows” me the option of paying more money to get a faster Internet connection.

So is the FCC’s move lip-service only? And what does this have to do with lawyers? This article is a realistic perspective on the future of high speed Internet access in rural U.S. areas. It will dispel the hype that we hear about broadband being a basic right and suggest practical solutions to the realities of Internet connectivity and web page designs in an unequal-access world.

But back to the FCC and its broadband-is-now-a-utility declaration. Here are some preliminary questions:

  1. What is a public utility? Generally speaking, utilities include things like electricity, telecommunications, water, and sewage service.
  1. Are public utilities basic rights? That’s debatable. Some would say they are not; providers can shut off service for things like non-payment of electrical bills. On the flip side, many have argued there is a basic human right to water and sanitation, something that is being challenged in the Flint, Michigan water crisis, for example.
  1. Should we lump broadband Internet access in with this group? Is it a basic right? The reality is, high speed Internet access is not a basic right for all Americans. And it never will be.

I live in a town in Michigan in a county that is classified as rural. Technically I am about one mile beyond the town’s limit. And from here, I cannot get cable, nor can I receive any type of wired-broadband Internet connectivity. And fiber optic Internet connectivity (which has the fastest Internet speeds)? Only in my dreams.

My options for Internet access at home are satellite-connectivity for any home computers or cellular-connectivity through my smart phone. Both are nowhere near as fast or maintain as consistent a connection as cabled or fiber optic Internet connections.

Now before you question if my house has running water and electricity (yes to both), I would like to also point out that I live about one mile from one of the largest universities in Michigan. I live one mile from 27,000 broadband-connected young folk! Yet I strongly believe that this Broadband-Internet-High-Speed-Is-A-Basic-Right idea is completely unachievable.

Here’s why:

  1. When it comes to cable or fiber optic lines connecting to our homes, not everyone has them and not everyone will be able to get them.

We are a large nation in terms of geographic size. Rolling out cables or fiber optics to every U.S. home location is not going to happen. (See a comparison of cable to fiber optic connectivity here.) To connect to a private home, cables and lines must either be below ground or above. So that means either digging a ditch or connecting to utility poles. Digging new ditches to everyone’s home is expensive compared to the overhead alternative. The infrastructure is already in place regarding utility poles, however, not everyone can access them.

And for those who can access the utility poles, there is a lot of fighting both amongst them and to prohibit others from accessing these passageways.

To summarize: there is too much ground to cover to install underground cable or fiber optic lines to every U.S. home, it would be too expensive to install all of those underground lines to all rural dwellings, and there are too many players in the overhead line market who can’t, or won’t, form high speed Internet agreements to serve the rural population.

Well, if we can’t be corded in rural areas, what else can we do?

Cut the cord!

But, this, too, is not an optimal solution…

  1. When it comes to cellular coverage and smart phone use, the data usage amount is routinely limited and the speed is not fast.

As mentioned above, living in a rural area and having a smart phone is not the same as living in an urban area. First, not every telecom company has service in rural areas. We still experience the “Can you hear me now?” phenomenon.

And of the smart-phone service we can get, there are issues like limited data amounts, or data plans that throttle users on so-called “unlimited” access plans.  Where this is felt the most is when we try to watch video on our smart phones. It’s a sure-fire way to hit our data cap in record time!

But that is assuming we can even see the videos. Often, and despite what the marketing may say, the speed of Internet access when using a smart phone is just plain painful. I explained the comparison of cable Internet connection versus smart phone internet connection to my mother like this: Cable is like a roaring river with rapids — you get a lot of water, but it doesn’t last too long. Smart phone access is like a long and winding stream that goes on and on — it’s a smaller amount of water, but it goes further. We, in rural areas, are most likely limited to a stream-type connection for our Internet access with our smart phones.

Well, then, what about satellite?

  1. When it comes to satellite subscriptions, the price is too high and the service is not consistent.

Satellite connections are also not as fast as wired speeds and the fees are really expensive. Plus, signals routinely drop. They drop. They drop. And then they drop. This makes Cloud-connectivity software something we try to stay clear of.

The Takeaways for Lawyers

The solution to all of this is not to force all rural inhabitants to move but to keep in mind the following …  do not forget about us, the-non-broadband group, when you design websites and digital solutions.

  • Start with mobile-optimized web pages and then do your desktop designs. One in five Americans do not have broadband access at home and also have relatively few options for getting online other than their cell phone. It’s not just we in rural America that are smart-phone dependent, though, and Pew Research has a great study on who else falls into this group. Again, remember that 20 percent of Americans are smart-phone dependent, so web pages should increasingly be designed, or at least responsive, for mobile viewing.
  • Assume we will connect to your site with our smart phones (which, like a stream, are the furthest reaching but can be the slowest in terms of speed).
  • Make it clear on your mobile-optimized sites that there may be more features on your desktop designs and provide us with a hyperlink to that site if we want to jump to it. This is an increasingly understood notion — that desktop websites have more features than mobile-optimized sites.
  • Remember that our screen sizes are smaller, so be efficient with your designs. Do not put in content that is not necessary or redundant on your mobile-optimized websites. Do not put in too many images; do not put in images that are too large in size. Law Practice Today provides an explanation on resolution, resizing, and re-sampling images. And although it loads quickly, try to limit your words, dear lawyers.
  • Drop the auto-play of video content. Even animated .gifs are potentially problematic (and highly annoying). If you want to attract rural clients, drop video content altogether!

Remember, too, that high speed Internet speeds vary depending upon what type of connection you use or have the ability to use (smart phone, satellite, cable, fiber optic). The gold star of universal broadband access is just not foreseeable given the problems noted above. It’s not a basic right; it’s not about being fair or unfair.

So let’s be realistic about what can, will, and should not be considered a basic right for the various ways to connect to the Internet in this very large country of ours. And on that note, because I wrote this article on my home computer, I must now drive into work to e-mail it.

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Michelle Lahey Reed: Newborn Cuddler Program Fosters Double the Love

“On December 18, 2014, after 10 months, one week and six days, my family officially adopted Addisyn Sue Reed and Abygail Joy Reed,” exclaimed Michelle Lahey Reed, the  director of risk management services at Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. “I stand before you, the insanely blessed mother of four!” In 2010, Michelle, a WMU-Cooley Law School accelerated two-year program student and September 2000 graduate, was inspired to create a program in the hospital’s Special Care Nursery, where volunteers would receive training to hold and console special care nursery babies. Watch Michelle tell her touching and joyful story, and read below about her journey from implementing a “Community Cuddlers Program,” to being a foster parent (along with her husband, fellow WMU-Cooley graduate Shane Reed), to her family’s adoption of twins Addisyn and Abygail.

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“It wasn’t long after I started working at Community Memorial Hospital that I sought out Kristin Lebiecki, the director of our Birthing Centers, to ask her if I could maybe hold a baby every now and again. I expected her to question me, or maybe even look at me funny but she didn’t, she just said ‘Of course!  We would love the help!’

In the beginning I would call the Special Care Nursery periodically and ask if they needed a hand. When they did, I could easily hold a precious baby and answer emails or calls from my phone. The special care nursery babies are used to alarms and machines beeping and never minded when my pager sounded. I could hold babies for two minutes or 10 – and it always made my day. There was actually a sticky note in the Special Care Nursery for quite some time with my extension on it.  And the amazing women who work in that unit would call me when they needed someone to rock, feed or just love on a baby. My kids are 12 and nine. Jaxson plays travel hockey and select baseball. Reagyn is a Next Step Company Dancer and a Franklin Prep Pom. The days of cuddling mama are long gone!

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I vividly recall the first baby I cuddled who needed foster care placement. He was born into a not-so-perfect situation and needed a home. I held him more than any other baby I had held before. One of our case managers said, “Michelle, you should look into becoming a foster parent.” I gave her the look. I balked at the idea. I told her I had a full-time job! And two insanely busy children. I said that foster parents were crazy, amazing people and that I was far from crazy, amazing.  I asked her had she not seen the flyers in the elevators? They say “Kids Deserve the Best! Be a Kid Hero!” I pointed out I was not hero material either. Conversation over.

I happened to be present when that baby boy’s foster mother arrived. I expected an angel. Someone full of grace and kindness and patience – an overall incredible human being. The woman who walked in wore jeans. And she was full of questions. And more questions. And shaky. And she looked as if she might throw up at any second. But here she was. Taking home a four-day-old baby boy who needed her. And suddenly I admired her so much.

A few months later there was another baby in need of foster care. And then another. And then another. Each time I was amazed by the people who swooped in to help. The people who took these babies home and cared for them as their own. I was so enamored by how ordinary they were, yet what a phenomenal thing they were doing.

Around this same time we became the Community Hospital Division and my work load increased. My minutes for the babies became few and far between. Kristin and I worked together with Sue Schulke and our volunteers to implement the “Community Cuddlers Program” where our volunteers receive training to hold and console special care nursery babies. I loved that we could do this! As Risk Management, I am forever saying things like ‘No, no thank you! I’m sorry. What? And absolutely not.’ This was something I could wholeheartedly support.

It was also at this time that I had the honor of representing our organization in the Leadership Menomonee Falls Class of 2013. I became very aware of the concept of servant leadership which is where leaders serve others, and in doing so improve themselves. It is also where leaders recognize their responsibility to help those less fortunate than them. Although I had never heard of the term, the concept struck home with me – hard.

I couldn’t get the foster families out of my head. I did research. I made phone calls. I asked questions. I talked to my family and told them I thought we had room in our hearts and in our home and that we too could do this. And to my delight, they all agreed. In June of 2013, my family started the process to become a licensed foster family through Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services.

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Becoming a licensed foster family is a bit of a challenge. After you complete small mountains of paperwork, they send some more. Some duplicate because the originals vanished upon arrival to their office and some new. We provided everything from our medical records to the kids’ report cards to the dog’s most recent vaccinations. We did interviews individually, interviews as a married couple, and interviews as a family. We sat helplessly when they asked our diva daughter what she wanted in a foster child and she ever so specifically laid out her preferences as if she were ordering a pizza. Following that great experience they called our mothers. They sent reference sheets to our friends. They verified our employment. They scoured our home with a fine tooth comb, and a hockey stick, to be sure every smoke and carbon monoxide detector worked. And, finally, on 11-12-13 my family became an officially licensed Milwaukee County Foster Family.

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Our Green Light date, the date that a child could first be placed in our home, was December 5, 2013. We were so excited at the prospect of having a baby in our home! But no baby came.  No baby came the first week. Or the week after that. Not for Christmas. Not for New Years. Not in January. Those of you who work with me often can probably attest patience is not my strong suit. I reassured my family over and over, and told them surely we would get the chance to help more than one baby.

On February 5, 2014, in the Treiber Conference Room at Community Memorial Hospital, Dennis Pollard was giving his Presidents Forum. At 12:38 p.m. my cell phone buzzed and I stepped out to take the call. I will never, ever in my life forget that call. There were identical twin girls, eight months old, who needed a foster home. They were born at 29 weeks gestation. They had health issues as well as a concerning family dynamic.  Without a lot of details to consider, we had 30 minutes to decide whether we would take them in.

After several phone calls with the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, my husband, my mom (because, seriously, what girl does not call her mom), and a call to both kids at school, we accepted the placement. Here was our chance to help more than one baby. All at once.

At 5:44 p.m. that evening, Addison and Abigail arrived in the foyer of The Reed Ranch. Never mind who brought them, what they came with and what they didn’t, what they wore, or how they smelled. They were in our home. And they were absolutely beautiful. And from the moment that social worker handed them to me, my life forever changed.

I have a fabulous relationship with my one-up, Judi Cranberg. Yes she is my boss, but she is also a beloved friend and confidant. Of all the things I had chatted with her about, I could not quite recall mentioning my quest to be a foster parent. And so, around, oh, say, 9:30 p.m., when I sort of caught my breath, I text her a picture of two gorgeous baby girls fresh and clean in ducky jammies, and I said something along the lines of, ‘I think I may need a few days off.’

I did take two days off work when the twins arrived to figure out, you know, small things like daycare, doctors appointments and what not. But other than a day here and a day there when they were ill or had appointments, I was here at work. It was crucial to me that we get ourselves into a routine. On to a schedule. And that meant work and school and daycare and everyday life. I tried very hard to continue to be the Risk Director everyone knows and loves. To carry on as if two babies, four children in all, wasn’t a challenge at all. Except there were those days when you noticed I was wearing two different shoes. And days when you pointed out a large chunk of formula on the sleeve of my suit jacket. Or my personal favorite, a day I slept almost four hours in a row and I was totally ready to hit the ground running, and arrived at a meeting of my peers with my suit jacket completely inside out. I had wondered why my badge would not hang from my lapel just right.

There were so many things I did not think through. Like that first night when we only had one crib. I was texting my besties like mad praying one of them had hoarder like tendencies such that they had kept a crib or pack-and-play, despite their youngest children being in double digits. I hit pay dirt! Or the next morning when I needed to take my kids to school. Turns out four children, two of which happen to be in infant car seats, and one adult, don’t fit in a midsize sedan. And so I, Michelle Lahey Reed, Director of Risk Management, shoved my 12 year old son in the hatch of my car for the four-mile ride to school. And I will not say it was first and only time.

kids

When I arrived at work on my 39th birthday, after a night of almost no sleep and what I was sure was yet another ear infection for both girls, I walked into a birthday baby shower. The Quality and Medical Staff Offices had decorated everything pink and my gift was a larger than life basket filled with presents for the twins. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Those who knew we had the girls asked repeatedly if there was anything they could do to help. Many departments gifted the girls with the cutest of outfits and toys. I had the support of so many people across the Froedtert system. I appreciated every inquiry, every word of encouragement, every hug. I am most grateful to Mary Wolbert, my VP, and Judi Cranberg, my Executive Director, for being absolutely amazing to my family throughout this experience.  If they thought I was truly crazy they never said so to me.

I can’t be dishonest. There have certainly been some challenging moments. And not just logistics and every virus possible, but birth parent visits and court dates and hardcore emotions that can never be accurately depicted in a Lifetime movie.

But there have also been some hilarious moments. Imagine the horror my sixth grade son experienced when he watched the Human Growth and Development Video demonstrating the birth of a child. Unbeknownst to my husband and me, Jaxson was convinced that all babies arrived via social worker.

I could stand up here and tell you the highs and lows of foster parenting, but I will spare you. Instead I will tell you that nine months of pregnancy, two times, was a cakewalk compared to 10 plus months in the foster care system. I will tell you that the highs of having Addison and Abigail made every low, every challenge, every battle, every setback, every heartbreak, extremely worthwhile.  I will tell you that I cried more in 10 months than I cried in 10 years. For both good and bad reasons. And I don’t regret a single tear.

As luck would have it, Santa Claus came early for my family. On December 18, 2014, after 10 months, one week and six days, my family officially adopted Addisyn Sue Reed and Abygail Joy Reed! I stand before you, the insanely blessed mother of four!

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I want to tell you that I am ridiculously proud of my family. I will never be able to find the right words to tell you how awesome Jaxson and Reagyn have been to these baby girls. Nor can I adequately describe how emotional it is to see my husband rock and read two gorgeous girls to sleep. I want to tell you how heartwarming it is to hear my dad talk like Donald Duck and see my mom sew christening gowns for two more granddaughters.

I want to reassure you that Jaxson travels safely! I traded in my beloved, hard earned BMW for a 7-passenger minivan, complete with personalized license plates. Both the car salesman and I were a little teary.

I want to tell you that my twins are extraordinary. I think it was Shakespeare who said “though she may be little, she is fierce.” That’s my girls. Small, but mighty. They have overcome so much and come so incredibly far. They are truly a sight to be seen.

I also want to tell you that I do still visit our special care nurseries and rock the babies whenever I can. It’s just that now they are much easier to hand back!

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I want to tell you that I am nobody’s hero. I am a 15 years happily married, south suburban, crazy combination hockey and dance mom who fell head over heels in love with two adorable baby girls. I am technically a giant failure as a foster mother because once those girls were in my arms I had no intention of ever letting them go! I’m not an angel. I’m not a saint. I never set out to be anyone’s inspiration. I am still ‘meanie head’ Michelle in Risk Management. Or as one of our more challenging patients said, ‘That wicked woman with the high hair.’

What I did is what all of you do on a daily basis, I turned a What if, into What is possible.

reeds

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Swearing-in counts as a best day in an attorney’s life

Being sworn in as a brand new attorney is an important day in the life of every lawyer. The Hon. Christopher C. Sabella of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida agrees wholeheartedly. He warmly welcomed the seven WMU-Cooley Law School graduates and their families this evening and reminded each of the former law students of the hard work and dedication that got them to this day.

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He noted that, this day, the day an attorney is sworn in, counts as one of the best days in an attorney’s life. He aligned the importance of this day to the day you marry or the day of a child’s birth. And the smiles on every one of the new attorney’s and their loved ones faces looked like he might be right! WMU-Cooley Law School Tampa Bay campus graduates (left to right) Michelle Ace-Carroll, Jennifer Alderman, Elizabeth Devolder, Philistine Hamdan, Eric Bossardt,  Cristina Solis, and Kymberly Starr were sworn in to The Florida Bar on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.

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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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WMU-Cooley Graduate Andrew Hudson: Path from Teacher to Lawyer Inspired Choice

It made sense for Andrew Hudson, now an assistant attorney general for the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, to go into education for his first career. “My grandfather was a teacher and I had a couple of aunts who were also teachers,” remembered Andrew Hudson about his decision to go into education as an undergrad at Western Michigan University. “I was always good in school and I was someone who tutored classmates. I was in the National Honor Society and I made the logical assumption that because I was good in school, I would be good in teaching or education. And I liked it. I like the process of learning, and I liked school, so I wanted to make a career out of it.”

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ATTENDING WMU A LOGICAL DECISION

It was also a logical decision for Andrew to attend Western. Not only was WMU known for having a great education department, it also happened to be located in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. “I wanted to be near home. I had grandparents that were elderly and I was helping take care of them. I also wanted an opportunity to work in the local schools where I grew up and went to school, and return for my teaching career.”

“While I was at Western, I actually worked at a local agency with emotionally impaired children and that experience was the real springboard into teaching,” recalled Andrew with a smile. “Working with emotionally impaired kids really helped kick the shyness right out of me! I interned in Kalamazoo Public Schools for a term, then worked for two years in elementary schools, a Catholic school, then a charter school. At the end of my three years, I decided that I needed to reassess teaching as a long-term career, for a variety of reasons. I knew that I was really skilled at the academics, the presentation of the lesson, and the assessment of the children. I was also very good at organizing and delivering the material in the most effective way, but I never found my groove connecting with the kids or the parents. One thing I knew for certain though was that my educational skills and experience would apply to a lot of different jobs that could be a better fit for me.”

DECISION TO ATTEND LAW SCHOOL INSPIRED REASONING

“Looking back, it was strange, I never saw myself as being the lawyer type,” recalled Andrew, “but in my summer breaks, the thing that I loved doing the most was watching court TV. I loved watching trials and watching the lawyers make their arguments and question the witnesses. I liked the structure of it. It was similar to a classroom, in the sense that you had a jury that you were trying to teach the case to. And I thought that was really fascinating. It became clear that my personal evolution and career goals had changed. I felt that being an attorney now was a great fit for me.  I never thought growing up that I would be able to be a lawyer, then suddenly I turned around and now I’m thinking ‘yeah, I can do that.'”

SUCCESS IN LAW SCHOOL ACHIEVED

Not only could he do it, he did it very well.  Andrew graduated second out of 351 students at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School and found he had a real knack for winning Mock Trial competitions. “I was in Mock Trial, which was my main extracurricular activity,” said Andrew. “I was in the first-year Mock Trial competition, and I won. My partner and I won. And I discovered I had a talent for it. I signed up the very next semester for the evidence competition, and won that. Then the following semester I went on to the national team for Mock Trial. I enjoyed it. It was fun. I got to use my teaching skills, in a way, to organize and plan things out, then speak in front of people. It seemed like a natural transition for what I used to do, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.”

PATH FROM LAW SCHOOL TO THE AG’S OFFICE

“During law school, I got an internship at the county prosecutor’s office in the economic crime unit,” said Andrew. “I worked there for about two years while I went to law school. My work with that office allowed me to set up diversion payment programs for misdemeanor fraud defendants. I was also responsible for educating and assisting defendants. I was able to transition from there into more court work. I was doing pre-trial meetings with unrepresented defendants on other cases and actually doing jury trials and bench trials by myself.”

Andrew’s initiative and work ethic didn’t go unnoticed. When he was sworn in to Eaton County court, the judge that swore him in, Judge Calvin Osterhaven,  was so impressed with his résumé that he called him a month later and hired him.  “I enjoyed working for Judge O. for six months knowing that he was looking into retirement. Being a law clerk was definitely a great experience and it was something I was very glad I did, but I knew that I needed to look for other work. I had applied for a job at the AG’s office and they ended up calling me about a month after I got the job as the law clerk. After a couple rounds of interviews,  the AG’s Office called me back for a third interview. They brought me up to the 7th floor and walked me into Bill Schuette’s office. That was my final interview. I was hired.”

WMU-COOLEY STILL IMPRESSES

“The best decision I ever made was to go to law school,” stated Andrew. “I grew up in law school. I didn’t realize how, until I looked back on everything. I had matured a lot during that time and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that in law school you are kind of on your own to figure out what is best for you, how to study and prepare, and to figure out what extracurricular activities you want to engage in. But at the same time Cooley has got plenty of help for people who need it. And you can take advantage of it to whatever extent you want to. And so that really helped me mature and grow up as a professional. I really did find the perfect job for me after law school. Cooley really had a lot to do with it. I was not your traditional law school student in the sense that I was a little bit older, I had been in one career already, I wasn’t going from undergraduate to law school, and Cooley kind of catered to that sort of thing, the non-traditional pathway. The scholarship offer was, of course, enticing. It was local, but it was also bigger. Cooley, just because of its size, just had more opportunities. I came here on a tour and the facilities were impressive. It was good to see that there were a lot of mechanisms to help you get through law school. They really did want you to succeed. And if you didn’t, it was probably because you didn’t take advantage of all the avenues of help that were out there.”

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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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Heat wave is here – and so is the need to legally protect our pets

Alicia Prygoski

Alicia Prygoski

Guest columnist Alicia Prygoski is a May 2016 graduate of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She works on farm animal protection policy initiatives for The Humane Society of the United States Farm Animal Protection Team in Washington, D.C. During her time at WMU-Cooley, she founded a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter and brought many animal law-related events and opportunities to the Lansing campus. While in law school, she was also a member of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section and a volunteer with Michigan’s Political Action Committee for Animals. Alicia also received the Wanda Nash Award from the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section for outstanding dedication to learning about and promoting animal law issues.

Michigan bill would protect animals left in parked cars

Since graduating from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School this spring, I’ve devoted my time to enacting farm animal protection laws with The Humane Society of the United States. I chose to focus on helping farm animals because of the horrible, systemic cruelty that is inflicted upon them in factory farms and slaughterhouses across the country. In the agriculture industry, farm animal abuse is the norm. My goal is to change that.

However, I know all too well that other animals desperately need protection, too, which is why I’m grateful that Senators Curtis Hertel and Rick Jones have chosen to stand up for Michigan’s pets by introducing Senate Bill 930. This common-sense bill would make it illegal to leave an animal confined in a car under life-threatening conditions, such as extreme heat or cold. Under the bill, penalties would increase depending on the degree of harm suffered, with the strongest being a felony and up to five years in jail if the animal does not survive. Sixteen other states have passed similar measures.

Common sense tells us that leaving an animal in an unventilated car on an extremely hot day will cause dehydration, heat stroke, or death. But what many people don’t realize is that even in milder weather or when the car’s windows are open, our pets can rapidly overheat. For example, on a pleasant 70-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 99 degrees within 20 minutes. For most animals, especially those with heavy fur coats or short noses, being confined in a car at that temperature can be deadly.

Many pet parents who leave their dogs or cats in cars are not ill-intentioned. They simply run into the grocery store, assuming it will only take a few minutes – but then a few minutes turn into 10 or 15, and their pet ends up suffering the often fatal consequences. Being a good caretaker includes planning for our companion animals – whether that means leaving them at home, dropping them off at day-care, or calling ahead to find out if the restaurant or store you’re visiting allows pets – it is part of the responsibility we take on when make them part of our families.

There have been too many avoidable deaths in Michigan resulting from animals being left alone in cars. Now that the hottest part of the summer is upon us, SB 930 is needed more than ever to act as a deterrent against people who don’t think twice about leaving their pets in cars as well as ensuring that those who do are held accountable when their pet suffers for it.

As someone who will forever consider herself a Michigander, I am proud of my state’s legislators for introducing this common-sense legislation that will help prevent extensive suffering and save so many lives. The HSUS works every day to protect all animals, from cows, chickens, and pigs to the dogs and cats in Michigan, pushing for standards that allow them to live their lives free from suffering. I sincerely hope that the Michigan legislature passes this bill and becomes the next state to protect animals trapped in hot cars.

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