Category Archives: Knowledge, Skills, Ethics

Cooley stresses legal knowledge, practice skills, and professional ethics, an approach that is the latest trend in legal education and new to most law schools, but has been in place at Cooley since its founding in 1972.
Knowledge: Master the substantive knowledge required for passage of the bar examination and admission to the bar.
Skills: Master the basic fundamentals required for the competent practice of law and representation of clients.
Ethics: Understand and embrace the legal, moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities of lawyers.

Presidential Decision Will Affect American Life and Culture in Profound Ways

Anyone thinking that he or she will sit out the upcoming election (or cast a “protest vote”) might want to think again. While the media has vast swaths of the electorate distracted by such matters as Donald Trump’s testosterone levels and Hillary Clinton’s pulmonary functioning, we stand poised to make a decision that will affect American life and culture in profound ways. The Supreme Court hangs in the balance – WMU-Cooley Professor and Constitution Expert Brendan Beery

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery on Bay News 9 in Tampa

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Brendan Beery on Bay News 9 in Tampa

To illustrate the stakes, I will outline a few issues where conservatives and liberals, respectively, have enjoyed some success, and where each side stands to lose just about everything if its candidate loses.

As backdrop to this discussion, I note (even if it is a bit unseemly) that one Supreme Court seat is open (the seat once held by Antonin Scalia) and that the next president is likely to fill not only that seat, but potentially a total of two, three, or even four. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a liberal) is 83; Anthony M. Kennedy (a small-government conservative who often sides with liberals on social issues) is 80. Stephen Breyer (a liberal) is 78. The rest of the five remaining justices are 68 or younger.

Assuming that Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the most likely candidates to retire and be replaced by the next president, one can see the trajectory of the Court. Either Clinton or Trump could replace one conservative (Scalia), the Court’s “swing vote” (Kennedy), and two liberals (Ginsburg and Breyer). Now to the issues.

Conservative Successes

  1. The Second Amendment. In two 5-4 decisions, the Court has upheld the right of the individual to bear arms (at a minimum, to possess firearms in the home for personal safety) that applies against state attempts to impose certain gun control measures. If Trump wins, these decisions become etched into our jurisprudence and likely expand – for example, to the right to bear more and larger weapons in more and varying places. A Clinton win would mean the narrowing and possible overruling of these two cases.
  2. Voting. Conservatives won the day in two cases: Citizens United (the case striking down campaign contribution limits) and Shelby County (the case striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act that protected minority voting rights). Both decisions were decided by a vote – you guessed it – of 5-4. If Trump wins, these cases remain good law; Clinton has pledged to appoint justices who would overrule them.
  3. Prayer and religion. Conservatives won one case (5-4) in which the Court allowed prayer at a city council meeting and another (again, 5-4) in which the Court upheld the right of an employer (Hobby Lobby) to refuse to provide insurance-related contraceptive coverage for employees when the employer objected on religious grounds. If Trump wins, these religion-friendly decisions are likely to remain good law for decades; if Clinton wins, they are vulnerable.
  4. The death penalty. This one is simple; most scholars say that there are four votes against the death penalty on the Court right now; four justices would hold that it violates the Eighth Amendment in all circumstances. They await a fifth vote.

Liberal Successes

  1. Abortion. Only five justices think that a woman has a right to have an abortion. If Clinton wins, abortion rights are here to stay. If Trump wins, Roe v. Wade could well be overruled.
  2. Marriage. The recent Obergefell decision (the same-sex-marriage case) was a 5-4 decision. If Clinton wins, it will be the law of the land for all time. If Trump wins, he will put justices on the Court who will be inclined to overrule Obergefell and return the marriage issue to the states, meaning that same-sex marriage will be legal in liberal states and illegal in conservative states.
  3. Affirmative action. There are five votes right now to allow public entities to establish affirmative action programs in higher education and employment. A Clinton win would keep the status quo in place; a Trump win would mean the end of government-run affirmative action programs.
  4. Public unions. The Court recently upheld the right of public unions to collect union dues from non-members. That decision, in the absence of Justice Scalia, was 4-4. A Clinton win would mean these unions could continue to finance themselves; a Trump win would likely mean the end of public-employee unions.

Of course, there are many other issues at stake as well. But again, if any of these issues is important to you, this election may be the last chance – either to cement the Court in the place where you want it or to flip the Court in the direction you’d prefer.

Professor Brendan BeeryBlog author, Constitutional Law expert and WMU-Cooley Professor Brendan Beery, illustrates the stakes for both conservatives and liberals in this coming election. 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.

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Peacemaking Court: Restoring human relationships instead of punishment

vestrand_joanBlog author Joan Vestrand, WMU-Cooley associate dean and professor, launched a Peacemaking mediation program  in the Auburn Hills, Michigan, Avondale Public Schools.  The Peacemaking Court fosters good relations within schools and the community schools to help resolve disciplinary matters and interpersonal conflicts in a humane, supportive way.

Today, we know that the single greatest predictor of youth incarceration is a history of school discipline.  This problem has come to be known as the school-to-prison pipeline and blame for it is squarely placed on the Zero Tolerance school discipline policies that arose out of the Reagan-era mentality of “just say no.” These policies called for harsh discipline for perceived school misconduct. Although enacted in good intention, they backfired. They bred insidiously an outcome quite outside the goal – again, the school-to –prison pathway and this has led to a schoolhouse-to-jailhouse crisis across the nation. In fact, the United States leads the world in the percentage of citizens behind bars.

Peacemaking March 1.2

Under Zero Tolerance, what was once considered “normal” youth behavior and misbehavior, became justification to criminalize conduct and exclude noncompliant students from the school community. Such automatic harsh consequences, irrespective of the severity of the misbehavior or the circumstances involved, proved disastrous.  In enacting these policies, there was no consideration of their potential negative impact on the welfare of the offending student or on the culture of the school.

Even worse, the cost of Zero Tolerance is without benefit. No evidence emerged that zero tolerance policies made schools safer or improved student behavior. According to a 2008 Task Force Report by the American Psychological Association, Zero Tolerance policies failed to achieve the intended goal of creating an effective school discipline system. To the contrary, research repeatedly demonstrates that suspension, expulsion, and other punitive consequences are not the solution to disruptive or even dangerous student behaviors. What we now know is that dangerous students do not become less dangerous when excluded from appropriate school settings. Instead, it’s quite often the opposite – exclude and the safety risk escalates. Youth who are not in school are at exceedingly high risk of delinquency and crime which increases the danger to everyone.

And then there is the fiscal hit we take as a nation for every drop-out. Each year’s class of dropouts drains the country of more than $200 billion annually in lost earnings and taxes. Billions more are spent on welfare, health care and other social services that flow from the problem.  Prison costs are an example. In Michigan, for the year 2013, we spent approximately $40,000 per prisoner annually, compared to about $8,000 per student.  Clearly, it is much less costly and better for society to keep a student in school – to find a better way to address behavioral issues.

Peacemaking March 1.3

In part due to mounting societal pressure against harsh school discipline laws, Michigan’s Board of Education is seeing the light. In 2012, it asked districts to take a second look at their Zero Tolerance policies urging the abandonment of policies that exclude students from the educational process. Although the Department’s directive is advisory only, numerous districts have begun to replace punitive practices with restorative ones. Schools are shifting towards programs and policies that meet the developmental needs of youth. Punishment is giving way to practices that allow students to problem-solve, dialogue, and build positive relationships. We are realizing that to raise a healthy and productive member of society, we must provide meaningful, authentic opportunities for youth to be active participants in making decisions and resolving conflict.

Schools that are getting it are experiencing amazing results. Restorative justice works because these programs are centered on respect, responsibility, relationship-building, and relationship-repairing. The focus is mediation and agreement, as opposed to punishment. If a student misbehaves and a restorative justice system is in place, the offending student receives the chance to come forward and make things right.  Instead of a culture of punishment and mistrust, it’s a culture of accountability and responsibility – and training youth to be correct in their behavior.

What we now know is that positive discipline produces positive behavior. Schools that embrace restorative justice initiatives have seen suspensions decrease by 50% or more, and disrespect for teachers has declined.  Students are more focused on their studies and attend classes in greater percentage. The suspensions and expulsions which often led students to fall behind, drop-out, and enter the juvenile justice system, have subsided, putting a halt to the school-to-prison pipeline. As one educator has put it, the whole thing boils down to a shift in perspective.  It’s seeing the truth that “My student is not giving me a hard time – my student is having a hard time.” Marvin Berkowitz, the Director for the National Center for Character Education preaches to teachers all over the country that “we can’t teach through a rat.” Personal turmoil, problems at home, lack of support, abuse, and neglect – these rats come right into the school with the child. Berkowitz says that to get anywhere with a youth, we must first address the rats.  To ignore them is solid barrier to success. For change to take place, root issues must be exposed and dealt with.

Peacemaking March 1

Here at WMU Cooley, we are helping in this.  A few years back, we designed a high school Peacemaking Court that has our students supervising high school students in resolving peer conflict and other misbehavior in a positive way – one which avoids punishment. The project, in place at Avondale High School in north Oakland County, is a partnership with our Auburn Hills campus.  In the program, adults stand down.  Instead, high school students (the peacemakers) trained and supervised by law students, work with their peer to correct behavior and repair any harm. Using a circle process and a talking piece, the students work to build trust with their peer and to create a safe place for honest dialogue.  In other words, they give gentle nudge towards introspection and amends.

What typically begins as an intervention involving a closed-off, un-invested classmate, peer-to-peer, transforms into something very special. Typically, by mid-proceeding, comes recognition by the classmate that the care and support is genuine and the classmate starts to open up.  It’s like the budding of a flower. Demeanor changes and the classmate is now leaning into the circle and making eye contact. Responses grow considered and thoughtful. There begins the hint of a smile and more smiles, and laughter often erupts as bonds develop. The armor loosens and the guard comes down.

With this transformation, the real work – the heart work – can begin. Tender inquiries probe for root issues and solutions, including what needs to happen to repair any harm. The kids who spin this gold? Again, their one very special qualification is their co-peer status and with it their ability to identify –truly identify with their classmate. They, too, are works in progress – far from perfect with many mistakes of their own – and a personal character still very much under development. Often they have experienced similar problems. They can relate and can empathize.  By the same token, they can get very real very quickly and see past the malarkey. They have an uncanny knack for holding their peer accountable and for helping their classmate realize the errors in their ways and the harm not just to others, but themselves.  It is peer-generated tough love at its finest. The cheering and support upon pivotal insights, and recognition, and oftentimes tough reality checks, come from the heart.  And, from the smile on the classmate’s face, they are received in the same way. In these moments, hearts are expanding all around, in benefit of everyone. It’s the power of love – the true antithesis to exclusion and best remedy for broken soul.

Again, with peer peacemaking, what begins at opening ceremony as dubiousness and mistrust gives way to  a kind of evident joy that only comes from being basked in the care and support of others. For every case we’ve held, the tide has turned for the classmate involved. Troubling history of suspensions and in-school detentions for defiant and insubordinate behavior, have resolved themselves into new friendships,(the peacemakers)and better choices – ones that are kinder to self and more respectful of others.

Perhaps best of all –every student that is the subject of peacemaking, becomes a peacemaker, paying it forward. One such student, who came into the peacemaking process with a terrible attitude and two year record of discipline to show for it, and who was referred because the school had exhausted all other options, was so changed by the experience that he advocates peacemaking as first stop for every struggling student. He feels that had this happened for him, things would have been different, much sooner.  The high school is listening.  Thrilled with the results of the program, they would like to have peacemaking available every day of the week and we’ll work hard to make that happen.

It’s been a terrific community partnership with what are actually unsurprising but extremely gratifying results, for all concerned. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. The law students are learning to question the effectiveness of a punishment-based system in favor of a more humane approach – one that actually seeks to change behavior and repair relationships.  This s far cry from the law’s traditional focus on the offense, only, in disregard for any emotional factors involved.

The high school peacemakers are learning the same thing – that dispute resolution, in order to be effective, must be positive. Equally significant, in recognition that the role of peacemaker is an important one, which holds them out as an example, they have stepped up their own character accordingly.  They have strived to become what they stand for. Their personal growth is also product of the trust placed in them by the school.  After all, this program gives them a stake in their own school community – which in the past has been a rare, if not unheard of opportunity.  It empowers them with a voice and a role in what happens with their peers. They feel important and valued to have this responsibility – all very good and very necessary stuff for best school culture. There is a third aspect to their growth – one that at first blush might come as surprise, but not when we think it through: the peacemakers are helped by their classmate. It’s like the bumper sticker about rescue dogs that wisely poses the question: “Who rescued who?” Take the time to help someone else – and your own heart expands. Look what it did for the Grinch: his heart grew three sizes the day he finally put others first. A program like this helps to build empathy and respect, extremely important traits for assurance of a successful democracy in a country that embraces capitalism.

For the classmate who is the subject of peacemaking, the impact of this program is first seen on their face, and then in their change. Another benefit, though, is that upon successful completion of any amends, no record is kept of the incident.  This is how true second chances look.  No baggage, no stigma, and no scarlet letter; just reacceptance and a fresh start.  Equally beneficial, the classmate becomes part of the solution – serving as a peacemaker in future cases.

COA and Peacemakers

Our program has garnered both local and national attention and accolades.  It received the 2012 Eastern Leaders Group Leadership Award and was the subject of lectures and instruction at the St. Louis, Missouri National Center for Character and Citizenship as part of their Carnegie Project for Social Justice.  In addition, by request we have presented on the project at Native American Peacemaking conferences held in northern Michigan, sharing the information so that others may replicate the work.  Next January, we will be presenting on the project at a national conference of special education administrators in California.

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Law School Transforms into Actual Court: Students Get to Listen and Learn

Western Michigan University Cooley Law Tampa Bay recently got to host, for the second time, the Second District Court of Appeals. “It is a rare and amazing opportunity for students to see an actual Appellate court session with working attorneys offering oral arguments and those attorneys being asked questions by the judges,” exclaimed WMU-Cooley student Kimberly Canals Simpson.  

In fact, she felt that students and faculty alike were riveted for hours listening to the three arguments, which included two criminal cases and one civil cases. The cases were heard by Judge Edward C. LaRose, Judge Samuel J. Salario, Jr., and Judge Daniel H. Sleet.

The 120 person Courtroom Classroom at WMU-Cooley was packed with law students and local attorneys. All there to listen and learn. The three judges agreed. This is exactly the kind of opportunity every law student should experience before they ever graduate.

After the conclusion of the court session, the three judges came back into the Appellate Courtroom without their robes and allowed the Cooley students to ask any questions they had about the appellate process, what judges are looking for in an intern and many other subjects.  It was a great day to observe the Second DCA’s docket and as a fantastic opportunity to educate and train law students in court procedure.

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This is the third time in the last two year that the Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal held oral arguments at WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus. The law school’s state-of-the-art courtrooms transform easily into a court site for students, attorneys, and other members of the public.

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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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WMU-Cooley Law School Prepares a Day of Dedication to the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we approach what would have been the 87th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Jan. 15, it is a privilege to once again honor the memory of the slain civil rights leader. As the law school has done for the past several years, WMU-Cooley will suspend classes on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. In place of the day’s normal schedule, a variety of activities are being planned at each of the law school’s campuses to pay homage to the life and work of Dr. King.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presents his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963

In Lansing and Tampa Bay, the law school will hold its annual day of service in which students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in service projects benefiting the community. In Grand Rapids, activities will include an essay contest where participants will be invited to write six-word essays on Dr. King and his impact on the nation. At the school’s Auburn Hills campus, a panel featuring community activists, law enforcement officials, criminal defense attorneys, and the ACLU, will discuss “Death by Police: Justifiable Homicide or Excessive Use of Force.”

During the week, students will also be invited to take the Pro Bono Pledge and consider how pro bono service will enhance their legal careers.

As we celebrate Dr. King’s life and work, it is worth revisiting his famous “I Have a Dream” speech given in Washington, D.C., on August 23, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  Dr. King gave an earlier version of the speech in Detroit in June 1963. Nearly everyone knows about the famous speech, but one must read it in its entirety to understand its power, its majesty, and the force and  urgency that it still carries today.

Dr. King’s estate, which holds the copyright to the speech, has licensed it so that it can be read and heard. WMU-Cooley Law School urges you to read and listen to it:  I Have a Dream. For more information about Dr. King’s speech, to obtain a copy of the video, or to read more about Dr. King, we recommend that you go to Martin Luther King Online and to the website of  The King Center.

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WMU-Cooley’s Bar Passage Rates Continue to Exceed ABA Requirements

Cooley President and Dean, Don LeDuc

Cooley President and Dean, Don LeDuc

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s President and Dean, Don LeDuc, publishes commentaries on our website about the Law School, legal education, legal employment, and related topics.  This post summarizes President LeDuc’s updated commentary that teaches us about the ABA’s bar exam passage rate standards and demonstrates that the Law School continues to exceed those standards.

Much has been written recently about ABA bar exam passage rate standards.  Because so many of the commentators are ill-informed about how the standards work, WMU-Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc has published a commentary on the topic.  He clearly demonstrates how WMU-Cooley meets the ABA standards.

ABA Standard 316 provides two alternative criteria to determine bar passage compliance by a school.  If either is met, the school complies with the standard.  WMU-Cooley of course meets both criteria.

The Ultimate Pass Standard is met if (1) cumulatively across the last five calendar years, 75% of the school’s graduates sitting for a bar exam passed it or (2) during any three of the last five calendar years, 75% of the school’s graduates sitting for a bar exam passed it.  The relevant time period is 2010-2014, as the 2015 bar results are not final.

On the Michigan bar, WMU-Cooley surpassed the 75% standard every year, with the highest ultimate rate being achieved by the 2010 cohort of students at 94%.  Further, our 85% cumulative rate for 2010-14 well exceeds the requirement.  And across for all jurisdictions, we have surpassed 75% in four of the last five years, and our cumulative ultimate rate of 81% is well above the standard.

The First-Time Pass Standard is met if, during any three of the last five calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in its jurisdictions is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in the same jurisdictions.  This standard recognizes that the states differ on how hard to grade the bar exam.

We surpassed this standard in each of the five years.

Although we meet the ABA requirements, WMU-Cooley strongly desires to see improvement in our students’ bar passage rates.  We are actively working to accomplish that goal.

Read President LeDuc’s commentary in full.       

Click here for all of President LeDuc’s commentaries.

Scroll below to comment on President LeDuc’s commentary.

See us on the web at wmich.edu/law.

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Incubators are for chickens, aren’t they?

It has become very popular for law schools to establish “incubators” or “accelerators” for their grads. Accelerators tend to be less resource intensive with external support services. Incubators tend to offer greater on-site physical and logistical support. They tend to be more resource intensive for the providers. Their goals are admirable but, in my opinion, misdirected.

Incubators are for chickens, aren’t they?

Incubators are for chickens, aren’t they?

Benefits of Many Incubators

  • They often provide low cost or no cost services to the community
  • They help grads become familiar with systems approach to practice management
  • They delay entry into practice for those who are not equipped to succeed until they are better prepared
  • They foster good public relations for the institution

Problems of Many Incubators

  • They delay the graduates entry into independent business practice models
  • Incubators are limited in the number of students that they can support
  • Participants often obtain reduced compensation for their legal services
  • Most incubators control where those graduates practice initially
  • Many confine graduate’s subject matter practice options
  • They encourage continued dependency on the law school when the business environment requires independent judgment and ability to assume risk

Those lists are not exhaustive and, of necessity, they are generalizations. Incubators take many forms and are numerous and very diverse. But a common thread is the attempt to help their participants get a better sense of how to implement the doctrinal component of their legal studies in a practical and business oriented office setting with many support services and a safety net.

They are offered to foster greater success for those who wish to go solo who may not have secured employment as yet. Some provide ancillary support, while others have full-blown office environments where those graduates may practice law until they are ready to go it “alone.” Very often, they are promoted as serving the community, since many of them offer “pro bono” or “low bono” services to members of the community where these exist. Many have terms of service from 6 to 18 months.

There is a better way, in my opinion, which has greater utility for a greater number of graduates. It allows them to hit the ground running without delay even before they pass the bar. It is just one component of a complete strategy designed to better prepare students for the realities of practice upon graduation. What follows is just one component of a series of techniques that I have used for a number of years. I call this program “Solo By Design™.” But, there are other support services which I have used to help students in law school, and after law school, to succeed on their own. Graduates establish themselves with realistic and achievable goals in the community, where they intend to establish themselves upon graduation.

The Foundational Elements of the Program “Solo By Design ™” follow:

While in law school, I send them into the field – at a minimum, they must;

  • Identify the geographic location where they intend to practice and there,
  • If possible, interview solos who are of the same ethnic background and gender,
  • Interview some attorneys who are solos with greater than 10 years in practice,
  • Interview some attorneys who are solos with less than 3 years in practice, and
  • Interview local judges and court clerks.
  • They are armed with reference materials for background about the latest technology and practice management techniques.
  • They are provided a list of questions for them to use in those interviews.
  • They meet with other enrolled students in groups to share what they found as each one develops their own unique business plan, given the information gained through those interviews.
  • Finally, they prepare a business plan, based upon the recommendations of those they interviewed.

This is just one component of a complete system that I have not explored entirely in this post . . . there is much more to it. But this is one essential component to success for graduates after graduation.

I believe that the best way to prepare law students for the preparation of practice after graduation should occur while those students are still in law school through in-house, live-client clinics paired with external placements in externships where they plan to establish their practice. They also need classes to train them in accounting for lawyers, entrepreneurship and thorough and independent research in their own business start-up as identified above through “Solo By Design™.”

That way they can learn the practice principles that help them learn to collaborate and gain the confidence necessary to practice law immediately upon graduation. They have a business plan that they can employ taking advantage of the local relationships that they have already developed while still in law school with earnings that help them pay off their student loans. Their greatest fear of going into business for themselves will not be realized with the “training wheels” of incubators.

Since 1999 we have worked diligently to support students who wish to go solo or into small firm environments. This has been a work-in-progress. We have taken steps to help our graduates establish themselves in the business of law long before the idea of “incubators” became popular. Solo By Design™ has evolved to adapt to the many changes that have occured in the practice of law since our focus began 17 years ago. It has evolved to address the tremendous changes in technology and the economic downturn which has affected many graduates in their attempt to find employment

This is just part of what I do to help them help themselves and have a support system while in law school which continues after they graduate. It helps them develop realistic strategies for success in practice in the geographic area where they intend to practice. They also identify areas of practice which have potential as profit centers in their community with good earning potential. They also establish “relationships” (code for mentors) in the community where they intend to practice. Those are the true sources of information and support who will be valuable resources providing the type of support to help them succeed without delay upon passing the bar.

WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer

WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer

The author, Professor Gary Bauer has been a member of the full-time faculty at WMU-Cooley Law School since 1998. He now teaches Estate Planning to third-year law students and a directed study class he created called Solo By Design. His blog,sololawyerbydesign.com, provides law students, recent solo practioners, and seasoned professionals who wish to go solo, with information and resources to be successful in the legal business. This blog post was first published on October 21, 2015.

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