Category Archives: Student News

Entertainment Law attorney John Mashni: Know the law. Know the industry.

Entertainment law attorney and WMU-Cooley graduate John Mashni gave law students important insights on how to break into the Sports & Entertainment law field during a recent conversation at the law school. “I think, for entertainment, there’s value in thinking about who do I want to spend time with, who’s my client, who do I want to represent, and start from there,” Mashni said. “You’re going to have to know the law, but more importantly, you’re going to have to know the industry.”

You should also know the “lingo” and the process that goes into film, music and literary projects. LISTEN to his talk.

WMU-Cooley Law School Sports and Entertainment Law Society hosted a discussion with featured speaker John Mashni, business and entertainment attorney for Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, on Tuesday, March 28.

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He spoke to WMU Cooley faculty, staff and students about his experiences in entertainment law and active career steps that can help attorneys break into the industry. In his career, Mashni worked as the manager of a media department for a large leadership development company and did freelance work on numerous film and video projects and completed coursework at the New York Film Academy.

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Filed under Alumni Stories and News, Student News, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized

Distinguished Student and Leadership Awards Presented at Convocation

WMU- Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus held its Honors Convocation recently, recognizing students for top course grades, Dean’s List and Honor Roll designations, and for leadership and skills competition achievements.

Peter Mancini and Dr. Ryan McKennon received the Distinguished Student Award for their academic success, participation and leadership in student organizations, professionalism and service to the community.

The recipients of the Leadership Achievement Award were Monica Carson, Deirdre Armstrong, and Brandon Ferguson. The award acknowledges students who have consistently, comprehensively and effectively provided leadership in a variety of capacities.

Peter Mancini receives the Distinguished Student Award.

Dr. Ryan McKennon receives the Distinguished Student Award.

Left-right: Leadership Achievement Award recipients Monica Carson, Deirdre Armstrong, Brandon Ferguson.

 

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Filed under Knowledge, Knowledge, Skills, Ethics, Student News, Student News, Achievements, Awards, Uncategorized

Love Your Job. Live Your Life. Say Lawyers and Law Students

“It was very inspiring for our students to learn from a diverse panel group that perceived impediments to a well-balanced life can be overcome despite the demands we all face in the legal profession.” – WMU-Cooley Law School Associate Dean Joan P. Vestrand

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“Love Your Job, Live Your Life” was the theme of a panel discussion held at WMU-Cooley’s Auburn Hills campus. Law student members of the the Women Lawyer’s Association discussed how they manage successful careers, find meaningful time with their families, remain active in social activities, and succeed in practicing law, while maintaining a happy healthy outlook on life.

The panel included Hon. Julie A. Nicholson, Oakland County District Court judge; April McKie, WMU-Cooley Law School graduate; Erin Bonahoom, Canvas Legal PLC founder; Michelle Easter, Easter Law PLC founder; and WMU-Cooley Law School professors Erika Breitfeld and Monica Nuckolls.  

“Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and push you to keep moving forward to reach your goals,” said Easter. “They will provide the supporting block you need when you feel like you’re failing. Those cheerleaders will help you succeed.”

The program was sponsored by the WMU-Cooley Law School-Auburn Hills chapter of the Women Lawyer’s Association as well as WMU-Cooley Law School’s Career and Professional Development Department.

“It was very inspiring for our students to learn from a diverse group of panelists that perceived impediments to a well-balanced life can be overcome despite the demands we all face in the legal profession,” said Joan Verstrand, WMU-Cooley Law School associate dean.

Law students Love Jobs Live Lives event

(Left to right) Professor Linda Kisabeth, co-adviser Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Professor Erika Breitfeld, panelist; Danielle Stone, Executive Board Member Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Professor Monica Nuckolls, panelist; Hon. Julie A. Nicholson, 52-3 District Court, panelist; April McKie, J.D., panelist; Michelle Easter, Easter Law PLLC, panelist; Janae Stack, president Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Chanavia Smith, Executive Board Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter); Shari F. Lesnick, Co-Adviser Women Lawyers Association Michigan (Auburn Hills Student Chapter).

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Law Students Go One More Step: Teach Access, Not Just How To Fish

nelson millerBlog author Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor at WMU-Cooley’s Grand Rapids campus, gives high marks to law students and area entrepreneurs for bringing business and law together during a Poverty Relief/Entrepreneurial Law workshop. Participants and legal experts worked together to generate creative ideas, along with business solutions.

The old saying goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is true, but lawyers can go one more step by giving the poor the access to the fish market. Poverty remains a real concern in the United States, and a real concern worldwide. Many poverty-relief efforts focus on the importance of charitable giving.

Grand Rapids Organization for Women Executive Director Bonnie Nawara

Grand Rapids Organization for Women Executive Director Bonnie Nawara asks for a show of hands.

Yet the poor need, indeed want more than a handout. While charitable donations provide critical support, many poor may benefit more from the opportunity to provide for themselves, putting to work their own skills. What they really need is access to the markets that produce the goods and services that others so generously offer.

Law can provide access. A legal knowledge ensures that ambitious individuals can put to work their creative energies to not only earn an income but protect their hard-earned capital for themselves and others. Yet, the law can also create obstacles. Sometimes law unduly complicate and obstruct people and their business by stealing and harming capital capacity.

Founder of Painting by Jeff, employing commercial and residential painters, makes concluding remarks.

Founder of Painting by Jeff, employing commercial and residential painters

In an effort to generate solutions, WMU-Cooley law school students are working with community entrepreneurs in several workshops. The Poverty Relief/Entrepreneurial Law workshops were designed to investigate how to help area citizens, especially populations of African American, Hispanic Latino, and women, gain access to market opportunities.

Community leaders and business owners spoke in inspiring testimony to both the opportunities and challenges of capitalizing on one’s own creative energies. The businesses included barbers, painters, designers, inventors, caterers, drivers, therapists, consultants, and professionals. From their testimony, workshop participants listed 20 steps, from entity formation through contract development, property lease or purchase, and first employees, to dispute resolution, mergers and acquisitions, and succession, where lawyers provide critical help to business owners. A team of WMU-Cooley students are working do develop a checklist and educational brochure to help participants along their way.

Inspiring Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs join Varnum partner Luis Avila.

Inspiring Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs join Varnum partner Luis Avila.

The workshop also illustrated the great service opportunities for lawyers. Lawyers are makers, creators, and economic drivers. Watching law students and small-business owners working together, and imagining success and opportunity shows the world a new way to attack poverty. Welcome to the fish market!

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Maximizing Career Potential – Job Fair Comes to WMU-Cooley Law School

Remember that old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know?” While knowing your subject matter is obviously important — especially in professional disciplines like the law — the “Who” factor of getting to know people in the legal profession is extraordinarily important when it comes to finding or launching a career as an attorney.

WMU-Cooley law students at all levels, along with alumni, have an opportunity to get to know working professionals in the law on Thursday, Feb. 9, when the school hosts its third annual Job and Career Fair from 4-6 p.m. in the lobby of the school’s Lansing campus Cooley Center.

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Karen Poole

Why job AND career fair? Because, explained WMU-Cooley Career and Professional Development Coordinator Karen Poole, employers have a variety of reasons for participating in an employment event. Some are looking to hire entry level attorneys, others are collecting résumés for future jobs, and still others are looking to hire interns, externs, and law clerks.

With that variety of employment options, Poole said there is something for everyone at the event and encouraged students from first-termers to graduating seniors to attend. In addition to the networking possibilities, students gain confidence with helpful real-life interview experience with practicing professionals.

“Planning for your future begins your first term of law school,” Poole noted. “All students should start building their legal résumé right away.”

WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer, who founded Solo By Design, agrees that students benefit from exploring options and creating plans well before they get to their final term. He will be attending to acquaint students with the tools they need before they graduate.

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Gary Bauer

“Solo By Design is a plan of action with coaching that provides tools to help you create an environment which fosters your professional and financial success,” Bauer explained, adding that the tools are useful whether students choose to work for someone else or set up their own practice.

Including Bauer and Solo By Design, the fair will feature 34 employers and organizations, including eight local law firms, two county prosecutors’ offices, five state of Michigan departments, some metro Detroit-area law firms, the FBI, and several non-profit organizations. Employers specifically looking to hire attorneys are Elder Law of Michigan, the FBI, First National Bank of America in East Lansing, Legal Services of South Central Michigan-Lansing, and Shiners and Cooke PC of Saginaw.

Job hunting and networking just doesn’t get any easier than this. Put on your business attire, print 30 copies of your résumé, and show up ready to meet, greet, and listen!

What would YOU like to see in career and job fairs? Let us know!

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New Students Take “Mannequin” Stand During Law School Orientation

WMU-Cooley incoming students decided to “take a stand” on day two of their law school Orientation – for the fun of it. Forget talking heads. New students took the Mannequin Challenge in its 26,000 square foot Tampa Bay campus library. It was clear that everyone understood how to be quiet in the library!

Law students learned about the library’s many resources, including having over 34,000 library books and about a dozen study rooms. They also learned about each other.

WMU-Cooley’s Campus Director Dionnie Wynter thought a Mannequin Challenge would be a great way to immediately break down barriers and build trust and bonds between new students.

“It was a wonderful exercise,” exclaimed Wynter. “You could feel everyone was into it and felt like they were part of a team. Truly, each student could have been standing next to their new best friend, a future business partner, or someone who would refer them to a potential client. I know. The relationships you make in law school are ones you have your entire life. Law school is one of the most life changing and meaningful experiences one could ever endeavor.”

Even though law school can be, at times, a daunting task, added Wynter, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun, and one of the best decisions you will ever make.

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WMU-Cooley law students inspired at United Nations Indigenous Issues forum

unsymbolWestern Michigan University Cooley Law students Stephanie Samuels and Linda Marion attended the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The forum topic was Indigenous Rights and Stephanie and Linda were inspired. They share their experience below.     

We both took a course on Indigenous Rights during our participation in WMU-Cooley’s New Zealand foreign study program last winter. This eventually led us from New Zealand to New York to participate in the United Nations forum on the topic this past spring. Valmaine Toki, our law professor at the University of Waikato, encouraged us to attend the meeting. Professor Toki is an internationally respected expert in the field of Indigenous issues and the Vice Chair on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Stephanie Samuels (center)

Stephanie Samuels (center)

The theme of the 15th Annual Session of the UNPRII was “Indigenous Peoples: Conflict, Peace, and Resolution.” The topics covered included: autonomous processes and indigenous self-governance; the rights of Indigenous people to their ancestral lands and sustainable development; the effect of climate change, climate projects, and the Paris Agreement; the preservation of indigenous languages and culture; the unique role of indigenous women in addressing indigenous issues and gender equality; the role of nations in helping or hindering progress for indigenous peoples; the disproportionately high rate of suicide among indigenous youth, and many more. A special session was held to allow indigenous youth representatives to speak to the forum; this way, they were allowed to participate in the process and express their concerns directly to this powerful international body.

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As WMU-Cooley Law School representatives at the forum, we acted as academic observers to the presentations made by representatives of Indigenous peoples, nations, and NGOs from all over the world. During special side events, we were able to interact with indigenous representatives as well as international dignitaries and U.S. government officials from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. On one occasion, we met one-on-one with EPA Environmental Justice officials and a law professor heading an NGO on the subject area.

Welcome to the United Nations: Opening of the 15th Session of the UNPFII in the General Assembly Hall.

Welcome to the United Nations: Opening of the 15th Session of the UNPFII in the General Assembly Hall.

Another day, the door was opened to talk with diplomats and Indigenous representatives who assisted in drafting language related to Indigenous peoples for the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change; there were many such occasions. This was a wonderful opportunity for us — particularly since we are both interested in International Law. It allowed us to meet and interact with members of the global community and high ranking government officials. It broadened our understanding and opened doors to prospective national and international opportunities.

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We are thankful to WMU-Cooley and our New Zealand Study Abroad Professor Toki for encouraging us to attend the UNPFII meeting. WMU-Cooley’s Foreign Study Office coordinated and registered us on behalf on the law school, which opened the door for us to attend. We strongly urge other students to seek out similar opportunities as part of their personal and professional development.

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INTERESTING AND POTENTIALLY USEFUL LINKS:

Official summary of the 15th Session of the UNPFII.
Official transcript and a video of the presentation by Statement delivered by National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
More information on the United Nations focus on Indigenous peoples.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
More information on Indigenous peoples rights as they relate to intellectual property concerns (Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore)
More on international law and intellectual property.

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