Category Archives: Weekend Program

Weekend Program student Jake Dawson: Preparation. Provided. Perfect.

2016 WMU-Cooley Law School graduate and Weekend student Jake Dawson talks about his time at WMU-Cooley and how the weekend option and his extership experience in Missouri made all the difference in a challenging and rewarding career working in the family firm of Dawson Law Office in El Dorado Springs, Missouri.
Jacob Dawson from Dawson Law Office

I came to WMU-Cooley for one reason, and one reason only – the Weekend Program.

I got accepted to a lot of schools in my area, but the thought of being unemployed scared me, so when I found out that WMU-Cooley offered a weekend program, I jumped on it.

Fast forward, after graduating from WMU-Cooley Law School in 2016, I took the Missouri Bar Exam. I am proud to say that I passed that bar on my first try with an extremely high score. I was able to start my career immediately, and in less than a year, I can also say that I have been extremely busy, and enjoying every minute of it.
I decided when I graduated that I wanted to work in small town Southern Missouri, despite the fact that several large firms in the area approached me with job opportunities.

The law school’s national Externship Program was invaluable to me, plus I was able to do my externship in my home state of Missouri. I worked with a circuit court judge there and it was the best experience ever. I figure I received 10 job opportunities just from that experience alone! I have to say that the combination of the real world experience I received in my externship and the networking opportunities are exactly what students need in law school. The jobs are out there, and I appreciated all the help WMU-Cooley provides its students.

Easily, I know that I would not be at the level I am right out of law school if not for the education I received at WMU-Cooley. The focus on preparation was exactly what is needed in practice. Despite the fact that I’ve only been working for 90 days, I feel I am significantly more prepared than any of my colleagues who have been practicing much longer. I owe that to the law school’s rigorous curriculum and training. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to take a trial skills class or participate in mock trial. I feel students should take advantage of all they can during law school to give them an advantage going forward.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the faculty. They were great in the classroom and one-on-one. I can still reach out to them now as a graduate. In fact, I have had some extremely complex issues arise where I needed a theoretical academic opinion. Gracious faculty made themselves available and promptly and thoughtfully answered my questions. The character and integrity of the faculty should be commended. To have an academic, theoretical discussion with me speaks volume, especially since I’m no longer a student or preparing for the bar.

I thank WMU-Cooley for giving a non-traditional weekend student like me the opportunity to go to such an exceptional law school, all while I continue to work. The curriculum and faculty at WMU-Cooley Law School, in my opinion, rank right up there with any law school in the country.

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

Frequent Flyer: Student flew from Seattle to Detroit for weekend classes at WMU-Cooley

A recent graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School who commuted to weekend classes from Seattle from Seattle, Mel Matias is a CPA and auditor with Boeing and is pictured in the cockpit of a Boeing 787 for delivery. Photo courtesy of Mel Matias.

A recent graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School who commuted to weekend classes from Seattle, Mel Matias is a CPA and auditor with Boeing and is pictured in the cockpit of a Boeing 787 for delivery. Photo courtesy of Mel Matias.

This article about WMU-Cooley Military Feature, Weekend Program student and recent graduate Melchor Matias was written by Legal News writer Sheila Pursglove and was originally published by the Legal News on Feb. 10, 2017. It is reprinted here with permission of The Detroit Legal News. WMU-Cooley is a military friendly and designated Yellow Ribbon School. We are proud of all our military students, faculty and graduates. Melchor is a retired Chief Personnelman from the U.S. Navy and traveled far and wide in his service to country and others. Beyond the United States, he served in the Philippines, Japan, Puerto Rico, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, and various places in Europe.

Melchor Matias flew from Seattle to Detroit every weekend to study for his J.D. at WMU-Cooley Law School-and graduated in January.

A CPA at Boeing in Seattle, Matias did licensing audits on royalty and technology contracts, and designed audit programs. His interaction with the lawyers of Fortune 100 companies sparked his interest in earning a law degree.

Because of his heavy travel assignments, a regular law school schedule was out of the question. But during a stopover in Detroit on a flight back from an audit in the United Kingdom, Matias spotted an item about Cooley Law School and its ABA-approved J.D. program on weekends.

“Because of the time difference and non-stop Delta flights between Seattle and DTW, it was a perfect plan,” he says. “Although my employer didn’t cover any tuition and travel, I had miles saved up from prior travels to kick start my commute. ”

Matias booked flights 3 to 6 months out each semester, to save costs. He had sufficient hotel points to kick start weekend stays, and car rental points.

“It all boiled down to planning ahead and all my work-related travel loyalty programs helped,” he says.

He was more than pleased with his experience at the Auburn Hills campus.

“Cooley has the most diverse group of students and the faculty members are very experienced and accommodating,” he says.

Beyond the rigorous legal studies and travel, Matias’s law school years were a personal struggle. In his first year, his mother was diagnosed with liver cancer, dying a month before his finals and he had to request special accommodation to take the exams. His father died the following year. Both parents had helped Matias, a single father, to raise his sons, Andy and Michael.

A year later, Michael was diagnosed with brain cancer a month before starting law school. Matias and Andy, who was in law school, each had to take a term break to be with Michael during his final 6 months.

“Had he survived, all three of us would be taking the bar exams this year,” Matias says. “Now, Andy and I are taking them this year-with all the thoughts and dedication for Michael.

“All these deaths followed one year after the other. It’s such a painful struggle, but life has to go on.”

Matias’s goal is to do an LLM in tax or corporate business and compliance, and he hopes to continue working in the legal business environment. He currently is working on applications for the LLM programs while studying for the bar exam.

“I’ve also been teaching at City University of Seattle, on and off for over 5 years, and would love to be in the academia and teach,” he says.

A native of Manila in the Philippines, Matias holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and an MBA from Columbia College of Missouri at the campus in Marysville, Wash.

“I’ve always been fascinated with money-who isn’t! When I was 6, we had lots of fruit trees in our home in provincial Philippines. I would pedal around town with baskets full of avocados and mangoes and make enough money for my snacks the entire school year,” he says.

Matias previously served in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Chief Personnelman. He traveled far and wide, with posts at Subic Bay in the Philippines; Okinawa, Yokosuka, and Sasebo in Japan; and Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico, as well as deployments and port visits to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, and various places in Europe.

In the United States he was stationed in San Diego; San Francisco; Port Hueneme in California; Meridian, Miss., Florida; and Denver, where he was a recruiter-“The most fun job I had in the Navy next to the SeaBees,” he says. He was deployed on the USS Sterett-and named his son Andrewsterett after the ship-and with the NMCB 5 (SeaBees).

During his Navy service, Matias provided tax assistance to military members and their families and the elderly through the volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) program-and once he passes the Washington state bar exam in July, vows to continue giving back to his community by providing affordable and/or pro-bono legal advice and assistance to the disenfranchised-“Including but not limited to the elderly, the military, the poor, the LGBQT community, single parents like me, students, and anyone struggling to be able to afford legal advise and representation to assert their rights,” he says.

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Filed under Military Feature, Student Experiences, Uncategorized, Weekend Program

Weekend law student Stephanie Samuels: Never too late to start a new life

Stephanie Samuels was almost 60 years old when she finally discovered she could make her life dream of going to law school a reality. Up until then, “life sort of just happened,” and it was never really an option – until she heard about WMU-Cooley’s weekend program.

“I talked to my husband about it,” said Samuels, “and I said, ‘You know what, I think I might be able to do this.'”

Since Stephanie worked for American Airlines, she philosophized that, with a little bit of creativity and some luck, it was within reason for her to fly from her home in the Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth area to WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus once a week for classes. Well, that is exactly what she was able to do, every weekend for the last five years.

Even better, she was able to fly back and forth for free.

“Now the cool thing for me is I actually can fly standby,” grinned Stephanie, “and in the entire five years I went to law school, I only missed one weekend. WMU-Cooley has been flexible – really, really flexible for me. I have been able to do a lot of things I never thought I would be able to do. I got to be part of a mock trial team as a weekend student, plus I got to study abroad two semesters, in both Oxford, England and in Hamilton, New Zealand. I would never have been able to do those kind of things had it not been for Cooley and the weekend program.

“All of my law school experiences have really opened life up for me and given me the confidence to start my own private practice in international law. I’m even thinking about doing a non-profit, which was an offshoot idea I got from a contact I made during my time in New Zealand. One of the professors at the University of Waikato was a member of the United Nations in New York and she invited me and another law student to the UN’s annual indigenous rights convention.  What an incredible opportunity! I will never forget it.

“I am so excited to start this new life and explore all the possibilities . They are endless to me now. That’s because of Cooley.”

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Filed under Foreign Study, Student Experiences, The Value of a Legal Education, Uncategorized, Weekend Program

Weekend Student Jason Puscas: At the end of the day, law school is an investment

Jason Puscas doesn’t believe you should have to choose between a stable family life, post-secondary education and a prospering career in public policy. A self-proclaimed lifelong learner, Puscas is determined to be successful at all three aspects of his life.

“I think there is always a desire to continue your education as you move on with your career and professional life,” Puscas said. “Being able to go to law school seemed like a great opportunity to grow professionally.”

Since graduating from Grand Valley State University in 2009 with a degree in political science, Puscas has held a number of positions in public policy. He is currently the Director of Government Relations at the Detroit Regional Chamber. He’s also pursuing his law degree on weekends, as a student enrolled in WMU-Cooley’s Weekend Program.

“When you really think about it, law is a result of public policy and that’s an area that I’ve really fallen in love with as I’ve advanced in my career,” he said.

He wasn’t always sure law school was a realistic opportunity.

“As you get older and farther away from your undergraduate degree, your priorities obviously change.” Puscas said. “Whether that be family or a full-time career, your schedules are harder. It’s more difficult to try to make those decisions, what your priorities are going to be. What Cooley was able to offer was the flexibility for me to be able to pursue both at once. “

WMU-Cooley’s Weekend Program allows students to complete their entire legal education taking classes exclusively on the weekends, or any combination during the week. Weekend classes start in September at the Lansing campus and May at the Auburn Hills and Tampa Bay campuses.

“Being able to go to school, continue my career, and have time to spend at home wasn’t an opportunity I was able to find somewhere else,” Puscas said. “For me personally, having a wonderful girlfriend at home and a house to take care of, having a full-time job in Lansing working 40-60 hours per week, and being able to somehow still fit that desire to continue learning into your schedule is pretty unique. It’s not an opportunity you often find in the modern post-secondary environment.”

Puscas, who plans to graduate this year, said his experience in the classroom has been a positive one at WMU-Cooley.

“You watch television and see these gigantic lecture halls and you see this Socratic method where you are being called on and challenged,” he said. “It’s not like that at all. It’s not nearly as scary as you think it’s going to be. The classroom sizes are intimate. The professors all have a level of practical knowledge and experience that they can relate to and share with you. It’s really more of an ongoing discussion and an opportunity to grasp an area of the law and talk about it as a group.”

Puscas also reflected on the investment he feels he’s making by pursuing a degree from WMU-Cooley.

“Part of what made Cooley the right choice for me was the fact that they do offer generous scholarship opportunities,” he said. “When you combine that with the flexibility they offer, the convenience of the class schedule, I don’t know where else I would have gone. Cooley was the right choice.”

WMU-Cooley student Jason Puscas

WMU-Cooley student Jason Puscas

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Weekend Law Student Reese Kewin: Single mom of six pursues dream of law school at 46

Reese Kewin is not your average law student. In fact, there’s nothing average about her. At 46, and starting law school, Reese knew that a “huge life change was ahead,” not only for her, but for her six children.

“People often ask me, ‘Why law school? Why now?’ I take a deep breath and say, Well, it’s something, quite honestly, I have thought about for a long time, for decades it seems.”

A self proclaimed Michigander, and having gone to high school and college in Michigan, Reese knew all about Cooley. She always kept it in the back of her mind whenever she thought about going to law school. Of course, as often happens, life got in the way, and law school was pushed aside. She got married, moved away, had children, got divorced – then suddenly, many years later, found herself back in Lansing working only blocks away from Cooley. Law school was literally staring her in the face.

“One day I got up and I thought, you know what? Stop just thinking about it!”

So, that day, Reese boldly walked into WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus and asked the Admission Office for a tour. “All of my questions were answered,” Reese stated in relief. “I just knew, as I walked the halls, that this was the place I needed to be! And as I left Cooley, after touring the whole campus and the library, walking the few blocks back to work, I started to cry. It sounds kind of silly, but after all these years of wanting to do this, I knew that this was where I belonged. That was it, I took the LSAT a few months later.”

The Weekend Program was exactly what she needed to make this dream of law school possible. Reese started her law school journey working full-time while taking two classes, plus Intro to Law. Then, just as she was getting used to being a student again, life handed her another curve ball.

“I had just finished my first term, and as it happens in Telecomm, my industry of choice for 22 years, layoffs occurred,” declared Reese. “I again found myself taking a deep breath, and I thought, even with just a term of law school under my belt, I am going to try to dip my toe into the legal field to see what I can do. I approached the career development folks here at Cooley, and they sat down with me and revamped my entire 22 year Telecomm career into a legal resume for me! I then went to some job fairs and found that the legal field was very welcoming and open.  I even found a job as a student assistant working for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Once again, my choice to go to law school, even as an older student, was just reaffirmed for me!”

As any parent knows, this law school journey was not going to be alone. She needed her children to be on board and to support her decision. So she kept reinforcing it with them.

“When you guys start back to school, mommy is starting back to school,” Reese remembers saying to her children. She made it clear that she was going to need time to study, and that there will be times when you will want to do things, but we aren’t going to be able to do them. She let them know that they all needed to be flexible and will need to come up with some alternatives.

But she really never needed to worry. Her children have supported her wholeheartedly.

“I think, at least I hope, that in some small way they see that, wow, if mom can go and do this, then we can do anything too.”

As the first term ended for Reese, and her grades rolled in, the tears flowed again after seeing how she did. “The kids were like, ‘oh mom, did you not do well?’ and I said, ‘No! I got a four point!”

Her son understood why she was crying and why she was going to law school. “Mom, I know why you’re doing this. Because you want to help people.”

Reese wiped the tears and said, “That’s exactly why I am doing this.”


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