Ethics, Service, and Professionalism Programs
Ethics and Professionalism Library
WMU Cooley's Ethics and Professionalism Library maintains over 2,950 titles and 4,670 volumes of ethics materials. The Ethics and Professionalism Library is open to students, faculty, and attorneys to promote the research and study of ethics and professionalism.
Among the collection is the book entitled Reflection of a Lawyer's Soul: The Institutional Experience of Professionalism at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School which comprises a response to the Carnegie Report on Educating Lawyers and showcases WMU Cooley's implementation of the very proposals that report set forth for law schools.
Ethics in the Curriculum
WMU Cooley faculty find interesting and probative methods of incorporating ethics into the required and elective courses in both the JD and LLM programs. Faculty members have designed and teach elective courses based in ethics, conflict resolution, and pro bono including:
Advanced Professional Ethics, Ethics in Advanced Appellate Techniques, Negotiation and Confrontation, Ethics and Leadership, Negotiation National Team, Advanced Professional Ethics, Advanced Business Mediation, Cultural Competency in the Legal Profession, Facilitative Mediation, the WMU Cooley COMPACT professional development course, Standards and Ethics of Tax Practice, Advanced Practice Skills – Mediation Training, Advanced Practice Skills – Domestic Mediation, Advanced Practice Skills – Multiple Party Dispute Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Facilitative Mediation Directed Study, Client Counseling Competition, Interviewing and Counseling, Law Practice: Technology for Solo and Small Firms, Access to Justice Clinic, the 60+ Elderlaw Clinic and all other indigent-based clinics.
Enforcing Student Conduct Codes
Students engaging in unethical or unprofessional conduct are investigated, counseled, and sanctioned, as appropriate. Along with faculty, WMU Cooley students also serve as counselors, prosecutors, and judges in Honor Code cases.
Reports of suspected Honor Code violations and Disciplinary Procedures violations are investigated by "investigating deans" designated for each campus. The work of the investigating deans is supported and complemented by the Honor Council, Discipline Board, Office of Law School Advocate, and Office of Student Assistance. Professor Mike Molitor is the Chair of the Honor Council.
Integrity in Our Communities Speaker Series
WMU Cooley brings nationally and locally recognized speakers to each campus each term to talk with our students, staff, and faculty about issues, trials, and lawsuits touching on ethical and professionalism matters. Students, faculty, and staff gather to hear speakers talk openly about challenges they have faced, and their personal and professional ethics that guided them through.
Since the series' inception in Hilary 2007, presenters have included: Chief Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals William Whitbeck, nationally-recognized criminal defense attorney Frank Reynolds, former State Bar of Michigan President and State Board of Education member and practicing attorney Reginald Turner, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cavanagh, former State Bar of Michigan President Jon Muth, Federal Magistrate Scoville, Retired Grand Rapids City Attorney Phil Balkema, Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, State Bar President Ed Pappas, Judges Leo Bowman and Denise Page Hood, and chief public defender in Washtenaw County Lloyd Powell.
Leadership in the Law
The faculty and staff of the Center hold leadership positions in our communities to promote competence and ethics in the practice of law. For example, in Michigan we hold seats on the Attorney Grievance Commission, hearing panels for the Attorney Discipline Board, and the Sections and Committees of the State Bar of Michigan on Character and Fitness, Law Practice and Management, Client Protection Fund, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Military Law, Pro Bono Month, and Equal Access Initiative. In Florida, we sit on the Florida Supreme Court’s Standing Committee on Fairness and Diversity, The Florida Bar’s Voluntary Bar Liaison Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit's Pro Bono and Professionalism Committees. In both states we hold leadership positions with local bar associations, and in Florida, we hold leadership positions with the Inn of Court.
Pro Bono and Community Service Programs
Opportunities to serve the community through volunteer work or through free legal service (pro bono work) are available through WMU Cooley's many clinics and through the Career and Professional Development Office.
Student Mediation Board
WMU Cooley students trained in mediation and in the atlernative dispute resolution volunteer their time to help confidentially resolve personal conflicts between students and practice their mediation skills.
Professional Development and Mentoring
WMU Cooley employs the concept of episodic mentoring for professional development through its various campus-based mentoring programs. Rather than match individual student protégés with one lawyer for an extended period of time, WMU Cooley encourages students to be mentored by many different lawyers and for short periods of time. This concept of episodic mentoring—based on the notion that protégés can learn a great deal from mentors in as little as 20 minutes, if both parties are focused on mentoring and understand the goal—offers students the advantages of
- knowing many lawyers,
- learning the skill of self-mentoring—that is, learning to ask questions that will assist in one’s professional development,
- getting many viewpoints about issues,
- avoiding an unproductive or incompatible pairing
- sharpening communication skills
- learning to approach people, without an introduction, in a way that is welcomed
- attending social and professional events where lawyers are present.
- having the opportunity to develop a long-term traditional mentoring relationship.
WMU Cooley students are taught the concept of "self-mentoring," that is, asking questions to elicit information that will help them develop professionally. They learn to ask lawyers, and then reflect on what they hear, about how lawyers make good decisions, handle ethical challenges, balance their personal and work lives, make time for public service and pro bono work, develop professionally, deal with difficult people, model good behavior, and meet the ethical obligations of the legal profession. Students are encouraged to start episodic mentoring in their second term and to continue it every term, with a goal of doubling, each term, the number of attorneys they contact. If they follow through on this challenge, they will know 16 attorneys by their 6th term, who may be able to help them with externships and possible employment leads in their third year. We also offer traditional matched mentoring through various programs.
WMU Cooley is one of ten founding members of a newly established National Legal Mentoring Consortium. Contact Dean Amy Timmer.
The WMU Cooley COMPACT stands for Challenging Ourselves to Master Performance And Character Transformation. Through the COMPACT, which is an on-line course in professional development, students are offered the opportunity to create, throughout enrollment, a Professionalism Portfolio that requires self-reflection and training in personal responsibility, ethics, and service, documents the student's professional identity development and personal code of conduct, encourages episodic mentoring with lawyers, connects students to the resource offices at WMU Cooley at the right time during their enrollment, and ultimately offers employers insight into an applicant's knowledge, skills, ethics, and character. Participating students benefit through better connections, both to the school and to attorneys, and improved and focused career planning while in law school. The program is housed online where the term-appropriate exercises and recorded presentations are available. Students who complete the program create a professionalism portfolio that can be shared with employers to document their character, mastery of lawyer skills, service to the community, awards and excellence in law school, and ability to begin a legal job upon graduation. Students' portfolios may be web-based, or contained on a flash drive, DVD, or in hard copy.
Public School Mentoring and Assistance Programs
WMU Cooley encourages programming with local public schools, to improve the education of all and to interest students in continuing their education and even considering law school. In their work with public schools, WMU Cooley Law School students provide help as mentors, teachers, and tutors, and offer their support and encouragement through personal relationships and fund-raising.
In Saginaw and Pontiac area schools, WMU Cooley's Auburn Hills faculty member Professor Monica Nuckolls and her father, Hon. M.T. Thompson, Jr., developed and implement a drug education and crime prevention program called Making Choices and Facing Consequences, an evidence-and field-tested drug education and crime prevention program designed to:
- Promote the development of personal self-management skills through decision making exercises that allow children and young adults to examine real life situations and consider the choices and consequences presented by each situation;
- Teach children and young adults what constitutes unlawful and risky behavior and how to avoid dangerous and unsafe situations; and
- Promote responsible citizenship and appropriate behavior standards.
Drug education and character training is delivered through a set of real life stories about children and young adults. The characters in the stories come from the same type of neighborhoods, share similar backgrounds, and face the same type of problems, pressures, and temptations as the young adults we are trying to reach. The lesson is clear: good choices have good consequences and bad choices have bad consequences.
The Making Choices and Facing Consequences curriculum has been endorsed by Superintendents from the Saginaw, Bridgeport, and Carrollton Public School Districts, and the Saginaw Police Chiefs’ Association. It has also been successfully used in the Saginaw Public Schools’ 21st Century Program, Bridgeport-Spaulding Schools, Carrollton Public Schools, Buena Vista Public Schools, Saginaw County Juvenile Detention Center, and the Saginaw Community Foundation’s Youth First Program.
WMU Cooley promotes professional development not just of its students, but also its faculty and staff. Professional development activities include development of a faculty professionalism portfolio, conferences with area faculty, mentoring opportunities for WMU Cooley faculty, a study of a mentoring program run in conjunction with the State Bar of Michigan that matches WMU Cooley students intending to practice in Michigan with Michigan lawyers, and a professionalism orientation for new students at each campus during which area lawyers and judges meet in small groups with the newest WMU Cooley students to talk about ethics and professionalism.
Wellness programming in law schools is becoming increasingly important because of the stress experienced by law students in many facets of their lives. A law student's approach to wellness programming should be holistic and address wellness in all aspects, including social, financial, physical, emotional, career, and spiritual wellness. Students find wellness resources on WMU Cooley's internal portal page.