Kara Zech Thelen

Kara Zech Thelen

Assistant Professor

B.S., magna cum laude, Michigan State University 1995
J.D., cum laude, Thomas M. Cooley Law School 1999


Kara Zech Thelen joined the full-time faculty at Cooley in January 2011. She has extensive teaching experience. She has been teaching legal writing courses at Cooley since 2003, both as an Adjunct Professor and Visiting Professor. Before teaching at Cooley, Professor Zech Thelen taught at Western Michigan University as an adjunct in the political science department.

Before joining academia, Professor Zech Thelen worked at two of Michigan's largest firms, Varnum Riddering and Miller Canfield, where she practiced labor and employment litigation, traditional labor, general litigation, and college and university law. She began her legal career clerking for United States Magistrate Judge Hugh W. Brenneman in the Western District of Michigan.

During law school, Professor Zech Thelen externed with United States District Judge Donald E. Ziegler, Chief Judge of the Western District of Pennsylvania. She was also an assistant editor of the Law Review, where she received the John D. Voelker Award for the Law Review editor who made the most significant contribution. She graduated tenth in her class, and her studies included a summer course in Dublin, Ireland, taught by United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Professor Zech Thelen is a member of The Legal Writing Institute, Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers, and Clarity International, an association promoting plain legal language. She has served as a judge for the Center for Plain Language's ClearMark and WonderMark competitions, which recognize the best and worst in plain language in both the private and public sectors. She has also served as a judge for Scribes' law-review award competition. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association. She is admitted to practice in all Michigan state and federal courts, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

At Cooley, Professor Zech Thelen teaches Research & Writing and Advanced Writing and serves as faculty advisor to the Thomas M. Cooley Law Review.


Books and Chapters in Books

Zech Thelen, Kara, "The Writer's Toolbox" in Teaching Law Practice:  Training the Next Generation of Lawyers, eds. Nelson P.Miller, Charles Cercone, and Christopher Trudeau, 125-132. Lake Mary, FL: Vandeplas Pub. Co., (2013).

Zech Thelen, Kara, Nelson P. Miller, Christopher G. Hastings and Devin Schindler, eds. Judging in West Michigan: Celebrating the Community Impact of Effective Judges and Courts, Lake Mary, FL.: Vandeplas Publishing (2011).


Kara Zech Thelen, Heather Garretson, Tonya Krause-Phelan and Jane Siegel, The Value of Variety in Teaching: A Professor's Guide, 64 J. Legal Educ. 65 (2014).

Zech Thelen, Kara, "Writing Resources Bibliography," THE SCRIVENER (Winter 2013).

Kara Zech Thelen, Strategies to Improve Your Writing, 92 Mich.B.J. 10 (2013).


Presented, with Associate Professor Jane Siegel, "Teaching Plain Language in Any Language," at the Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona, Italy, March 2014.

The Idea Swap Meet: A Journey to Variety, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Conference. Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington, June 2012.


Real-World Experience

Specialties: Employment Litigation, Traditional Labor, General Litigation, and College and University

Courses: Research & Writing, Advanced Writing

Faculty links

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