November 1, 2011
Heather Spielmaker To Receive Ingham County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award
Heather Spielmaker, director of Thomas M. Cooley Law School's Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism, will receive the Ingham County Bar Association's (ICBA) Liberty Bell Award for her work helping members of the military receive legal assistance through Cooley Law School's Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program. Spielmaker founded the program in 2007 and continues to oversee it. The award will be presented at the ICBA annual dinner on Nov. 2.
The Liberty Bell Award is the bar's highest honor awarded to a non-lawyer. It recognizes those who have given outstanding service by giving their time and energy to strengthen the effectiveness of the American system of freedom under law, in keeping with the spirit of our Constitution. The ICBA award qualifies Spielmaker for the State Bar of Michigan’s Liberty Bell Award competition.
"I'm honored to receive the Liberty Bell Award," said Spielmaker, a Grand Rapids, Mich. native who now resides in Charlotte. "The Service to Soldiers Program would not be the success that it is if it were not for the countless hours that so many attorneys and Cooley faculty, staff and students have donated to benefit those who serve our country."
The Service to Soldiers Program has been nationally recognized. The program offers legal assistance to deploying, deployed and returning troops, and secures no-cost legal representation for low-income military personnel who have risked their lives for our country.
To date, more than 300 returning Michigan service men and women have received free legal representation through this program, and more than 3000 legal documents have been drafted at no cost to soldiers who are being or have been deployed. In 2011 the Service to Soldiers Program expanded into Florida.
"Heather epitomizes the criteria for this award," said Frank Reynolds, attorney, Foster Swift Collins & Smith PC, who nominated Spielmaker for the honor. "Because of the excellent reputation Heather has built for Cooley’s Service to Soldiers Program and the collaborations she has fostered with the American Bar Association's Military Pro Bono Project, she has evolved into a leading educator on law school military assistance.'
The Service to Soldiers Program uses law students under the supervision of licensed attorneys to assist judge advocates general and military staff, who brief deploying service men and women on their rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Service to Soldiers also trains attorneys to offer pro bono services to members of our military.
"I can think of no better person to receive this award," said Amy Timmer, associate dean and professor, Cooley Law School. "We all recognize the great sacrifice that members of the military make every day and want to do what we can to help them, but without Heather's commitment, hundreds of Michigan service members would not have received the help they have through her program."
NOTE: The ICBA annual dinner begins at 7 p.m. at the Country Club of Lansing, 2200 Moores River Drive.
About Thomas M. Cooley Law School:
Thomas M. Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation. Founded in 1972, the private, nonprofit law school operates its Juris Doctor program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Cooley recently announced a new Tampa Bay, Florida-area campus, with courses beginning in May 2012. Cooley has more than 15,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and offers enrollment three times a year in January, May and September. Cooley is an independent law school, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Additional information can be found at cooley.edu.