B.A. Rutgers University 1987
J.D., summa cum laude, WMU-Cooley Law School, 1992
Professor Cooney has taught writing courses for twenty years and currently teaches Research & Writing, Advocacy, and Drafting. For the past ten years, he has chaired WMU-Cooley’s Research & Writing Department.
Before joining the faculty, he spent ten years in private practice with civil-litigation firms, defending professional-malpractice and other tort cases. He focused on appeals, successfully briefing and arguing cases in the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He chaired the State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section. He was also a co-recipient of the Distinguished Brief Award, which recognizes the most scholarly briefs submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court in a given term, as determined by a panel of state and federal judges and law professors.
Professor Cooney’s research and professional activities reflect his passion for clear, effective legal writing. He was Editor in Chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing for six volumes and continues to serve as a Senior Editor. In 2018, he shared the Center for Plain Language’s ClearMark Award (Legal Documents category) with Professor Joseph Kimble, his mentor and colleague. In 2017, the Legal Writing Institute, the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and LexisNexis awarded him a grant for empirical research on appellate courts’ use of legal authority.
Professor Cooney’s published works include a book of collected essays and more than 40 articles on legal writing, appellate practice, and tort law. His articles have been cited and quoted in court opinions and secondary sources, and his writing tips have appeared in the State Bar’s daily calendar. He has presented nationally and internationally at events sponsored by the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Clarity International, the Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Legal Writing Institute, the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System, the Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Foundation, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, and the State Bar’s Appellate Practice and Young Lawyers Sections.
As a law student, he graduated first in his class and was the Law Review’s Comments Editor.