Mark Cooney

Bio Cooney


B.A. Rutgers University 1987
J.D., summa cum laude, WMU-Cooley Law School, 1992
[email protected]

Professor Mark Cooney has expertise in legal writing, appellate practice, civil litigation, legal- and medical malpractice, insurance coverage, and general tort law. He teaches Research & Writing and Advanced Writing.

Before joining the faculty, Professor Cooney spent 10 years in private practice with civil-litigation firms, defending professional-malpractice cases and other tort cases. He specialized in civil appeals, successfully briefing and arguing appeals in the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Professor Cooney is the editor in chief of The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, having previously served as an associate editor for four years. He has chaired the State Bar of Michigan's Appellate Practice Section and has served as a plain-language consultant on the State Bar's Standing Committee on Standard Criminal Jury Instructions. He is also a founding board member for the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society’s Advocates Guild.

Professor Cooney has been a frequent speaker and moderator at programs on legal writing and appellate practice, including programs sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System, the Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Foundation, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, the State Bar’s Appellate Practice and Young Lawyers Sections, and the Legal Writing Institute. He has also been a panelist at the State Bar’s Annual Bar Leadership Forum.

Professor Cooney authored the book Sketches on Legal Style and has authored many articles on legal writing, including articles in The Scribes Journal of Legal WritingStudent Lawyer, and TRIAL. He is a frequent contributor to the Michigan Bar Journal's “Plain Language” column. Professor Cooney has also published a textbook chapter, journal articles, and short pieces on legal malpractice, medical malpractice, appellate practice, legal ethics, and insurance coverage.

While in practice, Professor Cooney was a co-recipient of the WMU-Cooley Law Review's Distinguished Brief Award, which recognizes the three 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.

As a law student, Professor Cooney graduated first in his class and was the Law Review’s Comments Editor.


Articles (Law Reviews and Law Journals)

  • Mark Cooney, Taming the Jabberwock: A Plain Redraft of Lewis Carroll’s 1883 Publishing Contract, 19 Scribes J. Legal Writing 55 (2020).
  • Mark Cooney, What Judges Cite: A Study of Three Appellate Courts, 50 Stetson L. Rev. 1 (2020).
  • Mark Cooney, Analogy Through Vagueness, 16 Legal Comm. & Rhetoric: JALWD 85 (2019). 
  • Mark Cooney, Once Upon a Car (A Tale of Three Ambiguities), 20 Green Bag 2d 143 (2017).
  • Mark Cooney, Style Is Substance: Collected Cases Showing Why It Matters, 14 Scribes J. Leg. Writing 1 (2011-2012).
  • Mark Cooney, Benching the Monday Morning Quarterback: The "Attorney Judgment" Defense to Legal-Malpractice Claims, 52 Wayne L. Rev. 1051 (2006).
  • Mark Cooney, Let the Buyer Beware: Exploring the Limits on Sellers’ Attorneys’ Duties to Buyers of Real Property, 27 Mich. Real Prop. Rev. 89 (2000).

Books and Chapters in Books

  • Mark Cooney, "The Smile," in Lawyer Storytelling:  A Sacred Craft, edited by Nelson Miller,  7-10 (Crown Management 2017).
  • Mark Cooney, Sketches on Legal Style (Carolina Academic Press 2013).
  • Mark Cooney, "Medical Malpractice," in Principles of Addictions and the Law: Applications in Forensic, Mental Health, and Medical Practice, edited by Norman S. Miller, 135-57 (Academic Press 2010).
  • Mark Cooney & Noreen L. Slank, "Post Trial Motions, Costs & Fees," in Michigan Civil Procedure (2001-2002 supplement) (Institute of Continuing Legal Education 1999).
  • Mark Cooney, "The Extension of Michigan's 'Innocent Co-Insured' Doctrine: From Marriage to Business Partnerships," in National Law Anthology Series, Vol. VI, Insurance Law Anthology (International Library Law Book Publishers 1992) (previously published in 8 T.M. Cooley L. Rev. 637 (1991)).

Shorter Works

  • Mark Cooney, Larry Potter and the Deathly Canon, Vol. 99, No. 9 Mich. B.J. 48 (Sept. 2020).
  • Mark Cooney, The Power of Words, AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Newsletter, Summer 2020. 
  • Mark Cooney, Making Effective Use of the Revision Process, (coauthored with Megan E. Boyd and Adam W. Hoffman), 64 For the Defense 14 (2020).
  • Mark Cooney, A Start Toward Clarity, Vol. 97, No. 9 Mich. B.J. 44 (Sept. 2018) (co-authored with Joseph Kimble).
  • Mark Cooney, Give a Clue (A Linguistic Whodunit), 96 Mich.B.J., June 2017, at 60.
  • Mark Cooney, It’s Okay to Get Nervous, 45 Student Law. 10 (Nov./Dec. 2016).
  • Mark Cooney, The Architecture of Clarity, 95 Mich. B.J., Sept. 2016, at 40.
  • Mark Cooney, The Pros Know: Plain Language Is Just Good Writing, 94 Mich. B.J., Sept. 2015, at 54.
  • Mark Cooney, Let’s Hit the Links?: Keep Your Eye on the Ball When Researching Online, 43 Student Law. 16 (Feb. 2015) (available at
  • Mark Cooney, Treatises: Let the Experts Serve You, 43 Student Law. 16 (Oct. 2014) (available at
  • Mark Cooney, The Pleading, 94 Mich. B.J., Mar. 2015, at 42 (previously published in Sketches on Legal Style (Carolina Academic Press 2013)).
  • Mark Cooney, Snap, Crackle, Pop, 92 Mich. B.J., Dec. 2013, at 40.
  • Mark Cooney, The Manistee River Incident, 92 Mich. B.J., Aug. 2013, at 26.
  • Mark Cooney, Emergency!, 91 Mich. B.J., Nov. 2012, at 50.
  • Mark Cooney, Acronymonious, 91 Mich. B.J., July 2012, at 48.
  • Mark Cooney, Plain Isn’t Plain, The Scrivener Newsletter (Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers, Lansing, Mich.), Spring 2012, at 3 (reprinted in 91 Mich. B.J. 52 (June 2012).
  • Mark Cooney, A Legal-Writing Carol, 90 Mich. B.J., Dec. 2011, at 36 (reprinted in 93 Mich.B.J., Dec. 2014 at 40).
  • Mark Cooney, The Mismatch, 90 Mich. B.J., June 2011, at 50.
  • Mark Cooney, Are You a Hyphen-Happy Lawyer? 90 Mich. B.J., May 2011, at 38.
  • Mark Cooney, To Mrs. Finklebean: The Truth About Conjunctions as Sentence Starters, 89 Mich. B.J., Aug. 2010, at 60 (reprinted as A Letter to Mrs. Finklebean, in 93 Mich. B.J. Aug. 2014, at 60).
  • Mark Cooney, The Extra-Stuff Rule, 88 Mich. B.J., May 2009, at 48.
  • Mark Cooney, The Runaway Verdict, 88 Mich. B.J., Feb. 2009, at 40.
  • Mark Cooney, Conversation with a Brief, 87 Mich. B.J., Jan. 2008, at 42.
  • Mark Cooney, Do the Opposite for Better Legal Writing: Impress Sophisticated Legal Professionals with Writing that Makes Sense to Laypeople, 36 Student Law. 14 (Dec. 2007).
  • Mark Cooney and Julie Clement, Do You Know Your Reader? 43 Tr. 80 (May 2007) (reprinted in 86 Mich. B.J., June 2007, at 42).
  • Mark Cooney, Protecting the Appellate Specialist’s Professional Judgment, 11 App. Prac. Sec. Newsletter (State Bar of Michigan, Lansing, Mich.), Spring 2007 at 1.  
  • Mark Cooney, Stringing Readers Along, 85 Mich. B.J., Dec. 2006, at 44 (reprinted in 20 Neb. Law. Sept/Oct. 2017 at 41).
  • Mark Cooney, Just Sue ‘Em! The Scrivener Newsletter (Scribes – The American Society of Legal Writers, Lansing, Mich.), Fall 2005, at 6 (reprinted in 85 Mich. B.J., May 2006, at 52).
  • Mark Cooney, A Verb's Lament, The Scrivener Newsletter  (Scribes - The American Society of Writers of Legal Writers, Lansing, Mich.), Winter 2005, at 8 (reprinted in 85 Mich. B.J., Feb. 2006, at 40).
  • Mark Cooney, The Dating Game, 41 Tr. 60 (Aug. 2005) (reprinted in 84 Mich. B.J., Dec. 2005, at 40).
  • Mark Cooney, Stay Active! (pt. 2), 84 Mich. B.J., June 2005, at 38.
  • Mark Cooney, Stay Active! (pt. 1), 84 Mich. B.J., May 2005, at 48.
  • Mark Cooney, From the Chair, 9 App. Prac. Sec. Newsletter (State Bar of Michigan, Lansing, Mich.), Fall/Winter 2004-2005 at 2.
  • Mark Cooney, Get Real about Research and Writing, 32 Student Law. 18 (May 2004).
  • Mark Cooney, Cox v. Board of Hospital Managers Reveals Appellate Judges’ Divergent Views on Proper Appellate Procedure and Necessity of Cross Appeals, 6 App. Prac. Sec. Newsletter (State Bar of Michigan, Lansing, Mich.), Fall 2000 at 4.
  • Mark Cooney, Law, Law, Law on the Internet: The Best Legal Web Sites and More, 5 App. Prac. Sec. Newsletter (State Bar of Michigan, Lansing, Mich.), Winter 2000 at 13.  (book review). 


  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Kimble Center for Legal Drafting Annual Seminar, “30 Tips for Better Legal Drafting and Writing,” April 1, 2021.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, “Effective Reply Briefs in Appellate Practice: Strategic Uses, Best Practices for Drafting,” Strafford National Webinar, Dec. 17, 2019.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Kimble Center for Legal Drafting Inaugural Seminar, “Attacking Dense Forms and Rethinking Document Design,” Nov. 1, 2019, Lansing, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, The Importance of Facts and the Appellate Record to Appellate Advocacy, breakout session, 2019 Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference, March 29, 2019, Plymouth, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Defense Research Institute Appellate Advocacy Seminar, “Revising Appellate Briefs,” July 19, 2019, Chicago, Illinois (co-presented with Georgia State Univ. Prof. Megan Boyd).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Appellate Bench-Bar Conference Foundation's Moderator & Reporter Training, February 23, 2019, Novi, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Young Lawyers Summit, Michigan State Bar Young Lawyers Section, “The Art of Grabbing Busy Readers,” June 16, 2018, Harbor Springs, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Featured Guest, Bloomfield Hills Cable Television, “The Language of the Law,” May 17, 2018, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Clarity International London Breakfast, "Plain Language in the USA: Forward Strides or Stuck in the Mud?"  April 19, 2018, City of London Guildhall. 
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Washtenaw County Bar Association, "Take Your Writing to the Next Level," January 31, 2018, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Panelist, Association of Legal Writing Directors 2017 Biennial Conference, "Publish Don't Perish:  Fostering Scholarship in the Legal-Writing Community," July 19, 2017, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Association of Legal Writing Directors 2017 Biennial Conference, "Acting Affirmatively:  A Systematic Approach to Promoting Opportunity for All Students," July 19, 2017, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker "Legal-Writing Skills (Better Document Design)," Brown Bag Lunch & Learn Series, National Association of Legal Secretaries, Lansing Chapter, September 21, 2016, Lansing, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Appealing Briefs (2016 Young Lawyers Summit, State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, Novi, Michigan, June 4, 2016).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, 2017 Young Lawyers Summit (State Bar Young Lawyers Section), "Write LIke the Best:  A Hands-On Editorial Session," April 29, 2017, Thompsonville, Michigan.
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Legal Writing: From Basics to Application, (Scribes 2016 CLE Program, John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, April 15, 2016)
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference Foundation’s Moderator & Reporter Training (Farmington Hills, Michigan, March 12, 2016).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Dare to Be Different (2015 Young Lawyers Summit, State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, Detroit, Michigan, May 30, 2015).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Spotting Arguments in the Language: Tips for Litigators & Drafters (2014 Young Lawyers Summit, State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, Lansing, Michigan, May 31, 2014).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Breakout Sessions, Michigan Appellate Advocacy: A View from the Bench and Bar and Whose Appeal Is It? (2013 Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference, Plymouth, Michigan, Apr. 25-26, 2013) (Both sessions focused on various aspects of appellate practice and were attended by judges, court staff, and practitioners).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Breakout Session, Editing Workshop (2013 National Conference of Law Reviews, Lansing, Michigan, Mar. 23, 2013).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Persuasive Writing (2012 Young Lawyers Summit, State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section, Detroit, Michigan, June 16, 2012).
  • Mark Cooney, Speaker, Keep the Egg on Your Face Sunny Side Up: Tips for Gracefully Surviving Unwelcome Surprises and Missteps (Legal Writing Institute 2012 Biennial Conference, New Teachers program, Palm Desert, California, May 30, 2012).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Legal Reasoning & Case Analysis (Just the Beginning Foundation 2011 Detroit Summer Legal Institute (for Metro-Detroit high-school students), Detroit, Michigan, July 12, 2011).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, More than Mediocrity: Tips for Writing with Uncommon Clarity and Power (State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section's 4th Annual Summit, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 21, 2011).
  • Mark Cooney, Panel Speaker, Collegiality Between Parallel Courts: Erie/Reverse Erie/Certified Questions (2010 Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference, Plymouth, Michigan, June 11, 2010) (other panelists: Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly and U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Effective Written Advocacy II -- Writing They WANT to Read: Marshalling Persuasive Legal Arguments (ICLE Litigation Boot Camp, Plymouth, Michigan, Feb. 18, 2010).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Effective Written Advocacy I -- Writing They WANT to Read: Shaping the Facts (ICLE Litigation Boot Camp, Plymouth, Michigan, Jan. 21, 2010).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Behind the Bench: Lessons for Defense Counsel (Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, May 17, 2008) Michigan Defense Trial Counsel 2008 Annual Meeting program: panelists included the Honorable Maura Corrigan, Justice, Supreme Court of Michigan; the Honorable James Ryan, Circuit Judge, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; the Honorable Elizabeth Gleicher, Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals, and the Honorable Thomas Eveland, Chief Judge, 56th Circuit Court of Michigan (Eaton County)).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Effective Brief-Writing (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Oct. 11, 2007; Lansing, Michigan, Oct 18, 2007; Novi, Michigan, Oct. 25, 2007) (Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System’s 2007 Training).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Breakout Sessions, Do the Write Thing and Using and Improving MCR 7.212 (2007 Michigan Appellate Bench-Bar Conference, May 3-4, 2007).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Amicus Curiae Practice in Michigan's Appellate Courts (State Bar of Michigan, Appellate Practice Section, Sept. 30, 2004) (2004 Annual Meeting Program: panelists included the Honorable Marilyn Kelly, Justice, Supreme Court of Michigan; the Honorable William C. Whitbeck, Chief Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals; and prominent appellate practitioners).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Improving Service to Bar Organizations by Learning from Past Mistakes (State Bar of Michigan's Bar Leadership Forum, June 11, 2004).
  • Mark Cooney, Moderator, Sixth Circuit Appeals for Michigan Lawyers - From Basics to Best Practices (Wayne State University Law School, June 6, 2003) (panelists included the Honorable James L. Ryan, Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; the Honorable Arthur J. Tarnow, District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; members of the clerk's office for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and prominent appellate practitioners).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, No-Fault Insurance Law and Premises-Liability Law (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 1997) (Oakland Mediation Center).
  • Mark Cooney, Presentation, Michigan's 1995 "Tort Reform" Legislation (Grand Rapids Insurance Adjusters Association Dinner, Apr. 26, 1996).


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