On Friday, Sept. 15, the mock courtroom at WMU Cooley Law School's Grand Rapids campus became, for the second time in a week, a real courtroom. The courtroom hosted federal proceedings before District Judge Paul L. Maloney, Sept. 12; this time, it was a Kent County Circuit Court courtroom, with the Honorable Dennis B. Leiber presiding. After deciding a full plate of motions, Judge Leiber met with students for over an hour to discuss the motions and the courtroom performances of the advocates.
"What a great opportunity for our students," said Professor Chris Hastings. "In the space of three days, they got to see the formality, pomp and circumstance of the federal court, and compare it with the relatively informal efficiency of a high-volume state court of general jurisdiction. And both judges stuck around to answer questions and meet and encourage the students."
Students agreed. Second-year law student Kristyna Nunzio, who helped organize both events, said, "I'm glad WMU-Cooley gave us the opportunity to watch effective oral advocacy. On Friday, Judge Leiber highlighted that true professionalism requires being respectful and nice to all, not only the judge and other lawyers, but the court's staff, and that being nice is not a sign of weakness."
Hastings noted all lawyers are teachers. "Whether we're helping our clients to understand the law, or the judge or the jury to understand our client's rights, lawyers teach all the time. It's our job. And we love to teach new lawyers, whether we're academics like me, judges, or practicing attorneys."