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New Board of Directors Chair and Vice Chair

On Saturday, June 22, Cooley Law School Board of Directors elected Mitchell Zajac and Aaron Burrell as board chair and vice chair, respectively, as the Hon. Louise Alderson announced she has concluded her four-year term. Alderson, a retired 54A District Court judge, served her last official act as board chair during the board’s June 22 meeting.

Zajac and Burrell will assume their new roles effective July 1. Alderson will continue to serve on the board in a non-officer capacity.

“I am pleased to hand over the reins to Mitch and Aaron,” said Alderson. “They are both incredibly talented capable leaders who will continue to guide the board in its role of stewarding the school’s mission to prepare students to be agents for positive change in their communities and our profession.”

Alderson, a 1986 Cooley graduate, has served on Cooley’s board for 20 years. After being elected to Cooley’s board in 2005, she then served as vice-chair for eight years from 2012 until she was elected chair in 2020. 


“These past four years included an incredible amount of change and were a pivotal period in the school’s history,” said Cooley Law School President and Dean James McGrath. “From my transition as the new president and dean to facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and developing our new strategic plan, we are incredibly grateful for Judge Alderson’s steadfast leadership through it all.


“The transition in board leadership comes at an opportune time,” said McGrath. “This academic year saw the incorporation of our revised curriculum and we just recently launched our new branding campaign emphasizing the school’s proud tradition as an innovator in legal education and celebrating our diverse, inclusive community that focuses on preparing students to be confident, future-ready attorneys.”


Photo of Mitch Zajac

Zajac, a 2017 Cooley graduate, is a shareholder with Butzel Attorneys and Counselors in the firm’s Detroit office where he works in automotive, intellectual property, regulatory and emissions compliance, and sports and entertainment law. He is also a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Zajac joined Cooley’s Board of Directors in 2020 and was elected vice-chair in 2022.


“I am honored that my fellow board members entrusted me to serve as Cooley Law School board chair as we continue our work implementing effective strategies to respond to the ABA’s abrupt change in its bar pass standard while also moving forward with curriculum that focuses on blending traditional legal principles with leading-edge practices that prepare students to navigate complex, ever-changing legal landscapes with confidence,” said Zajac. “As we look ahead, Cooley Law School remains committed to its founding principles and is taking the next steps to yet again boldly transform legal education. Cooley is preparing future-ready lawyers through enhanced teaching and learning practices, expansive experiential learning opportunities, and investments in programs to ensure that a legal education remains affordable and accessible to all those who commit themselves to achieving high standards of professional excellence.”


Photo of Aaron Burrell

Burrell, a 2010 Cooley graduate, is a litigation attorney at Dickinson Wright’s Detroit and Troy offices, focusing on complex commercial litigation, appellate law, labor and employment law, and minority business enterprises. He also serves as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and co-chair of Litigation Training. Burrell was first appointed to Cooley’s Board of Directors in 2019. 


“I am humbled to serve Cooley as it writes its next chapter and builds upon its legacy of providing students of all backgrounds access to an outstanding legal education,” said Burrell. “I look forward to serving as the board’s vice chair alongside Mitch and the other esteemed board members as we work together to maintain Cooley’s high level of excellence in shaping the next generation of lawyers.”

Jul 08 2024