Home Logo
News Header Image

Three WMU-Cooley Graduates Named to National Bar Association's Nation's Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40

The National Bar Association's 40 Under 40 Awards recognizes the nation's top lawyers under the age of 40 who exemplify a broad range of high achievement, including in innovation, vision, leadership and legal and community involvement. Among this year's recipients are three WMU-Cooley graduates.

Aaron Burrell

Aaron V. Burrell

Aaron Burrell is a Member and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair at Dickinson Wright PLLC. He focuses his practice in the areas of complex commercial litigation, appellate law, labor and employment law, and minority business enterprises. He also serves as co-chair of the firm’s litigation training and lateral recruiting committees.

He has prevailed in numerous commercial litigation cases in a number of state and federal trial courts and courts of appeals. He also has successfully defended clients in a wide range of discrimination and unfair labor practice claims in state and federal courts and administrative agencies, and he has counseled clients on all aspects of the employment relationship.

Aaron writes and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to achieving meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; Member of the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar of Michigan; Member of the Board of Directors of the Oakland County Bar Association; Past-President of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association; Past-Affiliate Representative in the National Bar Association; fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation and American Bar Foundation; and Director on the Board of Directors for Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, among many other professional affiliations.

Aaron is recognized by several organizations for his leadership and legal practice including Profiles in Diversity Journal, DiversityMBA, Crain’s Detroit Business, Michigan Lawyers Weekly and Michigan Super Lawyers.

Aaron earned his Bachelor of Arts with Distinction, from the University of Michigan; his Juris Doctor, Magna Cum Laude, from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School; his Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University; and a certificate in Leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Northwestern University.


Callana L. Ollie

Callana L. Ollie

Callana Ollie, J, is the Chief Legal Officer for Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN). Ms. Ollie oversees OCHN's legal and procurement activities and operations, functioning as an objective associate that manages all legal matters and procurement transactions within the organization. Callana has become an essential and respected colleague who is recognized by the OCHN Board of Directors as the legal authority within the organization. She advises the OCHN PIHP Board, Substance Use Disorder Oversight Policy Board, and other standing committees on legal and compliance matters.

Ms. Ollie has a diverse array of legal experience, having served as counsel in various industries. Prior to joining OCHN, Ms. Ollie served as the Deputy Chief Counsel at Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network. Her experience also includes serving as Corporate Counsel for Strategic Staffing Solutions, Technology Counsel for Ford Motor Company, and as an Associate Attorney for the Auto Club Group.

Ms. Ollie received her Bachelor of Art (B.A.) from Michigan State University and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence (J.D.) from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. In 2020, Ms. Ollie was recognized as one of the Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 honorees for her efforts and commitment to transforming how legal services are utilized in-house. She is active in the community, serving as a mentor to high school and college students and through her work with the Just the Beginning Foundation programs and the Wolverine Bar Association (WBA), where she currently serves as the co-chair of the WBA Scholarship Committee.

In the role of Chief Legal Officer, Ms. Ollie manages and reports results of all legal, ethical, and regulatory efforts to OCHN stakeholders. Additionally, Ms. Ollie helps to find creative and pragmatic legal solutions to protect OCHN and its business interests.


Hon. Kristen D. Simmons

Hon. Kristen D. Simmons

The Honorable Judge Kristen D. Simmons is currently employed at the 54-A District Court, in Lansing, Michigan. She was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in September 2019. Her appointment to the bench created for the first time in the history of the 54-A District Court, an all-female bench.

Judge Simmons is a graduate of Hampton University and Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. She is a dedicated public servant. She previously served as Litigation Manager for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Office of Legal Affairs. Prior to this, Judge Simmons was a Michigan Assistant Attorney General, litigating civil matters before the United States Federal Courts. She has previously held positions as Assistant City Attorney, Legal Advisor to the Lansing Police Department and Public Defense Counsel in Ingham County, Michigan. In 2012, she championed efforts to create a law clinic in collaboration with Lansing Community College and Legal Services of South Central Michigan. The clinic provided legal resource to low-income families.

Judge Simmons is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is a member of The Links, Incorporated and is an executive board member within her chapter. She is a Cohort VIII Fellow for the Links Scott-Hawkins Leadership Institute. She was elected to the Board of Commissioners for the State Bar of Michigan, is a past-president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association, and she is a member of the Michigan Association of Black Judges, National Association of District Court Judges, National Bar Association, Women’s Lawyer Association, and the Ingham County Bar Association. She also serves as Director of the youth choir at her local church. Judge Simmons was awarded Top 40 under Forty by Hampton University in 2020, Ingham County's Top 5 Attorney under 35 in 2017, and Rising Star Attorney by the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association in 2015.

Sep 09 2021