Michigan Lawyers Weekly named WMU-Cooley Law School Assistant Dean Erika Breitfeld as Lawyer of the Year. In October, Breitfeld and WMU-Cooley graduate Paul J. Millenbach of Foster Swift Collins & Smith in Southfield, Michigan, were two of 30 lawyers named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” Class of 2022. The annual presentation honoring the Leaders in the Law Class and Lawyer of the Year was held on Dec. 2 at the Detroit Marriott Troy.
Breitfeld was selected as Lawyer of the Year by members of the Leaders in the Law Class of 2022. The selected honorees for the Leaders in the Law Class were chosen for their outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Michigan, continually setting an example for other lawyers, demonstrating tremendous leadership, and offering a wealth of expertise in many areas of the law.
"I am humbled by the company I keep in this room,” said Breitfeld during her acceptance remarks. “I am so honored that I get to use the law to help people. Thank you for this high honor; I share it with each of you."
Breitfeld serves as assistant dean of students at WMU-Cooley. She joined the law school’s full-time faculty in 2013, teaching Criminal Law, Advocacy, Research and Writing, and Appellate Advocacy/Moot Court. Before joining the law school, she was an assistant prosecuting attorney for Macomb County and associate attorney for Ward, Anderson, Porritt & Bryant, P.C. in Bloomfield Hills.
“Erika is a proven leader in the classroom and as a legal professional. She is most certainly deserving of the Lawyer of the Year award.” said WMU-Cooley President and Dean James McGrath. “Dean Breitfeld genuinely cares for her students and their transition into outstanding legal professionals. Her dedication to her students is amazing, but you do not have to take my word for it. WMU Cooley students have selected her seven times to receive our highest teaching honor, the Stanley Beattie Award for Teaching Excellence.”
In addition to educating the next generation of legal professionals, Breitfeld remains active in the legal profession. She has served on the State Bar of Michigan Access to Justice Committee since 2012. She has also served on the board of directors for the Macomb County Veterans' Treatment Court from 2015 to 2022. And she is a recognized leader as evidenced by her appointment as a Michigan State Bar Foundation Fellow, which celebrates attorneys who show professional excellence and service to the community (September 2020-present). She serves as a hearing panelist for the Attorney Discipline Board. (2015-present) and is a member of the Oakland County Inns of Court. Most recently, Breitfeld has extended her time to criminal justice reforms and student mentorship. In 2021, she was appointed by Prosecutor Karen McDonald to the Oakland County Racial Justice Advisory Board, where she works with community stakeholders to promote equity and social justice reforms for underrepresented minority groups.