Professor knows true value of contract law

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

A career in law was a given for Mara Kent, associate professor at Cooley Law School.

"My father is a lawyer, and I was attracted to the profession at a young age," she says.

Kent, who joined the Cooley faculty in 2000, teaches Contracts and Sales, a field she enjoyed while working at Ford Motor Company's Employment Law Department while in law school.

After teaching at Cooley's Lansing and Auburn Hills campuses, she moved to the Ann Arbor campus last year. "Tree Town" is familiar turf, since Kent is a native of Ann Arbor, and earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan.

She earned her law degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Detroit Mercy, where she graduated second in her class. She earned book awards in Civil Procedure, Agency & Partnership, Employment Law, and Corporations, and served as one of the articles editors of the law review.

"UDM law school provided me with an excellent education, and it wasn't too far from my home," she says.

While in law school, she was a member of the Moot Court Board of Directors, and received the Best Oralist award for the G. Mennen Williams competition. She received numerous scholarships and honors while in law school, including the Dean's Scholarship for Academic Excellence, the American Association of Corporate Counsel Scholarship, and Irish-American Lawyers Association Scholarship.

Following law school, Kent served as a judicial law clerk for Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, and eventually went into private practice as an appellate attorney, specializing primarily in civil rights and employment law. She has submitted briefs on behalf of her clients to the Michigan Supreme Court, Michigan Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and federal district courts.

Kent has also served as a cooperating attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, where she did pro bono litigation and appellate work, specializing in First Amendment cases.

She recently revised the Michigan Law and Practice Encyclopedia, volume 8, covering contracts. Her published law review articles have been cited to the U.S. Supreme Court on several occasions and cited by the Michigan Supreme Court. Kent was honored by the Cooley Legal Author's Society's first annual award for faculty scholarship, for "The Common-Law History of Non-Economic Damages in Breach of Contract Actions Versus Willful Breach of Contract Actions," and her article was honored by The Texas Wesleyan Law Review.

She also presented the paper at an international contracts conference in Gloucester, England, where she served as a panelist.

"I really enjoyed getting to meet two giants in contract law, Joe Perillo and Ian MacNeil, and seeing firsthand the mill that was involved in the famous case, Hadley v. Baxendale, decided over 150 years ago," she says.

Kent enjoys sharing her passion for law with her students at Cooley.

"Cooley is an absolutely wonderful place to work that combines two of my passions: law and teaching," she says. "My colleagues are extremely bright individuals who love what they do, and it makes going to work each day very rewarding."

"I love meeting and mentoring new law students each term and helping them navigate their own paths into a law career."

Kent and her husband Tom Kent, the Deputy Chief Legal Officer for the City of Flint, and their daughters, Grace, 11, and Celia, 10, live in Ann Arbor. Kent is the former PTO president of Thurston Elementary School and a former board member of the Thurston Community Players. She also enjoys serving meals to homeless families at the Alpha House in Ann Arbor, and building houses for Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley.

A keen runner, she has recently taken part in several runs including the Big House Big Heart Run for ALS, Cooley Law 5K Run for Education, Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, and Shamrocks and Shenanigans 5K Run & Walk.

"I love running, and began running for the Ann Arbor Track Club at age 7," she says "I also love art, and have a fine arts degree in industrial design. In my free time, I love doing art projects and spending time with my family in northern Michigan. My husband and I recently made a marimba for our oldest daughter who is a percussionist."

Published: Tue, Jul 19, 2011