Cooley Law School director honored by Department of Military and Veterans Affairs with Legion of Merit

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 Heather Spielmaker, director of Cooley Law School’s Center for Ethics, Service and Professionalism, was honored by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs with its Legion of Merit during a ceremony on June 29, 2010. 

Under Spielmaker’s direction, Cooley founded the Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program in April 2007 to provide free legal assistance to Michigan military personnel who are deploying to, serving in, or returning from combat areas.  To date, Cooley professors have provided hundreds of consultations and made more than 200 referrals to attorneys. The program has prepared wills and powers-of-attorney for nearly 1,000 deploying troops as well.
“I’m honored to receive the Legion of Merit from the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs,” said Spielmaker.  “My name may be on this award, but it really is recognition of the countless hours that so many Michigan attorneys and Cooley faculty, staff and students have donated to benefit our soldiers.  We all recognize the great sacrifice that members of the military make every day and want to do what we can to help them.”
Before deployment, the Service to Soldiers program takes attorneys and law students to military bases in Michigan to help judge advocate general (JAG) officers prepare wills and powers-of-attorney for troops preparing to deploy. Cooley professors, students, and volunteer attorneys from across Michigan assemble at military facilities to prepare these documents, free of charge, to all deploying individuals who request the service.
In recommending Spielmaker for the award, Lieutenant Colonel John J. Wojcik wrote, “Ms. Spielmaker has utilized a vibrant cadre of attorneys, law professors and student volunteers to provide estate planning services, legal support and advice at pre-deployment events for the Michigan Army National Guard, Michigan Air National Guard, Army Reserves and Marine Corps Reserves.”
Legal consultations also are available to returning troops through agreements with military leadership; these are handled by Cooley professors or volunteer attorneys, assisted by Cooley students. Those service men and women of E5 rank or below who need the representation of an attorney are referred to one of the more than 140 participating Michigan attorneys. The Service to Soldiers program is the only civilian program in Michigan specifically designed to assist with the immediate legal needs of military personnel who are deploying to, serving in, or returning from combat areas.
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Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation.  Founded in 1972, it operates J.D. programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Today, Cooley Law School has nearly 14,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and also offers joint degree and master of laws programs.  Cooley offers enrollment three times a year; in January, May and September.   Additional information about Cooley can be found at cooley.edu.

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