Cooley grad focuses career on education law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Daria Solomon, who is studying Education Law at WMU-Cooley Law School, originally planned to become a teacher—but wants to do more to improve and advocate for the U.S. education system, and ultimately to influence policy and legislation related to education.

Solomon, who graduated in May with a 4.0 GPA, earned a B.A. in education from Hope College. She completed her student-teaching semester in Chicago Public Schools, where for the past two summers she has returned to celebrate her former students’ eighth-grade graduation ceremonies.

“I was able to build great relationships with the students and teachers,” she says. “I love teaching because I get to be part of a process that empowers students to think critically and solve problems in the world around them.”

Solomon headed to WMU-Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, where she has enjoyed the relationships she has built with her professors and classmates.

“The professors take the time to get to know and support their students,” she says. “Everyone is committed to helping one another attain the knowledge and skills necessary to have a successful legal career.”

A recipient of a Macomb Bar Association Foundation Scholarship, Solomon is nearing the end of an externship at Collins & Blaha, P.C., in Farmington Hills, one of a few full service law firms in Southeastern Michigan practicing primarily in education law and representing public school districts, public school academies, intermediate school districts and community colleges.

“I knew I wanted to focus my studies and legal career in education law, and my externship has given me a wonderful opportunity to do that,” she says. “The attorneys are all extremely knowledgeable about education law, and are all passionate about our firm’s work.

“The firm has also created a supportive learning environment for new attorneys and externs, while ensuring that all work produced is of a high quality. I’ve researched a wide variety of topics, written memos, and written letters to and on behalf of clients.”

Drawing on her teaching background to work as a Teaching Assistant for several courses, including Contracts I, Constitutional Law I, and Personal and Professional Responsibility, Solomon enjoyed helping students gain confidence in their skills and legal knowledge.

“Some students prefer to have a discussion about material and go through various examples of legal concepts. Others like to find ways to create visual diagrams and representations of the law to organize the many concepts they learn,” she says. “This variety also helps the students learn when I work with them in small groups because they get to consider the material in new ways.

Solomon has also devoted much of her time to helping other students develop their writing skills and master legal material. Each term, she helped Professor Erika Breitfeld’s Advocacy class with oral arguments, and frequently met one-on-one with students who wanted additional practice with their arguments before the end of the term.

Solomon won an Intra-School Moot Court competition in March 2019, and joined Cooley's National Moot Court team last fall.

“I had great teammates and coaches—we worked well together on writing the brief, and we all really enjoyed practicing our oral arguments. A variety of professors, practitioners, and family members volunteered to help us as judges, and their questions as judges helped us make sure we had a thorough understanding of the relevant law,” she says.

“Moot Court gave me an opportunity to really get creative with legal arguments, particularly in areas where the law has not yet been developed.”

Solomon worked closely with Dean Joan Vestrand and the State Bar’s Professionalism Work Group to create the initial draft for civility guidelines that would be considered for adoption by the State Bar of Michigan and the Michigan Supreme Court.

“Dean Vestrand and I reviewed the civility guidelines adopted in other jurisdictions to help inform the decisions we made for the draft,” Solomon says. “The Professionalism Work Group discussed our draft and met with members of Michigan’s legal community to obtain additional input on the guidelines.”

As a research assistant for Professor Mark Cooney, Solomon got to read many Supreme Court opinions and learn about the variety of resources that can be used to inform legal decisions, and worked with him to organize a large amount of data collected from research.

“We spent a significant amount of time discussing the possibilities for what we could do with and look for in our data,” she says.

Last year, Solomon was a Senior Resource Editor on Law Review, an opportunity to learn about areas of the law she may not have learned about in her courses or legal career.

“Each article I worked with had a different, specific topic that enabled me to expand my own knowledge,” she says.

In 2018, Solomon volunteered to do Guardianship Review at the Oakland County Probate Court. The work included discussing the current conditions of a ward with the legal guardian, visiting the ward and assessing the ward's abilities and living conditions, and preparing a written report for the Probate Court.

“It allowed me to communicate with new members of the community and to better understand others’ views of the guardianship and legal systems,” she says.

“Completing a guardianship review is a great way to give back to the community and get a different perspective on one aspect of our legal system.”

She also enjoyed taking part in the law school’s Fitness Unleashed Program, walking dogs from the Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center on the Auburn Hills campus.

In her leisure time, Solomon enjoys reading and playing tennis, and playing card and board games with family and friends on the weekends.





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