Former prosecutor enjoys new position at Cooley

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By Jo Mathis

Legal News

Melissa Stowe-Lloyd isn't worried that a life in academia will dull in comparison to arguing in a courtroom before a judge.

As the new Assistant Director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism at the Ann Arbor campus of Cooley Law School, the former prosecutor says she has plenty of exciting challenges ahead.

"Every day here is new," said Stowe-Lloyd, who has worked as an assistant prosecutor in Ludington and in Wayne County. "I never know when a student's going to knock on my door ... And so instead of preparing for a case, I'm preparing for an opportunity for that student."

Cooley places a high value on community service, and that's a good fit for Stowe-Lloyd, a 37-year-old Ludington native who has long been interested in mentoring and pro bono work.

Melissa Stowe grew up in Ludington and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan. After graduating from the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago in 2001, she clerked for a while, and then was offered an associate position in a Plantation, Florida law firm where she mostly focused on torts and products liability. She worked there for seven years.

The sunshine and palm trees were wonderful.

"But I'm a Midwest girl at heart," she said. "Watching football games in 100 degrees/100 percent humidity was just not the same as the Big House in October."

Mostly, she missed her family back in Michigan.

So in 2007 she came home and first worked for a criminal defense firm in Ludington. Then she worked for the prosecutor's office in Ludington before commuting from her Dexter home to Wayne County, where she handled misdemeanor domestic violence cases before Judge Ruth Carter in the 36th District Court.

"It was always emotionally charged cases, and I can't say enough about the professionalism of the office and the court," she said. "It was very different going from a small county where you'd handle a handful of domestic violence cases every other week to having a full docket ... And you never knew if it would be done in a few hours or a few days."

But the job was just part-time, and about a 50-mile commute.

When she learned about the Cooley job, she was intrigued by the chance to work with students at the start of their careers when they are so eager and excited.

The job began in April, and so far, she's been impressed with the enthusiasm of Cooley students, the programs available to them, and the experience of the professors, some of whom are practicing attorneys and judges.

In her new position, Stowe-Lloyd creates pro bono programming and community service opportunities for students, as well as directs a professionalism portfolio program to give students relevant information exactly when they need it during their years at the law school, from orientation information to bar preparation. She also coordinates speaker events on campus

Campus director Julie Mullens said Stowe-Lloyd has been a great addition to the staff.

"Whether it is working with students, organizing a professionalism program or being the captain of the staff volleyball team, Melissa has passion, commitment and a positive attitude which makes each day a joy working with her," she said.

Stowe-Lloyd has been working on creating long-lasting partnerships in the county that will be win-wins for clients and students. In the works are a pilot program to give students experience with veterans courts and an expungement program partnered with the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association.

"We want our students to not only have the legal education from faculty and professors, but also practical skills so when they graduate they can ideally go out and be a productive member of the legal community," said Stowe-Lloyd.

She's found speakers accommodating and willing to come talk to students.

"The response to Cooley here in the Ann Arbor community has been very favorable," she said. "Everybody's been wonderful to work with and accessible, which I appreciate coming in to a new position."

Stowe-Lloyd, the oldest of four children, enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, travelling, reading, and playing softball.

She was married last summer to Robert Lloyd, who is finishing a psychology degree at Eastern Michigan University. They are renting a home in downtown Dexter and would love to relocate to northeast Ann Arbor, which would be closer to her job and her sister.

Stowe-Lloyd is looking forward to creating new opportunities for the students at Cooley and in developing relationships within the legal community.

Her plans are to stay at the law school for the long term.

''I really enjoy what I do,'' she said.

Published: Mon, Jul 16, 2012

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