National Jurist recognizes Michigan law schools

 Recent publications of National Jurist identified two Michigan law schools in  national rankings. University of Detroit Mercy School of Law was listed as one of the nation’s Top 20 Clinical Law Programs by “PreLaw Magazine” and Thomas M. Cooley Law School was named among the best schools for practical legal training in the March edition of “The National Jurist.”

UDM Law said in a statement that the accolade reflects its strong commitment to developing the clinical program, which provides excellent opportunities for legal learning to students while offering important services to the community at no cost. 
Thanks to connections with the Oakland County Bar Foundation, veteran centers throughout Michigan and the Ford Motor FREC Center in southwest Detroit, UDM clinics have assisted senior citizens, immigrants, veterans, people struggling with mortgage issues and misdemeanor defendants. They have also represented juveniles, criminal appellants and consumers, and many students have worked as mediators in district courts and community centers throughout Wayne County.
UDM’s clinical program is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1965, when it began under the direction of Professor Gil Donohue. UDM students have been learning the law in real practice ever since.
Through the years, the clinical program has garnered attention from the legal community, including a 2006 American Bar Association Judy M. Weightman award for work performed by the Mobile Law Office (a converted RV) and an American Bar Association Louis Brown Award in 2011, recognizing the work performed by the Veterans Clinic. In 2012, the Young Lawyers Division of the ABA recognized Professor Tammy Kudialis with an award for teaching young lawyers throughout the U.S. to represent veterans.
In congratulating the clinical program, Dean Troy Harris thanked professors Michael Bryce (Director), Margaret Costello (Veterans), David Koelsch (Immigration), Joon Sung (Mortgage Foreclosure), Tammy Kudialis (Veterans Appellate and Pro Bono) and Richard Krisciunas (Misdemeanor Criminal Defense) for their extensive work and the students for their continuing assistance to so many in need. He also expressed his appreciation for the work done by current and former adjunct professors Michael Morgan (Misdemeanor Criminal Defense), Anne Yantus (Criminal Appellate), Desiree Ferguson (Criminal Appellate), Martin Reisig (Mediation), Bern Dempsey (Mediation), Barbara Johannessen (Mediation), Emily Corwin (Mediation) and Ian Lyngklip (Consumer).
“The clinical program is a leading example of the excellent programs at UDM Law, including the consistently recognized legal writing program and the outstanding law firm program, the first of its kind in the country,” said Harris. “It makes sense to prepare law students for the real practice they will be entering. We have been doing it since 1965, and more recently have expanded our efforts to prepare our students even more intensively for their legal future.”
Cooley received an “A” rating and ranked 17th out of the top 93 schools that made the study for being the most committed, having the broadest offerings, and being the most successful in terms of their experiential training curriculum.
“The National Jurist’s” March edition ranked the top law schools for experiential learning by calculating data that law schools submitted to the American Bar Association in December 2013. The schools reported the number of simulation positions filled, the number of faculty-supervised clinical positions filled, and the number of field placement (externship) positions filled.
“Since its founding in 1972, Cooley Law School’s mission has always been to prepare our students for the practice of law,” stated Christine Zellar Church, Cooley’s associate dean of practice and performance skills.  “The school believes that experiential learning is essential in preparing for the practice of law. Every Cooley student must participate in a clinic or externship  before graduation.” 
Cooley offers 11 clinics, where students are mentored by full-time professors, in the following practice areas:  family law and domestic violence survivors, estate planning, elderlaw, immigration, criminal defense for indigent clients, municipal law, debt relief, landlord/tenant, family advocacy, and post conviction relief for inmates who may be factually innocent. Cooley offers more than 30 skills specific classroom experiences ranging from litigation classes to alternative dispute resolution classes. 
Cooley students may choose from an externship experience in one of more than 3,000 approved placements around the world, or they may propose a new placement.  Externs are supervised by full-time faculty members, and they work with attorneys or judge supervisors.
Mike Stetz, author of The National Jurist’s article, “Best School’s for Practical Training,” notes in the article, “A recent graduate who is better trained to hit the ground running will have far greater success starting a solo practice or landing a job with a small employer that would otherwise not consider hiring at the entry level.” 
Cooley students also have opportunities for workshops and participation in more than 14 intra-school competitions.  The competitions simulate trial practice, appellate practice, client counseling, negotiation and mediation settings.  Individuals who excel in competitions may earn opportunities to represent Cooley while demonstrating their practice skills in national competitions. 
Cooley’s ranking in the top 20 law school’s for practical training is higher than any other law schools in Michigan and Florida, where Cooley has campuses.

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