Detroit Guide

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Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Students hone their courtroom skills trying a mock case.

Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Writing is integral to the Detroit Mercy Law curriculum beginning with the Applied Legal Theory and Analysis class in the first year.

Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Real Skills. Real Opportunities.

Externships provide students real work experience.

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Renee Nicole Allen

Professor Renee Nicole Allen teaches Introduction to Analytical Skills I and II, a required, first-year course at Florida A & M University ("FAMU") College of Law. Her class focuses on analytical skills including critical reading, legal analysis, and self-assessment. Professor Allen also coaches graduates participating in the Bar Exam Success Training ("B.E.S.T") program. Prior to joining the faculty at FAMU College of Law, Professor Allen taught Academic Legal Skills at Phoenix School of Law. Her primary research interests are in academic success, legal education reform, and metacognition. Prior to teaching, Professor Allen worked as an associate in a metro Atlanta law firm where she practiced family law, personal bankruptcy law and wrote appeals to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Professor Allen received her JD from University of Florida Levin College of Law, her BA from Mercer University and is a member of the Georgia Bar.

John Freeman

John Freeman is a Renaissance scholar with a wide range of research and teaching interests, from Shakespeare and Thomas More to issues involved in digital media studies. He has published articles in such venues as Postmodern Culture, ELH, Studies in the Novel, Moreana, English Literary Renaissance, CTheory, and Modern Language Review. As a teacher, he enjoys engaging students in dialogues about literature, science, and social issues. 

Karen Kienbaum

Karen is the founder and principal in her AV rated Detroit law firm. In 2008 it was designated as one of 'Michigan's Best Businesses' by CORP! MAGAZINE. Karen was honored as one of Michigan's Top 10 Business Women in 2007 by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and has been designated as a 'SUPERLAWYER' by her peers since the inception of that honor.

She is a litigator who also serves as an arbitrator and facilitator. She has represented individuals, and private, public, for-profit and non-profit entities. She has fourteen (14) years in-house legal experience, at BCBSM and at Ford. These experiences give her a unique perspective on the health care industry, and business and labor priorities, locally and internationally.

She is a recognized authority in the areas of commercial contracts, labor and employment law and corporate litigation. She has spoken in Europe, Africa and across the United States. Topics include: best business practices, compliance, litigation prevention, discrimination, outsourcing, streamlining HR functions, ethics, sex harassment, workplace violence, employment contracts preventive fraud practices and commercial contracts. Recently she conducted programs for the Michigan Association of CPA's, the Labor and Management Association of Michigan and a Webinar for federal contractors on the necessity of an effective employee Complaint Process.

Ms. Kienbaum is also President of JustUs®, a Michigan corporation that provides innovative risk management for local, multi-state or multi-national companies. JustUs® ensures compliance with laws and regulations, including those of the EEOC and SOX and reduces fraud exposure.

Ms. Kienbaum received two undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her Juris Doctorate in Law from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law. She has appeared at all levels in the regulatory and court systems, including the state and federal trial and appeals courts and the Michigan Supreme Court and is admitted to the US Supreme Court.

Shelley Kierstead

Professor Kierstead's research interests lie in the areas of family law, access to justice, and dispute resolution. She has also conducted research in the conflict of laws area, completing a Master of Laws degree focusing on this topic at the University of Toronto 1993. Professor Kierstead first taught Legal Research and Writing (LRW) at Osgoode in 1993, and became Director of the LRW program at Osgoode in 2002. In 2005, she completed a doctoral dissertation in the family law area and obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Since 1997, Professor Kierstead has also coordinated a parent education program for separating parents entitled the "Parent Information Program." This program is an initiative of Osgoode's Centre for Public Law and Public Policy.

Margaret Liddle

Margaret Liddle is called to the bars of England and Wales, Hong Kong, and Canada. She has taught overseas in the U.K. and Hong Kong. She has been teaching legal research and writing at the University of Windsor for the past five years.

Kathryn Mercer

Kathryn (Katy) Mercer is Professor of Lawyering Skills at Case Western Reserve University School of Law since 1984. She teaches LLEAP One and Two, a new course for first year students that teaches legal research, objective and persuasive writing, contract drafting, interview skills and oral advocacy. She also teaches the new LEAD course on Leadership. Other courses that Professor Mercer teaches are Alternative Dispute Resolution; Mediation Representation; Child Welfare; and Family Law. She trains child welfare workers for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, teaching courses in Effective Social Worker Testimony, Immigration, and Liability.

Ms. Mercer has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare, a J.D., and a Masters in Social Science Administration from CWRU. Her undergraduate degree is from Duke University.

Kirk Miller

Kirk Miller is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, FL. He has taught Property, Complex Litigation, Products Liability, Trial Advocacy, Client Representation and Negotiation Practicum and Research, Writing and Advocacy – Pre-trial Litigation. Mr. Miller also serves as Director of Practical Skills working to integrate "lawyering skills" into the law school curriculum. Prior to joining the law school, he was a trial attorney for fifteen (15) years practicing in the areas of: EMS Liability, First and Third Party No-Fault Litigation, Products Liability, ERISA, Real Estate and Governmental Immunity. He has been a Guest Lecturer at Michigan State University College of Law and Wayne State University Law School. He has also served as a defense arbitrator on First and Third Party No-Fault disputes.

Maureen Milliron

Professor Milliron has been the director of the Research, Writing & Advocacy program at Ave Maria School of Law for 5 years and has been with the law school for 10 years. She has been teaching law students for over 16 years. Courses taught are primarily in skill building such as Research, Writing and Advocacy, Legal Drafting, Pretrial litigation, Client Representation and Negotiation. She has also taught Business Organizations. She has spoken at several conferences including the Southeastern legal writing conference where she spoke on integrating skills with doctrinal subjects. Prior to moving into teaching, Professor Milliron spent several years practicing both criminal and civil law. For a good portion of her practice, Professor Milliron defended EMS and First Responder entities and personnel. She also worked with the Michigan Court of Appeals as a research attorney. Professor Milliron was also a legal writing instructor at Wayne State University and the Michigan State University College of Law before joining Ave Maria School of Law.

John Murphy

John F. Murphy teaches LARW at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth. He joined the faculty in 2009 after fifteen years in public-service and private law practice.

Honourable Madam Justice Mary Jo Nolan

Mary Jo Nolan was called to the Bar in 1983 and after a period in private practice took up a position in the Ministry of Community and Social Services working on children's Legislation. In 1990, she moved to Courts Administration in the Attorney General's Department. In 1995, Mary Jo was appointed Regional Counsel for the Southwest Region in the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee and, in 1997, she was appointed Case Management Master in Windsor. Mary Jo was appointed as a Justice of the Superior Court for Ontario on the 14th of April 2005.

She also taught at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law as a Sessional Instructor in both Civil Procedure and Civil Trial Advocacy from 1999 until her appointment to the Court in 2005. Mary Jo is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian and American Dual J.D. Program.

Laura Reilly

Laura is in her thirteenth year of teaching in the Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research ("LAWR") program at SUNY Buffalo Law School. Prior to joining the LAWR team in Buffalo, Laura litigated employment discrimination cases in Denver, Colorado and clerked for a Denver District Court judge.

Saura Sahu

Saura Sahu focuses his practice on matters involving high stakes and new legal issues. At Miller Canfield, he has investigated and litigated a variety of complex matters including employment and ERISA disputes; False Claims Act, fraud and fiduciary duty cases; and criminal charges. He is especially adept at matters involving constitutional issues and corruption allegations (including RICO), as well as cases where employment issues and business torts overlap. Drawing on experience in trial and appeals, he approaches matters with an eye toward the big picture and the bottom line.

After law school, Saura started his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Julian Abele Cook, Jr. (U.S. Dist. Ct. E.D. Mich.) Before joining Miller Canfield, he did a variety of innovative and high-level labor, civil rights and criminal defense work. He has also taught courses in Constitutional Law and the philosophy of law.

Laurie Brit-Smith

Laurie Britt-Smith, who joined UDM (undergraduate) in 2008, is an associate professor of English and Director of the Writing Program. An experienced teacher, Dr. Britt-Smith has worked as a high school teacher, a developmental writing instructor, and as an English instructor in both composition and literature. Additionally, she spent time exploring the world of law and has training and experience as a paralegal.

She is fascinated by the intersections of cultural identity and language. Her research of the moment is focused on social justice rhetoric and its uses in the composition classroom. She received her B.A. in English with an emphasis in secondary education at Michigan State University, her M.A. in Literature at Western Michigan University, and her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition at Saint Louis University.

Craig Smith

Craig T. Smith is a Clinical Professor and the Assistant Dean for the Writing and Learning Resources Center at the University of North Carolina School of Law. The Center has nine full-time faculty members and serves all UNC law students in a first-year research and writing program and a school-wide academic-excellence program. Professor Smith has served as a board member and president of the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), as a member of the editorial boards of the Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute and of Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, and as a presenter at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Workshop for Beginning Legal Writing Teachers. For the American Bar Association (ABA), he has served on the Curriculum Committee and the Communication Skills Committee of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. He also has participated in many ABA accreditation site-evaluation teams and has chaired two such teams.

Honorable Cynthia Diane Stephens

Prior to her appointment to the Court of Appeals in 2008, Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens served as a general jurisdiction trial judge for 23 years. Judge Stephens was appointed to the Third Circuit Court in 1985 after service as a 36th District Court Judge. She was the Chief Judge Pro Tempore, Mediation Tribunal Chair, and Presiding Civil Division Judge of the 3rd Circuit Court for 8 years. An Emory Law School graduate, Judge Stephens has been admitted to practice in Georgia, Texas, and Michigan. Prior to her election to the bench in 1981, she served as Vice-Chair of the Wayne County Charter Commission, Associate General Counsel to the Michigan Senate, Regional Director for the National Conference of Black Lawyers-Atlanta office, and consultant to the National League of Cities Veterans Discharge Upgrade Project.

She has been active in bar work including 16 years as a Commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan, chairing its Justice Initiatives Committee, Communications Committee and Children's Task Force. Judge Stephens is former chair of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan, a former member of the Executive Board of the National Bar Association and its Judicial Council. She has been honored by many civic and religious organizations including the inaugural Woodrow Smith Community Service Award from the Shrines of the Black Madonna, the Golden Heritage Award from Little Rock Baptist Church and the Susan B. Anthony Award from the City of Detroit Human Rights Department. She was awarded the State Bar of Michigan's highest honor, the Roberts P. Hudson Award in 2005.

Judge Stephens has served as adjunct faculty at Wayne State University Law School, the Detroit College of Law and the University of Detroit Mercy Law School. She has also served as faculty member for the National Judicial College and the Michigan Judicial Institute and the Emory Law School Kessler-Eidson Program for Trial Techniques. She was a contributing author to the Lawyer's Co-Operatives "Michigan Nonstandard Jury Instructions" as well as numerous articles on subjects ranging from jury selection to ethics.

She has served on numerous civic boards and commissions including New Detroit, the Inner City Business Improvement Forum, the Detroit Metropolitan Association Board of Trustees for the United Church of Christ, the Greater Detroit Area Health Care Council and the Girl Scouts. She is a resident of Detroit.

Karen Thornton

Karen DaPonte Thornton is an Associate Professor of Legal Writing at The George Washington University Law School. She has taught first-year Legal Writing and Scholarly Writing, to upper level JD and LLM students, for five years. She also serves as a lead advisor to the GWLaw Inn of Court program, which prepares programming for students about professional development and identity, emotional intelligence, and leadership. Her scholarly interests derive largely from her work with the Inns of Court.

Brenda Tofte

Brenda is a lecturer of law at Qatar University College of Law. Before this, she taught Legal Research and Writing at Hamline University School of Law and Hamline University College of Liberal Arts. Brenda also clerked for two federal judges: Chief Judge Michael J. Davis of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota and Chief Magistrate Judge Jonathan Lebedoff of the same court.