Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Kelly L. Morris: Path to law school far from straight, but exactly right for me

 

Kelly MorrisGuest Blog writer Kelly L. Morris is a September 1992 graduate of WMU-Cooley Law School and is the Chief Deputy Prosecutor Noble County in Rome City, Indiana. She shares her From Where I Stand story from being a law student through her successful career. 

I can say that for as long as I can remember I wanted to be an attorney. However, my path in obtaining that goal was far from straight. I graduated high school in June of 1984 and went to Purdue University as a Pre-Pharmacy Major. In my second year, I switched my major to English with the plan to become a High School English Teacher. I graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in English and a Political Science minor in May of 1988. I sat out of school for one year. I started at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in May of 1989 and graduated in September of 1992. I commuted from Rome City, Indiana to Lansing, Michigan two evenings a week the entire time I was a student, while working as a server. I met two life long friends. We commuted to law school together. One of the friends is the elected prosecuting attorney for LaGrange County, Indiana. 

I was fortunate to be able to sit for the Indiana Bar Exam in July of 1992 while I was still in law school. In fact, two weeks after I sat for the Indiana Bar Exam, I had my final exams at Cooley. I passed the bar on the first try and I passed all of my final exams. Besides traveling to WMU-Cooley two evenings a week and working,  I also commuted to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, twice a week to attend the Bar Review Course. I was asked by a fellow attendee how many times I had sat for the bar exam. My reply was this would be my first and only time. The person who had inquired went on to tell me that this would be his fourth time sitting for the bar exam. I asked where did you go to law school and he said Notre Dame. I felt that I was very well prepared to take the Indiana Bar Exam, despite the fact that I attended a law school in Michigan. WMU-Cooley did not allow us to take a lot of elective courses, but instead required us to take relevant courses that would appear on the bar exam and in practice. Courses I would not have taken had there been a choice; like tax and jurisprudence. 

After being sworn-in October of 1992, I started my own law practice while working nights as a server at a local restaurant. I worked in a couple law firms in Kendallville, Indiana, and worked at a public defender. July 1, 1996, I became a Part-Time Deputy Prosecutor in DeKalb County, Indiana, plus worked full-time in a private law firm in Kendallville, Indiana. I became a mother in December 1996, and again in July 1999. It was at this time that I quit the private practice job to focus on my career as a Part-Time Deputy Prosecutor.

I have had a great legal career. I have prosecuted many types of criminal cases and child support matters. From January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2016, I was the Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Noble County, Indiana. I handled high level felony matters, including all of the sexual offenses. 

I returned to the DeKalb County Prosecutor’s office in fall 2016 to handle the Child Support Enforcement cases. I am pleased to say that my new judge is also a Thomas M. Cooley graduate and was on its Law Review. I never tested well on standardized tests throughout my life. Thomas M. Cooley accepted me. I was the most difficult three years of my life.  I am proud to say that I graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.  If it was not for Thomas M. Cooley I would not have achieved my goal of being an attorney.

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August 09