Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Ret. Col. Carl L. Reed II Credits Illustrious Career and Achievements to WMU-Cooley Mission and Excellent Professors

From where I stand, in 1993 WMU-Cooley took a chance on me when I needed them to, and it changed my life. 

After serving in Desert Storm as an Army military intelligence officer (after the "fall of the wall" and the end of the Soviet Union), I decided a change in my life was in order. I wanted to be a lawyer, but my undergraduate grades were low (I had a lot of fun in undergraduate school) and my LSAT was merely in the 70th percentile, which didn’t quite make up for the low grades. WMU-Cooley Law School offered me the chance to prove myself, and I was ready to take full advantage of it.

And I did. While in law school, I not only excelled and graduated Magna Cum Laude, I finished in less than three years and ranked 5 of 175 in my class. I was also awarded the President’s Achievement Award with the highest increase in GPA during law school.

For me, law school was an experience of a lifetime. Up until that point, it was one of the most challenging things I had ever done (Jumping out of Airplane’s with a combat load on my back was a lot easier, believe me.)

Upon graduation, I was accepted to be an Air Force Judge Advocate officer, but first I needed to pass a state bar. I was told if I took the July bar exam and got my bar results back in 6-8 weeks I would get assigned to England. So I made my way to South Dakota to take that bar. I passed with flying colors.

WMU-Cooley graduate Ret. Col. Carl L. Reed II

I later took the California bar, and passed that on my first try as well. Although I would never suggest it, I didn’t take a bar review course for either state bar that I took, but I owe my knowledge base to the excellent teaching professors. Batting two for two on the bar exam, when no other law school thought I was worthy of being admitted, was something I admit was very satisfying and affirming. I also very much enjoyed my experience in England. It is a memory I will never forget. 

In 2015, I retired from the Air Force as a “full bird” Colonel. During my career, I was a prosecutor, defense attorney, and spent five wonderful years on the bench as a Military Judge (I was only overturned on appeal one time). Often times as a trial attorney I would go up against Ivy League attorneys, and always prevailed.

I also had the honor of becoming the “general counsel” to two large units. One of the units was located throughout Kuwait and southern Iraq, and I was the only Air Force attorney advising 23 commanders on serious and consequential matters for the Air Force and our country. I ended my career at “Strategic Command” responsible for providing legal advice to a four-star Navy admiral in charge of our nuclear arsenal, space assets, and cyber warfare.

Currently, I am at a top 10 public university where I manage international partnership agreements and research collaborations for UC Davis throughout the world. I was part of setting up a UC Davis legal entity in Chile, and next month I will be going to Scotland for a conference – a nice perk to the job. I have also been an adjunct professor teaching law to both the graduate and undergraduate students.

In all sincerity, none of these last 22 years would have been possible without Thomas M. Cooley Law School holding true to its fair and objective mission of giving qualified students the ability to prove themselves, a chance most law school are unwilling to take.   

For that I am eternally grateful. I recall Justice Brennan telling our class at Graduation, “Be proud of your law school, for your reputation and your school’s reputation will be intertwined.” I agreed with Justice Brennan's sentiment back then, and still agree today. I feel I have fulfilled that duty throughout my entire career, and support my law school and its reputation wholeheartedly. 

Very Respectfully,
Carl L. Reed II, Colonel, USAF (ret)
Moody Class, 1996

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May 16