Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Sarah Miller: Learned More Than Just the Law; Taught the Definition of Hard Work and Sound Character

My legal success story is atypical, but nonetheless fully attributed to WMU-Cooley's thoughtful and practical approach to the legal profession as well as dedicated and knowledgeable faculty. Because of WMU-Cooley's networking events and skills courses, I was able to land a job right after graduation with a notable firm in Muskegon, Michigan.

Sarah MillerLate August I settled into my office and set to work on all sorts of assignments. Each day brought something new; drafting medical marijuana ordinances, researching how to exhume a dead body, and attending municipal meetings. And this was exactly the kind of experience I wanted. The learning curve was extremely steep, but I knew I could do it.

I was confident I could do the research, make those phone calls, and talk to other lawyers and judges to find answers. My boss put it best when he first hired me. He said, "Anyone can learn the law, but I can't teach someone how to be a hard worker and be of sound character."

His statement captured my first few months of practice and summarized my experience at WMU-Cooley. Yes, I learned the law in law school, but more importantly, I was taught how to observe, practice, and adopt the skills, attitudes, and professionalism of a lawyer. There were endless opportunities to learn more in law school, from the in-house criminal trial competitions to courthouse family law clinics to a summer skills academy. WMU-Cooley provided me far more than the knowledge, but the skills and opportunities to grow and succeed in the profession.

I now work part-time at the Muskegon, Michigan, firm, as well as teach full-time as an elementary school teacher. My legal education from WMU-Cooley is utilized daily. I manage the compliance component of the school's early childhood program and in many other ways. Who would have imagined that the two careers would overlap? Not me. Fortunately I was educated in a way that made it possible.

  • Colleagues ask for estate planning guidance.
  • Parents trust me to manage child custody arrangements.
  • Neighbors confide in me about personal protection orders, or 
  • What to do when an ex-girlfriend doesn't make her payments on a car.

It all worked out perfectly for me. My legal and education skills blend nicely together in every aspect of my life.

My legal education from WMU-Cooley has meant more to me than just learning the law and passing the bar; it has been a powerful gift I can use in all aspects of my life - a gift I want to pass on.   

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May 18