Alum's $100K gift to expand Advocacy at Wayne program

A $100,000 gift from Lawrence Mann, Wayne Law ‘80, will support Advocacy at Wayne, a dynamic expansion of the Law School’s Student Trial Advocacy Program (STAP) founded in 1985.

Wayne Law has a strong tradition of graduating attorneys with real-world practice skills as well as a firm grounding in legal theory. Advocacy at Wayne will further improve that tradition, and make possible an advanced skills course focusing on voir dire, expert witness testimony and the use of technology in the courtroom. In addition, Mann’s gift will allow the Law School to hire a distinguished trial court judge to direct and reshape the program.

Mann is a seasoned trial attorney who has earned “super lawyer” status every year since 2006. He is a managing partner with Bowman and Brooke LLP in its Detroit office, and practices in litigation areas including commercial and product liability defense. Mann has taken cases to verdict in state and federal courts of eight states.  He was special counselor on products liability to former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, and a special master for a class action, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. In 2011, Michigan Lawyers Weekly named him a “Leader in the Law.” And until December 2008, he was a tenured associate professor at the Law School, where he taught courses in evidence, civil procedure, trial advocacy, torts and product liability.

So he knows full well the value of expanding STAP.

“Enhancing the presentation opportunities for students will captivate and empower many of them,” he said. “In turn, they will be able to provide all citizens, including under-represented groups, top-notch legal services. WSU must hold fast to its urban mission. My experience as a student at Wayne excited and empowered me, and allowed me to create a professional pathway that has provided great fulfillment. Providing Michigan students with a first-class opportunity to maximize potential as presenters and persuaders is likely to energize and empower others.”

His gift also will allow intensive “boot camps” for STAP students facilitated by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and will enhance the internal and external competitions that help students hone their courtroom skills.

As a professor, Mann got to know many students and enjoyed teaching them, as well as learning from them, he said.

“Teaching at its best is a reciprocal process,” he said. “You get out of it as much as you put into it. I truly loved it.”

His gift is a way of giving back to his alma mater, he said.

“In this way, I pay the debt I owe to WSU and to the state of Michigan,” Mann said.

He is confident that his gift will give students “an appreciation of the very hard work and thoughtfulness that underpins a successful, winning presentation, in any context,” and that those students, like him, will someday choose to give back, too.