Cream of the Crop . . .


Less traditional Cooley student graduates with a perfect 4.0

by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

In January, Sara Graber graduated summa cum laude from WMU-Cooley – only the tenth person to ever graduate from the law school with a straight 4.0. Not only than, but she was accepted into the law school with an associate’s degree.

“I love that Cooley has the admission exception for people who don’t hold bachelor's degrees and that they are generally more open with their admission – if it weren’t for their two-year exception I wouldn’t be this far along,” Graber says.

“I think that having graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA proves that their policy of giving less traditional applicants a chance is well founded. Cooley has a really welcoming environment and everyone there is extremely supportive.”

When Graber first started her associate degree studies at Oakland Community College, she had no clear career goal in mind. A business law class she took as a general education requirement piqued her interest in the law – and after her first exam, her professor approached her about her career plans.

“According to him, I naturally wrote my answers like a law school exam,” she explains. “I ended up briefing a few cases for extra credit and I really enjoyed the problem-solving puzzle aspect of it all. So I decided to complete a paralegal degree before committing to the time and expense required for law school to make sure the legal field was a good fit.”

Graber worked as a teaching assistant at Cooley.

“I enjoyed being able to give back to my fellow students and the staff,” she says. “I'm extremely grateful for the support and encouragement I experienced at Cooley, so I was extremely happy to help others in any way I can. It's a great feeling when you're working with someone who is struggling and suddenly the light clicks for them.”

Graber’s current career goal is to work in appeals.

“Research and writing were my greatest strengths in school and I think that will carry on to practice,” she says. “Appellate work is especially appealing to me because it feels like law at its purest, without nearly as much interference from financial, strategic, procedural, or political agenda that can often cripple litigation at the trial level.”

Graber recently ended her employment with the Bagley and Langan law firm, where she has worked for eight years, to devote her time to study for the bar. In March she will start work in the research division of the Michigan Court of Appeals in Detroit.

While she would like to stay in the appeal field, she is not sure if she intends to go into private appellate practice or stay in the court system.

“After I've gained some experience with the Court of Appeals I'm sure it will be more clear which sector I prefer,” she says.

Born in Kalamazoo, Graber was raised in Novi and graduated from Novi High School. She and her husband Jason, who is studying industrial design at Wayne State University, married in 2012 and make their home in Wixom.

Graber’s studies have left little time for hobbies and interests. “These were mostly set aside because of school – I hope to start actually enjoying leisure time once the bar is over,” she says.

Graber admires the spirit of the people who work and live in the Big D.

“It doesn’t matter that Detroit gets a bad reputation sometimes – you can feel how they have passion for their city,” she says. “They make me think of that ’60s song ‘Downtown’ –and its lyrics, ‘Things will be great when you’re downtown.’”