Thursday Profile: Norman Fell

Norman Fell began his teaching career at Cooley in 1988 after 20 years of experience in the practice of law. Fell began his law career as a member of the Los Angeles Public Defender's Office and was in private practice as a solo practitioner in Ann Arbor concentrating on criminal trial and appellate litigation appearing in state, district, circuit, appellate, and federal courts. He has also served as a staff attorney and deputy director of the Washtenaw County Legal Aid Society. Fell, a professor emeritus at Cooley, teaches clinical law, practice and trial skills, criminal law, and professional responsibility. He served as executive director and supervising attorney in the Sixty Plus Elderlaw Clinic, and is the founder and former director of the Cooley Innocence Project, and the Public Defender Externship Clinic. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Happiness is an ideal to be pursued but never completely obtained. What is your greatest fear? Living in a society driven by fear rather than by reason. Which living person do you most admire? Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, co-founders of the Innocence Project. What is the trait you hate most in others? Hypocrisy. If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it? Nothing. It would be extra. What was your most memorable meal? The last one. If you could take back one thing you did ... Once done is done. No taking back. What is your most treasured material possession? I kind of like my coffee cup. If you could do one thing professionally ... I hope to carry on in creating awareness and promoting vigilance to the goal of fairness in our system of justice. What are your favorite websites? None. Your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer? In my 45 years of being a lawyer there have been many proud, or more aptly, fulfilling moments. Certainly the initiation of the Innocence Project in Michigan and its affect on having innocent and wrongly convicted persons released from prison is one. But perhaps even greater has been the opportunity as a practitioner and teacher to take part in the launching of new generations of competent socially conscience lawyers into our legal system. It's 7 a.m. Monday. How are you feeling? A cup of coffee, please. What would surprise people about your job? Professors really do work for their money. Would you rather save money or time? Throughout my career I have always valued time over money What do you consider the most overrated virtue? The concept of virtue itself is overrated. Virtue is often a matter of perspective. Life is too complex to use the illusory concept of virtue as a measure a person's character. What's your greatest achievement? Living a fulfilling life shared with family and friends. Published: Thu, Nov 15, 2012