Veteran affairs-- Professor serves as coordinator for Service to Soldiers program

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

It's not often you see a law professor playing bagpipes.

But James Carey, an associate professor at Cooley Law School, played during last year's Veterans Day ceremony on the Auburn Hills campus.

Veterans Day is especially meaningful for Carey, formerly a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve Legal Support Organization. He is a faculty coordinator for Cooley's Service to Soldiers: Legal Assistance Referral Program, which recently received the Legion of Merit Award from the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

The program takes Carey out of the classroom to places like Selfridge Air National Guard Base, where last year he was on a volunteer team spending a day providing wills and powers of attorney to U.S. Air Force reservists scheduled to deploy overseas, who could not otherwise afford legal services.

"Everyone can serve our great country in different ways--being able to help soldiers, sailors and marines who are fighting for our freedoms is important," Carey says. "Sometimes I help the military member directly, sometimes it's a spouse, but being able to serve the people who serve us is very humbling. To give them a little bit of time so that they can better protect us means a lot to me. They risk their lives to help us, the least I can do is help solve whatever legal problems they may encounter."

Carey also trains other area attorneys to serve military clients.

A Detroit native who grew up in Dearborn Heights, Carey joined Cooley in 2005, and teaches Business Organizations, Wills, Trusts and Estates, Securities Regulation, and a business transactions class in the Corporate and Finance LLM program.

He is the official reporter for the Michigan State Bar Business Corporation Act Legislative Drafting Committee and for the Michigan State Bar Limited Liability Company Act Legislative Drafting Committee. He assisted in drafting several legislative bills and has testified before committees of the Michigan House and Senate. He also was the principal draftsperson for the Amicus Brief of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan for the state Supreme Court case of Miller vs. Allstate.

Carey, who received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Michigan, worked as Of Counsel in the Business Transactions Group at Dickinson Wright in Ann Arbor, and as an associate with the Corporate and the Insurance Services groups of Sidley, Austin, Brown, & Wood in Chicago, where he also served as a summer associate.

He clerked for the 19th District Court in Dearborn; was an intern in the Senate Majority Office in Lansing; and an assistant legal investigator at Dykema Gossett in Detroit.

He previously owned and operated CJL Computer Services, and was a stock broker at Dean Witter Reynolds (now part of Morgan Stanley); a district manager at Financial Services of America; and executive director of the charitable DeMolay Foundation of Michigan.

"Unlike many lawyers, I like numbers," he says. "I never really planned on starting my own business or working in the insurance and securities businesses. I more or less just followed opportunities as they presented themselves."

His main interest was always the law.

"I was the kid that everyone asked about legal stuff growing up," he says. "I guess I've always had an analytical mind and a propensity to argue!"

But he prefers to negotiate and get things done, rather than just argue. He even held back from law school because he didn't want to "fight" for a living.

"Once I figured out lawyers can do so much more than just argue in court, I was hooked," he says. "I love working through problems and finding answers. I love explaining to others how things work and seeing the light bulb go off in their heads. I love the structure of law and the important role that the rule of law has in our society. Teaching the law lets me combine all of these things. At heart, I'm a problem solver and I enjoy that--most of the time!

"The law is about finding the right way to do something--often that means it's a puzzle to put together. Figuring out with business people and students how to achieve their goals is very rewarding for me."

A bass guitar player, he plays in the Praise Band at the South Lyon First United Methodist Church Contemporary Worship Service on Sunday evenings, is a Worship Leader and a member of the Church Council.

"We play modern, Christian rock and high-energy worship songs. It's a lot a fun and a great way for me to worship my Lord Jesus Christ."

Published: Thu, Nov 4, 2010