Cooley Law student captures host of coveted honors


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Drawn to the field of law out of a passion for justice and fairness, WMU-Cooley Law School 3L student Jennel Davoren has racked up a slew of awards during her studies. 

“I’m inspired by the idea of advocating for individuals who have been wronged and ensuring everyone has equal rights under the legal system,” she says. “And the intellectual challenge and problem-solving aspect of law has always appealed to me. I love the fact that in the legal profession, every case presents a unique set of circumstances. It’s stimulating there are so many areas of law that intersect, and policy is always changing.”­

Receiving the 2023 Florence King Scholarship, provided by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and sponsored by the Women Patent Lawyers was a tremendous honor, according to Davoren. The award—named for the first female patent attorney in the U.S. and first certified female member of the American Association of Engineers—acknowledges outstanding academic performance, leadership skills, and commitment to advancing women's rights and gender equality in the legal profession. 

“I was able to share my story and interest as it relates to advancing women in society in the areas of patent law, intellectual property, social justice, domestic violence, family law and child advocacy,” Davoren says. 

She also received the "Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Corporate and Business Classes" from the Association of Corporate Counsel, an honor granted to one student from each Michigan law school.

“I’m thankful for the ACC and attorneys for their continued support of law students who consider careers in the corporate legal sector” she says. “I’m also deeply grateful to the State Bar of Michigan, Health Law Section, for selecting me as a recipient of the Academic Achievement Award and Scholarship. The recognition of my achievements in academia and commitment to public service means a great deal to me.” 

And last semester, she received the Constitutional & Administrative Law/ “Phil and Bill” Award, awarded by a committee of faculty and made possible from a donor.

Her current focus is completing this last semester strong. She will graduate in December and will be preparing to complete the bar. 

“I’m completely open to see what the future has in store for me,” she says. “I’ve found Michigan has so many opportunities. I’m open and excited to begin my law career journey.”

Davoren launched her career trajectory with an undergrad degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida, along with a minor in crime, law and deviance, and certificates in behavioral forensics and criminal profiling. She appreciates Cooley Law School’s emphasis on the value of resilience, encouraging students to persevere through challenges and develop the strength to overcome obstacles in their legal education and future practice. Davoren also appreciates the focus on continuous improvement; and that service is highly valued, with opportunities to engage in pro bono work and community service. 

“Cooley Law School also places a strong emphasis on integrity, nurturing ethical and professional behavior,” she says. “This aligns with my personal values of prioritizing honesty, ethical decision-making, and upholding civility in the legal profession.” 

Her legal interests include contracts and public policy; she is also particularly interested in the realm of patent, copyright, and infringement law especially as it relates to sports and entertainment. 

“The significance of intellectual property in the modern digital age is undeniable—athletes, artists, and content creators rely on the protection of their innovations and original works to ensure fair compensation and recognition,” she says. “The sports and entertainment industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, this specialization allows one to work closely with individuals and organizations involved in these industries, addressing legal challenges, and navigating complex contracts and licensing agreements. The potential impact of this field of law is substantial, as it not only protects creators' rights but also fosters innovation and encourages creative thinking across various industries.” 

After completing an externship at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) this past summer, Davoren continued there as a legislative student assistant, involved in researching and analyzing proposed bills and policies related to civil rights—a role that allowed her to have a direct impact on shaping legislation and policies that promote equality and protect the rights of all Michigan residents. The work involved collaborating with legislators, policymakers, and community organizations to advocate for and influence meaningful change, and kept her up-to-date with current civil rights issues and work towards addressing systemic barriers and inequalities. 

“This involvement in cutting-edge policy and advocacy work has provided a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth,” she says. “I’ve deepened my understanding of civil rights principles and developed a range of skills related to legislative analysis, communication, and strategic planning. Moreover, public policy directly impacts every aspect of society including the criminal justice system by shaping legislation, sentencing, law enforcement practices, reform initiatives, victims’ right, and funding allocation.”

Davoren has found working at the Cooley Innocence Project to be highly rewarding.

“The organization's mission to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and reform the criminal justice system is a deeply meaningful and impactful cause,” she says. “By actively working to correct and prevent miscarriages of justice, I have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of innocent individuals and their communities. 

“The work itself is intellectually challenging and gratifying, as it involves conducting thorough investigations, utilizing forensic science, and uncovering new evidence to support innocence claims. This pursuit of justice requires critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to navigate complex legal processes.” 

She adds that the organization fosters a supportive and collaborative environment.

“I’m a part of a passionate and dedicated team working towards a common goal,” she says. “This sense of camaraderie and shared purpose adds to the overall satisfaction and fulfillment of working at the Innocence Project.” 

Davoren also has served the Cooley community, as president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS), that provides valuable networking opportunities, access to industry professionals, and practical experiences in a specialized field that she loves.  

“I’ve had the honor of meeting with members of in-house counsel of The Detroit Pistons, and touring the training facility while attending their ‘Business of Basketball Night’ and Sports Law Night’—hearing directly from professionals in this field has been an invaluable experience,” she says.  

SELS also provided a platform to shed light on social justice issues. Davoren introduced The Social Justice “Lunch & Learn” Series where the first guest speaker was Dr. Jerome Reide, legislative liaison for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, whose presentation included the need for diversity and inclusivity, public policy, and community involvement. An upcoming guest will be Jacqueline Williams of Zealous, a regional and prison program director, who will discuss the Open MI Door Campaign and the Federal Anti-Solitary Task Force against isolation and confinement. 

Membership in the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society offers her valuable networking, educational, and professional development opportunities, while fostering a sense of community and service. 

“My appreciation stems from the benefits it provides in terms of personal and professional growth, the opportunity to connect with a supportive community, and the honor of being associated with an esteemed legal organization,” she says.

Davoren also found membership in the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), where she serves as treasurer, to be a valuable and appreciated experience and where she has found support and the opportunity to engage in meaningful advocacy, expand her professional network, and celebrate her cultural identity.

Through active involvement in community outreach programs, Davoren has sought to bridge the gap between legal knowledge and the public. 

She has served as an outreach advocate, case manager, and shelter hotline advocate in Florida, for several years. As an AmeriCorps member, she worked to establish partnerships and resources for survivors of domestic violence. 

“Through workshops and seminars, I empowered individuals with knowledge about their rights and educated underrepresented groups about legal structures and avenues for assistance,” she says.

In Grenada, where she grew up, Davoren collaborated with the Gender-Based Violence Unit to raise awareness about domestic and gender-based violence. She authored a report, "Calculating the Costs of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence in Grenada," which set out methods of determining the types of costs associated with domestic and gender-based violence and preventative measures taken to reduce or eliminate those costs.

Additionally, throughout her law school journey, she has actively engaged in pro bono initiatives providing free legal assistance to individuals that cannot afford representation. 

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact access to justice can have on marginalized communities,” she says. “While at Cooley, I’ve coordinated and worked on various expungement fairs that provide individuals with the opportunity to clear their criminal records, removing barriers to employment, housing, education, and other essential opportunities. This work promotes rehabilitation and public safety, as expunging records reduces the likelihood of reoffending and helps individuals reintegrate into society.”

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Davoren was raised in St. Georges, Grenada; and lived in Florida for more than 16 years.  She currently makes her home in Lansing, where one of her passions is cooking. 

“It’s definitely an act of mindfulness and relaxation,” she says. “It also allows me to be creative while bringing people together.” 

Davoren also enjoys travel, broadening her perspective by exposing her to new cultures. She has visited several U.S. states, as well as Cuba, St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, and Colombia.

She is profoundly grateful for the tremendous support she has received from her grandmother, Alice Buckmire, and her aunt, Magdalene Buckmire.

“Their unwavering love, guidance, sacrifice and encouragement have been instrumental in my personal and professional journey—their belief in me and constant presence in my life have provided me with the strength and confidence to overcome challenges and pursue my dreams,” she says. 

“Their wise advice has shaped me into the person I am today. I cannot express enough how thankful I am for their unwavering support and the profound impact they have had on my life. I value the support received from friends, staff and professors who are Champions of the community too many to name, whose encouragement has proven priceless and their impact on my life is immeasurable.”

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