WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer Receives Honor for Promoting Solo and Small Law Firm Practice


Professor Gary Bauer

WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Gary Bauer, of Spruce, Michigan, has made significant contributions to educating lawyers and law students on the opportunities and challenges of solo and small firm practice. Because Bauer has dedicated his career to promoting solo and small firm practice, and training students to plan for careers as solo or small firm practitioners, the State Bar of Michigan Solo and Small Firm Section presented him with the Outstanding Achievement Award during a ceremony at WMU-Cooley’s Lansing campus on Feb. 2, during the section’s kickoff of their Mutual Mentorship Program.

“Gary is a well-deserved recipient of the award for his longstanding mentorship of students and new lawyers, especially solo and small firm lawyers,” said attorney Michael Gunderson, chair, Solo and Small Firm Section. “It is fitting that he receives this award from the Solo & Small Firm Section of the State Bar of Michigan.”

The Outstanding Achievement Award is given annually to an attorney or attorneys who are members of the Solo & Small Firm Section and who have exhibited the highest standards of practice and commitment for the benefit of the section or others.

Additionally, Bauer is a founding member and contributor of the “Solo Institute,” a continuing legal education conference held once a year in Michigan, sponsored by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), and now one of the most heavily attended CLE programs in the state. Bauer also created the WMU-Cooley class, Solo by Design™, to educate students on managing clients and operating a law firm as a solo practitioner. He recently launched a website and blog, sololawyerbydesign.com™, to provide law students, recent solo practitioners, and seasoned professionals who wish to go solo, with information and resources to be successful in the legal business.

“I am humbled to have this award bestowed onto me,” said Bauer. “Whether urban areas or rural communities, small law firm attorneys play an important role. These attorneys are involved in many aspects of their community and at the same time are pivotal to providing legal services that may be hard for individuals to obtain otherwise.”

Last year, Bauer was presented the Small Firm Trainer Award by the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. He practiced law as a criminal defense attorney before joining WMU-Cooley Law School in 1997. He served in the U.S. Air Force before earning his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and J.D. from WMU-Cooley Law School.


WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer was presented with the State Bar of Michigan Solo and Small Firm Section’s Outstanding Achievement Award on Feb. 1, during the section’s kickoff of its Mutual Mentorship Program. Pictured (left-right) Tanisha Davis, chair, SBM Solo & Small Firm Section; Andrew Jason, Clinical Staff Attorney for WMU-Cooley’s Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic; Bauer; Kristen Kroll, attorney and WMU-Cooley graduate; Michael McDaniel, WMU-Cooley associate dean; Elizabeth Silverman, seminar chair for the Solo & Small Firm Section; and Michael Gunderson, Outstanding Achievement Award and Mutual Mentorship Program chair for the Solo & Small Firm Section.

About Western Michigan University Cooley Law School: WMU-Cooley Law School resulted from the 2014 affiliation that combined WMU's status as a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and WMU-Cooley Law School operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.



Longtime professor has made significant contributions to the profession

Honoree founded Solo Institute, solo law practice class, website, and blog

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