Award-winning attorneys present trial advocacy lecture at Wayne Law

Two award-winning attorneys, each of whom have led significant civil rights related case teams, were the featured speakers Nov. 2 at the I. Goodman Cohen Lecture in Trial Advocacy at Wayne State University Law School.


  • Dana Nessel, a 1994 alumna of Wayne Law and veteran prosecutor, is managing partner of Nessel & Kessel Law. In 2012 she successfully challenged Michigan’s bans on adoption and marriage for same-sex couples. The disposition of her case, DeBoer v. Snyder, (consolidated with a related Sixth Circuit case, Obergefell v. Hodges) resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. In 2016, Nessel collaborated with the Wayne County prosecutor to create the Fair Michigan Justice Project, a unique task force that investigates and prosecutes hate crimes committed against the LGBT community. In 2015, she was named Woman of the Year by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
  • Michael Pitt, a 1974 Wayne Law alumnus, is president-elect of Public Justice and a member of the Wayne Law Board of Visitors. He is managing partner and a founding member of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers PC. His firm has handled a variety of important civil rights cases, including the landmark Neal v. Michigan Department of Corrections class-action which settled (along with its affiliated cases) after a dozen years for $100 million, ultimately bringing justice to more than 400 female prisoners. Pitt is the recipient of the Champion of Justice award from the State Bar of Michigan, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

Moderating the discussion was Distinguished Professor Alan S. Schenk. Dean Richard A. Bierschbach and Lawrence C. Mann, Wayne Law class of 1980, assistant director of professional skills, provided opening remarks.

The I. Goodman Cohen Lecture in Trial Advocacy was established by the family of the late I. Goodman Cohen, a prominent trial lawyer who was active in the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, known today as the Michigan Association for Justice.

Video added 12-14-17


Event participants pose for a photo prior to the start of the event on Nov. 2. From left, Lawrence C. Mann; Alan S. Schenk; Dana Nessel; Dennis Cohen, son of the late I. Goodman Cohen; Michael Pitt; and Dean Richard A. Bierschbach. For more photos, visit

I. Goodman Cohen participants

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