Michigan Law's librarians are establishing a new "Law Alumni Collection" to showcase the literary accomplishments of our graduates. Books on any topic authored by graduates from the JD, LLM or SJD programs and donated to the Law Library are eligible for inclusion and will be housed in the Smith Addition, adjacent to the Faculty Writings Display. The alumni-authored books will also be added to the MLaw Library catalog and will include the author's degree and year of graduation.
Please send books to the University of Michigan Law Library, 801 Monroe St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1210 Attention: Law Alumni Collection. For more information, please contact Director and Librarian Barbara Garavaglia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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As you know, Michigan Law students are pretty awesome. So why not have one work for your firm or organization next year? Early Interview Week is August 15th, 16th, 19th, and 20th, and we still have a few interview rooms available on the 20th. But registration ends July 12, so contact us soon to get in on the party! Email email@example.com for more information.
By John Masson, Amicus Editor
Phones that aren't plugged into the wall. Phones that take pictures and play music. Phones that go on the Internet. The Internet itself, for crying out loud.
Considering that David Gavitt had zero firsthand experience with any of these and about a thousand other modern conveniences prior to his release from prison one year ago today, one of the Michigan Law attorneys who helped free him says he's readjusting well to life on the outside.
Gavitt served 27 years in prison for a fatal fire that killed
his wife and two small children. The problem was, as Michigan Law's
Innocence Clinic was ultimately able to prove, there was no arson.
So on June 6, 2012, a door swung open at a state prison in Carson
City, Mich., and Gavitt, pushing all his earthly possessions in
a laundry cart, suddenly found himself a free man.
His attorneys, including Innocence Clinic staffer Imran Syed, '11, knew right away that it would take Gavitt some time to adjust to modern life.
"Once we got in the car I told David, 'Hey, your sister is coming to meet you, do you want to talk to her,' " Syed said. "And David said, 'Yeah, sure we can talk to her,' and I had to say, 'No, I mean right now, with this thing I'm holding, right here.' "
Syed said it was as if Mr. Spock had beamed directly into the car and tried to hand Gavitt his Starfleet communicator.
But cell phones were only the beginning of readjusting to freedom, which, for Gavitt, ended one night in March 1985 when his dog started scratching at his bedroom door. Gavitt opened the door and found his house was engulfed in fire. He woke his wife Angie, and told her to get their daughters, Katrinia and Tracy, while Gavitt himself went to a second bedroom and broke out a window, cutting his arm in the process.
But Gavitt was unable to fight his way through the heat and the flames, and before he could get to his daughters' room he was driven out of the house. Badly burned and dripping blood, he left the house, looped around, and tried to get to his family from outside. But the girls' window was too high off the ground. Neighbors had to hold him back to keep him from racing back into the house.
Gavitt's frantic rescue attempts didn't stop investigators from focusing on arson as the cause of the fire, said Michigan Law Prof. David Moran, one of the founders of the Law School's Innocence Clinic, which takes on cases of actual innocence where DNA evidence is not available to help bolster the case. Furthermore, Moran said, the fire happened during "the Dark Ages" of arson science, and investigators' focus was reinforced by bad science.
The bottom line: Gavitt was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison without hope of parole. And that's where matters stood until Michigan Law's Innocence Clinic—including then-student attorneys Syed, Caitlin Plummer, and Maxwell Kosman, as well as Moran and clinic co-founder and current Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack—convinced authorities to release Gavitt because the conviction was false. Nationally recognized arson litigator Michael McKenzie contributed his expertise as co-counsel—and did it pro bono.
Despite his triumph in the judicial system, though, Gavitt still emerged from prison with next to nothing. He'd worked every day in prison, but the average prisoner earns less than $1 per day.
"So right away, there was the basic stuff," Syed said. "How do you get an ID? How do you sign up with Manpower, so you can be registered to work? How do you get a bank card? It's just not that easy when you've had nothing for 27 years."
Gavitt progressed through the basics in the first six months or so, Syed said. He married and settled in an apartment in western Michigan, drives a forklift on the overnight shift at a Battle Creek business, and is gradually learning about things like computers and cell phones.
Now, with many of those simpler needs attended to, Syed hopes Gavitt can make even more progress.
"I'm hoping he can take a deep breath and start getting into things he wants to do, instead of just trying to catch up with everyday life," Syed said.
Meantime, for Gavitt and others who have proven to have been wrongfully convicted, progress is also being made. State lawmakers continue to discuss a bill that would compensate exonerees for the time they spend unjustly behind bars, and Gavitt's own civil suit is working its way into the federal court system.
Gavitt himself attended The Innocence Network's 2013 conference,
in Charlotte, N.C., which Syed said he found enlightening.
"That whole experience helped change his mindset, I think. There were dozens of other people there who were just like him, and they were just stunned at David's story," Syed said. "But really, for David, it was the first time he got actual proof about how his case is changing the conversation on this. On some level, that really pleased him."
By Jenny Whalen, Law School Communications
Wherever life may lead, be a champion for a more inclusive America, outgoing U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, '81, bid graduates of the Michigan Law Class of 2013.
"The University of Michigan—this Law School—has been a beacon of our world and future because it is standing up for the concept that we are an inclusive America," Salazar told seniors gathered at Hill Auditorium. "Our nation has become much more diverse. Our nation has become much more global in its commercial activity," and diversity will be key to its social and economic success in the future.
He urged graduates who have an interest in issues such as immigration and border security to get involved and cautioned them against the creation of policies that would create a second-rate class of citizens or build walls at America's borders.
Salazar's message of inclusion resonated with LLM Conor O'Hanlon, who spoke personally of the warm reception he received upon arriving at Michigan Law last fall. Exhausted after nearly a day of travel from his native Ireland, O'Hanlon found himself immediately welcomed into the Law School's Phid House with a handshake and a smile.
"That spirit of welcome is something I have been appreciative of ever since," said O'Hanlon, who was elected to speak on behalf of 27 LLM students, eight International Tax LLMs, and two SJDs. "Thank you JDs for welcoming us to your tailgates, your study groups, and your homes. Your hospitality is a credit to yourselves."
And though he joked that the cultural differences which translate football into soccer and remove "u" from the word "color" proved at times difficult to navigate, he added that the School's innate sense of community has truly made "the Michigan Difference" for international students like himself.
"We will take with us memories that will last us a lifetime," O'Hanlon said. "Remember, you can say ‘Go Blue' in more than one language."
As the elected JD speaker, Terrill Wilkins echoed O'Hanlon's sentiments of community, but expanded that definition to include individuals outside the Law School.
"We are all here to some extent because of the family and friends who believed in us even when we weren't sure we believed in ourselves," said Wilkins, who is the first in his family to have graduated college, let alone earn an advanced degree.
Noting the many challenges that lay ahead, Wilkins implored his peers to not let "healthy skepticism devolve into a perspective of negativity that reduces the significance of our accomplishment."
"I do not see a class that shies away from life's challenges," he added. "I see instead a group of risk-takers who were bold enough to endure the rigors of a top law school despite the myriad of uncertainty that stood waiting for us on the other side.
"I see instead a group of future leaders who understand that today does not mark the most important achievement in our lives because there is so much more we can accomplish. I see a group of sometimes uncertain, yet ever determined individuals truly capably of greatness."
This determination is chief among the reasons Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker sets the sky as the limit for the graduating Class of 2013.
"Thinking like a lawyer does not require you to abandon your passions," said Caminker, while delivering his final commencement address as dean. "Rather, you should continue to draw strength from these commitments. I urge you to assess your particular strengths and skills, and think deeply about what makes you tick—what kinds of things you like or dislike doing, and why.
"If you focus on who you are, and what kind of person you want to be, I'm confident you'll find or create a professional path that is rewarding and enjoyable."
Caminker advised graduates to use both their minds and hearts to explore the career paths available to them and to rely on their passion and creativity to inform and inspire their activities.
And if graduates do all that, they will find their professional careers "well worthy of ambition," Caminker promised.
By Jenny Whalen, Law School Communications
These are landmark times in the legal system of the European Union, Michigan Law research scholars Samo Bardutzky and Elaine Fahey say.
Beset by questions of national sovereignty amid a worsening financial crisis, EU courts are hearing cases and issuing judgments that the pair suspect will influence legal theory for decades to come.
"The notions of what is national and international are changing," said Bardutzky, a Fulbright grantee who hails from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. "This impacts how Europe integrates and becomes more of an entity. These are heady times."
Postdoctoral researchers sponsored this past year by Daniel Halberstam, Eric Stein Collegiate Professor of Law, Bardutzky and Fahey found a shared interest in theories of constitutionalism and what both perceive to be a "crisis of postnationalism" as Member States manipulate Eurozone law in an effort to battle the financial crisis and solve the complex relationship between the Euro, the Member States and the EU.
"I feel we are a point where existing integration in the EU is simply not enough, it's inadequate," said Fahey, a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "It is deeply troubling but also academically fascinating to see a postnational democracy adopt so many practices and instruments so quickly in order to integrate further."
The opportunity to view the issue from a new perspective, combined with Michigan Law resources, and the ability to collaborate with other scholars proved invaluable to the pair's research.
"In even greater synergy, we began to talk with the Michigan Journal of International Law (MJIL)," Bardutzky added. "They embraced the research and we've prepared an Emerging Scholarship symposium—a succinct collection of five texts written by scholars that deal with the topic."
In addition to contributions from both scholars, the collection will include a speech given by Court of Justice Advocate General Juliane Kokott, who visited the School earlier this year.
"When we approached her to tell her about the symposium, she offered to publish a speech of hers," Bardutzky said. "It's really superb that someone who is established in Europe, and holds the posture and rank of a Supreme Court Justice, would come to Michigan and be willing to work with research scholars and a student journal, and publish a fascinating background piece on one of the leading cases of her career."
The works will be published in June as "European Integration Through Law: Judicial Review of the Eurozone Crisis in European National, Regional and Supranational Courts" in a MJIL online symposium.
"We consider the character of Eurozone law, specifically its postnational characteristics, as an area on the margins of EU institutional law," Fahey said. "We use the case study of the European Stability Mechanism as it was the intended to be the most permanent of all the reforms that the EU has introduced. But it was established outside the EU treaties using public international law for the time being and so its characterization in law, its operation and funding are extremely important to assess."
Their research examines review of the mechanism by select Member State courts, tribunals, parliaments, and the Court of Justice as failed opportunities for judicial review and participation.
And while the research only scratches the surface of what will continue to be the intricate development of a postnational legal system, Bardutzky said he hopes it does prompt discussion of what the pair argue has been "suboptimal judicial dialogue" to date.
"A lot of established concepts and mechanisms are being put to the test," he added. "What I'm trying to answer with Elaine is if the current judicial structure is capable of providing what we usually expect of it. Will the relationships between Member States be successful when the structure becomes even a degree more complex?"
Bardutzky said he expects the answer to this question will influence
EU public law in the decades ahead.
"We're not studying case law that was established 50 years ago," he added. "These are landmark times and people are trying to conceptualize what is happening. Time will show who was right."
By John Masson, Amicus editor
After 18 years in a variety of high-visibility roles at her alma mater, Susan Guindi, '90, Michigan Law's Assistant Dean for the Office of Career Planning, is moving on—but only as far as our favorite next-door neighbors, the Ford School of Public Policy.
"We've been fortunate to have Susan's dedication, insight, and wisdom for a very long time, and we will sorely miss her presence," Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker said. "Fortunately, as a true-blue double Wolverine, she's staying right in the neighborhood."
Guindi will join the Ford School Aug. 5 as Director of Student and Academic Services. She brings to bear her broad experience at the Law School, where she began as assistant director of what was then the Office of Public Service. She later became assistant dean for the Office of Career Services, which recently was reorganized into the current Office of Career Planning.
Although the Ford School mounted a nationwide search to fill the position, they found the best candidate for the job was just a few yards away.
"This Law School and its community will always be near and dear to my heart," Guindi said. "After a wonderful and long tenure working here, it will be difficult to leave. Luckily, I'll be only 25 feet away, in Weill Hall, and so can visit often!
Looking for a reason to come back home to Michigan Law? If you've got Big Law connections and a deep knowledge of recruiting practices, or know someone who does, be sure to check out the job description.
By John Masson, Amicus editor
Michigan Law adjunct Prof. Carl Valenstein, '83, says there were two important messages delivered when his firm, Bingham, recently honored him with a public service award for his work setting up a microfinancing fund with Michigan Law's International Transaction Clinic and Habitat for Humanity.
Those messages? Pro bono: it's not just for litigators anymore—and it's not just for associates, either.
"I think I have pro bono work in my DNA," said Valenstein, a Bingham partner. "But I'm a deal lawyer, and it seems so many pro bono opportunities are for litigators. So when I found this microfinance space, it became clear that this is something a transaction lawyer can do to give back."
Bingham agreed, recognizing with its John J. Curtin Public Service Award last month the complex legal work done by Valenstein and his Bingham pro bono team in collaboration with the student lawyers from Michigan Law's ITC.
The award is named after a Bingham of counsel and public service advocate who served a term as president of the American Bar Association.
In his role as a Michigan Law adjunct, Valenstein was the ITC's supervising attorney—in addition to his pro bono role at Bingham—on a groundbreaking Habitat for Humanity deal that could help thousands of under-housed families in countries around the globe. The deal established MicroBuild, a microfinancing fund for people in developing countries that's designed to help low-income families improve and maintain their homes, or even build new ones.
MicroBuild is tailored to make small loans through financial intermediaries to people living in places where traditional financing is unavailable—about 95 percent of the developing world, as it turns out—and where home construction is often incremental and ad hoc. It was established with $45 million in financing and $5 million in equity from Habitat for Humanity, the Omidyar Network Fund and Triple Jump, the Dutch fund manager.
Valenstein' s team spent years on the project and student attorneys from the Michigan Law clinic helped create the legal documents that brought MicroBuild to life.
"I think the ITC is unique in that respect," Valenstein said. "There are a lot of other experiential learning clinics, of course, but they're not doing deals like this. The deals in most clinics tend to be local projects and not as big in terms of the dollars involved or potential impact. That's what makes the ITC different."
Valenstein and a team from Bingham and the ITC, where Valenstein has taught for five years, collaborated on the work. The Bingham team filled in when the ITC student were out of school.
Valenstein had co-taught courses as his alma mater before, he said, but was drawn to do more teaching after professor Deborah Burand founded the ITC almost five years ago.
"Deborah had been a pro bono client of mine years before, when she worked with several microfinance institutions, and I was reading Law Quadrangle magazine and saw that she'd come to work at Michigan," Valenstein said. "When Michael Barr went into the Obama Administration, she needed help, and … I saw that this was a way of using my skill set to help develop the next generation of international lawyers and participate in a novel clinical program at my alma mater."