University of Michigan Law School - May 2010 Amicus


Florida's newest member of Congress—Democrat Ted Deutch, '91—in a videotaped interview with The Washington Post on his impressions upon taking office.


Prof. Bill Miller is interviewed in a New York Times/Freakonomics audio podcast, on his book—and the practice of—Faking It.

Prima Facie

The many faces of Preview Weekend kept prospective Michigan Law students hopping this year. See how in this photo gallery.

Career Corner

Check out a new International Transactions Clinic opportunity here at Michigan Law.

Senior Day Speaker, 1981 grad Valerie Jarrett Has Advice for Next Generation of Leaders

By Jared Wadley, University of Michigan News Service

Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, '81, took a break May 8 from advising President Barack Obama to dispense a few pearls to 310 graduating Michigan Law students instead.

"Please savor the pride and satisfaction in the challenges you've met, and the obstacles you've overcome,"Jarrett told graduates and their families at Hill Auditorium. "Let your much-deserved self-confidence carry you forward to the next phase of your life, because you will need that confidence, and it will be tested time and time again."

Jarrett talked about her career and time at the Law School in a speech delivered one week after her boss gave the spring commencement address at Michigan Stadium. 

As a senior advisor to the president, Jarrett heads four White House departments: intergovernmental affairs; urban affairs; public engagement; and Olympic, Paralympic, and youth sports. Also, she serves as the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Jarrett described four requirements for effective leadership: passion, character, resilience and courage. Graduates should care deeply about what they do, or "they will not have the endurance to sustain their effort or achieve their goals," she said.

"Resist the complacency that you will find rooted in your comfort zone and constantly challenge yourself," she said. "That's what fuels passion."

To pursue that passion, a person needs courage to trust his or her moral compass and to make tough decisions.

"The more people you inspire with your leadership, the harder it is to reach consensus, and therefore the more dissension," Jarrett said.

Effective leadership also involves resilience when failure occurs.

"Learn from your mistakes, but do not quit. And certainly do not fear trying," she said.

As it relates to character, Jarrett said she's

seen the aspirations and hopes of many people dashed by lapses in judgment decades earlier.

"Your reputation is your most important asset …. (and) is inextricably linked to the company you keep," she said, adding that graduates should affiliate themselves with good people and worthy institutions that have solid reputations and shared values.

Before attending the commencement ceremony, Jarrett visited with student groups and faculty members. She talked about public service and answered questions from members of the student-run Frank Murphy Society.

"She came across as both down-to-earth and funny, and the entire group benefited from hearing about her varied and successful career in public service," said Zach Dembo, a 1L from Lexington, Ky. Dembo is one of the founders of the society named after Michigan Law alum Frank Murphy, '14, who went on to a distinguished career in public service as Detroit's mayor, Michigan's governor, the U.S. Attorney General, and as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Emily Boening, a second-year law student from Toledo, worked in Washington D.C. before coming to law school. She said her "jaded attitude" toward politics and political speakers sometimes got the best of her—until she met Jarrett.

"Ms. Jarrett lived up to the Obama Administration's commitment to candor and openness," Boening said. "She was willing to have a relaxed, honest conversation, answering questions directly, without deferring too often to talking points or platitudes—a rare and refreshing surprise." 

View the commencement address, or see a slideshow that highlights Jarrett's visit.

Victors Valiant emerge from Campbell Moot Court Competition

By John Masson, Amicus Editor

The Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition, a Michigan Law tradition that stretches back more than 80 years, earned top team and best brief honors in April for 3Ls Jake Walker and Jane Metcalf, and a best oralist award for 2L Cheryl Palmeri.

Palmeri and classmate Rory Wellever were runners-up for the best team award.

The case being mooted involved two questions: first, whether the warrantless use of cell-site technology to locate and track a person violates that person's rights under the Fourth Amendment, and second, whether the government should be allowed to use a Mirandized suspect's response to a police consent-to-search request as part of its case-in-chief.

More than 150 students competed this year, assisted by many members of the faculty. Professors Joan Larsen, Eve Brensike Primus and Sam Gross were singled out by the student board that administers the competition for their help in designing the problem and assisting the board and competitors.

This year's judging panel for the final round included Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and Judge David S. Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition was established in 1926 and honors the 1878 Michigan Law graduate who founded the Detroit law firm that became Dickinson Wright. Competition lasts much of the year, and is open to all second- and third-year students, as well as to LL.M., visiting, and dual-degree students.

See more on the Campbell competition, and a slideshow of competition highlights.

Emeritus prof's first novel, a haunting look at aging, wins publisher's award

By John Masson, Amicus Editor

Tom Whitaker, tough as the stony Vermont hillsides that cradle the farmhouse his great-grandfather built, clearly doesn't believe in aging gracefully. The hero of Emeritus Professor David Chambers' new novella, The Old Whitaker Place, speaks sharply, makes plenty of mistakes, and will do what it takes to stay in his going-to-seed family home despite his increasing pain and confusion.

Chambers' lean, elegant prose takes us unflinchingly through the closing years of narrator Tom Whitaker's life, chronicling his relationship with his son, with other people who love or at least tolerate him, and with the Green Mountain soil his life is grounded in.

Whitaker is no diplomat, and as age increasingly robs him of his independence and dignity, his occasional petulance and absent-mindedness grows. Alongside him ages his old dog Roscoe, who—unlike his master—suffers the infirmities of age without complaint. Also on hand is Tom's new wife Teresa, 30 years his junior, whose arrival has allowed Tom to remain in the house he loves perhaps more than anything else in his life.

Chambers, who retired to write fiction in 2002 after three decades of teaching law, creates a character whose fine balance of nobility and baseness won't be easy to forget. The slender work is co-winner of the 2009 Miami University Press Novella Contest. More information and ordering information is available on the publisher's website.

In the News

Prof. Richard Primus is quoted in New York Times analysis of Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination.

Meanwhile, the Law Library compiled information about Elena Kagan's legal work on a special website.

Prof. Ted Parson leads a story in Toronto's Globe and Mail on the promise and perils of deliberately engineering the climate as a rapid response to global warming.

2008 Olympic silver medalist, Michigan Law 2L reflects on fencing career, marriage, and life as a law student.

Emeritus Prof. Eric Stein pens a guest editorial in the latest Common Market Law Review.

Michigan Law's Prof. Catharine MacKinnon, visiting research scholar Max Waltman, former Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut join in Political Research Quarterly podcast on legal challenges to pornography.

Speaking of Indianapolis, another former mayor there, Stephen Goldsmith, '71, is the new deputy mayor in NYC, according to a New York Daily News blog.

1990 grad David Meyer is the new dean at Tulane.

Prof. Becky Eisenberg helps The New York Times interpret a ruling in a controversial DNA patent case.

James D. Zirin, '64, on terrorism and technology in The Huffington Post.

Nina Totenberg talks to Prof. Doug Laycock on NPR's All Things Considered about the uneasy and probably temporary truce between church and state resulting from the Cross in the Desert case.

1979 graduate Arn Tellem on the NCAA's efforts to make it more difficult for college basketball players to declare for the NBA draft. and The New York Times are among those citing Prof. Adam Pritchard on the recent day of reckoning for Goldman Sachs.

The New York Times tells the story of 2007 grad Allison Kent's Haitian clients in a front-page story that helps get them released from immigration detention.

Prof. Steven Croley writes in The Huffington Post about the serious shortcomings of the new Arizona immigration law.

Construction Update

Time Flies: But maybe not this fast. Check out an amazing time-lapse video of the installation of a new pedestrian bridge linking Hutchins Hall and the southwest tower of the Legal Research Building.

Coming Up

June 2: Service Day, Michigan Law's annual introduction to public service for incoming Summer Starters, takes place at various locations around Ann Arbor.


Have a story of interest to fellow alumni? Contact Amicus editor John Masson, Media Relations Officer for Michigan Law, at or call 734.647.7352.