Former terror prosecutor and current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade, ‘91, writes on the unifying effect Osama bin Laden's death should have on Americans of all faiths.
BP argues in a Bloomberg story that its fine should be based on how long its Gulf of Mexico well was broken last summernot by how much oil spewed into the Gulf during that time. Prof. David Uhlmann has definite ideas about that.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Genro Kashiwa, a 1950 MLaw grad who served as a nisei soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II, earned a French Legion of Merit recently to complement the two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart he earned fighting his way across Europe.
By Becky Freligh
Office of Development and Alumni Relations
It happens every lustrum. (That's "five-year cycle," for those of you who don't have your favorite search engine or Latin dictionary handy.) It's time once again to compile the Michigan Law alumni directory, to be published in 2012. We hope you'll help the initiative by supplying updated information about where you are and what you're doing.
The Michigan Law School Alumni Directory is a terrific search tool in its own right. Where else could you find the entire membership listing for William W. Cook's law class (1882)? Where else could you find which of your fellow alumni practice in the areas of gaming law or science, engineering, and technology? How else could you jog your memory to recall the name of that guy that sat next to you in Contracts classat least on the days when he actually showed up?
Nowhere else but the Michigan Law Alumni Directory. Listed in alphabetical, geographical, field of work and chronological sections, the directory contains a wealth of information including class years, e-mail addresses, business addresses, and telephone numbers, as well as data on industry and occupation.
Our publisher for the 2012 directory is PCI: The Data Company (also known as Publishing Concepts), based in Dallas. You'll soon receive an email and/or postcard asking you to update your current directory information. These communications are sent on behalf of Michigan Law. Please consider a prompt reply to help the project along. Submitting your information does not obligate you to purchase the directory.
For more information, please check out our online FAQs.
By John Masson
Joe Burke certainly isn't the first attorney to grind out a seemingly endless series of 14-hour days. But not many can say they grind those days out in a place like Lashkar Gah.
Burke, a 1989 Michigan Law graduate, is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State in Afghanistan. His ongoing year-long posting as the senior American civilian in the British-led Provincial Reconstruction Team for Helmand Province has him helping lead a group of about 120 civilians and a similar number of soldiers and Marines with the overarching goal of connecting the Afghan government to the Afghan people.
It can be a tall order at times, said Burke, who worked for 15 years as a commercial litigator before joining the State Department.
"There's an endemic culture here, a way of thinking that if you're in government, the government is designed to help you and your tribe," Burke said. "The notion that you're supposed to represent all the people? There's no history, there's no culture of that here."
But the Obama administration's counterinsurgency strategy places more emphasis on protecting the Afghan peopleand more importantly, empowering Afghanistan's government to protect its own peoplethan it does on killing the enemy. So strengthening the bonds of trust between the people and the Afghan government has become more important than ever.
Burke helps facilitate that trust-building at the provincial level by working closely with the provincial governor. One step down the chain, he supervises State Department colleagues in District Stabilization Teams in 10 of the 12 districts that make up Helmand Province.
"I'm in touch on a daily basis with the guys living in the districts, working more directly with the people and with the district governors," Burke said.
Those contacts include American, British, and Danish diplomats, U.S. Marines, and troops from Britain and Denmark.
"It's starting to work. ...Since I've been here, I can see the people are more connected to thinking the government can be a solutioneven though they don't have a history here of trusting the government," Burke said. "Establishing that connection between the people and the government is key, because that connection will lead the Afghan people to reject the Taliban insurgency rather than depending on foreign troops."
The challenges are unrelenting. Much of Helmand Province is unforgiving desertthe temperature one recent early May day in Lashkar Gah, west of Kandahar and about 400 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul, was 105 degrees. What little fertile ground is availablea narrow greenbelt on the banks of the Helmand Riverhelps the province grow poppies that produce half the world's heroin.
Furthermore, Burke added, the fates placed Afghanistan in the middle of one of the world's most fractious regions, with nearby neighbors like Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and India all jockeying for position.
"Everyone in the neighborhood is more powerful than Afghanistan, and everyone in the neighborhood is perceived to have interests here," Burke said. "It makes for a very complicated situation, trying to solve the very simple needs of the people."
"Many people in Helmand Province blame the Taliban insurgency on foreign interests meddling in Afghanistan," Burke said. "I have seen little evidence that the people of Helmand want the Taliban back. They weren't particularly popular. They overplayed their hand and were too harsh with the people, who don't identify with them. It's just that the government in Helmand before the Taliban was so bad, and the Taliban are effective in intimidating the local people and playing off their historical mistrust of the government."
Burke knows the work of counterinsurgency will go on after he decamps this summer for his next assignment, in Brussels, where he'll work at the U.S. Mission to the European Union as an economic officer. While Belgium stands to be considerably more temperate in both climate and politics than his current posting, he won't be able to forget Afghanistan, or the way he customarily kissed the photos of his wife and three small children before he strapped on his body armor and emerged into the desert heat of Lashkar Gah.
"This is not Philadelphia in 1776, not by a long shot," Burke said. "But we're trying to plant some seeds so the government can begin to represent all the peopleto give the people an opportunity to have a government that isn't perfect, but is at least trying."
By John Masson
The Michigan Law family gathered at Hill Auditorium May 7 for Senior Day, the annual springtime celebration of the Law School's graduating class.
With faculty and honored guests lined up in full academic regalia on the stage, Dean Evan Caminker kicked off the ceremonies with brief opening remarks before yielding the floor to LLM candidate Cormac Kerins, a native of Ireland whose classmates chose him as their speaker. Kerins summed up his feelings by telling the graduates "I feel unstoppable. And so should each one of you."
The choice of featured speaker, 1984 Michigan Law grad and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, was controversial among some students. Some, upset about the Ohio Republican's voting record on gay rights issues, wore rainbow-colored pins and tassels to the ceremony. Between 40 and 50 graduates and some members of the audience silently stood and left the auditorium while Portman was being introduced; they returned to their seats just as silently after Portman was finished speaking.
After the ceremony, Caminker said he was impressed by the decorum displayed by the demonstrators, as well as by the grace with which Portman acknowledged the students' dissatisfaction. The senator met before the ceremony with 11 student representatives and shared a productive discussion about the issues.
Inside the auditorium, the senator gave the new graduates several pieces of advice as the fresh JDs, LLMs, and SJDs prepared to take on their responsibilities as lawyers, whether in public service or private practice.
"The American legal system is one of the crown jewels," Portman said. "And we are the custodians of the rule of law."
Portman also reminded students that the bonds they form in law school are among the tightest they'll ever know; as evidence he said he was one of five law students who rented a house on Packard during law school, and that four out of the five were getting together for a reunion in Ann Arbor later that very day.
The last speaker, Matthew Budow, was selected by his JD classmates. Budow advised an amused crowd about the importance of three things in life: being able to laugh at yourself (he suggested that the preceding three years of schooling presented each graduate ample opportunity to do that); being able to laugh at others or, as he put it, "mock the ridiculous"; andmost importantlybeing able to laugh with others.
Not too surprisingly, he added that the last item was the defining characteristic of his Michigan Law experience.
A look at Senior Day in pictures is available in this slideshow.
By John Masson
Four Michigan Law students are featured in the new Google-produced "It Gets Better" commercial, which debuted during a recent episode of the Fox high school musical dramedy Glee.
The It Gets Better Project was created in September 2010 by author and columnist Dan Savage, in the wake of several suicides around the country of youth who were bullied over their sexuality. Savage and his partner, recognizing that some LGBT youth have trouble imagining what life will be like as adults, videotaped a simple message to help remind them that even though life can be difficult, it gets better with age.
A movement was born.
People from all over the worldincluding, last October, students from Michigan Lawposted more than 10,000 supportive videos to YouTube as part of the project. Images from the law students' video were selected to become part of the commercial created by Google and first aired during the May 3 episode of Glee.
Michigan Law students Daniella Schmidt, Kaitlin Jackson, Kylee Sunderlin, and Sarah Palmer all appear in Google's ad, which is available here. The full-length MLaw video was shot by David Gutt and edited by Michael Wagner. Adrian Ohmer, a first-year student, organized the project. But the ad isn't the only work being done by the It Gets Better Project. In March, the book It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living hit bookstores around the country. An It Gets Better website also is up and running. And more information and the full-length video shot by MLaw students is available on the Michigan Law Outlaws website.
"I was really stunned when, back in early November, I was sent a link to the finished video by a 1L who I might have guessed would have been busily angsting about outlines and case briefs," said Michigan Law's Assistant Dean for Admissions, Sarah Zearfoss. "The inspiration that led such a large group, from across every class year of the student body, to work together in order to quickly produce something so beautiful and powerful has, in turn, been inspiring to me. It gave me yet one more reason to think, 'I love our students.' "
By John Masson
Michigan Law is rolling out an improved Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), carefully tailored to mesh with newly revised federal guidelines, for public-service graduates and others whose legal careers provide lower salaries.
Among the plan's key provisions: loan repayment assistance for graduates earning up to $88,000, with no out-of-pocket contributions for those earning less than $50,000; availability to students working in both the public and private sectors; and federal loan forgiveness for graduates working in the public sector after 10 years.
The plan is designed to help ensure that Michigan Law graduates aren't deterred by student debt from using their top-tier legal educations to pursue their dreams.
"Our overall goal is to make it feasible for people to pursue the careers they want," said Prof. Jim Hines, who led the committee that designed the program. "Another goal, quite honestly, is to allay people's fears about debt. We want to provide a form of insurance, so they don't have to be as concerned as they might otherwise be."
Michigan's new program was specifically designed to enhance the federal loan program, known as the Income Based Repayment Plan. Under the Michigan program, incomenot career typeis the key factor. Further, under the federal program, if the salary is low enough, the required payments don't cover the interest on the original loanso the principal actually increases. Michigan's program is designed to avoid that problem by making the entire required payment if the graduate's salary is $50,000 or lessabout what a GS-11 entry-level federal attorney might expect to earn. Furthermore, Michigan's program creates a reserve account for each graduate. The law school deposits money to cover unpaid interest accruing on the debt into these reserve accounts, and graduates who leave the LRAP program after two or more years can ask that the funds be applied toward the unpaid interest.
The program remains in effect as earnings increase. For graduates earning between $50,000 and $75,000, for example, the law school pays the entire interest payment and the graduate pays down the principal, if necessary. The law school continues to help those earning more than $75,000 as well. So Michigan's program means a graduate carrying, for example, $100,000 of federal debt and earning $65,000 would be responsible for an annual out-of-pocket payment of just $90. Michigan Law would pay the rest.
Alumni like Sarah DeYoung, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor who graduated in 2001, said the administrative team at Michigan Law is constantly seeking new ways to make sure their students have every advantage. The new loan repayment program should be no different, she said.
"Given what I know about Michigan and the way they work the system to everyone's benefit, I'm sure it's fabulous and will be great for students," DeYoung said of the new program. "They really want their students to have every opportunity, and to actually be able to seize those opportunities."
She added that the assistance she's received in paying off her educational loans means "I have had a job for the last 10 years that I have loved waking up and going to."
The improved plan is scheduled to roll out this fall. Graduates covered by the old plan will have the option to choose which plan they use.