From Opposite Sides of the World, Students Find Friendship at Michigan Law
By Jenny Whalen
May 17, 2013
Born into different cultures and raised on opposite sides of the world, 2Ls Thomas Kadri and Surya Kundu were living far from parallel lives when their paths crossed one summer's day in a courtyard at Michigan Law.
Best of friends just a year later, their rapport represents a bond that has long been characteristic of the Law School community.
"It really was amazing to me to discover how social law school has been," Kadri said. "That was the biggest surprise. You hear about how taxing it is and you're not expecting that camaraderie."
Kadri, who hails from London, and Kundu, who was born in India and raised in the United States, met during the Michigan Access Program (MAP), a social justice leadership program at MLaw that utilizes social justice curricula, experiential learning models, and intergroup dialogue to offer students from a range of social identities a resource for living and learning while at Law School.
And, as luck would have it, they found themselves seated next to each other in almost every class first term.
Having grown up reading British editions of books, due to India's colonial history, Kundu jokingly says she was able to help Kadri overcome the language barrier that is color spelled with a "u" and organization with an "s," while both found a shared interest in all things cuisine as self-described "foodies."
Forging similar bonds with other classmates in their section, the pair quickly saw the "horror stories" of law school discredited with late-night cram sessions and afternoon soup runs to Le Dog.
"It's nice knowing when law school gets hard, that you're not the only one going through it," Kundu said. "It's a lot less terrible to be in the library at midnight if you're in the library at midnight with your friends."
Even while arguing opposing views on the university's weapon's policy during the final round of the 1L Oral Advocacy Competition this past year, Kundu and Kadri remained supportive of one another and drew strength from an audience filled with friends.
The debate was close, but Kundu, arguing in defense of the policy, was ultimately crowned champion. Kadri was the first to offer his congratulations.
"I am a very content runner-up," he said following the competition.
While law school is not without its rivalries, Kadri said he has found the overwhelming attitude among students to be "that we're in this together."
Kundu added this is probably due to the realization that: "Finals are going to be mean to you. You don't need to be mean to each other."
With the start of summer, the friends will once again find themselves several thousand miles apart as Kadri heads to San Francisco to work with a judge and Kundu relocates to Chicago to intern at a private firm.
Neither has written their career plan in stone, but say they're fairly confident that the friendships they've formed, and will form at MLaw in the years ahead, will stand the test of time and distance.
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