James Hathaway, the James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor of Law and director of Michigan Law's Program in Refugee and Asylum Law, has been quoted or featured in numerous media outlets about the Syrian refugee crisis, including The New York Times Magazine, Marketplace, and The Christian Science Monitor.
Margo Schlanger, the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law, was quoted in The Huffington Post article, "Court Decides Civil Rights Protections Don't Apply to Kids in Prison."
David Uhlmann, the Jeffrey F. Liss Professor from Practice and director of Michigan Law's Environmental Law and Policy Program, was quoted in The Washington Post, MarketWatch, and other media outlets about the Department of Justice's renewed focus on white-collar crime.
By Amy Spooner
In some respects, Lauren Schmidt's Michigan Law career began in second grade, when her father, an Air Force JAG, brought the family to Ann Arbor so he could earn an LLM degree. Her standout recollection is her parents leaving her with babysitters to attend football games—and her vow to someday get inside the Big House.
Although the Tom Brady gridiron years were good, what led Schmidt, '00, back to Michigan as a law student was more than a desire to fulfill that childhood promise.
"My dad had a fascinating career, and I've always had a huge amount of respect for him," said Schmidt, who is married to Eric Olson, '00. "I never second-guessed that I would be a lawyer."
The public service component of her father's military career also resonated with Schmidt and drives her practice today, even as a partner at one of Denver's biggest law firms. Schmidt, a shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, serves as the firm's pro bono partner. She has been a champion of the firm's growing pro bono practice since the inception of its pro bono committee in 2007.
"I tell people I have the mythical unicorn of big law jobs—people don't really believe it exists. But pro bono is a huge part of the culture at many big law firms, including ours," she said.
In 2007, the Colorado Supreme Court challenged the state's law firms to commit each lawyer to at least 50 hours of pro bono service per year, mirroring the ABA's goal. "We increased our firm's pro bono practice by forming an oversight committee, but we still found it hard to meet the 50-hour goal," said Schmidt. She observed that many large firms have a dedicated partner leading the pro bono practice; a few weeks later a managing partner named her Brownstein's inaugural pro bono partner. Originally a 50-50 split with her complex commercial litigation practice, Schmidt estimates that 75 percent of her practice now is dedicated to her duties as pro bono partner.
"We have greatly increased the trajectory of our pro bono practice, and I can satisfy my service ethic with the platform of a great law firm," she said. "It's a fantastic opportunity."
Schmidt's commitment to pro bono service began in her first job after law school, at Gibson Dunn's Washington, D.C., office. One of her assignments remains with her today—a Texas death penalty case that the firm acquired in 2002. When she accepted a job with Brownstein, one stipulation was that she be able to continue with the case.
Now she uses the lessons that case has taught her in order to expound the virtues of pro bono work. "Many associates get their first substantive experience on pro bono cases; the training component is invaluable for firms," Schmidt said. "A strong pro bono program also helps us with recruiting, since today's generation of lawyers is very public service focused. They might think they can't afford to pursue a public service career, but it's still important to them that they satisfy their public service ethic."
Convincing partners to commit to 50 hours of pro bono service can be tougher, Schmidt said. "Associates will try anything. But if you ask someone who's been practicing real estate law for 20 years to take on a pro bono immigration case, they might be intimidated." Success in a role that Schmidt jokingly describes as "professional salesman and professional nag" requires a honed pitch: "If I investigate what our lawyers are passionate about and how they like to spend their time, and I find a case that fits those interests, almost every one of them will do it. And once people take their first case, they will start building pro bono into their practice."
Participation at all levels is one key to a firm's successful pro bono practice, Schmidt said. Higher-ups must identify pro bono as a core tenant of the firm's culture, and lead by example. Meanwhile, those responsible for personnel decisions also must be firmly on board. "Unless pro bono hours are treated as billable hours for associates, a program won't work." Brownstein gives associates at least100 hours of billable credit for pro bono each year.
Schmidt believes the model at Brownstein and elsewhere reflects an exciting shift in the profession. "Most senior partners weren't raised in an environment that emphasized pro bono work, but that has changed in the last 10 to 15 years. Today's associates will be tomorrow's partners, and pro bono is a value that's very important to them."
Incoming Michigan Law 1Ls, LLM students, and research scholars kicked off the fall 2015 semester with a day of community service on August 27. Students volunteered at 11 sites in Ann Arbor and Detroit, helping to paint murals, clear brush at nature areas, and renovate a house for Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley. View an image gallery from the event.
If you haven't visited Michigan Law's Alumni and Friends website recently, we invite you to take a look. Our refreshed site offers increased emphasis on alumni stories and streamlined navigation. Bookmark us and visit often for the latest alumni news and upcoming events.
The Law School and M Den make it easy to purchase specialized Michigan Law apparel online through the MLaw Marketplace. A percentage of all sales on both MLaw Marketplace and the general M Den website (when it's accessed through MLaw Marketplace) comes back to the Law School to help support the activities of our student groups.
Sept. 25: Distinguished Alumni Award Reception
Oct. 8: Michigan Bar Reception
Oct. 9: Outlaws Gayla
Oct. 26: Brussels Dinner
Oct. 28: London Dinner
Oct. 29: Frankfurt Dinner
By Amy Spooner
The Law School will honor two outstanding alumni with the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards at a September 25 ceremony. Now in its fifth year, the award highlights individuals who have made an exceptional impact on their profession, community, and/or Michigan Law. This year's recipients are Professor Emeritus Thomas E. Kauper, '60, and Yoichiro Yamakawa, MCL '69.
"Tom and Yoichiro have been extremely successful in their professional careers, and have also been great supporters of the Law School," said Dean Mark West. "Yoichiro is a tireless ambassador on our behalf in Japan, while Tom is part of a special group of alumni who dedicated their career to educating our students."
Kauper is the Henry M. Butzel Professor of Law Emeritus; he joined the faculty in 1964. He is an antitrust expert who twice served with the U.S. Department of Justice, first as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel and then as assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division. He also served for 14 years as a member of the American Bar Association Council of the Antitrust Section, and for one year as vice-chairman. He coauthored Property: An Introduction to the Concept and the Institution. Following a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, he practiced law in Chicago before entering academia.
Yamakawa, a partner in the Tokyo firm of Koga & Partners, serves on the boards of Nisshin Steel Co. Ltd. and Daio Paper Corporation. He previously sat on the boards of Mitsui Sumitomo Financial Group and Daiichi Mutual Life Insurance Company. His areas of practice include general corporate work, international transactions and litigation, and freedom of expression. He has represented major media in some of Japan's most high-profile First Amendment cases. He previously was a visiting professor at Michigan Law, co-teaching Freedom of Speech in the U.S. and Japan with then Dean Lee C. Bollinger. Yamakawa has written widely on constitutional litigation and freedom of expression, and on defamation and privacy. He also has translated into Japanese both Archibald Cox's The Warren Court and Joseph Sax's Defending the Environment.
The public is invited to the Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony, which will take place on Friday, September 25, at 3:15 p.m. in the Robert B. Aikens Commons.
To submit a nomination for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, visit our nomination process page. The nomination deadline is March 1, 2016.
By Katie Vloet
At 29,000 feet above sea level, Xun Yuan decided to learn his fate.
Seven days earlier, at base camp on Mount Everest, his online status had not been updated to say whether he was admitted to the University of Michigan Law School. He feared the worst, then started the weeklong climb to the top of the world.
"When we got to the summit, I decided to check again. I was able to get a signal there," said Yuan, who was working as a writer in Tibet for Lonely Planet. "I went to the online status checker and found out I had gotten in. I was screaming. My fellow travelers said to stop screaming, or I would cause an avalanche.
"I only regret that I didn't have my Michigan flag with me" to plant in the ground at the summit, he added.
Yuan now is a first-year student at Michigan Law, one of 267 students chosen from a pool of 4,368 applicants. The class is tied for highest GPA in the School's history and has the second-highest LSAT average score, said Sarah Zearfoss, senior assistant dean for admissions, financial aid, and career planning.
It is a group with widely varying backgrounds: ice carver, Olympic-caliber runner, FBI investigative specialist, an electrician who co-founded a Haitian solar cell company. Their culinary backgrounds are impressive: One was a pastry kitchen assistant at Zingerman's Bakehouse; another wrote a thesis on the chemistry of baked chocolate desserts, and a third worked at an Italian winery, Zearfoss said. They represented a variety of media organizations: The New York Times, The New Yorker, Al Jazeera. The air controller from Camp Pendleton may be in some classes with the pilot combat trainer from the U.S. Air Force or the intelligence analyst from the Air National Guard.
Racial and ethnic minorities make up 24 percent of the class, while LGBT students comprise 7.5 percent. Three-quarters of the students took at least one year off from school after college, Zearfoss said.
Other details about the new 1Ls:
And at least one of them has climbed Mount Everest. Yuan vows to go back again, but on his next trip, he will make a change—one that surely will make the rest of his classmates proud: "I'm definitely going to take my Michigan flag," he said.
By Amy Spooner
Depending on your perspective, half of the Victors for Michigan campaign is over, or half of the Victors for Michigan campaign lies ahead. Either way, the campaign is right on track.
When the Law School publicly announced a $200 million campaign goal in November 2013, it was the most ambitious fundraising endeavor in the School's history. Now, almost two years later, more than $100 million has been given by alumni, students, and friends of Michigan Law. The silent phase of the campaign launched in 2011, so the $100 million total includes a $20 million gift from Charles T. Munger, HLLD '10, to renovate the Lawyers Club; a $5 million gift from Sam Zell, '66, to establish the Zell Entrepreneurship and Law Program; and the recent $5 million combined gift from Lisa and Chris Jeffries, '74, and the Himan Brown Charitable Trust to guarantee summer funding for first-year students. In addition, two professorships have been endowed through campaign gifts and six new clinics have been established.
"We all know that one of Michigan Law's greatest strengths is its loyal alumni community," said Dean Mark West. "It is an incredibly connected, enthusiastic group. And they prove time and time again that they are a very generous group, as well. We are so grateful for their support."
The previous Campaign for Michigan—Building On campaign raised more than $135 million, mostly in support of facilities projects that included the building of the Robert B. Aikens Commons and South Hall. With the Victors for Michigan campaign, the focus is on the people and programs that bring the buildings to life. The Law School's top campaign priority is student support, with a $70 million goal. To date, 46 new scholarships have been endowed through the Victors for Michigan campaign; significant gifts also have been made toward summer and post-graduate fellowships and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program. "Increasing the amount of resources devoted to student support at all stages of the law school experience allows us to continue to recruit top talent, and ensures that a Michigan Law education remains accessible to all qualified students. It also helps our students make career choices that are guided by their passions and talents, not by their debt load," Dean West said.
The $200 million overall goal is further broken down into a $40 million facilities goal; a $40 million program support goal; a $30 million goal for faculty and research support; and a $20 million goal for the Law School Fund, which annually provides the dean with vital resources to address the School's highest priorities and seize new opportunities. The Law School's campaign is part of a University-wide Victors for Michigan campaign that has a $4 billion goal.
Leading the campaign effort is the Development and Alumni Relations Committee, a group of alumni donors and volunteers who represent a wide range of graduation years, geographic locations, and career paths. The committee is chaired by John Nannes, '73, of Washington, D.C., who previously endowed the Nannes 3L Challenge to support student organizations and to encourage alumni giving to the Law School. "It is an honor to lead the Law School's Victors for Michigan campaign, and I am excited by the possibilities that the next phase of the campaign presents," said Nannes. "The progress we've made so far is great, but there is a lot of work still to be done. We will need the support of all alumni in order to achieve our goal."
Learn more about the Victors for Michigan campaign and ways that you can give.
By Lori Atherton
Judge Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will deliver Michigan Law's 2015 Bishop Lecture in International Law on Wednesday, September 30, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in South Hall 1225. Her talk, "From South Africa to Rwanda and Syria: A Journey of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights," is free and open to the public.
A South African national, Pillay was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture and helping to establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island. During the course of her career, she served as a judge on the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (of which she was also president), and the South African High Court. She served as a UN Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.
The Bishop Lecture commemorates the life and work of Professor William W. Bishop, '31, who helped the Law School gain prominence in international law. Previous Bishop lecturers have included Harold Koh, Mary Robinson, and Richard Goldstone.
Also taking place at Michigan Law this fall is a series of Diversity Talks co-sponsored by the Law School's Program in Race, Law & History that are aimed at increasing dialogue around the topic of diversity at the University of Michigan. The four-part series, held on Mondays from September to December, invites leaders from across the U-M campus to talk with the Law School community about the future of diversity at Michigan. Capping off the series is a talk led by U-M President Mark Schlissel.
The free, public talks are as follows:
For a complete listing of programs taking place at the Law School, visit our events page.