By Lori Atherton
September 14, 2017
After seven years as a choreographer and coach for the San Diego Rhythms gymnastics team, Nicole Minevich was ready to pursue other passions, including law. That interest led her to Michigan Law, where “despite it being 2,000 miles from San Diego, it felt like home almost immediately.”
Minevich, who is interested in the Veterans Legal Clinic, is one of 320 students in the entering 1L class, whose makeup is 46 percent female and 54 percent male, according to Sarah Zearfoss, ’92, senior assistant dean. Racial minorities account for 24.3 percent of the class, while 9.7 percent identify as LGBTQ. The students, whose mean age is 25, come from 42 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 10 foreign countries. They attended 168 undergraduate institutions, and their most common majors were political science, history, economics, international relations, and philosophy. In addition, 28 1Ls got an early start at Michigan Law by participating in the Michigan Access Program, an innovative leadership program that explores issues of social justice, identity, and diversity.
As with previous entering classes, this year’s crop of 1Ls is nothing short of accomplished, both academically and professionally. Their median LSAT score, for instance, is 169, the highest LSAT score since 2012, and tied for the highest LSAT score ever, according to Zearfoss. In addition, the median undergraduate GPA is 3.8, the highest of any entering class.
STEM majors make up 18 percent of the class—up from 11.5 percent last year—with the highest number of math majors ever (11). Another 12.5 percent arrived at Michigan Law with advanced degrees, including Alan Baldridge, one of two physicians in the 1L class. He practiced pediatric gastroenterology for 23 years in New York, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. A longtime interest in studying law and a desire to bring about social change prompted Baldridge to change careers.
“Over the course of my personal and professional experiences, I discovered bias and stigma and observed inequity towards marginalized populations,” Baldridge said. “I also saw firsthand the capricious and unfair hand of policy that does not serve its intended purpose. These experiences reignited my commitment to social justice and a desire to impact the way we, as a society, interact with and advocate for vulnerable populations. I felt that legal training would best prepare me to address my commitment to change.”
Other 1Ls have credentials that are similarly noteworthy. The class includes those who have worked as an economist for the U.S. Department of Transportation; as a special assistant to the National Security Council; as a professional magician; as a software engineer at a health care analytics firm; as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman; as an adviser to the administrator of USAID; and as the sole caretaker of a 75,000-piece private art collection. One student completed five Tough Mudder events, another spent seven years on the national chess team, and still another took a solo bicycle trip around the world. The class also boasts seven Peace Corps alumni; three military veterans, including a submarine officer; five Teach For America alumni; and six Fulbright Scholars and one Truman Scholar.
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