By John MassonAug. 10, 2012
His candidate, Sally Petersen, won the all-important Democratic primary for Ann Arbor City Council this week, thus all but guaranteeing her election in November's general election.
Lawrence, a member of Petersen's campaign advisory board, said he knew he'd want to get involved in the campaign the moment he heard that Petersen was running.
"Sally is my next door neighbor, and I've known her since she moved into her house," Lawrence said. "I knew she would be an excellent city council member."
He also found himself intrigued by the grass-roots political process, which he hadn't really experienced first hand. Before coming to Michigan Law he had worked for a couple of years at a Washington, D.C.–based foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, where he was exposed to high-level policy discussion—but not the day-to-day skills required to win an election, even a local one.
He was surprised how transferable his journalistic and legal research skills were when it came time to help Petersen learn more about local issues. The candidate even called Lawrence out during a victory celebration this week, teasing him gently about the huge mass of paper he delivered to her whenever she asked for research help.
"Frankly, I knew very little about local political issues before having to do that," said Lawrence, who grew up in Ann Arbor but moved away to study history at Kenyon College in central Ohio.
He returned home in 2010 to begin studies at Michigan Law.
During his Law School career he's particularly enjoyed property classes—especially intellectual property—as well as commercial law and water law, and of course (given his undergraduate studies), legal history.
Though he doesn't seem to harbor ambitions for a political career for himself, he does find himself drawn to the media.
"Media people are looking for a new business model to help them survive the Internet," he said. "It's an interesting process, and I'm hoping someone will be able to discover one that works soon. It would be great to be a part of a new journalism, if they are able to figure one out."
But for now he's glad to have had an opportunity to help his neighbor reach her goal.
"I grew up in Ann Arbor; I was born and raised here," he said. "So it was just great being involved in the campaign."
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