The Darrow Scholarship made a tremendous difference for Matthew Longarini when he was applying to law schools. He was living in Japan at the time and his ultimate goal was to practice law there. Conventional wisdom told him that starting his legal career in Japan immediately after graduation wasn't necessarily the right move, but he decided to follow his instincts. The Darrow Scholarship from Michigan Law made all the difference.
"When I entered law school in 2010, there was great uncertainty about the future of the legal profession, including both career and work-life balance prospects for new attorneys. In addition, never having practiced law, it was difficult to truly assess whether it would be a good fit for me. Having a Darrow Scholarship gave me the peace of mind to pursue my academic and professional interests, limiting the downside if things didn't work out for whatever reason."
During his 1L year at Michigan Law, Longarini felt that his Darrow Scholarship gave him a certain confidence. "Given the number of smart, talented, and accomplished people around me at the Law School, I likely would have been prone to a degree of impostor syndrome were it not for the Darrow, as I come from a pretty ordinary background and was not that well-spoken during professors' cold calls." After surviving his first year, Longarini was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and a research assistant to Professors James J. White and Bruce Frier.
Longarini bolstered his language skills while at Michigan Law, taking three semesters of advanced Japanese, allowing him to pass the highest level of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test.
On top of the cachet his Darrow gave him, Longarini also knew that come graduation, he would not have to worry about a heavy debt hanging over his head. The pressure to take a job in the United States with an eye towards resume-building, rather than his desired job overseas, was immediately alleviated, and Longarini was able to move to Japan to begin his legal career.
Today, Longarini is an associate in the Tokyo office of Morrison & Foerster, one of the largest international law firms in Japan. As a member of its corporate department, he handles securities offerings to international investors on behalf of Japanese companies and the Japanese government, as well as mergers and acquisitions. He joined the practice in 2013 following graduation, after serving there as a summer associate during his 2L summer. He also spent his first summer after starting law school in Tokyo at Nishimura & Asahi, one of Japan's largest domestic law firms.
The Darrow gave Longarini the flexibility to follow his dreams and informed his approach to the law and his career. "It helped me decide to do what I wanted without practicing in the U.S. first, which was something I had no interest in. At my firm, I've continued to pursue the sorts of projects that interest me rather than those that might look most impressive on a future resume, which has helped me carve out a niche in an area of law I actually enjoy without the disruption of switching to another firm or moving in-house. Without the Darrow Scholarship, I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to spurn conventional wisdom and do what I wanted."
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