Peter Starr decided to become a lawyer after working at a two-person, country law firm the summer after his freshman year in college. Having grown up in Georgia and gone to college in Alabama, Starr had no idea that he would end up at Michigan, but he at least knew that he wanted to attend law school.
Starr applied to all of the top 10 law schools and received scholarship offers from three of them, including a Darrow Scholarship from Michigan Law. When he visited the Law School during Preview Weekend, Starr was impressed by the warm and collegial atmosphere and felt a connection with other students and professors, whom he describes as smart without taking themselves too seriously.
The Right Fit
"It's cliché to say that Michigan was the right fit, but I had visited other schools and didn't feel as comfortable as I did here," Starr said. "Whatever the admissions people do to get Preview Weekend to coincide with the Student Funded Fellowships Auction is a good move. My first night at Michigan, I saw Dean Z [Sarah Zearfoss, '92] and Dean Evan Caminker dancing on tables, riling up the bidders to go higher. It was an awesome atmosphere. After the Preview visit, it was a done deal that I was coming here."
Starr wasn't disappointed with his choice. The faculty, he said, "are great folks, down to earth and approachable" and showed concern for him in his day-to-day studies. They were also instrumental in guiding him through the clerkship process. The students, too, left an impression on Starr. He met "lifelong friends" at Michigan thanks to his involvement in numerous activities and student groups. He took the Child Advocacy Law Clinic, served on the Michigan Law Review, took up ice fishing as a member of the Environmental Law Society, played on the Law School hockey team (called the Ambulance Chasers), and was the drummer for Michigan Law's rock band TJ Hooper and the Learned Hands.
Practical Legal Experience
Following law school, Starr served as a law clerk to the Hon. Edward E. Carnes at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which includes the jurisdictions of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The clerkship provided Starr with practical legal experience and exposed him to a variety of cases. "The first week I was there I was involved with a big insurance class action," Starr said. "Our court handles everything from death penalty cases to administrative appeals, and as a law clerk, I was exposed to the whole gamut." It was also an excellent introduction to the practice of law. As Starr described it, "the Eleventh Circuit is made up of top-flight judges who take their constitutional responsibilities very seriously and it was an honor to be a part of that, if only temporarily."
What He's Doing Now
When Starr's clerkship ended in September 2014, he began practicing as an associate at the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Davis Polk is one of the world's premier law firms, and Starr's practice thus far has focused on commercial litigation. One of his first cases was a high-stakes international arbitration involving a global telecommunications company operating in Latin America, which enabled him to utilize his fluent Spanish-language skills.
Starr said his Michigan Law education prepared him well for his role at Davis Polk, a firm that attracts some of the brightest legal minds. "Coming from Michigan and especially having had the Darrow Scholarship, I never feel outshined and always feel confident to tackle whatever legal problems I'm dealing with," he said. "If you can compete at Michigan, you can compete anywhere."
Story written by Lori Atherton.
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