UDM: or How I Learned to Go to Class and Love Detroit.
Well I’m really glad I didn’t sign up for more credits. The first 2 weeks of the semester were busy! My classes are off to a good start. I have a variety of really interesting professors who know their subject area really well. Best of all they all enjoy teaching and working with students. In addition to this SBA (Student Bar Association) activities are kicking off for the semester and I’ve joined a local ski league. Lastly the memorials (submissions) for the Niagara Moot Competition are due soon so our team is hard at work on writing them. Oh and can’t forget the bar and job applications!
Our Cross Border class this semester is being tag taught by a UDM Professor and a practitioner from Windsor to help us achieve a balanced and nuanced understanding. It’s a great example of how the Dual JD program has, and continues to, develop teaching methods designed to teach both legal systems in a way focused on preparing us to work in an international market.
Given the low pass rate of the most recent Michigan bar, my Bar Exam Essay Strategies course is packed. I hadn’t initially planned on taking any bar prep courses while in school. Given how much I have learned in just the first 2 weeks I am really glad that scheduling had other plans. The course provides a quick review of major areas on the Michigan Bar essay section and how to best structure and write your essays. We write and submit a practice question each week.
My last class is on the Windsor side and there are only 6 of us. It’s titled “War of Armed Conflicts” but is actually more international human rights law. It’s not quite what I was hoping for in terms of subject area, but is unintentionally all Dual JD students and so far has made for excellent discussions.
As far as SBA goes the 3L day class held a welcome back social last week which I unfortunately didn’t make it out to and our Dual JD class reps are working to put together a group event for this semester as well as our 3L graduation party.
My favourite thing so far this semester is that I finally found a place to ski. I grew up skiing and coached all through my undergraduate degree. Giving up skiing for law school was a tough choice. For those of you not from the area, southern Ontario is pretty flat and Michigan is only marginally better. Most of the ski hills top out at under 600 ft of vertical. Over the break I decided to try and find a place to go and stumbled upon the Adult Racing League at Mt. Holly. So now, every Monday night I drive 45 minutes to the edge of the city for a great night of racing, and a much needed break from school.
The first night I showed up without a team and was greeted by a typical dose of Michigan hospitality. Within 5 minutes I was on a team, being introduced to everyone, and had an invite to the bar for après ski.
When I first tell people I go to school in Detroit the reactions tend to range from curiosity to outright fear. I got warned prior to starting here to lock my car doors and not stop at stop signs. The reality couldn’t be more different. The Detroit area is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever lived. I’m not claiming its perfect or crime free, but people are really friendly! People actually smile and say hello on the street. There is a lot of poverty and definitely some not so nice neighbourhoods and gang violence, but by and large the spirit of the city shines through.
Detroit was a beautiful city and no amount of poverty or graffiti can destroy the majesty of buildings in the downtown core. With the exodus from the city to the suburbs living downtown is actually affordable and the empty space is creating a world of new opportunities for corporate development and creative endeavours. With the frequent lack of government ability to address problems due to budget restraints Detroit has developed many grassroots movements and community groups to address issues in the city. Urban gardening? New artistic space in city parks? Community festivals? Cutting edge start-ups? Detroit has it and more. Even after 2 years I am constantly finding out and learning about new opportunities the area has to offer. This week skiing, next week who knows.