Wertman Honoree


Detroit Mercy Law student awarded WBA scholarship

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Michelle Shember, a rising 2L at Detroit Mercy Law, is the first recipient of the Women’s Bar Association Sarah Killgore Wertman scholarship, named after the first female to graduate from law school in the late 1800s, and be admitted to the bar in Michigan. Shember received the $1,000 scholarship at the May 11 WBA Annual Meeting at the Birmingham Athletic Club.  
“It’s an honor to be recognized by such an inspiring group of women,” she says. “The Women’s Bar Association has been so welcoming, and I now have a network of experienced women I can turn to for advice. I’m very thankful for this award and I’m looking forward to my continued involvement with the WBA.”

Shember was attracted to law by a desire to work in a position where she would be challenged and have the opportunity to make an impact.

“I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’ve certainly got a lot of both during my first year of law school,” she says. “I love that I’m constantly learning something new.”

She appreciates the supportive community at Detroit Mercy Law.

“Our professors and advisors take the time meet with us and get to know us individually,” she says. “As students, we help each other and want to see each other succeed.”

She gained additional experience by volunteering as a student attorney at a clinic on employment discrimination, put on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights at the Pope Francis Warming Center.

Recently elected to the executive board of the Detroit Mercy Women's Law Caucus, she is proud of the way the student body works to challenge and encourage each other. The group is working to organize more volunteer opportunities and events in the coming year, to meet people working in the field.

Clerking for Chief Judge Denise Page Hood this summer, Shember is excited to see the day-to-day responsibilities of working at the U.S. District Court.

“I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to apply some of my research and writing skills to real cases and legal issues,” she says.

Prior to law school, Shember spent a year as a legal intern at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center in Kalamazoo.

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had,” she says. “The team was amazing and their work continues to inspire me. I had the opportunity to work directly with clients, in English and Spanish, through intake interviews, and I got to see the difference my work made in their lives. I also had the opportunity to help prepare asylum and refugee applications.

“I took this position to gain legal experience before law school, and it proved to be an exceptional insight into working as a lawyer and the importance of advocacy.”

Earning her undergrad degree in public relations and Spanish from Western Michigan University, she he spent four months in 2015 as a press intern at the Clinton Foundation in the New York City area.

“It was a great experience working with people from a variety of backgrounds and with people who are experts in their field,” she says. “I got to attend and help organize the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, an annual meeting for philanthropists and other NGOs to come together and discuss global issues and work toward solutions. And I got to meet President Bill Clinton on a few occasions—once at a Clinton Global Initiative event, and once when he spent an afternoon speaking to the intern class.”    

Her Spanish studies included a semester at the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, where one of the highlights was living with her host family.

“I got to see what daily life was like for someone who lived in Buenos Aires—studying in Argentina and being immersed in the language greatly improved my fluency in Spanish,” she says. “I also got to travel to Chile and Uruguay while I was there.”   

A native of White Lake in Oakland County, she now lives in Clawson, and in her leisure time enjoys travel, seeing live music, and spending time with family and friends.