Law students testify on unemployment overhaul

By Mark Rivett
University of Michigan

When Rep. Joe Graves wanted to fix the Michigan unemployment insurance system that wasn’t working, he called on the experts from the University of Michigan Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic to help. Graves assembled a bi-partisan workgroup that included Clinic Director and Clinical Assistant Professor Steve Gray and law student members of the MLAW Clinic.

Seventeen members of the workgroup representing both employers, claimants and the Unemployment Insurance Agency collaborated to craft legislation to address problems with the existing system. In October 2017 eight bills were introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives. Two weeks later those bills passed the House with unanimous support.
A month later those same bills unanimously passed the Michigan Senate. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in December 2017.

Gray made note of the Clinic’s participation in the process.

“What a great experience for law students to be a part of this unique bi-partisan lawmaking workgroup and to be involved at every stage of the process to help fix serious problems that impact so many families in financial crisis across the state,” said Gray. “Clinic faculty and students were involved in research, analysis and bill drafting as well as legislative committee testimony to support the legislative fixes.”

Gray has proposed a policy clinic course for students. His proposal was approved by the University of Michigan Law School, and the course will be offered in fall 2018.