Working for justice BLSA president to use the law as a vehicle for change

When Victoria McCaskey was growing up, her friends wanted to be dentists, police officers and psychologists. She was the only one who wanted to be a lawyer.

"At that time, I didn't know why, as most children don't," she said. "As I got older, though, I became more exposed to the sad truths of injustice and disparities among people of different social economic backgrounds, and I knew I wanted to use the law as a vehicle for change."

After majoring in political science and African-American Studies at the University of Michigan, she chose Wayne Law to pursue her career goal because of its location in a city that she felt mirrored her hometown of Flint.

"I felt I could be submersed into the world of law and the city of Detroit, combining both to be an effective advocate for impoverished and underrepresented minorities here in the city," she said. "Wayne Law is big enough to provide numerous resources for each student's interest, yet small enough to foster a sense of family and community support."

McCaskey has found that community support in the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), a group that she heads up this year as president.

"BLSA created a familial environment for me, with members sharing in my tears and frustrations that come with being a first-year student, and older members giving me words of encouragement when I needed them," she said. "I look back now, and see that my first year would have been far more difficult had I not joined BLSA."

But the group has been more than that to McCaskey -- it's been an inspiration. "Since joining BLSA, I have learned the world can never have enough lawyers who advocate for those who can't advocate for themselves," she said. "Now more than ever, I have a strong desire to join the legal community of Detroit, serving as a resource for young black law students, just as the black Detroit legal community has done for me."

This year, BLSA members have volunteered their time to assist a number of Detroit organizations including the Detroit Rescue Mission, Greening of Detroit and the Detroit Adopt-A-Child Program. This semester, BLSA members will partner with Western High School's "Gear Up" program, which aims to help Detroit high school students succeed in high school and matriculate to college, as well as with Wayne Law's Jewish Law Student Association and Middle East Law Student Association on a three-part cross-cultural museum visit program.

McCaskey, a recipient of the Judges Leona and Leonia Lloyd Twins for Justice Endowed Scholarship, has gotten a good taste of the wide range of career opportunities within the law as a result of several summer work experiences. During the past summer, she was an intern at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with Magistrate Judge Mark Randon. Before that she spent summers with the Plunkett Cooney Law Firm and the State of Michigan Attorney General's Office, both in Detroit.

She is still undecided about what practice area she will settle on but she is certain about one thing: "I want to spend my career practicing civility, working for justice and serving my community."

Published: Mon, Feb 21, 2011