Thursday Profile: Lauren London

London grew up in Alexandria, Va.,, and moved to Michigan with her husband in 2001. By day, she is associate general counsel for Eastern Michigan University, handling a wide variety of university matters, from contracts to regulatory compliance to litigation to intellectual property. She also handles special topics, including assisting EMU's Charter Schools Office with its work.

Before joining EMU, London worked for three years as assistant general counsel at Bosch, clerked for Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and practiced with the Dykema firm in Ann Arbor.

When not hanging out with her husband, Zach, and children, ages 10 and 6, London's evenings and weekends are devoted to The Penny Seats Theatre Company, which she co-founded in 2010. The company performs outdoor theatre at Ann Arbor's West Park every summer. It is primarily funded with donations and grants, so ticket prices are low. London serves as president, and handles administrative business.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Residence: Ann Arbor

What advice do you have for someone considering law school? First, insist on learning practical realities in addition to lofty legal theories. Starting a legal career is a bit like being thrust onto a stage without knowing your lines. You know you're going to have to wing it, and you're secretly terrified of being exposed as a fraud. Knowing important legal theories will certainly help, but it won't calm your nerves as much as understanding the way things work in practice. Also, be prepared for law school to change your plans a few times. There are far more things you can do with a law degree than you probably realize.

Favorite local hangouts: Sweetwaters Coffee on Washington St. (where I studied for the bar); Zingerman's Roadhouse (our favorite family dinner spot); Casa Dominick's; Bird Hills Park (for long walks where we get lost); Conor O'Neill's Irish Pub (the friendliest place in town); and Pacific Rim (where I insist my husband take me on my birthday every year).

Favorite websites:, and (where my husband publishes a new song each month).

Favorite app: We're in the middle of an (unplanned) home renovation, so Pinterest and Houzz leapt to the top of the pack. I love OpenTable for restaurant reservations, and Glympse for letting people know where I am.

Favorite music: Anything by Zach London. Otherwise, I've got eclectic music tastes: rock, alternative, pop, folk, bluegrass, and jazz.

What would surprise people about your job? The size of our EMU office staff; two full-time attorneys, paralegal, and administrative assistant. For a campus the size of EMU, we run a pretty tight ship.

What do you wish someone would invent? A teleporter.

How do you define success? I think success happens when you realize there's something you'd really love to do, figure out what it will take to do it, and then go out and do it. It's a marriage of hope, planning, and opportunity. The size of the project doesn't matter; the feeling of accomplishment does.

Why did you become a lawyer? I spent most of my childhood fighting the notion I might someday be a lawyer. It was my dad's job, thus boring by definition. I was pre-med in college, though that choice never felt quite right. After visiting a friend in law school and attending classes with her, I realized I loved the deductive reasoning processes at work in legal thought, and the constant balancing of interests that make up the common law. The intellectual exercise got me hooked. I also love to write; any job that let me do that for a living was sure to be a hit.

What's the most awe-inspiring place you've ever been? Last year, my husband and I went on a trip to Costa Rica. We biked, hiked, swam, and explored the rain forests. But the most incredible memory is of ziplining across an open valley, from one hilltop to another, at sunset. A huge mountain was in front of me, and-despite my terror at zinging along 600 feet up in the air-everything was suddenly so peaceful. It was just me and the mountain and the valley and the sunset. I'll never forget it.

What did you do last weekend? It was my daughter's birthday party, we hosted a roller skating party at Skatin' Station roller rink in Canton. It was great fun-nostalgic for some of the parents-and blessedly, no one got hurt.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? I would love to have a photographic (or at least a truly excellent) memory. I think it would make me a more effective person. I spend way too much time trying to remember things I know I've learned.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Listen more.

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer? I've had moments where the Michigan Supreme Court and federal appellate courts agreed with things I've written or said. Those were extremely proud moments for me.

How did you earn your first dollar? As a camp counselor at a day camp. I was 16, and it was a fun job.

What do you do to relax? We like to go for walks and bike rides around the local parks. We frequently have friends over and love to play board games. On a quiet morning, I love to read, and on occasion, I'll take myself out to a delicious breakfast-made by someone else.

How would you describe your home? Ha! Right now, it's a mess. Pipes burst over the winter and flooded the house. It's currently being put back together.

Any regrets? I often feel I over-schedule both myself and my kids. Sometimes it's nice to have some down time where we can just hang out together and get silly.

What word do you overuse? "And." I picked up the habit of starting sentences with it-which is correct, I promise-but my husband does not approve.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do? I'd love to learn to speak Spanish. I had fun learning French in school, but Spanish would be really useful.

What do you drive? A 2011 Mazda CX-9. I love its versatility. The gas mileage, not so much.

What is your motto? Be kind. Always.

Published: Thu, Apr 02, 2015

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