Building blocks: Civil engineer now pursuing a career in legal profession


Wayne Law student Cassandra Lee-Casner and her husband, Garrett Vincent-Casner, at Belle Isle in Detroit.
– Photo courtesy of Cassandra Lee-Casner

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Always artistic, Cassandra Lee-Casner started college with the aim of becoming an art teacher, but after working at a summer camp realized a career with children was not her passion.

Her best friend reminded her of an AutoCAD class she enjoyed in high school, especially an assignment to design the first-floor plan of a home.

“This was a great solution to combine my love of art with a viable career path,” she says. “Once I graduated with my bachelor’s in architecture, I started working in the construction field and decided a master’s in civil engineering, where I focused on construction management, was a great next step.”

After working in the construction field for five years, she realized the projects she was working on were not possible without knowing some element of the law—such as building codes, permitting, zoning, and construction contracts.

“I didn’t feel I knew enough about the legal side of construction, and I wanted to know more,” she says. “Once I started law school, I realized the law touches on every aspect of life in some way. I’m passionate about the law because it’s mentally challenging and interesting.” 

Now in her final year at Wayne State University Law School, she has particularly appreciated the faculty. 

“Each professor I’ve had is extremely accomplished in his or her field of study, she says. “Most professors are also extremely passionate about the students and go out of their way to go above and beyond their teaching duties.” 

Lee-Casner’s career goal is to practice in commercial litigation. 

“I think construction and real estate litigation would bring together all my background and education,” she says. “However, I love the mental challenge of commercial litigation under any practice area. I’ve done work in copyright, malpractice, and contract law, and found each assignment very interesting.”

She spent this summer working in-person as a summer associate doing litigation at Clark Hill, and recently accepted full employment at the firm following graduation.

“I completed a number of research assignments on a variety of subjects. Clark Hill is an amazing firm, and I cannot speak highly enough of it. The attorneys were all extremely welcoming and supportive,” she says. “I enjoyed my time because of the people at the firm. It has such an amazing culture. The work was also very interesting and challenging.

“Some of the research I completed didn’t have a set answer, so I had to apply a number of different rules to figure out how a judge would likely decide.” 

Her role as editor-in-chief for Wayne’s Journal of Business Law is an excellent fit.

“I love that I’m continuing the legacy of a newer, but absolutely exceptional, journal,” she says. “I, along with my team, will select the associate editors for this coming school year as well as the articles we will publish. The associate editors are the ones who will continue the legacy of the Journal once I graduate, so I really enjoyed reading each of their applications and finding talented and committed individuals for the Journal.  Additionally, the articles are what will bring people to read the Journal.  It was really important to select articles that represent current trends and thoughts about the law.”

Lee-Casner enjoyed taking Mock Trial and Evidence together in fall 2019. 

“It was really cool seeing how concepts and rules learned in the classroom applied to real-life scenarios,” she says. “It was also really fun to compete and to find arguments for cases that seemed straightforward.  If my teammate and I were able to get in/out certain evidence, we were able to push our narrative of the facts. Mock Trial really enforced how important every piece of evidence is to a trial.”

A member of Women’s Law Caucus since 1L, she says it has been an amazing group of uplifting women from the very first day.

“Many of my closest friends are also members,” she says. “It’s great to have a community of women who support each other during the struggles of law school and who understand what it’s like to be a woman in law.” 

Going to class via Zoom during the pandemic is a bit of a struggle, she notes.

“There are sometimes technology glitches, and it’s easy to get distracted when my adorable cats are trying to get into my lap,” she says. “There are positives to the current situation, though. I’m also able to eat healthier. I don’t worry about making it to class on time, and I don’t have to worry about finding a good parking space in the parking structure. I also have a great support system at home, which I’m very grateful for.”  

A native of Grand Blanc south of Flint, Lee-Casner purchased a historic house in Detroit, near the Rosedale Park neighborhood. She recently married her partner of five years, Garrett Vincent-Casner, and the two are proud “pet parents” to two cats. 

“The home is almost 100 years old. I find a lot of joy in renovating it and making it precisely my style,” she says. “Recently, I put in a new back patio, tiled the bathtub surround, and started painting the exterior. It ‘s a lot of work but a lot of fun to see it all come together in the end.” 

She also is close to her parents and three sisters, as well as eight nieces and nephews.

“Holidays can be very noisy,” she says with a smile.

In her leisure time, she enjoys snowboarding, weightlifting, and drawing—anything from fine-art-type drawing to architecturally drafting new design ideas for the house. 

“Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies,” she says.  “I have a lovely flower garden in the front of my house, which has been a joy to watch this summer during COVID.”