Law student studied and worked in Poland

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A 3L student in her "home stretch" at Michigan State University College of Law, Emily Jefferson has been to Poland twice: for a Comparative European Union and United States Law study abroad program at a law school in Bialystok, and as a legal extern for the Instytut Allerhanda, a multinational NGO in Krakow.

For the Spring 2014 study abroad program, Jefferson spent six weeks in Poland.

"It was a treat in itself, but I really enjoyed getting to know the Polish law students and learning about their legal system and law school experience," she says. "It's fascinating to compare the two systems. I even picked up a little bit of the language. I also really enjoyed the work I drafted the copyright section of a guide for non-U.S. entrepreneurs to start or move their business to the U.S."

Her four-month externship for the Instytut earlier this year involved research on international legal issues, including corporate mobility and intellectual property law; and drafting of legal memoranda in preparation for future publication by the Instytut. She also gave a presentation on tax inversions to Polish law students and professionals, contributed to a multinational guide for entrepreneurs on incorporation and IP protections, and spoke at a presentation on corporate mobility.

"Living in Krakow and working with foreign attorneys was a great experience, and I enjoyed learning about Polish and EU law," she says.

Jefferson started her legal career path by earning an associate's degree in victimology, liberal arts, and criminal psychology from Northern Virginia Community College, and an undergrad degree in Administration of Justice from George Mason University, with a concentration in criminal justice, and a minor in psychology.

After graduation, she worked as a Special Investigator for KeyPoint Government Solutions, retained by the Office of Personnel Management conducting security clearance investigations for the federal government.

Interested in international law and policy, Jefferson says she chose MSU College of Law, where she received a Trustee Award Scholarship, because of its well-respected international law programs.

Although she had previously set her career sights on becoming a prosecutor, when she got to law school and learned about different career paths, corporate and transactional law and intellectual property law caught her focus.

Currently assisting legal writing Professor Jeremy Francis by developing examples of grammatical rules for use in student writing workshops and helping to update and improve a legal writing textbook, Jefferson previously worked as a research assistant for Professor Hannah Brenner. She conducted research as part of an interdisciplinary team of professionals and students identifying civil rights issues in case files from a recent class action settlement against the Michigan Department of Corrections.

"Working with Professor Brenner was incredible," Jefferson says. "It was inspiring and very motivating to work with such a dedicated, compassionate team."

As Executive Editor for the MSU Law Journal of Animal & Natural Resources Law, Jefferson develops and administers the journal admission process that includes developing and grading the citation exam, promoting the journal within the Law School community, and planning orientation for new journal members.

The Journal board recently had the opportunity to attend a conference in the nation's capital with Animal Law Professor David Favre; and the Journal recently held an orientation for new members.

"It was great to lead the process and welcome our new staff," she says. "I'm looking forward to Volume X."

Jefferson has thrown herself into Spartan life in many other ways. As Vice President of Communications for the MSU Law chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, she has facilitated educational events on a variety of topics including legislation and policies in Michigan regulating HIV treatment and criminalization of pregnancy. She has served as a Student Ambassador for the Careers Services Office and is a member of LegalRnD, dedicated to technology and innovation in the legal field. In 2013, she volunteered for the Genocide Education Mandate Project at MSU Law's Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children.

During a summer externship at the Ingham County Probate Court in Lansing, Jefferson conducted evaluations of existing guardianships for legally incapacitated persons or minors and investigated new guardianship or conservatorship applications, conducted legal research, observed and assisted in court proceedings, testified at hearings regarding findings of evaluations and investigations and provided the probate judges with recommendations.

"It was great experience speaking to court and working with judges and attorneys," she says. "It was also exciting to be working in a courtroom, and the judges were very approachable and willing to answer questions."

Previously a law clerk for family law and estate planning attorney Elias Kafantaris in Lansing, Jefferson now clerks part-time at Murphy & Spagnuolo, P.C., in East Lansing. She went to a trial in June, and has worked on cases covering a wide range of topics, from drafting pleadings and discovery responses in insurance defense litigation to drafting contracts and other agreements to conducting legal research to advise clients on a course of action.

"I like the variety, and it has helped me to narrow my focus to corporate and intellectual property law," she says. "I also really appreciate how approachable and patient the attorneys are with me."

A native of the nation's capital, Jefferson now enjoys living in a state capital, although she has not yet had the opportunity to explore the Wolverine state beyond Lansing. A self-professed "foodie" who loves trying different kinds of food, she also enjoys travel, plays on an MSU IM soccer team, and cheers for the Spartan football team.

"There's a lot to do, even outside the MSU community," she says. "And after attending a commuter school for undergraduate, I enjoy the Big Ten atmosphere."

Published: Thu, Dec 03, 2015

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