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Wayne Law student earns fellowship  to work at UAW

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

The recipient of the Peggy Browning Summer Fellowship, Wayne Law student Jessica Hoyer will work as a law clerk for in-house legal staff at the United Auto Workers International Union headquarters in Detroit for 10 weeks. She will spend her summer conducting research, drafting briefs and accompanying staff lawyers to hearings and oral arguments.

“I still feel like I might be in shock about the fact that I’ve been given this fellowship, and I’ve known about it since March,” she says. “I’m definitely excited to be learning more about worker’s rights and labor law and to be working with like-minded people this summer.”

The Peggy Browning Fund is a nonprofit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, prominent labor attorney and member of the National Labor Relations Board. Among other things, the fund provides the Peggy Browning Fellowship Program for 1L and 2L students, with stipends to students who dedicate their summer to working for labor unions, worker centers, labor-related not-for-profit organizations, union-side law firms and other nonprofit organizations.

Hoyer is on familiar turf — several family members are or were auto factory employees and union members, and her father is a driver for Sysco — “and the hardest working person I know,” she says.

“My parents haven’t had it very easy over the years and their stories and struggles have taught me a lot about the value of hard work and perseverance.”

Hoyer’s career goal is to work in labor and employment law in some capacity, “although I don’t know that I have the intestinal fortitude to be a litigator,” she says. “But then again, I’ve surprised myself in the past, so we’ll see where life takes me.

“I’m a huge fan of research and writing, though, so any job that revolves primarily around obsessive researching would be a dream.”

After studying social work at Marygrove College, Hoyer changed her major to sociology with the eventual goal of law school.

“I decided to study law because its relationship to society is interesting to me – it both shapes and is shaped by history and culture,” she says.

Entering her third year at Wayne Law, she is thoroughly enjoying her studies.

“I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a lot of seriously intelligent people – professors and students alike. I’m grateful for that – and also humbled by it,” she says.

Last year, Hoyer worked on the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, where she helped prosecutors organize and develop cases stemming from more than 11,000 untested kits discovered in a storage warehouse.    

“Working there was honestly enjoyable – I learned a huge amount, and I had fun doing it,” she says. “I specifically requested to work on this Task Force, and doing so was a rewarding experience overall.”

She also enjoyed last year’s work at the school’s Disability Law Clinic.

“It exposed me to disability rights and issues, which I did not know a lot about prior to my work in the clinic,” she says. “The work also frequently forced me to push myself to think and act outside the box.”

Hoyer also served as associate editor for the Wayne Law Review.

“I love editing, honestly. I was editing papers for friends in undergrad and grad school, mostly for my own enjoyment, a long time before I got on Law Review,” she says. “I’m going to be a Note and Comment Editor next year, so I’m looking forward to reading and editing student papers.”

Hoyer is also involved in the National Lawyers Guild.

“I’ve met a lot of awesome students and attorneys through our student chapter,” she says. “The NLG was especially helpful in my 1L year. Meeting people who shared the same ideas and perspectives as me was relieving and helped stave off some of the shock of coming to law school straight out of undergrad.”

Hoyer, whose spare time pursuits include reading, exercising, camping, traveling, and sewing, finds the Detroit area is a great place to live.

“I love that there’s so much to do, both in the city and in surrounding areas. I have a big city in my backyard, but I also have access to lakes and nature trails within an hour of my house,” she says.

Until recently, she worked as a technician at Cameron’s Music in Livonia, a job she started at age 16.

“Cameron’s is a family business, and I really did end up becoming part of the family,” she says. “My job basically consisted of deconstructing, cleaning, and sometimes reconstructing student, professional, and vintage woodwind instruments so that they’d be prepped for major repairs or for rental and sale. It was hugely satisfying work, both as a job and a hobby, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up going back here and there to get some extra work done.”

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