Puzzle solver: Wayne Law alumna relishes the challenges of law career

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Photo courtesy of Monica Batsford

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

After earning her undergrad degree in Latin American studies and political science from Eastern Michigan University, with a minor in Spanish, Monica Batsford explored several career opportunities, and created her own position as an English teacher in Brazil and Spain.

“I went to Madrid with absolutely zero expectations about what it would be like to teach someone who did not speak the same language as me,” she says. “My students were wonderful, and I enjoyed hearing their stories. It was incredibly satisfying to watch someone learn how to communicate, find their words and even their personality in a new language.”

“Working for myself meant I really had to dive in and look for my own students—answering a lot of adverts, getting lost, learning the language and the culture, selling myself as the best teacher for them and developing lesson plans,” she adds. “It was quite an adventure! I learned so much about myself in the process and what I was truly capable of. I don’t know if I would have had the courage and self-assuredness to apply to law school if it were not for my experiences in these countries.” 

Batsford headed to Wayne State University Law School in 2015, and graduated earlier this year.

“I always wanted to be a lawyer, even when I really didn’t know what that meant,” she says. “I saw the practice of law as understanding how our society works and how to use the system to help those in need.
“Under it all, I like a good mystery. I see law as constantly working out a puzzle, and it sounded like an amazing way to spend my career.”

A highlight of her time at Wayne Law was Moot Court.

“I had a wonderful team—everyone worked hard and supported one another,” she says. “That hard work paid off, and we took second place Brief at regionals and third place overall. It was one of my proudest moments in law school.”

Her work at the law school’s Free Legal Aid Clinic, where she also served as secretary and gained experience sitting on the board of a nonprofit, provided extremely beneficial practical skills.

“I felt I was getting a first glance at what it would be like to be in a firm,” she says. “Since students run the program, it was up to us to make it a valuable experience. We communicated with clients, drafted motions and complaints and even went to court. It was probably the most practical law experience I had during law school.”

In her student years, Batsford aimed to get as much practical, hands-on work as possible, in order to get a good grasp of what a lawyer’s life is like.

“I got a taste of civil law practice and what a public interest attorney does with FLAC, how in-house counsel works during my externship at Trimas Corporation and later my summer internship at Kelly Services,” she says. “I was able to help local businesses and develop transactional legal skills at the Business and Community Law Clinic. I was able to get experience working in criminal law working for Wade Fink as a clerk. He was such an amazing mentor, I learned so much from him. I improved my research and writing substantially externing for Judge Tarnow and got to see how a federal court operates.   

“I’m really grateful for my opportunity to intern for Judge (Arthur) Tarnow,” she adds. “He was really hands-on, and he and his clerk did an amazing job making feel I was part of his chambers. I worked on memos and did research. I can’t emphasize enough how much this experience improved my writing. I owe Judge Tarnow and his clerks a great deal of thanks for all their help and support.”

Batsford, who also completed a research project on peace agreements and international law for Wayne Law Professor Gregory Fox, director of the Program for International Legal Studies, enjoyed her three years as a WSU “Warrior.”

“My classmates at Wayne Law have been so supportive, and I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve gained,” she says. 

“My professors have a real passion for teaching, and it really shows. In particular my corporate counsel Professor Susan Diehl and business and community law clinic Professor Anne Choike were great mentors and provided much needed guidance and support in navigating my post-law school life.  Career Services is also an amazing asset—they helped me and so many others through the scary process of navigating finding a job.”

In May, Batsford started clerking at Saurbier Law Firm in St. Clair Shores that specializes in family law, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and real estate law.

A resident of Berkley in Oakland County, Batsford has returned to her passion for running—“Which was woefully ignored during law school,” she says. “I also enjoy hiking and camping with my dog and husband, and I listen to podcasts in my spare time.”

Batsford, who grew up in Canton and Warren, enjoys exploring the Motor City and getting to know the different neighborhoods.

“The city has some real beauty, and I love discovering something new every time I’m down there,” she says. “Of course, I also love all the amazing restaurants!”



 

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