Former journalist drawn to education law

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from MSU Law

A former journalist, Mary Bradley has always understood the impact of our freedom of speech.

She studied journalism at Murray State University – where she wrote for the college’s student newspaper and took several political science and law courses – and after completing her degree, she worked for the USA Today Network. As someone who enjoyed and was trained in writing and research, law school seemed the natural next step for her to take.

“Going into law school, I was like, ‘Writing – I can do it. It should transition great’,” she said. “I fooled myself. I was used to a very particular type of writing, so once I got into RWA, I was like, ‘Wait, this is much different’.”

Bradley took advantage of numerous opportunities in law school to prepare for her future legal career – from Moot Court to International Law Review, Women’s Law Caucus, local internships, and more.

“When I was in undergrad, one thing that I really learned about myself is that I really thrived in extra-curriculars,” she explained. “I like classes a lot – they’re very informative – but I think being able to have that interactive side or the ability to get hands-on learning experience was fundamental to my learning.”

At the top of her list of experiences are participating in the First Amendment Law Clinic and working with the McLellan Online Free Speech Library at MSU Law, both led by Professor Nancy Costello. One of the First Amendment Law Clinic’s focuses is educating others about their right to free speech, including hosting workshops to teach high school students and aspiring journalists.

“As I went through law school and got into the clinic, I worked with Professor Costello a lot and with a couple other students who were involved as well,” Bradley said. “I admired that she was always busy, trying to help her students or trying to help MSU – she is so passionate about it. I couldn’t help but be inspired and kind of want to be like her.”

“Being able to develop that connection and work with somebody who I really admired in a lot of different ways was super important to me and I will always appreciate everything that she helped me with over the past three years,” she added.

Today, Bradley is an associate at Collins & Blaha P.C. in Farmington Hills, and her practice is primarily in labor and employment and education law. The latter being an area that she hadn’t realized she’d already been doing for years, and a practice she was eager to continue.

“Student speech really snuck up on me, and I shouldn’t be surprised as I am. I was involved when I was younger: I did morning broadcast when I was in grade school; and in college I was on the newspaper; I did the First Amendment Clinic in law school. It’s all student speech,” she said. “When I was looking for things to apply to and I saw education law, it all kind of clicked in that moment. I’ve been doing education law stuff for forever!”

Her passion was underscored when she served as the selected student speaker at the Class of 2021’s Commencement ceremony.

“It was unreal to be involved in that,” she said. “I’ve always really liked Commencement speeches for some reason. I think I gave the Commencement speech in fifth grade and middle school. It was just one of those things where I was like, ‘I don’t know why I’m so drawn to this, I just am.’”

Bradley’s speech touched on the difficulties of completing her final year of law school away from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she shared stories and memories made with her peers. In closing her speech, she offered her fellow members of the Class of 2021 this final message:

“Before us lie new opportunities and a new world. With the wind at our backs, we know that regardless of any challenge we face, we still have each other, we have our degrees, and we have hope. With that, we can do anything.
As lawyers, leaders, and Spartans, we will.”


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