D.C. experience sparks student's passion for the law

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
   
In the summer of 2013, Connor Walby was a political intern for Congressman Mike Rogers in Washington, D.C. –  the same summer that Edward Snowden leaked thousands of NSA classified documents before fleeing the country.

As chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee of Intelligence, Rogers and his staff took the lead on addressing Snowden’s claims.    

“I quickly learned to work under strenuous conditions,” Walby said. ““Being a part of his office at that time exposed me to the inner-workings of D.C. politics, as well as the intelligence system. It was an immensely rewarding experience. It was in D.C. when I became interested in how the law is applied or interpreted.”      

Now wrapping up his second year at Wayne Law, Walby was a summer associate last year at Mantese Honigman in Troy, where a highlight involved drafting a motion for summary judgment that then was argued by lead-counsel in front of the client.    

“Applying the knowledge I acquired in law school to real cases was immensely fulfilling,” he said. “From day one, the team included me as one of its own and attorneys allowed me to work on a wide range of substantive projects, which furthered my understanding of the law and the trial process. My thoughts and opinions were always welcomed or
considered during pre-trial and trial discussions.”   

A Detroit native inherently drawn to the automotive industry and the Big Three, Walby is spending this summer at Bowman and Brooke, a products liability defense firm in Bloomfield Hills.

“Finding a law firm that merges my interest in law and automobiles is immensely unique,” Walby said. “I am fortunate to work with passionate and intelligent people at Bowman and Brooke.”     

According to Walby, his experience at Michigan State University’s James Madison College provided the tools and skill-sets to later succeed in law school.    

“The professors encouraged student-led discussions during class time,” he said. “This forced me to formulate arguments clearly and concisely.”     

A four-month internship in 2014 at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in Lansing demonstrated the intersection between the legal and business profession, where his department helped draft legislation to fund state-run programs supporting budding entrepreneurs.   

“The people I worked with were extremely motivated and passionate about Michigan’s social and economic rebirth,” Walby said. “I was allowed to sit-in on high-level meetings with senior management and periodically, I was encouraged to give my own input — something uncommon in other internships.”    

Walby’s time in the nation’s capital and at the MEDC finalized his decision to go to law school.

“I found that in any situation, a lawyer’s advice and counsel was routinely sought — I came to truly admire the knowledge, guidance, and critical thinking skills of the lawyers I interacted with,” he said.   

Walby has thoroughly enjoyed his first two years at Wayne Law. 

“I found Wayne has a unique mixture of students. It’s hard to find alumni that will not give back to the school, or the students, in one way or another,” he said. “I believe each student at Wayne is extremely passionate about the practice of law, a passion that brings a special chemistry between students and faculty.”   

As president of the Business and Entrepreneurial Law Society, (EBLS) he found both undergrad and law students were interested in the innovative businesses and developments taking shape across post-bankruptcy Detroit.

“Providing law students with the opportunity to speak with a local entrepreneurs or tour their facilities was rewarding,” he said.     

Walby spent four months in 2014 as campaign coordinator for the Campaign to Re-Elect State Representative Frank Foster in Michigan’s 107th district. The Republican was challenged in the primary for his proposal to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.     

“Our challenger — who won — disagreed with us regarding our proposed amendment.” Walby said. “It was a tough battle, but I believe we did the right thing: we stood for what we thought was right.”    

The Troy native, and graduate of Birmingham Brother Rice still makes his home in Troy and enjoys spending time with his family.

His brother, Chase, practices dentistry in downtown Rochester; his mother owns a woman’s boutique, the Peppertree, in downtown Rochester; his father works in the
automotive industry at Ryder Logistics.

“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family,” Walby said.   

Since moving back from East Lansing and Washington, D.C., Walby has enjoyed witnessing Detroit’s dramatic revival.

“Attending Wayne allows me to see Detroit’s comeback, firsthand,” he said. “I find it exciting to learn about a new venue or a development springing-up around Detroit — the entrepreneurial spirit around the city truly is remarkable.”  
 

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