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Jack Petroskey spent a few years working in politics before heading to Wayne Law School.

– Photo courtesy of Jack Petroskey

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

While a student at Novi High School, Jack Petroskey participated in a Mock Trial Competition in a business law class.

“I performed well, and it was the first school project I really enjoyed,” said Petrosky, now a student at Wayne Law School. “I remember thinking at the time this was a career path I should pursue and I went into college with law school as my goal.”   

Petroskey also became passionate about politics during his high school years.

“I was very against the Iraq War and I found myself very inspired by then-Senator Obama and his vision of America,” he said.    

While taking undergraduate clalsses at Michigan State University, where he studied political science and pre-law, Petroskey got to know people who were involved in local politics, and did some political volunteer work.

During his senior year, Petroskey interned for Congressman John Dingell in Washington, D.C.

“I intended to go to law school directly after that internship, but one thing led to another, and I spent the next four years working in politics,” he said.

Petroskey worked as a staff aide to Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly in D.C.; a regional organizer for Mark Schauer’s gubernatorial campaign; field director/finance assistant for
Illinois Congressman Mike Noland; and as a campaign manager for Dan Scripps’s run for state representative.   

“I wouldn’t trade my time working in politics for anything,” Petroskey said. “I worked for candidates and officials of varying levels of preeminence and from across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic Party, but they all shared the common belief that regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity, America is a place where all people are provided dignity and the opportunity to live a good and prosperous life.    

“I’m very proud I can say I spent my early and mid 20s working toward turning that belief into government policy. I plan to remain involved, but I’ve no ambitions to run for office in the near future.”    

During his undergraduate years, Petroskey had the opportunity to study at the international Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

“It was a great experience, because it exposed me to ideas about criminal justice that really don’t exist in the United States,” he said.

Petroskey is now in his 3L year at Wayne Law.

“Attending Wayne Law has been best decision I’ve made in my life by a long shot,” he said. “I’ve made a ton of great friends and I’ve met all sorts of great people. The school has also provided me with tons of opportunities and training. I’m confident Wayne Law has given me the skills to be a successful attorney.”

He and classmate Shaunte Wilcher organized the student chapter of the American Constitution Society at Wayne after it had lain dormant for several years.

“It’s been a great experience,” Petroskey said. “We’ve been able to bring in speakers like Barb McQuade to speak to the student body, and we were able to attend the student convention in Chicago.”

Other activities include a stint as a representative on the student board of governors, being an in-house competition winner in Mock Trial and serving as Note & Comments Editor for the Wayne Law Review. The latter two, he noted, have helped build his skills as an attorney.

“Mock Trial was a ton of fun, because I was able to compete with my classmates,” he said. “Law Review made me a better legal writer. And serving as a representative on the student board of governors was a great way to stay involved with school and try to help the student body where it was possible.”   

An externship with U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow was the first time Petroskey felt like a lawyer.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any attorneys, so my time at the federal courthouse was the first time I was exposed to the professional legal community,” he said.

“I was able to work with smart and capable clerks and externs, and it was the first time I got to work on complex legal matters. My time there has helped me a great deal in the positions I’ve had since.

“Moreover, I was really inspired by Judge Tarnow, particularly by his conduct in criminal proceedings. He went above and beyond to make sure defendants were treated with dignity when they were in his courtroom, and he held the government to a high standard. That really earned my admiration.”

Petroskey recently worked as a summer associate at Kemp Klein Law Firm in Troy.

“I loved the freedom and variety of work Kemp Klein provided me,” he said. “In just a few short months, I was able to work on tax issues, real estate transactions, real estate litigation, estate litigation, and business planning issues, among other areas of the law. I really value that kind of diversity of work, because as a young attorney, I don’t know what I don’t know.

“Kemp is a place where I’ll be able to learn from experienced attorneys, and I’m really excited to work there after graduation.”

The Novi native, who now calls Royal Oak home, enjoys playing chess in his free time, and also is a big sports fan.

“I cheer for all professional Detroit sports and Michigan State athletics as well,” he said.

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