Students race to raise philanthropy awareness

By Jordan Poll
U-M?Law

Amid the fall semester hustle and bustle of law school, it can be easy for students to overlook the role that philanthropy plays in day-to-day life at the University of Michigan Law School.

Each October, however, the Nannes 3L Challenge keeps the importance of private support front and center.

Every fall, 3Ls and LLMs partake in the Nannes 3L Challenge to spread awareness of private support by celebrating, participating in, and teaching one another about the vital role it plays in the Michigan Law experience.

Through the Challenge —conceived and funded by John Nannes, a partner in Skadden Arp’s Washington, D.C., office — students pledge to make a gift to the law school in each of the first four years after they graduate.

In exchange for each student’s pledge, Nannes will give $250 to their chosen Law School student organization(s).

This year, the Nannes 3L Challenge theme was inspired by the classic detective board game, Clue.

There is even legal trivia woven into the layers of this mystery that only 3Ls can solve. To get their clues, they must first take the Challenge by making a pledge.

Then they must work with their section cohorts to deduce the true culprit, weapon, and place where the crime was committed in order to find the key to free Senior Assistant Dean Zearfoss before it is too late.

“It was easy to say yes because of the uniqueness of the initiative and the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said 3L Edna Turay, co-chair of the Nannes 3L Challenge Committee and senior editor of the Michigan Law Review.

Turay said the student organizations she supports receive substantial funding each year from the Challenge, “and, as a direct beneficiary, I know firsthand how crucial this funding is to the survival, effectiveness, and operation of student organizations.

“How could I not be involved in ensuring its successful future by taking the Challenge?”

Building awareness of the Law School Fund’s importance is another key goal of the Nannes 3L Challenge.

The Law School Fund, which is the school’s annual source of expendable support, sustains many aspects of Michigan Law life, including scholarships, summer fellowships, experiential learning opportunities, faculty recruitment and retention, and student organizations.

The Nannes 3L Challenge seeks to introduce soon-to-be alumni to the prospect of philanthropy in hopes that they continue the time-honored tradition as so many have before them.

“So much of what I get to do here is because of the generosity of those who came before me,” said 3L Hannah Rubashkin, development editor of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform and co-chair of the Nannes 3L Challenge Committee.

“The Challenge is a great way to get students thinking about giving back to the Law School,” she said “As I see it, philanthropy is one way for us — even now — to be responsible for ourselves and the interests we pursue here. I enjoy participating in the Challenge and educating my classmates about it because supporting the work of others betters us as a whole.”

Her fellow co-chair, 3L Akash Patel, added: “If we can create a culture among law students that giving back to the law school also means giving back to each other, then we can get more students and alumni excited about participating.”

The Challenge is not only a race to convince friends to commit and provide their favorite organizations with much-needed funding.

It also is one more platform for old rivalries to come out of the shadows and compete for both bragging rights and the title of “best section.”

Which section will catch the culprit? Does Section EFGH have it in the bag with Professor Richard Friedman and mistakenly emailing Law Open under the arches? Or perhaps Section MNOP will be victorious by pinning it on Professor Barbara McQuade with a bluebook in upper Aikens Commons?

In addition to Patel, Rubashkin, and Turay, this year’s Nannes committee includes 3Ls Hanna Ali, Emily Baxter, Michael Block, Hunter Davis, Kristin Froehle, Josh Goldman, Anna Hall, Kaley Hanenkrat, Jacob Itzkowitz, Micah Telegen, Hinh Tran, Carolina Velarde, and Marques Winick, and 2Ls Gregg Coughlin, Donya Khadem and Conor Rubin.

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