Reeling in a career: Law student is an avid fly fisherman


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
A native of Cheboygan County, just south of the Mackinac Bridge, Ben King has been an avid backwoodsman all his life.

“I love to bow hunt, and fly fishing is one of my greatest passions,” he says. “When I was young I never thought I'd be interested in law school. I always thought I would be a conservation officer or fisheries biologist.”

But at Alma College, where he earned his undergrad degree, magna cum laude, in political science and environmental studies, King quickly found wildlife conservation requires more skills than knowing how to walk in the woods and splash around “Who would have thought you'd need to know about chemistry and calculus to study fish and bears?" he says.
Realizing he liked working with people and helping them understand complex issues, especially those regarding the environment, King turned his sights to a career in environmental law.

Although he also applied to schools in Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, King ultimately chose Wayne so that he could stay in the Great Lakes State and so that he could experience life in the Motor City.

“It's been a unique experience I moved from a place with rich natural resources and very few people to one with lots of people and very few natural resources, and I had to adapt to my new environment,” he says.
“Wayne has taught me to advocate for myself, which will be a useful skill when I need to advocate for others.”

A student attorney at the Free Legal Aid Clinic of Detroit Inc., King also serves as chairman of the board. When he began working there, he found he liked working with people who are unable to help themselves.

“I've had an incredible support system all of my life loving parents, sweet siblings and growing up in Cheboygan I had an entire network, a whole community of friends and neighbors who were always there for me,” he says. “When I started working at FLAC I realized there are very few people that have been as fortunate as me. It's been such a pleasure and honor to work with attorneys who try and bring that stability and support to those that need it.”

His work has included managing family and elder law cases and performing client intakes; helping clients obtain Personal Protection Orders; drafting last will and testaments, ladybird deeds, and powers of attorney; preparing demand letters and negotiating with landlords regarding housing issues; and appearing in the Third Circuit Court of Wayne County on behalf of clients.

His additional duties as chairman of the board include overseeing the organization; supervising and mentoring student attorneys; and administering daily office operations, while continuing to maintain a family and elder law caseload.

When he graduates next May, King would like to continue working in this field.

“I have so much respect and admiration for attorneys that work in legal services,” he says. “I've also found they are kind and caring people I think folks like that make excellent coworkers and colleagues."

As Sustainability Chair of the school's Environmental Law Society, King has been working with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center this semester.

“It's allowed me to reconnect with the environmental issues that drove me to law school,” he says. “I sort of lost touch with environmental concerns during my first two years, but being involved with the GLELC has allowed me to work on issues that are important to me. It's also been a lot of fun working with attorneys who are knowledgeable and passionate about our environment and natural resources.”

He also spent 18 months as a research assistant working on international law issues.

“I hadn't had a whole lot of exposure to that area, and I learned a lot about issues and ideas I wouldn't have otherwise,” he says.

Before law school, King spent three years as a park ranger at Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park near Mackinaw City, where he organized timber collecting and harvesting operations, participated in invasive species control projects, and operated and maintained an 18th century water-powered saw mill.

“It was a blast," he says. "My favorite memories are actually those I made as a visitor of the park. In the offseason I spent and still spend a lot of time hunting and fishing. Over the years I've seen an awful lot of wildlife there black bears, coyotes, foxes, badgers, bobcats, countless songbirds and birds of prey. I've always viewed Mill Creek as my own kind of private wilderness, but I realize others share it with me. When I worked there that idea really resounded within me.”

As much as King enjoys living in Detroit, his native north country beckons, and he would eventually like to move back home to Michigan's Shoreline County.”

“In the interim I'll make do.  I can be found fly fishing on Belle Isle in my free time,” he says.