Law student aims for career in litigation

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Michelle Champane’s father gave up his dreams of a law career when his help was needed in the family business. But his daughter picked up the legal torch and will graduate this spring from Wayne State University Law School.

Three years of law clerk experience have taught Champane how to apply classroom knowledge to real-world issues. She clerked at the Law Office of Alan Lowenthal in Grosse Pointe, Stillman Law Offices in Farmington Hills, Orlans and Associates in Troy, and Resnick Law PC in Bloomfield Hills before her current position at Kitch, Drutchas, Wagner, Valitutti, & Sherbrook in Detroit.

With a hefty workload and pressing deadlines from the get-go at Kitch, Champane quickly learned to refine her project and time management skills.

“I learned a great deal simply by being thrown into various preparation assignments,” she says. “And I have been tremendously lucky to have attorneys and support staff go out of their way to teach me the ropes and answer my questions.”

Her team recently had two trials start back-to-back in early March.

“My most gratifying experience as a law clerk was watching all of my team’s hard work unfold throughout both trials.”

Her time at Kitch has made Champane recognize that litigation is her niche.

“I couldn’t imagine spending the beginning of my career in a different area of law,” she says.

In her view, law students should seize every opportunity to work as law clerks in order to acquire a cohesive understanding of how everything fits together.

“I’m a very hands-on learner – I learn best when I have the opportunity to apply the information discussed in class,” she explains. “Fortunately, I’ve had ample opportunities to do so as a clerk. I truly feel prepared to represent clients once I graduate and pass the bar.”

Champane got some taste of the law while earning her undergrad degree in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University, where she served on the MSU Judicial Board responsible for overseeing and deciding the appeals processes for students who got in trouble in Residence Halls; and she served on the James Madison College Student Senate.

“James Madison College was truly an invaluable experience – it taught me to consider the validity of all possible answers and outcomes to an issue, and to challenge the validity of my own opinions and beliefs,” she says. “I graduated with a very holistic approach to problem solving.”

At Wayne Law, she enjoyed her five months as a student attorney in the Business and Community Law Clinic, where, under the direction of Professor Eric Williams, students help entrepreneurs start, re-organize, or dissolve business ventures.

“I’ve always been inspired by my dad’s creativity as a businessman and entrepreneur, which is why I find myself attracted to entrepreneurship law,” she says.

She also enjoyed the Moot Court experience, serving as Chancellor in her 3L year.

“I forced myself to try out for Moot Court as a 1L because oral advocacy was something that terrified me,” she says. “I hated speaking in front of groups. But I knew that facing my fears for the first time in law school would be much less daunting than doing so in front of an actual judge in practice.”

Her confidence grew after each assignment and oral argument. In the fall of her 2L year, she won third-highest individual in brief writing. In the spring of her 2L year, she represented Wayne Law at the Robert F. Wagner Labor Law Competition in New York City. As coach of the 2016 Wagner Team, she led the team to success, placing in the top eight of 38 national teams.

“Ultimately, Moot Court has taught me to face and conquer my fears,” she says. “I’m so thankful I challenged myself to the task, because it has been an extremely rewarding experience.”
Champane, who also has been involved with the Student Board of Governors and Women’s Law Caucus, praises the support she has received from Wayne Law alumni.

“They’ve been welcoming and readily available to give me advice when I ask,” she says. “I know I have an enormous group of alumni rooting for me and supporting me as I begin my legal career in Detroit.”

In her leisure time, Champane, who lives in her native Grosse Pointe Farms, enjoys skiing, yoga, watching MSU sports teams, and spending time with her family, friends and two dogs.
“I love the creative nature of the Detroit area,” she says. “I’ve seen the area improve by leaps and bounds throughout my lifetime. It’s exciting to be a part of the movement.

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