Fighting for justice U-M Law School graduate advocates for social change

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Growing up in Detroit, and a graduate from Detroit Public Schools, Andy Goddeeris saw firsthand the need for greater justice and equity and felt compelled to do something about it.

After earning his undergrad degree in political science and history from the University of Michigan in 2012, Goddeeris remained a Wolverine to pursue a dual degree in urban planning and law.

"I wanted to study both because I wanted to gain a greater understanding of how the systems that shape and build our human environments work, while equipping myself with the skills and tools to really affect change," he explains.

"Michigan Law is full of brilliant, passionate advocates who inspire me to work harder and do the best job possible for clients. I was able to assemble a group of friends that supported me when I needed them most, and I'm really appreciative of all of them."

Goddeeris, who graduated from the U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning last May, and from U-M Law School in December, spent two semesters as a student attorney in the Community and Economic Development Clinic. In his final semester last fall, he was solely responsible for handling the legal representation of two Detroit non-profit organizations, one involved in supporting community-based youth arts programming, the other working on tax foreclosure issues. "The CEDC allows students to gain really valuable experience managing matters and interacting with clients, and the ability to take responsibility for important legal matters facing local non-profits was critical to my development as a lawyer," he says.

Goddeeris, who in April will start working as a litigator in Honigman's Detroit office, did a variety of internships, clerkships and summer associate positions in Detroit.

"They've all been great experiences," he says. "I worked on defending constitutional rights at the ACLU, protecting victims of police misconduct with Goodman & Hurwitz, P.C., and got broad exposure to complex litigation at Honigman. I'm very grateful for the chances I've been given to work on interesting cases and develop my skills."

Goddeeris spent four years as a core member of MLaw's Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), an organization dedicated to fostering social change. He volunteered as a legal observer at protests in Detroit and Ann Arbor to document instances of police brutality and misconduct, and helped recruit and train legal observers for the MLaw Chapter. He was recently named Outstanding Law Student of the Year by the Detroit/Michigan Chapter and is set to receive the award-which recognizes law students "whose commitment to justice is an example to others"-at the chapter's 77th annual dinner on February 14 in Detroit.

"The NLG has been an important organization for me, because it showed me what's possible to accomplish within the law," he says. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for the NLG lawyers in Detroit and across the country who are working on critical social justice issues."

Online publications editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, he also spent two years as a graduate student instructor.

"Teaching was a fun way to help offset my law school costs," he says. "It allowed me to help undergrads understand really important issues, while honing my communication skills."

In his undergrad years, Goddeeris was Program Assistant to U-M GEAR UP, a federal grant program aimed at promoting post-secondary education among at-risk demographic groups; and for almost four years, was Sports Director of 88.3 WCBN-FM Ann Arbor, overseeing a Sports Department of more than 30 student radio personalities, and doing play-by-play announcing on live broadcasts of Michigan football, basketball, hockey, volleyball, softball, and baseball.

He spent the summer of 2012 as campaign manager for Rashida Tlaib, then-incumbent Michigan State Representative for the 6th District in southwest Detroit. He implemented a community-outreach-based campaign strategy that saw her make more than 30 contacts with each likely voter, and win a hotly contested primary election in a redrawn district that pitted two incumbents against each other.

"Being a campaign manager, directly out of undergrad, was a fantastic experience," he says. "I was in charge of a large, aggressive operation that required long hours and a lot of problem solving, and I gained a lot of vital experience managing people along the way.

"I'm deeply invested in local and state politics, and I was happy to help elect Rashida, who really fought for her residents' rights."

His father, Tom Goddeeris, is the executive director of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp., a community development corporation in Detroit. His mother, Mary Madigan, is Director of Development & Marketing at the Mercy Education Project, a non-profit in Detroit that works to provide education and skills training to women and girls in the community. The family lives in North Rosedale Park, a northwest Detroit neighborhood. Goddeeris' younger brother, Joey, recently finished his undergrad degree in film studies at U-M and has moved back to Detroit.

Goddeeris enjoys life in the Motor City. "I love exploring restaurants, going to concerts and art exhibits, and playing tennis at Clark Park and soccer at Fort Wayne," he says.

Published: Thu, Feb 04, 2016

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