Litigation vocation: U-M Law student sets her sights on a career in employment law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Prior to law school, Emily Baxter worked as an economic researcher focusing on work-family policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. “I really enjoyed the work and the ideas, but I knew I needed more concrete skills to make a difference—I believed studying law could provide me with the tools I lacked,” she says.

During this time, she also was a non-resident Fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, before attending University of Michigan Law School.

Interested in litigation work, particularly employment law, the rising 3L student got a taste of Big Law this summer at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston. The global firm focuses on complex transactional work and high-stakes litigation.

Baxter interned last summer with Judge Patty Shwartz of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Newark, N.J. “I learned so much from watching Judge Shwartz and her clerks—they were brilliant, kind, and energetic,” she says. “I’d been told to expect a ‘sleepy circuit,’ but that wasn’t the case—it was so exciting to work on real cases and receive feedback from such amazing writers and legal thinkers.” 

At MLaw, Baxter was a student advocate in the Unemployment Insurance Clinic; a 1L Senator in the Student Senate; political action co-chair for the Reproductive Rights and Justice organization; a participant in the Michigan Access Program; a quarter-finalist in the 1L Oral Advocacy Competition; and a 1L representative in the American Constitution Society (ACS) where last year she served as co-president.

In May, she was one of two MLaw students honored as Next Generation Leaders by the ACS.

“ACS has given me the opportunity to put together events and learn about issues we don’t often discuss in class,” she says.

“To me, ACS is a community I’d always planned to take forward throughout my career. It’s a national network of progressive lawyers, and I’m truly excited to be an NGL to further engage in and grow through the ACS community.”

Her favorite ACS event was last year’s symposium for the fifteenth anniversary of the Grutter v. Bollinger landmark case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the U-M Law School.

“Maureen Mahoney, who argued the case before the Supreme Court, and former law school Dean, Professor Evan Caminker, flew in for the event,” Baxter says. “It was gratifying to have over a hundred of my schoolmates there to learn about the legal strategy and legacy of that case from the lawyers and MLaw faculty who experienced it firsthand.”

Serving as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law Reform married Baxter’s interest in scholarship and editing with her commitment to active and engaged leadership. “The members of our managing editorial board team complement each other so well that my job is often working to facilitate and move forward their ideas,” she says. “I’m excited to publish next year.” 

Baxter enjoys her time in Ann Arbor. “Michigan students say it so often that it’s clichéd, but the best part of MLaw truly is the people,” she says. “I’ve made smart, fun, and inspiring friends who’ve been there for me throughout law school, whether it was surviving a difficult exam, choosing a wedding dress, or checking out the newest restaurant in Ann Arbor.
The professors have been amazing resources, as well, both academically and beyond.”

During undergrad at Dartmouth College, where she earned her degree magna cum laude, Baxter spent a summer in Ireland, living with and researching Catholic nuns. She went on to earn her master’s degree from the London School of Economics, where she interned at the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) at King’s College, and was a research assistant at the Dickson Poon School of Law, designing a research database on Turkey regarding issues of politics, terrorism, religion and diplomacy.

Living in London during the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics was an exciting time. “My favorite thing to do was to walk along the South Bank of the Thames—there’s so much history on the walk between Shakespeare’s Globe, the National Theater, and the ‘London ‘’Eye,’” she says.

“I used to go for runs along the South Bank in the evening, when there were fewer tourists, and it was wonderful to see the whole city laid out along the water.”


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