by Sheila Pursglove
Attorney Louis Brown Jr. draws inspiration from famous lawyers – including one who lived over four centuries ago.
St. Thomas More was led to become a Member of Parliament and Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII.
“This was extraordinarily inspiring to me then and now,” says Brown, who also finds role models in such other great men as Thurgood Marshall, Gandhi and Lincoln. “These were men who – though imperfect – changed the world for the better by serving witness to authentic freedom and truth.”
While Brown – an attorney with Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap in Detroit – may not yet have served a king, he too has walked the corridors of power. His experience includes interning at the Michigan State Senate, clerking as a summer law clerk in the Office of Legal Counsel to the Governor, serving as a staff assistant to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in Detroit and Lansing, among other jobs.
A resident of the Washington, DC area for six of the last nine years, Brown spent three years at Howard University School of Law – where one of his law professors had assisted in the litigation of the companion case to the watershed U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation, Brown v. Board of Education; and another had a major impact on South Africa’s constitution after the fall of apartheid. His law school experience included work as a law clerk/extern for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations during an investigation of offshore tax havens.
Upon graduation, Brown practiced at the Fraser law firm for two years before moving back to Washington in fall 2009. After a short stint at the Democratic National Committee, he worked as Associate Director, Social Concerns, for the Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC), and lobbied at the Maryland state legislature for the Catholic Church.
“Every day felt like an opportunity to promote the common good and advocate for the poor, vulnerable, and unborn,” he says. “Working on fair housing legislation, efforts to protect funding for the social safety net, and other measures affecting poor families and the homeless, inspired a relentless energy and fulfillment that made my work more of a vocation than a job.”
Brown worked under the leadership of the MCC’s executive director as well as the Catholic Bishops of Maryland, including Cardinal Wuerl of Washington and then-Arch-bishop of Baltimore Cardinal O’Brien, both of whom he recently saw during television coverage of the Papal Enclave.
In fall 2011, Brown became legislative counsel for U.S. Congressman Dan Lungren, then-Republican Representative from California, and was his aide to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. He assisted Lungren at oversight hearings of the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
Brown comments, “I won’t soon forget working on legislation on issues ranging from health care, small business, national security, and the social safety net to anti-human trafficking efforts and civil rights.”
Brown also attended President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address. “It was such a surreal experience that I’m still not sure I fully appreciate how rare an opportunity that was to watch history,” he says. “Those years in the D.C./ Maryland region were incredible and all gifts from God. Living in D.C. was amazing because the city attracts not only dynamic American culture, but also the best of our diverse global culture.”
But Michigan – and Metro Detroit in particular – will always be home for this lawyer who grew up in Troy and currently makes his home there.
“I’m heavily invested spiritually, personally, and professionally in Michigan and especially Southeast Michigan – plus, my immediate family is here,” he says. “The East Coast is outstanding, but there’s nothing like Michigan and Metro Detroit – they’re in the beginnings of a resurgence that I want to help build and strengthen. We’re blue collar, salt of the Earth people that love God and our families and are concerned about our neighbor.”
According to Brown, there can be an over emphasis on status in the D.C. political world that undermines the understanding of the universal dignity of all work.
“Especially for political culture, it’s immensely important that people in government and politics understand and are inspired by everyday working Joes who work hard, don’t complain, and go home to their families – because that’s most of America,” he says. “In Detroit, people speak to each other and really couldn’t care less where you work and that’s incredibly refreshing.”
A member of the Oakland County Republican Party, and an award recipient at its 124th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner, Brown has been “obsessed” from boyhood with political and sports history and watching historical documentaries.
“Whether it was a book or a television show about Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King, Babe Ruth or Jesse Owens or St. Thomas More, I had to watch it, read it, and learn about it,” he says. “As I grew older, I came to understand the impact our collective human history has on the living conditions and struggle of our brothers and sisters around the world.”
Around first or second grade, Brown started paying attention to politics and in 1992, at the age of 10, came down with political campaign fever. Watching C-SPAN coverage, he was fascinated by the world of politics, debate, oratory, and personalities.
Exposure through his faith, family, and neighborhood community to world events, American political history, World War II, and global history helped Brown to understand that the power of international actors – nation-states and non-governmental bodies – can become a force for oppression or a force for freedom. Wanting to be an agent of change, he was drawn to learning about the world community, global politics, and
how politics and business interact.
As a student at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, he was heavily involved with policy debate competitions and the parliamentary debate format of Model United Nations competitions.
His undergrad degree was a double major in political economy and international relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College, where he immersed himself in politics. Elected as External Vice Chair of MSU’s Student Assembly, he also served as chair of the City of East Lansing’s University Student Commission, as president of the MSU International Relations Organization, and was involved with a host of student and political groups.
“As a then-impatient college student, I was eager to get involved with the issues of the day...”,” he says.
Brown has also drawn inspiration from his mother, Sharon Brown. A teacher at Detroit Mumford High School during the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s, Mrs. Brown annually entered students into the Wolverine Bar Association Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Oral Advocacy competition. Attending the competitions with his mother, Brown met numerous African-American lawyers and judges, who served as role models.
Brown serves on the board of directors of Direct Impact Programs, Inc. a Detroit nonprofit focused on health and wellness for children; and previously served the executive board of the NAACP Lansing Chapter.
“Being back [at Fraser Trebilcock] is truly a blessing,” he says. “Lawyers and legal assistants stay forever at the firm because, I truly believe, there’s no other law firm in Michigan that better values its people and
In his leisure time, Brown likes to pray, lift weights and run, meet new people, do spiritual reading and go to mass, attend U2 concerts, watch films from the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, go on hikes, camping and field trips, and spend time with friends.
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