Recent Wayne Law grad co-founded Transactional Law event


Attorney earned his MBA from Wayne State’s Mike Ilitch School of Business

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Justin Hanna’s parents were first-generation immigrants who came to the U.S. with only what they had in their pockets. After working at an uncle’s small convenience store in Detroit, Hanna’s father saved enough to purchase the business when he was only 24, then expanded into businesses in Warren and Southfield, as well as other ventures.

“Through all the years of putting in hard work and long hours, my parents’ ultimate goal has always been to put their children through college, so as to be able to live a better life,” Hanna says.

That goal certainly paid off; Hanna recently graduated from Wayne State University with a law degree and MBA; and his younger brother and sister have both done well in college.

Hanna started on this path by earning his undergrad degree in business administration and management from WSU.

“I sort of fell into business administration by default,” he says. “Because I was the first in my family to go to college, I had very little guidance and had to ‘play it by ear.’”

Business was a natural pick, as he had been helping at his family business since childhood and continued to work there full time during college.

“Some friends and I also partnered into an independent business venture while in college as a side-gig and it was great exposure into the process of starting a business,” he says.

Hanna stayed at WSU to earn a dual JD/MBA degree.

“I’ve always had a very analytical mind and have attempted to take a logical approach to issues, so I entered into undergrad with law school as the ultimate end-goal,” he says. “I also feel that with the knowledge and background provided by the degrees and my previous business experience, I have the ability to be value-added to the growing local community and businesses. Corporate law gives me the opportunity to do just that.”

He’s been happy with his choice of schools.

“Wayne Law has an excellent reputation in the Detroit legal community, and the network I’ve been able to grow as a student has been immensely useful,” he says. “I also enjoy the relationships I’ve been able to create with a number of professors, as I’ve found many of them take a personal stake in their students’ successes.”

Hanna became founding student chair of the Transactional Law Competition, an initiative led and supervised by Professor Eric Zacks, after the team’s successful run at the Regional and National LawMeets competitions in 2014. He remained the chair during the 2014 and 2015 academic years.

“I’m very proud to have been a part of bringing this program to the law school and offering students interested in a career in transactional law an opportunity to have a close look at the real-world deal-making process,” he says. “The competition has been met with great success over its first two years, and we’re confident the legacy of the program will continue to grow and prosper.” 

He also held leadership roles in a number of other student organizations and bar associations, including as Executive Lieutenant
Governor of the ABA-LSD 6th Circuit; Advisory Board member for the Wayne Law Program for Entrepreneurship & Business Law (PEBL); president of the WSU Business Law Society student organization; and as an Executive Board member on the Wayne Law SBA Board of Governors. A member of Delta Theta Phi, he is also an active member of the American Bar Association, State Bar Association of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Association, and the Chaldean American Bar Association.     

Hanna, who took the bar exam in February, is joining the corporate group at Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer & Weiss, P.C. in Southfield, where he worked last year as a summer associate. He also has worked as a law clerk at Lippitt O’Keefe Gornbein, PLLC in Birmingham, and as a student attorney at the WSU Business & Community Law Clinic.

“There’s sometimes a disconnect between law school and actual practice, and these experiences have provided insight into the everyday operation of a firm and life as an attorney,” he says.

“They also afforded me the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a number of different assignments and tasks spanning a variety of practice areas. I met a number of highly regarded and highly experienced attorneys that were able to provide in-depth
guidance and an open door for any question I might have.”

Hanna earned his MBA, with a finance concentration, from the WSU Mike Ilitch School of Business.

“The MBA not only provided a competitive advantage during the interview process, but also allows me to potentially use the knowledge I’ve gained in providing more thoughtful and pragmatic service to my clients and their businesses,” he says.

He is looking forward to a successful career in law.

“I’d like to some day ultimately have a similar impact on the Detroit legal community as I like to believe I’ve had during my time as a student at Wayne Law,” he says.

He also has ambitions to become involved in the boards of non-profits in the community if the right opportunities were to arise.
A native of Southfield, Hanna currently makes his home in West Bloomfield, and is a big fan of the Motor City area.

“These are exciting times we’re living in here in Detroit, with rich and diverse melting pot of people, and new businesses and developments cropping up every day,” he says. “It’s great having been at law school in the heart of Midtown during this resurgence we’re seeing and enjoying the chances to explore all of the new, exciting things the city has to offer. I have to admit, though, the best part of it all has to be the food!”

In his leisure time, Hanna is an avid fan of sports, especially football.

“And I love to play golf, though I’m not very good, yet,” he says. “I also enjoy working out – you’ll find me at the gym quite regularly.”