Change of pace: Law student previously worked in finance, real estate


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

When Jennifer Fahrenholt graduated in December 2008, she faced a huge employment challenge thanks to the Great Recession.

Having fallen in love with New Orleans on a previous vacation, she decided to move to the Big Easy, which was still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Her plan of a gap year before law school turned into a gap decade with the start of her family. In the meantime, she worked her way up to a finance manager position in an automotive dealership, before moving into a real estate career.

But Lady Justice still had a hold on Fahrenholt. In high school she had participated in a program where students spent a week on a University campus and she spent a week in the life of a law student.

Returning to school at Detroit Mercy Law, she notes there are pluses and minuses to the life of a mature student.

“I think having real-life experience is beneficial in that things like writing a resume, networking, interviewing, are all things I’ve already done and therefore they seem less stressful. On the other hand, it’s been quite a while since I’ve had to study or take an exam, so that has been a bit of an adjustment re-entering academia.”

In the Dual J.D. program with Detroit Mercy and University of Windsor law schools, Fahrenholt is doing a summer externship with the ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) , with most of the work being done remotely.

“I'm grateful that was able to proceed,” she says. “So far I’ve been able to finish several legal writing projects and observe a hearing via telephone.”

A junior member of Law Review, Fahrenholt is looking forward to enhancing her editing skills. “I’m a bit of a research nerd, so I will thoroughly enjoy writing my note for Law Review over my 2L year once I choose a topic that interests me,” she says.

The pandemic has presented a few challenges such as unreliable Internet at times—“And just the ability to remain focused during a 3-4 hour online lecture,” she says.

She is also coping with home front challenges.

“I'm just glad my daughter is now finished with her school year because teaching 5th grade math is not one of my strengths,” she says with a smile.

“I’ve learned to make time for self-care as needed, whether that’s a glass of wine in my backyard after an evening class or some quiet time with the Calm app.”

At home, Fahrenholt enjoys cooking, gardening, watching football and hockey; and is a lifelong Red Wings fan.

“My husband and I actually traveled from New Orleans to Detroit to watch the final two games at the Joe Louis Arena in 2017, an experience I’ll never forget,” she says. 


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