'Sovereignty & Sophistry'


Law student’s blog took first prize in social media contest

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Michigan State University College of Law student Evan Hebert launched the blog “Sovereignty & Sophistry” in January—and snagged the grand prize of $1,000 in the law school’s Social Media Contest.

“‘Sovereignty & Sophistry’ is a platform for discussing the power of language and the law,” Hebert says. “I’m very thankful to the folks at LexBlog, including CEO Kevin O’Keefe, who came in to MSU Law to present on blogging for lawyers and made the platform available to law students for free. The contest was a chance to professionalize my Internet presence and report on my experience before a panel of leading digital marketing professionals.

“I was honored to be selected as the contest winner and enjoyed learning about my colleagues’ efforts as well. Overall, the contest pushed me to develop a strategy for maintaining an effective online presence—something you simply can’t learn in a classroom.”

A self-described “policy wonk,” Hebert has particular interests in business, public policy, and administrative rule making.

“I enjoy getting into the technical and procedural aspects of the administrative state,” he says. “Agency action—and inaction—has serious ramifications for the public and our economy. Rule making and administrative adjudication are infrequently studied areas of government because they are process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. I think process is sexy, so to speak.”

His legal interests also include licensing issues affecting businesses from manufactured home parks to medical marijuana facilities. Legal technology, data-driven compliance systems, and artificial intelligence are also frequent subjects of discussion on “Sovereignty & Sophistry.”

Always passionate about research and advocacy, Hebert engrossed himself in speech and policy debate in his high school years in Birmingham—even attending summer debate camps—and never looked back.

After graduating with an international relations degree from MSU’s James Madison College, where he competed on the debate team and won the freshman-sophomore national championship in 2012, Hebert continued on as a Spartan for law school, staying true to his roots.

Hebert, who is in the top 5 percent of his class, has high praise for the MSU Law faculty.

“As one example, Professor Michael Sant’Ambrogio picked up on my interest in administrative law during my first-year Constitutional Law class and suggested I help with his research on consolidated agency adjudications, which was published in the Yale Law Journal. His mentorship absolutely improved my own research and writing, and now I’m going through the publication process myself,” he says.

Hebert’s review of European Union treaty provisions concerning welfare eligibility for non-nationals will be featured in an upcoming volume of the Baltimore Journal of International Law, and he hopes to submit another article for publication before graduating next spring.

An articles editor for the MSU Law Review, Hebert serves on the editorial board.

“Joining Law Review added some valuable structure to my law school experience and has made me part of something larger than myself,” he says. “Our journal has published legal scholarship each year since 1975, and hopefully will continue doing so for many years to come.”

Hebert captained the Evan Evans Constitutional Law Moot Court team that advanced to the elimination rounds last February.

“Moot court, like policy debate, requires tons of research. One major difference is that your team submits a brief in advance to be judged as part of your overall score,” he says. “I really enjoy the collaborative aspect of brief writing as a team. Right now, we’re preparing for a competition organized by the Chicago Bar Association in November, so the competitive juices are flowing.”   

Hebert has always enjoyed teaching others, first as an assistant high school debate coach, and more recently as a teaching assistant at MSU Law teaching Constitutional Law and the Regulatory State.

“The best part was seeing just how much intellectual and personal growth law students go through during their first year,” he says. “I grew up with great teachers and mentors, so I try to seize any opportunity to pay it forward.”

Hebert also was a keynote speaker at the MSU 2017 Graduate Academic Conference, where he presented research on police body camera programs and argued that technology is no panacea for community-police relations

Last summer, he served as an associate in the litigation department at Clark Hill.

“Clark Hill is an outstanding firm and I’m happy to be starting my career as a litigator in their Birmingham office next fall,” he says. “Over the summer I gained insight into the firm’s different practice areas and even had the opportunity to attend the firm-wide retreat in D.C., which was fantastic.”

His five-year plan after graduation includes developing areas of expertise and representing clients in complex litigation involving licensing issues and regulatory compliance.

“Beyond that, I’ll pursue firm partnership opportunities and entrepreneurial endeavors, including serving on the board of a nonprofit or other enterprise,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in politics and local government as well.”

Hebert and his sister, who is earning a marketing degree from MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, will both graduate from MSU in the spring. Hebert met his girlfriend, Chelsea Kendziorski, at a garden party hosted by their writing professor during the first week of classes.

“Going through law school together has been the greatest adventure of my life so far,” he says.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the seven years I’ve spent at MSU,” he adds. “I’ve had world-class opportunities throughout my time as a Spartan and have watched the university expand and develop as an institution. I’ll always be proud to call myself an alum!”
The Bloomfield Hills native previously has volunteered for Detroit Urban Debate Education (DUDE), an organization that offers resources to debate programs in schools where the activity would normally be prohibitively expensive.

“I encourage anyone looking for a worthwhile cause to consider donating to urban debate,” he says. “The activity offers students who don’t succeed in a traditional classroom setting an opportunity to realize they too are scholars and advocates. I hope to be involved for many years to come.” 

In his leisure time, Hebert enjoys playing various musical instruments and scuba diving, a passion since his high school years.

“My all-time favorite dive location so far is St. Martin, where we fed chum to reef sharks in 2014. Most people don’t believe this, but the sharks we dove with were extremely friendly to humans—more like pet dogs than fish!

“Still, I’d say swimming with sharks was great preparation for a career in the legal field,” he says with a smile.