Step ahead: Former radio talk show host now a 'LawStart' student at Wayne State


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Eric Decker once reached a large audience as a radio talk show host under the name Eric Thomas. He launched his career at Banana 101.5, a rock radio station in Flint, then worked all over the country, including several years blogging and hosting at 97.1 The Ticket sports radio station in Southfield where he covered the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons.

Now Decker hopes to reach people as an attorney. Recently wrapping up his 1L year at Wayne State University Law School, he is clerking this summer at Maiorana PC, a small patent law firm in St. Clair Shores.

“Radio was certainly good preparation for the public speaking aspect of law, but I really benefitted from all the show prep I did over the years,” he says. “The time I spent researching in radio was a good warm up.”

A political science major at WSU after studying at Mott Community College and Oakland Community College, Decker is one of two “LawStart” students who were the first in the program to be accepted into Wayne Law. The highly competitive program allows students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to earn both their bachelor's degree and law degree from Wayne State in six years, instead of the usual seven.

“It’s a very intense program, but I’m glad it exists,” he says. “I wouldn’t have gone to law school without it. I happened to read about the program in the paper one day, and it was at that moment I realized there was a path—that I didn’t have to go back to radio and chase jobs around the country any more.”

A self-termed “law nerd,” Decker had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. But when he graduated from high school, his parents were against paying his college tuition in any way, and refused to fill out a FAFSA.

“Back then, there wasn’t a way around that so I couldn’t apply for anything or even borrow, so radio was the only thing I could do that didn’t involve a cash register,” Decker says.

“I’m saying this because I’ve talked to some adults who don’t want to fill out those forms for their kids because they don’t want the financial intrusion. Please do!”

Decker notes that being a mature student helps put things in perspective.

“It’s easier to treat it like a job because you’ve already had a career so you know what to do. When you’ve had a boss, a teacher telling you to do something seems more like teaching and less like tyranny,” he says.

“I’d say the most important thing is have a really good base of support—a spouse, long time steady, close relationship with your parents, whatever it is. You need a strong base of very understanding and patient people or it’s going to be really hard.”

Decker particularly enjoys the law school’s location in the heart of Detroit.

“I love the city,” he says. “The students are all old enough that they remember when Detroit was in very deep trouble. I don’t know if you can say we are all ‘part’ of the revival per se, but we are at least present for it.

“I love the grit,” he adds “There is an old-school grime to Detroit that other cities can only hint at. You can polish Detroit all you want but the buildings still look like 1920s art deco and that hopefully will never change. I like the Bourdain line when he talked about Detroit, that you have to be crazy to live here. Works for me, and describes most people I know.”
Decker, who recently moved from Midtown to Grosse Pointe Park, grew up in a family that moved around a lot.

“I have a lot of strong memories from Stuttgart, Germany,” he says. “Living in Europe as a 10-year-old shaped me. I was there when the wall came down, which either birthed or nourished my interest in news and politics.”