As part of a new blog series, I plan to interview some of the individuals driving the legal practice of the future. This series's purpose is to pick the brains of forward-thinking legal professionals. Their insight, derived from past experiences and future goals, will demonstrate the various avenues that exist for a 21st century legal services provider.
This first post is an interview with a fellow MSU Reinvent Law student, Garret Busch.
Could you introduce yourself and where you are from?
Hello! I’m Garrett Busch and I am from northern Iowa (a small town nobody ever knows). I am just beginning my 2L year here at MSU Law. This semester I’m focusing on intellectual property and business, and assuming I enjoy both as much as I think I will, I’ll likely continue the same focus in the future. Currently I’m taking patent law, biotechnology law (a writing course), business enterprises, and an income tax course. I’m also externing with Spartan Innovations to hopefully help some of MSU’s creative minds get their business ideas up and running. Next semester and into my 3L year I hope to be doing a lot of the same types of things.
Why did you choose to go to law school?
Law school was something I’d thought about when I was much younger, like in high school. I kind of lost that desire while I was in undergrad and didn’t realize it was something I wanted to explore until after undergrad when I was working at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Iowa. I wanted to find a challenging educational experience that would lead to a challenging and rewarding career after school, and law school came back into my focus at that point.
Why did you choose Michigan State as your school?
The choice was two-fold. A big part of law school is money, and MSU is fairly generous with scholarships to make school affordable. So that was one of the two driving forces. The second actually was MSU’s ReInvent Law program and the reputation as a school that is attempting to really prepare the students who are open to it about what the future of law will be. My undergrad degree was in statistics and after speaking with ReInvent Law professor Dan Katz who uses statistics within the legal world, I was sold. Since then, I’ve learned that ReInvent Law is not just statistics or any other subject and is not really “for” any specific group of people. It can be anything you want it to be that is pushing the bounds of law, and really trying to figure out how to make more of a legal education and a legal career that will follow.
What types of classes have you taken under the program?
I went to the MSU 21st Century Law program in London, England this last summer (2014). It was an amazing experience. There were three 1-credit courses that covered law and technology, the future of law, and how law has changed across the pond in London particularly. It was all capped off by the ReInvent Law London conference where a large number of presenters from around the world got on stage at Westminster University in London and spoke about the future of law. I plan to take more classes going forward like quantitative analysis for lawyers, e-discovery, classes focused on entrepreneurship, and hopefully many more. I still plan to cover the bar exam basics in my remaining two years.
Have you done your own independent studies based on the topics you've been exposed to at Reinvent Law?
Yes. I took a weekend course on project management, I looked into what it would be like to work in e-discovery, I have upped my presence on Twitter (although still not as much as I would like) in an effort to find more articles about more topics and expose myself to more variety in law, and do so as much as possible. The reason I took on the externship this fall at Spartan Innovations is because of exposure to different ideas and different ways to look at law through the ReInvent program.
What has been the best part of Reinvent Law? What did you find most interesting? Is there anything you would change?
The best part of ReInvent Law is the exposure to new ideas. Hands down, that is 100% the best part in my opinion. Some people come to law school for a conventional education like their dad, mom, sister, etc. had before them, and are happy to walk away with that. But they are missing something in my opinion. Certainly the traditional legal space still exists and a traditional lawyer can still thrive, but if you aren’t planning for the future (and law IS changing) then you are ultimately asking to be left behind in one way or another. This is the most interesting part as well. Lots of people in law school have curious minds and while ReInvent Law isn’t going to do the work for you to turn that curiosity into something tangible, it can at least expose you what else is going on and you can take it from there and run with it. As far as changes, I have only been here a year, but it seems like the professors are stretched pretty thin when it comes to ReInvent Law. The founders of the program at MSU and are doing great things, but it would be great if they were able to be more involved at the student level.
What type of work have you been up to lately? What did you do this past summer?
The past summer I had two internships in Chicago. I worked for a small firm that focused on small business, IP law, and social media law, and I also worked for the Chicago Park District. Both were tremendous experiences. Aside from those experiences I also went to London as mentioned earlier for a study abroad. Currently I’m starting my 2L year. I have a number of things going on beyond classes though. I’m a teaching assistant for a research and writing course that is geared toward IP law, I’m getting ready to be a blogger for MSU Law’s BeyondClause8.com IP focused blog, I am starting my externship with Spartan Innovations (as mentioned earlier), and I have been applying for jobs for next summer like crazy.
Do you know what kind of work you would like to do? What are you hoping your J.D. will do for you?
I would like to work in some realm of IP/business but am largely undecided. I’d be interested in seeing what the firm environment is like, but also have some entrepreneurial spirit that I’d be curious to follow if the opportunity was right. I’m really just hoping my J.D. will open doors which I mean in the broadest sense. I wouldn’t have to leave MSU, pass the bar, and work in a firm making 6 figures to considering myself a success. The J.D. and the route to get there will hopefully open doors through friends, connections, experiences, learned opportunities, and anything else I can get into along the way.
What advice would you give to other current law students? What about students thinking about entering into the legal profession?
If you are a current law student I would simply stress the importance of having an open mind. Don’t be so one-tracked that you cannot see what could be happening around you. Law is changing and whether you think it’s in a major way or almost not at all, if you at least remain open to what is going on, you’ll be in a place to make that judgment call for yourself. If you’re thinking about law school, know that anything you do will be hard work, but if you do what you want and is right for your, it will hopefully be rewarding in the end. You don’t have to know what exactly you want to do now, but if law could help you get there, do the research, explore what’s happening, find out if it excites you and go for it.
Can you make any prediction as to where you will be in 3 years' time?
It makes me a little nervous….but also quite happy to say I have no idea. I could see myself in the middle of a test run to see if I enjoy the firm environment (which could turn permanent, who knows?) or I could be at the start of something that will hopefully be big! I honestly have no idea, but I’m excited to find out.
Where can people get in contact with you?
My Twitter handle is - @BuschGarrett
This school year I’ll be in the law building plenty and also across from campus at The Hatch – Feel free to stop by and/or stop me if you see me