Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Jason Negri and Monica Secord know a little something about leaps of faith. Three years ago, they were among 77 students who formed the first class at Ave Maria School of Law, an unaccredited Catholic school in Ann Arbor, Mich., that hadn’t yet offered its first class or finished renovating its new building. As Negri, Secord and their fellow pioneers in Ave Maria’s inaugural class approach graduation this spring, their faith appears to have been well placed. The American Bar Association has granted the school provisional accreditation, clearing the way for graduates to take the bar exam. Typically, schools get provisional accreditation, then receive full accreditation in a few years. Dean Bernard Dobranski said about one-third of the 68 students already have job offers. Six have judicial clerkships and that number could increase to 10 by year’s end, Dobranski said, adding that new students are coming from prestigious schools such as Princeton, Duke, Cornell, Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. “It’s been a fantastic experience for me,” said Secord, 27, a native of Beverly Hills, Mich., who is preparing for a clerkship with Judge Paul Gadola of the U.S. District Court in Michigan’s Eastern District. As managing editor of the Ave Maria Law Review, Secord said she is helping to produce the review’s first issue. “Just to be able to bring that from nothing into reality has been the greatest challenge and greatest opportunity,” she said. Before he arrived on campus from his home in Steubenville, Ohio, Negri, 32, said he was concerned the school might be a glorified seminary. Speaking to The National Law Journal in 2001, midway through his first year, he said his fears were unfounded. “I believe now and I believed then that it was the right decision for me,” he said of coming to Ave Maria. “The education has been stellar and I wouldn’t trade that for anything else.” Along the way, students studied Moral Foundations of the Law under former D.C. Circuit Judge Robert H. Bork, who still helps teach the class, and supplemented the standard law school curriculum with courses designed to make students think not only about what is legal, but what is right. Electives include Canon Law, Catholic Social Teaching and the Law and Papal Encyclicals. When Thomas Monaghan, a conservative Catholic, committed $50 million to the project after selling his billion-dollar Domino’s pizza empire, he said his aim was to create “the West Point for Catholic laity in the years to come.” Negri said the emphasis on morality did not dilute the legal instruction. “It’s like we’ve got more of the basics than other schools require, then we’ve got courses that deal with the integration of morality with the law,” he said. Students also got to leave their mark on the school, not just by establishing new traditions, but by getting sawdust under their nails building the school’s moot courtroom. “That was a lot of fun in saying I had a hand in helping build the school physically,” Negri said. Some of the best news students received was the gaining of ABA accreditation. “Obviously, I was pleased,” Negri said. “There was never really a question in my mind that it would happen.” Without it, students wouldn’t be able to take the bar exam in most states, Negri said. And getting a judicial clerkship or a job with a law firm would pose a major challenge. As it is, many students are having trouble lining up post-graduation jobs, Negri said, adding that he hopes the school’s efforts to help students find work will be more successful. Still, Negri said that his hopes as he leaves Ave Maria are the same as those he brought to campus nearly three years ago. “The legal profession’s reputation needs a little bit of rehabilitation,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re going to be part of changing that.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.