Great Things Newsletter

Donor support provides new law clinic building that empowers law students to help the community

Donors rallied around a shared vision for UDM law students to offer legal aid in a heritage building that evokes the proud history of the law school’s Clinical Program and provides greater capacity to serve the community.

Law clinic Professors

Law Clinic Professors: David Koelsch, director of the Immigration Law Clinics; Joon Sung, clinical assistant professor, and C. Michael Bryce, director of the Clinical Program.

The School of Law’s Clinical Program has grown to 10 areas of focus in recent years. Law students now practice in State Appellate Defenders, Criminal Trial, Immigration and Asylum, Juvenile Appellate, Mediation Clinic, Mortgage Foreclosure, Veterans/Project SALUTE (with custom vans that serve as an office on the road), Urban Law Clinic, Veterans Appellate and Youth Appellate. In 2011, the clinics represented 1,450 clients.

Service is one of the pillars of the University’s mission, and for 47 years UDM’s School of Law clinics have made a significant impact on the lives of many individuals in the community and across the country,” says UDM President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D. “As a result of this new facility, more pro bono legal services will be provided through the clinics due to the generosity of donors, many of whom are dedicated UDM alumni.”

Alumnus Anthony Asher ’61, ’65, made the lead gift to the building fund in honor of his late brother and mentor George Asher. The eldest of a large Catholic family, George had to drop out of school at age 16 and work to support the family when their parents died. Anthony, then 10, said he was humbled by George’s sacrifices and grateful that he and his siblings were able to do well despite such hardship. Anthony was able to attend U of D as an undergradute, where he was also a standout on the U of D football team.

George had a GED and became a union negotiator for a local law firm. The partners urged him to go on to law school, which he did. He worked during the day and attended U of D law school in the evening. Just months before he was set to graduate, he died from complications of hemophilia.

At that time, in 1963, Anthony was a first-year law student at U of D. While greatly saddened by his brother’s death, Anthony was determined to excel in his field, inspired by the memory of his brother. He has become a successful attorney who leads a prominent law firm and now is able to honor his brother’s legacy.

The 6,000-foot interior is a blank canvas that retains classic features, including metal spiral staircases, a lookout tower, a fireplace and red fire doors, plus new skylights. When completed, the two-story building will have three conference rooms; a combined classroom and student work room, with tables and chairs; seven faculty offices; two adjunct professor workrooms and a reception area.

The School of Law is soliciting funds for the $1.2 million construction budget plus an endowment of $300,000 to renovate the George J. Asher Law Clinic Center. Please contact Ginger Hrtanek, assistant dean for Development, at 313-596-0274 for more information about ways to give.

Law clinic Professors

Project SALUTE holds legal clinics throughout Michigan and the nation for veterans seeking assistance with disability and pension benefit claims.

Law clinic Professors

Law students interacting with the professors at the Veterans Law Clinic.