NLG chapter honors 'Outstanding Law Student of the Year'

By Lori Atherton
U-M Law

Andy Goddeeris, a Michigan Law graduate known for “his deep roots in Detroit activism,” has been named Outstanding Law Student of the Year by the Detroit/Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), an organization dedicated to fostering social change.

Goddeeris will receive the award—which recognizes law students “whose commitment to justice is an example to others”—at the chapter’s 77th annual dinner on February 14 in Detroit.

“It’s a big honor,” said Goddeeris of the award. “I’ve worked with and look up to so many of the esteemed NLG members in Detroit, and it’s really special to be recognized by them.”

A Detroit native, Goddeeris was aware at an early age of the social injustices within his community. Wanting to help Detroit become a “more just and equitable place for all people,” Goddeeris entered Michigan Law in 2012, where he jointly pursued a dual degree in urban planning in an effort to address social justice issues not only through the law, but also through planning, development, and sustainability.

“I grew up in relative comfort in Detroit, but it was impossible to escape the reality that for so many people, just getting by was an everyday struggle,” Goddeeris said. “It struck me as so fundamentally unfair that who you were born to or where you lived made such a huge difference for your life outcomes, and I felt a sense of duty to Detroit to make it a place that worked for everyone. We all have the power to push our society towards greater justice and equity—we just need to find the pressure points. I went to urban planning school and law school to find those pressure points and to find my role in Detroit’s future.”

Goddeeris, who in April will begin working as a litigator in private practice in Detroit, immersed himself in activities while at Michigan Law. He was the online publications editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law; served as a legal extern for DNA People’s Legal Services Inc., an organization offering legal aid to the Navajo Nation; was a student attorney in the Community and Economic Development Clinic for two semesters; and was a core member of the Law School’s NLG chapter for four years. On behalf of the Michigan Chapter of the NLG, he volunteered as a legal observer at protests in Detroit and Ann Arbor to document instances of police brutality and misconduct, and helped to recruit and train legal observers for the MLaw chapter.

“Andy has a hunger for people’s movements,” said Meredith Osborne, a core member of MLaw’s NLG chapter who nominated Goddeeris for the Outstanding Law Student of the Year award. “He has deep roots in Detroit activism, and has demonstrated his long-term investment in the community and legal movements therein.... Andy has been my right arm throughout my organizing at Michigan Law, and I could not have gotten this chapter off the ground without his work. He is, without qualification, an exemplary NLG member and completely deserving of the outstanding NLG student award.”