Law student traces career interest to bridge tragedy

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

The law has had a profound impact on Trenton Messick’s life. His maternal grandfather, a taxi driver, was one of 46 people killed when the Silver Bridge carrying U.S. Route 35 across the Ohio River, collapsed in 1967. The tragedy, famously linked to the “Mothman” legend depicted in books and movies, resulted in 56 lawsuits, and inspired legislation to ensure that older bridges were regularly inspected and maintained.   

Messick’s grandmother, who singlehandedly raised her six children and Messick, went by the name “Lockwood,” in honor of the late 19th century attorney and feminist Belva Lockwood.

“In the early 20th century, Ms. Lockwood represented members of my family in their failed attempts to gain federal tribal recognition from the U.S. government, after her arguing of U.S. v. Cherokee Nation,” says Messick, who hails from Southside, W.V.

A 3L student at Detroit Mercy Law School, Messick also draws inspiration from his paternal grandfather, a union worker who repeatedly refused a managerial position because he never wanted to be forced to cross a picket line.

“Encouragement and inspiration has come in droves from my family and its history,” says Messick.

“My parents have worked extraordinarily hard, their whole lives, to provide opportunities for their three sons. My parents have also always been there to encourage me during both the good and the bad times,” he said.

Messick started his career path with an undergrad degree in history, followed by a master’s degree in health administration, both from Marshall University in Huntington, W.V.

“I wanted to go down a path that would help secure my future financial stability,” he says. “My goal was to learn business and healthcare skills which would then be applicable to myriad employment opportunities.”

During those years, he was a rotating substitute teacher in Mason County, W.V. 

“Every day was different, always on my toes,” he says. The highlight of his time as a substitute teacher was teaching his youngest brother in high school. “That sure was interesting,” he says,

Messick spent three years as a leasing specialist for Medical Imaging Resources in Ann Arbor. The job entailed coordinating the provision of temporary medical imaging services, incident to construction projects or the replacement of outdated equipment, to healthcare providers.

“It taught me what it meant to, and what it takes to, work in an extremely competitive, high pressure environment,” he says.

He then looked to earning a law degree, heading to Detroit Mercy Law School in 2015, where he serves as secretary of the OutLaws organization.

“I value the friendships I’ve made at Detroit Mercy Law,” he says. “I’m very proud I will one day work alongside these diverse and talented individuals. I came into law school with the singular goal of forcing the ACLU to take me in, but I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Who knows what the future holds. I could see myself working in a range of practice areas.”

Messick has spent the last 18 months as a law clerk for Cannabis Counsel, PLC in Detroit, a law firm dedicated to business law, criminal defense, intellectual property, municipal law, lobbying, zoning and other areas all related to cannabis.
“I absolutely love it,” he says.   

The office does a lot of community activism relating to drug law reform, and Messick spends time supporting these causes. He also has signed up to be a legal observer with the National Lawyers Guild.

A varsity soccer player at Marshall, Messick played pro soccer and futsal with Detroit WAZA for three years.

“I’m a goalie, and still play a lot, but the grey hairs are catching up with me. I’ve been fortunate,” he says.

When not playing soccer, he enjoys watching the game; other leisure pursuits include hanging out with his newborn nephew Felix, biking around Detroit, anthropology, political history, whitewater rafting, and hiking.

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