Wayne student co-founded Journal of Business Law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News   

Wayne Law 3L student Catherine Ferguson is fascinated by the intricacies of the Internal Revenue Code—and the current hot topic of tax reform.

“Even though I’m focusing on bar review classes this semester, I’ve been watching webinars through the ABA’s tax section to keep up with the change in the law,” she says. “Tax classes are my favorite part of law school. I enjoy business law, and find tax the most interesting part of planning and developing a business.”   

The Business Planning class was a highlight of her Wayne Law experience.

“It was the most difficult, yet the most useful, class I had during law school,” she says. “Peter Sugar and Alan Schenk are terrific professors—they really helped me learn how to apply business concepts and develop a client focused strategy, in that each client has a unique perspective, situation, and goal.”

While Ferguson hopes to work in the area of tax law, a long-term goal is to become a law school professor. She has already dipped her toes into these waters, by serving as a teaching assistant to Professor Kirsten Matoy Carlson’s first-year civil procedure class, and is in her second year as Professor John Mogk’s teaching assistant for first-year property students.

“My teaching assistant positions are one of my favorite experiences,” she says. “I love interacting with other students and helping them understand areas of law I was both fascinated and challenged by during my first-year.”

Last year, Ferguson co-founded the Journal of Business Law, recently approved by the Wayne faculty.

“I enjoy working with classmates to create a new resource for students interested in business, and a pathway for exposure to real-world, complex legal topics,” says Ferguson, who serves as editor-in-chief.  “I love learning from the articles. At first glance, business law sometimes feels like maze, but once you figure out how to get out of the maze, you learn how to play the game more strategically and efficiently.

“The Journal really opened up doors for me to communicate with business attorneys in the area to inquire about their perspective and area of expertise,” she adds. “The attorneys and students I’ve worked with instill my drive and desire for its success. Various schools have several Journals, and being a founding member of this Journal has forced me to overcome challenges and learn to work together with faculty and colleagues to create a Journal that can last beyond my time at Wayne Law.”

Long fascinated by business, Ferguson earned an associate’s degree in business administration from Monroe County Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in the same field, summa cum laude, from Wayne State University.

She remained at WSU for law school, following her father—a solo practitioner, focusing mostly on family law—into the legal profession.

“My parents’ support played a huge role in my decision to pursue a legal career,” she says. “And during undergrad, I worked at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in the Extraditions Unit under Maggie Rynier and Suzy Taweel. They were wonderful mentors and encouraged me to pursue my dream as well.”

Ferguson spent the summer after her 1L year on the Sexual Assault Team at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; and last semester, was an extern at the Internal Revenue’s Office of Chief Counsel in Detroit, where she researched various tax issues, including tax shelters like Son of BOSS (Bond and Option Sales Strategy), partnership tax, transfer pricing, and bankruptcy avoidance statutes and its effect on previous payments to IRS in satisfaction of tax owed.

“I really enjoyed both positions, as the attorneys acted as mentors, and provided an ample amount of guidance and support when assigning tasks,” she says.

Ferguson was a 2017 summer associate at Kemp Klein Law Firm in Troy; clerked for 18 months for Gene Ferguson PLLC in Trenton; and last year was a student representative for Thomson Reuters Westlaw in Detroit, helping students and professors navigate Westlaw’s legal database.

In her 2L year, Ferguson participated in the in-house Mock Trial program, and took first place in the Winter 2017 contest, representing the defense. The “criminal case” involved a charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.     

“I enjoyed learning from Professor Larry Mann, who pushed us while also encouraging us when we felt discouraged and nervous,” she says. “And Madeline Young, a 3L my 2L year, gave us something to aspire to, as she is a terrific oral advocate who was always willing to help, and went above and beyond to answer questions and help us develop our style as an advocate. I learned how to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone in Mock Trial, where my teammate, Katie Vivian and I, tried our best to overcome our fears of public speaking.”

A native and current resident of Woodhaven in Wayne County’s Downriver area, Ferguson relaxes from her studies with running, Pilates, and yoga.

She has enjoyed attending both undergrad and law school in the Motor City.

“I love the revitalization of Detroit, and that my law school is in the middle of this wonderful time in Detroit’s history,” she says. “I’ve had a unique perspective as I watched the changes in the energy and vibrancy of Detroit, along with Dan Gilbert’s positive impact on the city.”




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