Advocate: U-M Law student's experience in the U.S. Senate 'incredible'


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Matthew Liscovitz interned at the Washington, D.C. office of Maine Senator Angus King, then served as his staff assistant/junior legislative correspondent, then as a deputy scheduler and assistant to the chief-of-staff, and finally as a D.C. scheduler for the senator.

The experience piqued his interest in studying law.   

“Working in the Senate was an incredible experience,” Liscovitz says. “I was constantly amazed at the dedication and intelligence of the people pushing national policy on behalf of their constituents, but I felt a drive to pursue a path in public service outside of Congress’s marble halls. The idea of working with clients on a daily basis, helping them to solve urgent problems, and standing by their side in court, appealed to me.”

Now a 2L Michigan Law student, Liscovitz notes that his work in the nation’s capital was in “an interesting place at an interesting time.”

“It was often surreal to open up a newspaper and read stories about the things happening in the offices around me and the Capitol across the street,” he says.

“It was also wonderful to be able to contribute to the welfare of my home state. I think a lot of people feel separated from their elected representatives both by distance and by a certain institutional grandeur that can be intimidating to someone from a small town in Maine. My job as a scheduler was to ease some of that tension and carve out space so the senator could be as accessible to his constituents as possible.

“These days, it seems a lot of people are cynical about their elected officials and the democratic process in general. As a scheduler working for a senator who wanted to communicate with everyone who passed through his office, I was able to play a part in pushing back against this narrative and fostering a sense of electoral accountability.

“What made D.C. really special, though, were the people,” he adds. “I met some of my closest friends while living there and have fond memories of hanging out with them at coffee shops and restaurants and during runs through Rock Creek Park.”

Liscovitz is enjoying his experience at MLaw, where he lives in the law school fraternity Phi Delta Phi—known as “Phid” to its residents.

“Law school can be an intense experience, and I’m so lucky to have a group of 25 supportive, quirky, and incredibly smart roommates to help me through it,” he says.

Interested in public interest law, Liscovitz says he has found Michigan Law to be an incredibly supportive institution.   

“Not only is there a strong public interest community among students that supports lunch talks and sponsors pro bono projects, but the public interest career counselors are also dedicated to helping students find jobs in their areas of interest,” he says.   

Liscovitz is a board member of the Student Rights Project, a group of law, social work, and education students who advocate for K-12 students in school disciplinary hearings.

Last semester, he participated in Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Clinic; this semester he is associate editor on the Michigan Law Review, and has continued to work with the Student Rights Project and Project Access, a student group that collects, reads, and summarizes Louisiana criminal court decisions for the New Orleans Public Defender office.

In the winter semester, he will be working for Michigan’s Juvenile Justice Clinic, representing and supporting minors in juvenile court.

In a law clerk position this past summer for the Public Defender Division of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Liscovitz commuted to courthouses hundreds of miles apart and assisted attorneys in a broad range of cases. His supervising attorneys gave him an opportunity to write motions on Fourth and Sixth Amendment issues, and he observed arraignments, hearings, and client interviews.

“Public defense is still a relatively new concept to counties in the Rio Grande Valley,” he says. “It was amazing to work with energetic and passionate attorneys who worked tirelessly to bring much needed services to long-underserved communities.”

Drawn to public interest law by the people he is able to help, Liscovitz says it’s been “an incredible honor” to work with clients, listen to their stories and fight for their interests.

“The law impacts every aspect of society, but in many cases, it serves only those with money and power,” he says. “I think I have an obligation to use my law degree – and all the advantages that status brings – to amplify the voices of those the law typically leaves behind.”

Since coming to law school, Liscovitz has interacted with several public defenders, and has set his sights on making this field his career choice.

“This past summer, I had the opportunity to watch public defenders fight every day for the interests of their clients in the face of a punitive and often unfair system,” he says. “Their commitment to their work and their clients has been an inspiration.”