On board: Detroit Mercy Law names new Director of Clinical Programs


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

As University of Detroit Mercy School of Law embarks on the 2018-19 academic year, Nicholas Schroeck has come on board as the new Director of Clinical Programs and Associate Professor of Law.

Schroeck is excited about his new role with the downtown Detroit law school.

“The clinical program at Detroit Mercy Law is historic and was one of the first law clinics in the country—for instance, the clinic received an award from the ACLU back in 1968 for its work during the 1967 Detroit uprising,” he says.    

“I love the sense of history here, the focus on service to people and our city, and the fact that Detroit Mercy Law continues to innovate with law clinics—including the requirement that all of our students participate in a clinic before graduation.”   

Schroeck has developed a passion for teaching, particularly to those who are first-generation law students.

“I love working with students who, like me, aren’t from a family of lawyers, but who saw the practice of law as an opportunity for themselves and to serve their community,” he says.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great privilege to be able to work with all law students, but there is something special about seeing a student realize for the first time there is not only a place for them in the legal profession, but that they can thrive in their careers.”

Schroeck also appreciates the trans-border partnership Detroit Mercy Law has with the University of Windsor Faculty of Law through the Dual Degree program.

“We already have an international U.S. and Canada Intellectual Property Law Clinic and I’m excited to continue to grow our clinical program’s connection to Windsor and to provide more clinical opportunities for Canadian students,” he says.

In the coming year, the law school will roll out an Environmental Law Clinic, focusing on international U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes issues, working towards environmental justice for Detroit residents, and promoting public health through limiting air pollution and providing access to clean, affordable water.

“And related to all that work, I'm hoping to work more with indigenous communities on both sides of the border, and to work a little bit on historic preservation projects,” Schroeck says.

A graduate of Wayne State University Law School, Schroeck earned his undergrad degree, cum laude, in urban studies and political science from Elmhurst College in Illinois. His original goal was to work in local government, perhaps as a city manager, but his interest in government and policy was rivaled by his passion for the natural world.

A Sea Grant Fellowship at the Great Lakes Commission led him to meet many of the leaders in Great Lakes policy and management circles and he worked extensively on ballast water and invasive species issues, before landing a job in Ann Arbor as a regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation, working with conservation organizations around the Great Lakes region.

He previously served as director of Wayne Law School’s Transnational Environmental Law Clinic and was executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. He continues to serve as co-director of community engagement at Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors.

Schroeck, who believes the greatest threat to the Great Lakes is climate change, has represented the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Michigan Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, among others. His proudest moments include working to stop new coal fired power plants in Michigan, while representing the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council.

A native of Rochester, Schroeck now calls Bloomfield Township home. A board member of East Michigan Environmental Action Council, he lists bird watching and gardening among his leisure-time pursuits, and he and his wife Liz, a teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary in Rochester, also enjoy hiking, reading, and cooking.