Movies, TV shows inspired musician to enter the legal field


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A huge TV and movie buff, Dean Michel’s passion for movies with legal themes attracted him to a career in the law.

“Practicing law may not always get as dramatic as in those movies, but it allows me to use my skills to help people struggling to navigate the legal world,” he says.

“Tom Cruise makes it look easy in ‘A Few Good Men,’ but Joe Pesci in ‘My Cousin Vinny’ reminds me that mistakes will happen, but I can learn from them.”

A magna cum laude graduate of Oakland University where he earned his degrees in political science and history, Michel is now a 3L at Wayne State University Law School, where he is enjoying his studies.

“Wayne Law is such a close community of students,” he says. “I’ve made so many amazing friends along the way in pursuing my degree. We’re all going through the same tough program, so we can all relate to each other in ways that foster strong friendships.”

A senior note editor on the school’s Journal of Law in Society, Michel says writing for the Journal has been “an amazing experience.”

“I’ve been able to write on topics I feel are especially important, such as the negative effects of fracking across the country, and the lack of necessary regulations,” he says.

“As senior note editor, I’ll be helping new members write and edit articles that will be submitted for a chance to be published. I was fortunate enough to have my note from last year get selected for publication, to be published in this coming year’s edition.”

Participation in Moot Court satisfies Michel’s love of litigation, and in last year's in-house competition he won the Best Oralist Award, as well as, the Best Brief Award.

“It lets me be as dramatic as the movies that inspired me to pursue this career,” he says. “On top of that, I get to continually better my ability to think on my feet in a high stakes setting.”

As Director of Communications for Moot Court, he will take on a larger role, helping make sure the program runs smoothly.

“I’m so honored to be on the board of a program that has been so impactful during my law school experience,” he says. “I look forward to helping the new members gain as much beneficial experience as I have.”

Michel appreciates the vast smorgasbord of offerings provided in the legal world. 

“Every field I’ve worked within has been so amazing—so many different areas of the law fascinate me,” he says. “One thing I know for sure is that I want to be in the courtroom, arguing for my clients.”

He clerked last summer for Atnip & Associates in Rochester. “It was a phenomenal experience being able to help those in need get the assistance they deserve after catastrophic accidents,” he says.

 “Many of the clients I dealt with were suffering from moderate to severe brain injuries, so to be able to help them in their journey was exceptionally rewarding.”

Last year’s three-month externship for Judge Bernard Friedman, where Michel’s work included drafting a court order and opinion deciding an attorney’s fees issue in a Social Security disability matter, was a memorable experience.

“Judge Bernard Friedman showed me what it meant to be just and fair, showing both compassion and respect for the law,” he says.

“Working in chambers gave me the tools to better my writing ability, and allowed me to see other practitioners in action—with some individuals giving me great examples of what not to do in a federal court!”

In this past summer’s position at O’Reilly Rancilio in Sterling Heights, Michel drafted a wide variety of documents in many different areas of law.

“The experience has undoubtedly sharpened my skills as a legal professional,” he says. “Also, the attorneys here have made it a point to educate the summer associates personally, bringing them along to interesting court proceedings.

“The experience I’ve gained has definitely made me ready to enter the legal world after graduation.”

While Michel’s career goal is to one day become partner at an influential firm in Michigan, he would also like to become an educator.

“I’ve encountered so many amazing professors and mentors in my life, and I want to be able to impart the same wisdom and guidance that was shared with me,” he says. “Beyond that, I’ve always wanted to get involved in government in some capacity—helping my community and making life better for those who live in it has always been a very important goal.”

A lifelong resident of Macomb Township, Michel enjoys life in the Greater Detroit area. “Detroit is full of culture – having had the privilege and opportunity to be educated in this great city has been so informative,” he says. “The history of this city and being able to be down here during its revitalization has been absolutely incredible.” 

Away from his law studies, Michel is an avid musician, singing and playing guitar and ukulele for well over 15 years. Before law school, he was a private music instructor and would play gigs at various bars and events with his fiancée, Cassady Temple, who is a singer. The couple met in their early teens, performing in high school musicals.

“Being a student and educator of music has taught me both patience and discipline that I’m now able to rely upon in my studies as a law student,” he says. “It’s also made me quite the karaoke star.

“Music is such an important part of my life. I always make sure to pick up my guitar at least once a week. In addition to music, I see at least two movies in theaters a week with my brother Nick, the perfect way to wind down from a stressful week.”