Purposeful: Law student finds focus from varsity rowing experience


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A varsity rower during her undergrad years at the University of Michigan, Halli Travers well remembers her head coach’s mantra to make each stroke better than the last.

“Rowing can be monotonous, taking stroke after stroke to prepare for a six-and-a-half-minute race—the key is to take every stroke with a purpose,” Travers explains. “If done correctly, by the time you get to the race, you’re the most prepared crew—in no small part due to your commitment to turn a monotonous action into an opportunity for growth.”

The same rings true for legal studies, Travers says.

“We read page after page for endless hours to prepare for a two or three-question exam. Like hours of rowing, hours of monotonous readings need to be attacked as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you read every page with a purpose, by the time you take that exam, you’re prepared because you capitalized on an opportunity to learn and study when you easily could have just gone through the motions.”

A 2L student at Wayne State University Law School, Travers earned her bachelor’s degree from U-M in political science and government. During undergrad, she interned for Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Carol Kuhnke in Ann Arbor; for Rep. Jeremy Moss in Lansing; for the Michigan Poverty Law Program in Ann Arbor; and spent two years working for Ann Arbor attorney Charles Groh.

I definitely hit the ground running when I started clerking for Charlie,” Travers says. “I loved the challenge and I learned a lot of invaluable information. My favorite part of the job was knowing when we were truly helping someone. For some clients, this was probably one of the worst or most stressful times of their lives and being able to help them was incredibly rewarding. Charlie is a great mentor and all-around person. I know some of the skills he taught me will be priceless for the rest of my legal career.

“I was pretty jazzed about the work and thought I would enjoy law school, so I went for it.”

After the huge size of U-M, Travers appreciates the small community at Wayne Law.

“I know most of the people in my year and it’s far easier to cultivate a sense of community,” she says.

She also is working toward a master’s degree in political science through Wayne Law’s dual degree program with the Political Science Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her focus is in political theory and she hopes to continue on to earn her Ph.D.

This past summer, Travers interned in the Bronx Court of Claims with Judge John Higgitt (now a judge in the New York Supreme Court 12th Judicial District), and hopes to repeat the experience in 2020.    

“Everyone in his chambers is brilliant and I was extremely lucky to be mentored and to be around these exceptional people,” she says. “I drafted many opinions for Judge Higgitt and did some outside research for different projects he was working on. It was also a lot of fun—he has about 4,500 cases a quarter so the chambers is always extremely busy, but I did a lot of laughing.”

Travers serves as president of the Women’s Law Caucus at Wayne.

“I love seeing people involved,” she says. “Planning events or meetings, there’s always a small fear people will come and feel like they are wasting their time or won’t come at all. Law students are notoriously busy and if people are willing to take time out of their busy schedule to be active members, we want to host something worth their time.

“We have an exceptional executive board this year and, together, we run a tight ship that has planned exceptional events that people come to, enjoy, and get a lot out of.”

Travers also is a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan; the American Constitution Society; the organization If, When, How; and Moot Court—and will compete in a national moot court competition in February, where the topic is products liability.

A native of Guilderland in New York State, just west of the state capital Albany, Travers currently makes her home in Ann Arbor. In her leisure time enjoys walking, crafts, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, reading, board and card games.

“Monopoly is my favorite, but it’s so hard to find someone to play with—people can’t commit to the whole game,” she says.


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