From music to memoranda


Professional musician/UM?alum is now pursuing a law degree  

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Ben Christensen was drawn to the legal profession when he saw his passions—environmental justice, water rights, and housing justice—intersect with the law.

“I spent a fair amount of time either volunteering or working in these areas, but I thought I could me a more effective advocate if I had a legal education,” says Christensen, who delivers water to Detroiters experiencing water shutoff; and was a “Make It Home Program” canvasser for the United Community Housing Coalition, where he also worked as a tax foreclosure prevention counselor.

And of course, being the son of attorneys David W. Christensen and Susan Lister, and younger brother of attorney Sam Christensen, and nephew to attorneys, certainly played a part.
“I’m incredibly lucky to have a lot of family who are lawyers to seek advice from,” he says.

A 2L student at Detroit Mercy Law, Christensen is in the top 10 percent in his class and received a Dean’s Scholarship for Excellence. Interested in environmental law, immigration, property law and civil rights, he is enjoying his law school experience.

“The faculty and staff make you feel so welcome,” he says. “I was also so impressed by my fellow classmates. During our first year, I saw how good everyone was to each other—when I saw this, I knew I was at the right school.” 

A junior member of Law Review in this upcoming year, Christensen is looking forward to honing his research and writing skills and perhaps helping with the Symposium. 

“I attended last year’s symposium and it was very inspiring,” he says.

He worked this summer in Detroit as a judicial intern for Judge Gershwin Drain in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He researched and drafted memoranda; drafted two orders adopted in full by Judge Drain; analyzed newly filed complaints to ensure a valid basis for federal jurisdiction; and attended multiple motion hearings and scheduling conferences.

“I got to work on some exciting projects and attend a lot of virtual hearings,” he says.

Christensen is adapting well to legal studies moving online.

“I’ve found it important to create a dedicated workspace, try to stay away from screens when I’m not working and to get out of the house for a little exercise,” he says.

“Our professors did a great job of quickly adjusting a curriculum to an online platform during the winter. I’m grateful we’re finding a way to make this work during the upcoming fall semester.

“All things considered, I’m coping well. I’ve lost friends as well as people I admire.  However, I’m still optimistic about the future.”

A native of Bloomfield Hills and Beverly Hills, Christensen now makes his home in Hamtramck.

“My wife, Julia and dog, Herbie are the best roommates I could ask for,” he says. 

In his leisure time, Christensen enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

An avid musician with a BFA in Performing Arts Technology from the University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor, Christensen is the founder, composer and audio engineer of Christensen Music and Sound, a music studio in Hamtramck specializing in accompanying music for a variety of different media.

His company has made music for TV, film, animation, documentaries, radio, live performance, and more, with clients that include HAP, Chevy, Faygo and Great Expressions.

“I love music—it’s been my passion for many years,” he says. “I continue to put out records and co-run a record label called Sector 7G Recordings. I've made music for a variety of different media, and consistently taught electronic music workshops and directed Communications for Co.Open—a sponsored project of the Allied Media Projects—in Detroit.”

With his musical passion, the Motor City is a perfect fit.

“I love the music, food, and people,” he says.  “I believe everywhere in the world has good music, food, and people—but I just happen to think we have the best of all three of them here in Detroit.”


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