A look back: Law student fondly recalls teaching in Ukraine

 Law student Kevin Lynch, who also runs a landscaping business, volunteers with Oudolf Garden Detroit, an all-volunteer group that is committed to placing and maintaining a garden on Belle Isle.

Photo by Ryan Southen Photography

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Kevin Lynch earned his undergrad degree from Michigan State University, in philosophy and Russian. 

“These two subjects are passions of mine—I especially like the knotty complexities they present,” he says. 

After his 2012 graduation, he spent four months in Dnipro in Eastern Ukraine, teaching English to native Ukrainian and Russian speakers, mainly working professionals who came to the American English Center after work. 

“They wanted to learn English to improve their career prospects, but were also fascinated by everything American,” he says. “I enjoyed being a bit of a cultural ambassador of the U.S. for them, and fielding whatever questions they had. They were highly motivated, and it was fun to watch them improve their English as well.”

In those days, there was no armed conflict in Ukraine. 

“It was a beautiful country to visit, from its historic cities to its gorgeous natural features—beaches, mountains, and rivers,” he says. “Many people I met were very warm and hospitable, and went out of their way to teach me about their country. It’s sad to see the current situation.”

Lynch then spent some 3 years working for JustUs, a human resources consulting company in Grosse Pointe that is part of the Kienbaum Law Group, P.C. There he learned how to do employment investigations, a skill that served him well in his career in human resources.

His next position was with the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) in Detroit, where he spent 5-1/2 years working primarily on labor relations issues, whether meeting with the unions for grievances, helping outside counsel in labor arbitrations, or negotiating collective bargaining agreements. 

During his time in the human resources field, the tasks he enjoyed most often required him to work with labor and employment law attorneys. 

“After trying out different areas in HR, I eventually decided I liked working with the attorneys so much, that I wanted to do what they did,” he says.

Now well into his 1L year at Detroit Mercy Law School, Lynch appreciates the school’s community.

“There are a lot of good people— be they students, faculty or administration—who have gone above and beyond to help me in some way, or make me feel welcome,” he says. 

Although he has retained his interest in labor and employment law from his previous HR work, Lynch also is keen to explore other areas of the law.

“So far I haven’t taken a class at UDM Law that I didn’t like,” he says.

He will intern this summer for Judge Christopher Murray of the Michigan Court of Appeals, providing a chance to see what a career in the judiciary would look like.

“I can’t wait to see how things work inside the judiciary, especially at the appellate level,” he says. “I’m also excited to hone my research and writing skills in a real world context.”

Lynch, who is considering trying out for Law Review at the end of this semester, says he has coped well with studies during the pandemic.

“I have some close friends and family that are rooting for me, and I can always count on them for support. I feel very lucky to have them,” he says. “Fortunately, I have two of my classes in person, which is what I prefer—I find it more engaging to learn in person, and better for getting to know everyone in the UDM Law community. My ‘secret weapon’ is study groups—it’s motivating to learn together.”

A native of Grosse Pointe, Lynch now calls Troy his home, and relishes hikes in nature, and fitness in general. He also appreciates the Detroit-area museums, Belle Isle, Eastern Market, the music scene, the history of the Motor City, the different festivals including Jazz Fest, and much more. 

His parents, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, grandmother, uncles, and aunts all live in Metro Detroit, with frequent family get-togethers; and he has an aunt and uncle in the Pacific Northwest in the State of Washington.

With a passion for gardening—and training to become a full-fledged Master Gardener this year—Lynch volunteers with Oudolf Garden Detroit, an all-volunteer group committed to placing and maintaining a garden on Belle Isle designed by Piet Oudolf, the internationally renowned Dutch garden designer and horticulturist who created the High Line in New York City and the Lurie Garden in Chicago. 

And in 2019, Lynch launched his own horticultural venture, Lynch Landscaping, LLC. 

“My specialty is redoing my customers’ yards to give them a totally new look,” he says. “Working full-time in HR, and doing landscaping on the weekends and evenings taught me a lot about hard work, which has helped me to tackle the big workload in law school.”

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