Wayne Law student enjoyed special externship at Advancement Project

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Wayne Law rising 3L student Eberechi Ogbuaku recently returned from the nation’s capital, one of three Wayne Law students in the inaugural class of a new semester-long externship program in Washington DC- “Lawyering in the Nation’s Capital.”

Ogbuaku externed at the nonprofit Advancement Project in D.C., a national organization that supports other grassroots civil rights nonprofits. The website notes “Our National programs focus on tackling inequity with innovative strategies and strong community alliance. We combine law, communications, policy, and technology to create workable solutions and achieve systemic change on issues of democracy, voting rights, and access to justice.”

Ogbuaku helped with projects to stop the school-to-prison pipeline, providing incarcerated people’s rights, and advancing voter rights.

“The work was focused on abolition as opposed to reforming systems,” she says. “There were lots of conversations on how rethink the status quo and create change where a society empowers Black and Brown communities. I had a lot to learn so I did a lot of background reading to know just how pervasive these issues were. It was amazing being in D.C. doing that work.

“I love D.C.,” she adds. “Even with the COVID restrictions, there was always something to do, even if was just walking around the different neighborhoods.”

When her externship ended at the end of April, Ogbuaku returned to Detroit for a summer associate program with Honigman and for her 3L year at Wayne Law.

In her second summer at Honigman, as a summer associate through the Summer Clerkship Program offered by the Wolverine Bar Association, she is taking several assignments in different areas, including mergers and acquisition (M&A), public company, and commercial law.

“Last summer at Honigman, I liked working on the real estate assignments. It was interesting to see how real estate transactions happen behind the scenes,” she says. “I also met many great people. Even though we were still transitioning out of the strict COVID protocols, they still made an effort for us to get to know attorneys and other summer associates.

“This year, I’m still meeting great people and doing more work in the corporate department. I’ve also taken assignments that are a little outside of my comfort zone like intellectual property and privacy law. I’ve had a lot of help understanding the background, so that’s been great.”

Ogbuaku launched her academic trajectory with an undergraduate degree in international/global studies from the University of Michigan with a minor in accounting from the U-M Ross School of Business.

“I liked how inter-disciplinary International Studies was as major,” she says. “Between economics, history, and culture, there were many interesting classes that I could take. My friends had great experiences with the major and when I was at a crossroad of figuring out my major that seemed like a great option. It was a great match for me.

“I knew I wanted to do something accounting related when I started college and it worked out perfectly for a minor. I took as many accounting classes as I could at the Ross School of Business to specialize my minor.”

Her undergrad years included a study abroad period at Aix-Marseille University in France, and she wrote a blog about her experiences

“The blog is so much fun to do, and captured so many of my experiences! I’m glad I have that to remember, it was definitely one of my highlights in undergrad,” she says. “I just loved being able to travel all over France and so many surrounding countries. Every weekend I was somewhere exploring and I absolutely loved that constant feeling of adventure and curiosity.

“Plus, I was actually able improve my French speaking and comprehension. Along with taking all of my classes in French, I lived with a host family which helped me practice even more around great company and delicious meals.”

After graduation, she spent two years as a staff auditor at Ernst & Young in Detroit, working primarily with clients in the automotive, manufacturing, oil & gas and healthcare sectors. Her responsibilities included testing and auditing areas such as sales, inventory, fixed assets and payroll; managing big data on the Helix analytical tool to identify irregularities and key insights to present to clients; and orchestrating tasks for interns and newer staff members to improve efficiency on the audit.

“I liked that I was trained on understanding how businesses operate,” she says. “Essentially, my job was to verify what the company reported was accurate—that meant I had to know how to look at financial statement and read beyond the numbers.

“It was also interesting to see what different companies cared about. Even if they were in the same industry, there were still differences that make each company unique and interesting to learn about. It was definitely a tough experience, but I met some pretty amazing people I’m still friends with today.”

Ogbuaku, who also holds a Certificate of Readiness in Business Analytics, Accounting, and Economics in an online course from Harvard Business School, headed to Wayne Law in 2019, and enjoys having been able to create her own path.

“I’ve gotten to do the D.C. program and there are some interesting independent studies I’m planning,” she says. “I like being in Detroit and experiencing the development of midtown and downtown. Also, Wayne brings in students and faculty from many different backgrounds so it’s been interesting getting to know people. I’ve also helped a couple of local attorneys with different areas for criminal law, family law, and some contract research.

“I was drawn to law because it intersects with every area of life—like accounting, I felt a legal degree would be very transferrable in any field,” she says. “Every business needs an accountant and a lawyer, so I’d like to combine both my business background and legal knowledge to my career.”

While she is not yet sure of her eventual subgroup of law, she is focused on business and transactional law.

“I’m still figuring out what that looks like, but I’m honestly excited to see how my journey will look,” she says.

Ogbuaku received the Damon J. Keith Scholarship from the Wolverine Bar Foundation in 2021, earning the award for emulating the type of commitment to social equality and combating racism demonstrated by Judge Damon J. Keith throughout his career.
“I was so appreciative of winning the Damon J. Keith WBA scholarship,” she says. “Even during the uncertainty of COVID times, WBA still made it a point to continue the scholarship program.”

The pandemic and remote classes presented a few challenges.

“I definitely took—and still take—breaks away from the computer to cope with remote work,” she says. “I try to change my scenery by going to coffee shops.

“I was mostly doing work for my internship remotely, but my class was in-person in D.C. I went all over the city finding cute places to work – I loved doing that! I’m still glad I got to be in D.C.”

She enjoys serving in the Black Law Students Association, and served as the 2021-22 professional development chair for BLSA.

“BLSA connects people and opportunities. It’s a national organization so I can bond with many people I’ve met just based on our involvement with BLSA, and it’s something I can bond over with people not only in my school but in the city and nationally. I love the business network and the shared experience.”

Originally from Inkster, the youngest of three girls and an aunt to her two nephews and one niece, Ogbuaku now lives in Detroit and in her leisure time enjoys dancing, reading, and cooking.

“I like trying new recipes, especially on Pinterest and Instagram, some of those show different food options that are pretty interesting,” she says.

She also is a fan of different types and styles of African bands, whether West African or more modern music.

“I just like to really enjoy the music and move my body,” she says.

Passionate about travel, she has visited Nigeria, Uganda, Morocco, Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, France, England, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, and Monaco.

But the Motor City also holds a special place in her heart.

“I love summertime and Christmas time in Detroit—it’s really active with events and people are out and about. I like seeing the city alive,” she says. “I also like how Black entrepreneurship is improving the inner neighborhoods. Developing the downtown is great, but reaching to the other parts of the city is also very important. There’s so much history, so honoring that history while making improvements is super important.”



 

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