Group focuses on students from other careers


Executive board members of the new Older Wiser Law Students organization at Michigan State University College of Law include (left to right) Gerado Miranda, Janelle Orange, Ben Kaiser, John Forrest and Jill Apter.
(Photo courtesy of MSU Law)

By Jake Jenkins

The Older Wiser Law Students (OWLS) recently held their first official meeting for students to come eat lunch, socialize, and learn what exactly the student organization has to offer at Michigan State University College of Law.

This student organization offers peer support to those who did not take the traditional route of undergraduate university to law school.

They spent some years away from school to focus on other careers before enrolling in law school.

“I wanted to meet people who went through similar struggles,” said Jake Lovett. “I taught middle school history for four years. I was involved in curriculum development and came to law school to become more effective with making changes.”

First-year student Adam Berryhill spent almost 20 years in the hospitality and event management industry before enrolling at MSU Law.

“I’ve seen a lot of things from the other perspective,” said Berryhill. “I’m interested in labor and employment laws, so I’ve seen many people in my industry being mistreated and wanted to create change.”

The goal of this student organization is to support those whose social needs are not always met by the atmosphere of the law school, including but not limited to the planning and execution of family-friendly events; to provide information and support for current and prospective students who come to law school with unique needs and challenges faced by their age, experience, or obligations outside the classroom; and to engage with the outside law community to provide networking opportunities for older students whose career goals may be different than those of their younger colleagues.

Unlike traditional student organizations, OWLS does not have an official president or vice-president, only “on paper” to follow MSU’s protocols. Instead, they have five executive board members who have equal power to govern what goes on within the organization.

Those members are:

• Jill Apter, ’25, grant writer, and non-profit advocacy for six years

• Ben Kaiser, ’25, social worker for ten years

• John Forrest, ’25, manufacturing engineer for ten years

• Janelle Orange, ’25, middle school science teacher for 13 years

• Gerado Miranda, ’25, Gap year in between undergrad and enrolling in law school

“We molded are constitution of the organization as well as the structure of the e-board to other orgs similar to ours in other law college,” said Forrest. “We want to keep the responsibilities light; we don’t want to overwhelm one person with too many duties.”

These five students came together with similar feelings of not having a support system for their needs. They quickly realized that there must be something for everyone, and they wanted to establish that for the college.

“We all noticed as older, non-traditional law students, we have slightly different needs than the general student body,” said Kasier. “A lot of us have had long careers before law school and decided to have a career change which comes with its own special needs.”



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