Advocate: Law student externed at the Advancement Project


(Photo courtesy of Eberechi Ogbuaku)

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 it 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.

Her undergrad years included a study abroad period at Aix-Marseille University in France,.

 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.

Ogbuaku, who also holds a Certificate of Readiness in Business Analytics, Accounting, and Economics 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, awarded the scholarship 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.”

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


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