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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

    People’s Law to assist students

    Students and community members are invited to attend an eight-week course on Michigan’s legal system starting this Friday at NMU.

    The People’s Law School is a course designed for those who wish to receive an overview on Michigan Law. The class will cover several different topics including common law, bankruptcy, no fault insurance, medical malpractice, divorce, Medicaid and criminal law.

    “I think it’s a good opportunity for students,” said Tom Wynsma, a senior pre-law political science and economics major. Wynsma is also president of Student Law Forum, an organization sponsoring the event. “I don’t think students know much about the topics we’ll cover in the next several weeks.”

    Steven Pence, an attorney from the law firm Pence and Numinen, was a coordinator 20 years ago, the only other time NMU had the People’s Law School. Earlier this year, Pence began talking to NMU Professor Steven Nelson about bringing the program back.
    “I saw it as an unbelievable opportunity for our students,” Nelson said. “You get to see real, practicing attorneys, all of them successful and capable.”

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    Pence said that he thought the program was great, because it reminded him of what it was like when he first wanted to become a lawyer.

    “I’m a Northern grad from a blue collar family,” Pence said. “I wanted to be a lawyer, but I did not meet a lawyer until I was 22 years old while working in business. It was then that I thought I should look at this dream.”

    The program is not just for aspiring lawyers, however. It is open to both students and members of the community, anyone who wishes to learn more about Michigan Law.

    “We’re going to deal with the intellectual underpinnings of where these rights come from and how they were won,” Pence said.
    The program was started 30 years ago by the Michigan Association of Justice in Lansing and has since spread to almost every state in the United States.

    There will be eight two hour sessions running every Friday from Sept. 17 to Nov. 15. Classes will be held in the Mead Auditorium. Those who attend at least six of the eight sessions will receive certificates.

    It’s not necessary for interested students and community members to attend every session.

    “I would encourage students to look at the discussions being offered and pick several and check them out,” said Nelson.
    Pence will be coordinating the program, and Nelson will be managing the sessions. Coffee and water will be provided for attendees.

    There will be 12 speakers in total, with each speaker’s presentation running from one to one and a half hours.

    There is a course materials fee of $25. Financial assistance will be available for those who need it.

    Pence said the speakers are one of the things that make this course the most valuable.

    “There will be lawyers there that have achieved a lot in their careers,” said Pence.

    The first session will have the Honorable Thomas L. Solka, circuit court judge and Linda Atkinson, who Pence said was very knowledgeable on civil jurisprudence. They will be discussing the history of common law and statutory civil litigation.

    “I think it’s going to be a good opening night,” said Pence. “This is a chance to de-mystify the law and provide an opportunity.”

    Another session Pence and Nelson expect to be compelling is Oct. 1, when Ray O’Dea and Richard Clark discuss insurance. Pence and Nelson both said it should be a very interesting night because the two of them disagree on several insurance law issues.

    Nelson said that Pence has been invaluable in the process of planning the People’s Law School at NMU.

    “Steve has been the person to keep this moving. You need someone like him. It would be impossible to do it without someone outside Northern,” said Nelson. “Steve and his law firm have been very beneficial to this program.”

    The People’s Law School is sponsored by the NMU Student Law Forum, the NMU department of political science and public administration, Pence and Numinen and the Michigan Association for Justice.