Spring 2016

Cause and Effect: Donors and Their Scholarship Recipient Reflect on Their Connection to Michigan Law

Anita Jenkins, ’74, and Jim Jenkins, ’73
Jim Jenkins, ’73, and Anita Jenkins, ’74

Anita Jenkins, ’74, and Jim Jenkins, ’73, of Midland, Michigan, got their start at U-M, both as lawyers and as a couple (they met in the course registration line as undergrads). 

In gratitude, they give back to their alma mater as leadership-level donors to the Law School Fund and through the James R. and Anita H. Jenkins Endowed Scholarship Fund, which they established in 2005. 

Anita is retired after a career as a tax lawyer at The Dow Chemical Co., and Jim also is retired; most recently, he was senior vice president and general counsel at Deere & Co. Prior to that, Jim served as vice president, secretary, and general counsel at Dow Corning Corp. 


Ashley Davis, 1L
Ashley Davis, 1L

Ashley Davis, a 1L from Jacksonville, Florida, is the 2015-2016 Jenkins Scholar and a graduate of Florida Atlantic University. 

Although she is not certain of her post-law-school path, she has enjoyed the exposure Michigan Law has given her to leading experts in the fields of privacy law, prison reform, and human rights law. 

She is a member of the Business Law Association and the Black Law Students Association, and she recently participated in a LAWBreaks trip to do human rights work in Belize.



Why did you want to go to law school, and why did you choose Michigan?

Anita and Jim: We both went to law school to obtain a professional degree, which we felt would best equip us to make a positive contribution to society. We both attended Michigan as undergraduates, and we valued that experience greatly. We were also aware that Michigan Law School has always been among the best law schools in the United States and the world.

Ashley: I have always been intrigued by the complexity of the law and I knew I wanted to be an advocate, so law school seemed like a perfect fit. I decided to come to Michigan because of the wide-ranging curriculum offerings as well as for its global reach.

What was the biggest adjustment about coming to the Law School, and what is the scariest part of being a 1L?

Anita and Jim: Our biggest adjustment was returning to school after a multiyear hiatus. [During that time, Anita had worked as a social worker in Wayne County, Michigan, and Jim served in the U.S. Army in military intelligence, including a year as an interrogation officer in Vietnam.] We also were married with a young son. The scariest and most challenging class for both of us was reconciling customs, mores, myths, and practices with the principles and Court interpretations discussed in Constitutional Law.

Ashley: The biggest adjustment so far has been the fast-paced learning environment. The scariest part of being a 1L by far is being cold called, but professors and classmates are very supportive, which makes it a little less nerve-wracking.

Favorite place (on or off campus) to socialize?

Anita and Jim: The Michigan Union was a favorite place for both of us as undergraduates [Jim practiced there with the Michigan Men’s Glee Club, and Anita volunteered at the International Center] and during Law School. We enjoyed good food and Boston Coolers, and we had fun bowling.

Ashley: Dominick’s. It’s a great place to go after class.

Class/professor that you were/are most excited to take, and why?

Anita and Jim: Our most memorable and influential professors were L. Hart Wright for Taxation and J.J. White for Commercial Transactions. They both found ways to impart difficult concepts, knowledge, and understanding in a manner that transcended the subject matter. For example, Professor Wright would often say, “just add enough zeroes to impress yourself”— emphasizing that it was the concepts that were important, not the zeroes—and noting that “if you got up on top of the world and looked down and fly specked,” it would be the guiding concepts that you would notice. Professor White encouraged us to write well, focusing on substance and not fluff—noting that “if it is clear or obvious, why say ‘clearly’ or ‘obviously’; just state the fact or observation, or make the case for the conclusion.” Both professors had their illustrative and highly influential phrases repeated many times in the Jenkins household as we raised our son and daughter.

Ashley: I am most excited about taking Criminal Law. I come from a law enforcement family, and I studied criminal justice as an undergrad. I’ve always been drawn to the subject matter, so I am very excited to continue my studies, but this time examining criminal justice from the point of view of an attorney.

Why do you support scholarships for Michigan Law students?

Anita and Jim: Both of us have received help from many others throughout our life’s journey. Among those was John Mason, who guided us through the financial aid process and approved an emergency grant when Jim first began working as a judicial clerk for an Illinois State Appellate Court judge and Anita was in her final year at Michigan Law School. Also, we both grew up in households where our parents modeled outreach, care, and assistance to others. In short, we believe in giving back and paying it forward, and in the idea that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We are thankful for our blessings and for all that others have done for us, and we take seriously our stewardship responsibility to support and give to others in every way that we can.

What does receiving the Jenkins Scholarship mean to you?

Ashley: It means that I have the opportunity to receive a world-class legal education from leading experts in the field. Without this scholarship, I likely would not be at Michigan.