Spring 2016


Stu Finkelstein, ’85: Supporting a Loan Repayment Program that Offers Career Flexibility

Stu Finkelstein headshot
Stu Finkelstein, ’85
The Finkelstein family
The Finkelstein family

Stu Finkelstein, ’85, loves going to work every day. Through his family’s bequest to create the Finkelstein Family Debt Management Fund, he will help to ensure that future Michigan Law graduates have the opportunity to feel the same way.

Finkelstein has spent his entire career in the New York office of Skadden Arps LLP, where he summered after his 2L year and today is the co-head of the global tax group. Even after 30 years, he says, he still is excited and challenged by the work, but he recognizes that his path isn’t for everyone.

“I was in law school at the height of the M&A boom. People came straight from undergrad to law school, got internships at big firms, had a fun summer, and returned after graduation,” says Finkelstein, who also holds a BBA from Michigan. “But a few years later, some realized that inertia had moved them down a path that wasn’t making them happy.”

For today’s students, that problem can be exacerbated by a heavy debt burden after graduation, Finkelstein says. “They’re going to law school to advance themselves, to have a degree that will take them anywhere they want to go. But because of their debt, they are starting with one foot in the grave, and that’s not right.”

Finkelstein was one of many of his generation who went straight through to law school without a clear plan for the future. He gave some thought to being an accountant and had a part-time job during law school as a teacher’s assistant in an undergraduate accounting class in what is now Michigan’s Ross School of Business. With the escalating cost of law school tuition, he notes, more students now are taking time to sharpen their career vision before law school, and he worries that students who are committed to public service careers will be turned off by the cost of a quality legal education.

The Loan Repayment Assistance Program at Michigan Law is unique in that it is open not just to students who have public interest jobs. Students working in business or in smaller-market firms also can apply, as long as they are employed in jobs that require a JD. “If people know what they’re passionate about doing, they should be able to do that straight out of law school. They shouldn’t have to start out their careers in an unhappy way because they have loans to repay,” Finkelstein says. “I love that Michigan’s program offers career flexibility.”

As alumni consider how a gift to the Law School might fit into their budgets, Finkelstein says not to underestimate the power of an estate gift. “It doesn’t require a significant outlay of money now, but it still allows me to make a meaningful contribution to Michigan. For me, making a bequest to the Law School was a no-brainer.”—AS