Winter 2020

Beauty image of on of the gothic looking towers from the courtyard at the University of Michigan Law School

Finkbeiner, ’13, Named Public Interest Director

Lara Finkbeiner
Lara Finkbeiner, ’13

It was the vibrancy of the public interest community that first drew Lara Finkbeiner, ’13, to Michigan Law. After graduation, she moved to New York to fulfill a longstanding dream of being a refugee advocate at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), first as an Equal Justice Fellow and then as deputy legal director. 

Throughout her six years in New York, Finkbeiner maintained strong ties to the Law School and regularly returned to the Quad to mentor students. Last August, she returned to Ann Arbor to join Michigan Law’s Office of Career Planning. 

“It’s a natural extension of my experience advising interns, volunteers, and staff attorneys at IRAP,” says Finkbeiner, the Law School’s new public interest director. “It’s great to be back. The Law School has always felt like home.”

Finkbeiner is dedicated to programming that reflects the evolving needs and experiences of students. This includes driving more public interest employers to campus in an effort to create a more robust interview program, and advising law students during one-on-one mentoring sessions, like those that played a key role in defining her path toward public interest. 

“As a student, I met regularly with a previous public interest director, and her guidance shaped my career inside and outside of law school,” says Finkbeiner. “That experience played no small role in my decision to apply for this position. I aspire to have that same kind of impact on the students and community here today.”

From incoming 1Ls to graduating 3Ls, Finkbeiner will guide them through their law school experience, making it the best possible platform from which to launch their careers. “I understand firsthand how daunting the public interest path can be,” she says. 

“I’m here to talk about how to make students’ passion for social justice into a fulfilling career and address any anxieties about finances. I want to ensure that students feel supported from the moment they step on campus until they secure the job of their dreams.”

Finkbeiner, a double Wolverine who earned her BA in 2008, is grateful she chose to pursue a public interest career and looks forward to sharing her outlook, experience, and connections with a community she’s held in esteem since she was a prospective student. 

“The Law School laid the foundation for my public interest career,” says Finkbeiner. “I’ve had the privilege of doing incredible, meaningful work every day for years while also having time and energy to devote to my family. I’m here to show students that the same career fulfillment and work-life balance is within their reach too. My family is living proof.”—JP