Learning to think like a lawyer is a powerful experience – that’s why the law has always served as a gateway to impressive careers. We’re focused on providing graduates with the fundamental skills that will prepare them to lead, no matter where the legal profession takes them.

With the launch of the MICHIGAN LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE (MLI) in 2018, MSU Law embarked on an ambitious new plan: to educate the state’s next generation of leaders. By seeking out  a strong group of students who have already demonstrated significant leadership skills and a commitment to our state, we’re investing in Michigan’s future.

The Initiative will provide a small cohort of incoming students with unique opportunities to engage with Michigan’s leaders and to expand upon the leadership skills they bring to the program. Structured programming includes guaranteed summer placements after the 1L year, one-on-one career advising with the assistant dean for career services, close-knit cohort development, and special access to high-profile alumni.

Students are  required to completing all three years in the program.


Summer-reading and reflection project sets the foundation for the program

Pre-Immersion Week retreat for students with their cohort and faculty

Speakers series that connects students with leaders from many settings

Student-led group meetings and team-building

Focus on self-development and growth as leaders

Specialized career counseling

Introduction to Design Thinking

Navigating and embracing change

Guaranteed placements for summer internships or externships after the 1L year


From the rigors of the classroom setting to demanding co-curricular activities, a legal education develops essential leadership skills. MICHIGAN LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE students will develop the core traits that will prepare them to excel.

  • Fostering diversity
  • Integrating technology
  • Excelling in communication and networking
  • Managing crises
  • Building high-functioning teams
  • Giving back to the community
  • Mentoring colleagues
  • Investing in personal growth


In Year One, students will:

  • Explore legal career paths
  • Develop their leadership skills through self-exploration
  • Learn skills for conflict resolution
  • Build a strong team within the cohort
  • Informal mentoring and networking with upper class cohorts

In Year Two, students will:

  • Focus on hands-on application of conflict resolution and other skills
  • Leadership reading and small group presentations
  • Explore collaboration styles with other leaders
  • Practice SWOT analysis
  • Develop effective strategic planning methodologies
  • Commit to monthly participation in a professional association – i.e. – Inn of Courts, Bar Association Student Chapter

In Year Three, students will:

  • Continue participation in professional association
  • Spend several Saturday mornings visiting local non-profit and other organizations to learn about the application of leadership in real-life situations
  • Develop Strategic Plan for 1L MLI cohort
  • Implement the strategic plan for the new 1L cohort


The Office of Admissions will offer a place in the program to incoming 1Ls who have strong academic credentials, a personal history of community service, and a demonstrated commitment to the State of Michigan. There’s no need to submit a separate application for consideration, though applicants are advised to mention their interest in the personal statement.

SINCE ITS FOUNDING IN 1891, Michigan State University College of Law has prepared students for powerful careers in government, business, and the judiciary. Graduates have included a governor, circuit court judges, Michigan representatives, state Supreme Court justices, mayors, and leaders in a wide range of industries.