Michael Lafleur Puts Intellectual Curiosity to Work in Pre-Law Pursuits
Wayne State College senior Michael Lafleur says he aspires to do more than abide by the law. He studies it, learns it and aims to help others understand it.
Michael, a native of Madison, Neb., has a double major in history and political science and a minor in pre-law. He’s always had an interest in the legal process and was greatly influenced by his older brother, Jack, who chose to pursue a similar academic path.
“During my freshman year, he [Jack] was finishing his degree in pre-law,” Michael said. “Seeing him talk about it and studying pre-law really sparked my interest, and just the idea of getting to help someone through the legal field.”
Michael said he’s always been a proponent of helping others find justice in their lives in any way necessary.
“The law has such a weight on individuals’ lives,” Michael said. “You won’t be able to go through your life without going through the legal process, even if it’s just coming up with a will and testimony.”
According to Michael, the pre-law classes offered at WSC are very successful in facilitating the interest of law in students. He attributes much of this success to the faculty teaching pre-law courses, particularly Dr. Mark Leeper, Dr. Joe Blankenau and Dr. Pamela Everett, who have gone above and beyond in giving pre-law students special opportunities, introductions to law and first-hand experiences.
“Last year, I and other students in the Wayne Political Union presented papers at a political science conference in Creighton,” Michael said. “My paper became the starting point for my honors thesis, which I’ll present at Wayne State and another conference. Last summer¸ Dr. Blankenau also gave me the opportunity to work with Sen. Mike Flood, but I wasn’t able to do that.”
Michael also completed his internship at Pieper and Miller law firm, located on Main Street in Wayne.
“From washing dishes to typing up questions for trials, I got the entire attorney experience, and it was really cool,” Michael said.
Besides obtaining experiences in the law field, for a pre-law student, it takes intrinsic motivation to become a prospering law student and future attorney, something Michael clearly doesn’t lack.
“He [Michael] is intellectually curious. He knows there’s always more out there to learn,” said Leeper, WSC professor of political science for 17 years. “He wants to be complete and do things well. He won’t stop until his work is beyond expectations. I believe he can take his future law degree in any direction he finds interesting. He’s going to be able to define his own future.”
Luckily for Michael, and other future law students, Wayne State’s pre-law program strives to give students the tools necessary to move on to law school, in the hopes of someday making a difference in the lives of others and in fact defining their own futures.
According to Leeper, the pre-law program began the year he started teaching at WSC. It was created so students wanting to attend law school could have a solid background and be able to compete with other law students in graduate school. Since its start, pre-law faculty members have worked to create a curriculum that best suits well-rounded, liberal college students on their way to law school. By talking with attorneys and getting their recommendations, the faculty has been able to design their classes to encourage thinking like a law student.
“If a student needs to come to Wayne State, it’s important to provide these pre-professional links,” Leeper said. “We keep track and figure out how to get rural students at WSC to their professional destinations. We also have to continue to communicate with law programs and figure out what we need to keep offering or improving and how to prepare students for the LSATs.”
Leeper also said that Wayne State is the only Nebraska state college offering a political science degree and pre-law program. Over the years, this program has graduated a defense attorney in Omaha, Neb., an attorney in Kansas City, a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and a recent graduate from California San Diego School of Law, to name a few.
Michael also hopes to attend law school after he graduates in May, and would like to stay close to home.
“I want to get my degree in a close institution and move back to a small community as an attorney and hopefully be able to help and make an impact in any way possible,” he said.
Until then, Michael plans to continue enjoying his college experience and stay involved on campus. He is currently a member of the Philomathean President’s Honorary Society, Model UN, Wayne Political Union, Pi Gamma Mu Social Sciences Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi and Blue Key. Michael served on the Student Senate for two years and is currently a Navigator, Residence Assistance and Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society vice president. He also leads a bible study and enjoys participating in intramurals.
“I frankly say that if I didn’t come to WSC, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s helped me grow as a person to where I know I’ll be able to succeed in life,” Michael said. “If I didn’t attend here, I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunities afforded to me, including all the organizations, especially being a Navigator and RA.”
Besides his professors and opportunities at Wayne State, Michael said he owes the most credit to his parents.
“They have showed me what’s right, how to work hard and give my best,” he said.
“I’ve learned to stand up for what I know is right, even if I stand alone.”