Andrew MacKie-Mason, '17

“I’m going into an adversarial subset of an adversarial profession, so I wanted to be somewhere where I’d be challenged a lot—where there’d be a lot of different ideas." 

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI
Undergrad: The University of Chicago
Major: Mathematics and Philosophy
Law School Activities/Organizations: Defenders, Public Interest Law Society, Spring Break of Service, Law Review, pro bono work

After spending a summer as a student investigator at the Washtenaw County (Michigan) Office of the Public Defender, Andrew MacKie-Mason knew he needed to be a lawyer. He was only in high school but had already fallen in love with the work.

“I needed to go to law school to do the work that I wanted to do,” Andrew said.

He continued to gather public defense experience both before and during law school, including working for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, the Federal Defender Program for the Northern District of Illinois, and the State Appellate Defender Office and Criminal Defense Resource Center in Detroit.

It was important to him to choose a law school that would support his career in public defense and expose him to varied opinions. “I’m going into an adversarial subset of an adversarial profession, so I wanted to be somewhere where I’d be challenged a lot—where there’d be a lot of different ideas.”

This was why he chose UChicago.  

He also appreciated that professors at the Law School have an “open door policy, which has been very helpful with both class and career.”

“I like the fact that the professor offices are all right around the outside of the library,” he said. “It’s a nice architectural touch that makes it a lot easier to talk to them.”

The Law School has supported Andrew’s public interest work, providing hands-on experience with programs like the Pro Bono Service Initiative. Halfway through his first year of law school, he was the Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month. By the beginning of his 2L year, he had logged a remarkable 225 hours of pro bono service. Offering legal help to clients in need at the Woodlawn Legal Clinic and the Katten Legal Clinic, Andrew improved the skills he needs to be an excellent public defender.

“I could sit down with clients, get more practice with client interviews and screening interviews, and figure out what someone’s legal problem is and how to possibly address it—it’s been a very useful opportunity that the Pro Bono Initiative put together,” Andrew said.

During spring break of 2015, Andrew participated in the Law School’s Spring Break of Service, where he and fifteen other students volunteered their time at the Knox County Public Defenders Community Law Office. There, he especially enjoyed collaborating with classmates who had little or no experience in public defense.  

“There were a lot of people on that trip who don’t necessarily want to make public defense their career but were interested in trying it out, and getting to share this thing that I care a lot about with other people was really great.”

Advice for 1Ls:

“Don’t get stuck on the same path everyone else is taking. There are so many things you can do with a degree from this school, and you shouldn’t limit yourself.”