As senior adviser and counsel to the mayor of Detroit, Eli Savit, ’10, (pictured above) knows that the legal challenges facing the city are vast. He believes, however, that there may be many opportunities for public-interest lawsuits to be filed on behalf of the city to address topics such as consumer protection, environmental justice, housing, and nuisance abatement.
So Savit—with the support of his boss, Mayor Mike Duggan, ’83—decided to enlist some of the emerging legal experts at Michigan Law. The idea has evolved into the Detroit Litigation Advocacy Workshop, or DLAW, which was offered for the first time this semester. Each of the 12 students in the research-oriented class was responsible for exploring litigation options available to the city and producing a white paper about how to tackle those opportunities. Yale Law School and the City of San Francisco have a similar partnership, which has led to judgments that have brought money into the city’s coffers, Savit notes.
“I thought it would be great to bring to bear the talents, ingenuity, and creativity of Michigan Law students to explore the legal hooks that the City of Detroit might have to go to court and achieve positive outcomes for its citizens. We are committed to using every possible lever to create a better life for the citizens of Detroit,” says Savit, who co-taught the course as an adjunct professor with Professor Julian Davis Mortenson.
The hope of improving the lives of Detroiters drew 2L Adam Kleven to the class. “I think it’s really important to be part of the city’s comeback and to have a meaningful impact on the citizens of Detroit,” says Kleven, a Michigan native who hopes to stay in southeastern Michigan after law school. Kleven researched possible litigation related to the city’s blight problem.