• * A legal writing program that starts in the first year and continues through the upper level courses.
  • * A clinical program that entitles every student to the opportunity to represent a live client.
  • * A unique law firm program that allows students to engage in simulated cases and transactions in specific practice areas.



  • * Committed to developing lawyers who serve the public good
  • * Committed to serving the Detroit community
  • * Founded on Jesuit and Mercy principles of service and the success of each individual

Study Internationally

Study Internationally

  • * Dual degree program with the University of Windsor
  • * Extensive international law and comparative law courses
  • * Established relationship with Universite d"Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France



  • * Downtown Detroit Location provides proximity to courts and employers
  • * Strong Alumni Network dedicated to supporting UDM graduates
  • * ability to pursue a concentration in Immigration Law

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Effective immigration policy helps U.S. keep global edge, UDM Law professor believes

Prior to law school, Aimee Guthat had no idea there was such a thing as "immigration law," despite hearing references to green cards and immigration papers.

"It didn't seem to be a big deal - how wrong I was," she says. "After surviving first year of law school, I accepted a student law clerk position with a local attorney that practiced immigration law. I thought it would be an interesting way to spend a year and get some exposure to administrative law. Now, more than 15 years later, I'm still practicing immigration law and can't imagine working in any other field."

A senior attorney with Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy in Troy, Guthat has taught Immigration Law as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy Law School since 2007, and is involved in the university's innovative Law Firm Program.

"I love to learn and I love the law - and I'm very enthusiastic and passionate about what I do," she says. "The idea of sharing my knowledge and experience with law students seemed like a no-brainer to me. All they had to do was ask and I was in. Also, these students are smart. They challenge me at every turn - which is very invigorating."

The curriculum at UDM Law is specifically designed to give students critical tools for the development of professional legal skills that would normally be gained during the first year of practice, through required participation in clinical programs and the Law Firm Program. The Immigration Clinic, which gives students the opportunity to represent immigrants in a variety of non-employment based matters, is highly regarded in the field and "provides such an important community service to the immigrant as well as unique experience to the student," according to Guthat.

"When UDM added an employment-based immigration law module to the Law Firm Program, I was very excited and honored to be asked to participate."

In the immigration law module, students work through a simulation of how actual cases are processed - how communications are initiated by a client, the information presented, working through the legal analysis to identify issues and develop a strategy and presenting that strategy to the client, and finally working up the actual case.

"In effect, students are seeing just how an employment-based immigration practice works on an everyday basis, the types of issues that arise, and how to effectively deal with these issues and meet client needs," Guthat explains. "It's essentially an inside look, which other students don't get. There's a significant competitive advantage."

When entering the field of immigration law, possession of some level of practical, educational experience is critical to a successful practice.

"The issue of U.S. immigration stirs a great deal of passion in people, whether their view is pro- or anti-immigration," Guthat notes. "Further, this issue is one that's very politicized and immigration-related policies and laws are very much driven by the economy, especially in the employment-based arena. The ability to successfully interpret immigration policy, which tends to change with each administration, is gained only through experience."

The key to the U.S. maintaining its footprint and position as a leader in the global economy, she says, is to have workable immigration laws that allow companies to hire and maintain the best talent, regardless of citizenship or country of origin.

"It's no longer enough to be good at home - we have to be good everywhere. In order for the U.S. to maintain its global edge, we need to be able to retain exceptional talent here - the thinkers, the innovators, the researchers - many of whom are foreign nationals."

According to Guthat, employment-based immigration will continue to be a target among politicians and law makers at both the state and federal level, which will make entry into this field from the ground more challenging than ever.
"A new lawyer must have determination and the desire to make a difference, even if only on a small scale.  Immigration law is a very rewarding area of practice, as your actions have a real impact on not only the potential growth
and success of a U.S. enterprise, but also on the lives of many immigrants seeking better opportunity."

The extensive and complicated set of immigration laws are governed not only by the Department of Homeland Security and its sub agencies - in particular Citizenship & Immigration Services, Customs & Border Protection, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement - but also by the Department of State and the Department of Labor.

"Each agency and sub agency has its own agenda, which may or may not be consistent with the existing rules of another agency involved in the immigration process," Guthat explains. "Immigration laws frequently change - and not just on an insignificant level."

About every decade there is a major overhaul of the immigration code with significant changes dramatically affecting individuals as well as global companies with operations in the U.S.

"The last major piece of employment-based immigration legislation was enacted in 2000, so we are due for reform. However, since then, there have been policy memos and directives from the agencies, which in some cases certainly affect the legal analysis and requirements for certain benefits," she says. "You have to constantly study and keep your finger on the pulse of the economy, political posturing, and agency changes.  Immigration law is very
dynamic, which keeps it very interesting."

Guthat, who received her bachelor's degree in political science and Spanish from Western Michigan University, and her J.D. from the Michigan State University College of Law, joined Fragomen in 2000. She primarily focuses on employment-based immigration and corporate compliance, with clients ranging from small and mid-size companies to large multinational organizations in a variety of industries, including management of major OEMs and product and technology suppliers in the automotive industry.

Guthat enjoys the cultural interaction with people from countries around the world, and learning about customs and behaviors based on different religious beliefs, ethnicity, and traditions.

"I find this to be very enriching as well as helpful in understanding the thought process behind how people approach different situations."

With different approaches between U.S. and foreign entities to very common issues, such as policy development or strategic planning - especially if the foreign company is the controlling entity - clients often look to Guthat for guidance on how to communicate effectively with non-U.S. colleagues.

"There's no question we live in a global economy and the key to a strong U.S. presence in the global marketplace is the ability of U.S. companies to remain competitive," she says. "Collaboration with other corporate figures and colleagues outside of the U.S. is essential, and requires a refined level of sensitivity and understanding of the nuances between our cultures."

Above all, immigration law is about human beings, she notes.

"We live in a great country, with unparalleled freedom and liberty. Many around the world are not so lucky. It's our job to help those looking for a better life for their families to navigate through the very rough waters of legal immigration."

In many cases the legal path to immigration is a very long process, so change in policy and procedure mid-stream is a real risk that may impact eligibility for a particular immigration benefit. Guthat tries to give people hope, and hopes they will see the legal way is the right way.

"Current immigration rules are not very forgiving of violations, and as a result a short-term gain can often negatively impact future life plans, from career development and progression to family separation and loss of residence in the U.S.," she notes.

A favorite case involved a cardiothoracic surgeon with a major university hospital, with a sub specialization in pediatric cardiac surgery, and creator of an innovative, less invasive surgical procedure for treatment of a congenital heart defect in infants and pediatrics patients.

"It's an incredible development for our littlest and most vulnerable patients - and came at the hands of an immigrant," Guthat explains. "The Immigration Service agreed that our client should be granted permanent residence on the basis of his extraordinary achievements and ability in medicine. This person is someone that is truly an asset to the U.S. medical field, and has since gone on to develop cutting edge patient care programs to improve on safety and recovery at two of the leading university hospitals in the country."

Guthat and her husband Peter, both natives of Grosse Pointe, live in Grosse Pointe Farms with sons Joseph, 5, and 8-month-old Matthew. An avid reader, she enjoys skiing, spending time at Pier Park, and serving as chief "land crew" for her husband's sailing adventures.

"This is a very important job, as I'm required to make sure the extra luggage not allowed on board during the race makes it to the finish before the boat. This is especially fun when the finish line is somewhere tropical."


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News


Reception at the State Bar of MI Annual Meeting in Novi - State Bar of Michigan

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 4:30 pm

Dean Phyllis L. Crocker will host a cocktail reception for UDM Law alumni, State Bar dignitaries, members of the judiciary, faculty, and students at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of Michigan at the Hyatt Place Hotel - Hyatt Cafe in Novi on Thursday, October 8, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.  She will make remarks at 5:15 p.m.
State Bar Annual Meeting Reception Invitation>>

Meet the Judges Reception - Atrium

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 5:00 pm

Meet judges of the federal and state courts during a casual reception in the UDM Law atrium and café on Thursday, October 15.  The schedule for the evening  is:  registration from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.; welcome remarks 6:00 - 6:10 p.m.; group photo 6:10 - 6:15 p.m.; network and meet the judges 6:15 - 7:30 p.m. UDM Law is co-sponsoring this event with the Catholic Lawyers Society of Detroit; Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers; and the Polish American Lawyers Society.
Meet the Judges Invitation>>
RSVP for Reception>>

Law Review Symposium on the Great Lakes - Room 226

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 9:30 am

The UDM Law Review will host a symposium entitled, "The Public Trust Doctrine:  An Ancient Tool for Protecting the Great Lakes from New Hazards," on Friday, October 16, from 9:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. in room 226.  Topics include, "A Proper Framework for the Public Trust Doctrine and the Great Lakes," and "Trails and Microplastics:  New Developments."  The symposium is complimentary but advance registration is required.

Law Review Symposium Invitation>>

Reunion for All Law Alumni - UDM Law Campus

Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 7:00 pm

The School of Law's annual Reunion will be held on Saturday, October 24, from 7:00 - 11:00 p.m. at the School's Riverfront Campus.  As part of the festivities, we will celebrate the the 50th anniversary of our clinical program; selection of Hon. Anthony J. Fiorella, Jr. as UDM's 2015 Alumni Award recipient and Richard T. Krisciunas as the 2015 Time and Talent Award recipient; and the special anniversaries of the classes of 1965, 1990, and 2005.  The Reunion is for all School of Law alumni.  Additional details may be found on the Reunion website.


November 14, 2015: Prospective Student Open House - UDM Law Campus

Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 9:00 am

Find out why men and women have been choosing UDM Law for over 100 years for their legal education.  Learn how UDM Law not only teaches you the law, but teaches you how to be a lawyer.  Through your education here, you will become a lawyer who makes a difference in your workplace and your community.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the campus and speak with admissions representatives, faculty, and current students.  

January 7, 2016: Prospective Student Open House - UDM Law Campus

Thursday, January 7, 2016 - 5:30 pm

Find out why men and women have been choosing UDM Law for over 100 years for their legal education.  Learn how UDM Law not only teaches you the law, but teaches you how to be a lawyer.  Through your education here, you will become a lawyer who makes a difference in your workplace and your community.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the campus and speak with admissions representatives, faculty, and current students.  



    The legal community came together to celebrate UDM Law's 103rd annual Red Mass on September 29.  Judges, attorneys, civic leaders, faculty, and law students of all faiths filled Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church to pray together at the beginning of the new judicial term. View Red Mass Photos>>  Read More>>



    Professor Alex Vernon represented the Immigration Law Clinic in participating in "Become a Citizen Day" hosted by the Chaldean Community Foundation and the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit on Saturday, September 19, in Sterling Heights. Attorneys and volunteers from these organizations and other firms assisted permanent residents in applying for citizenship. This was part of a nation-wide effort coordinated by organizations including the American Immigration Lawyers Association.



    Four UDM Law students will compete in the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan's 16th Annual National Trial Advocacy Competition in Lansing on October 9-11, 2015. The prosecution team will be led by Scott Ruark and Nina Paolini-Lotarski, and the defense team members are Hannah Treppa and Patrina Bergamo.



    UDM Law will offer new programming this fall to meet the needs of its entrepreneurial-minded students and graduates interested in developing their own law practices. Eight different free workshops have been scheduled for September 23 to November 18 at the School of Law campus, exploring the practical implications of developing a solo or small firm practice, and some will also be available for online viewing. The School was awarded a $30,000 grant from the DeWitt C. Holbrook Memorial Fund to fund and expand its Solo and Small Firm Incubator Program to add these workshops through a new Center for Solo and Small Firm Practice.

    Register for Workshops>>

    Press Release>>


    In the Fall 2015 issue of Conversations, a semi-annual magazine published by the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education, alumnus Allen Elzerman '03 praises UDM Law's commitment to social and criminal justice.  In his article, "On Loan to the Poor," Elzerman discusses how he personifies that commitment through his work as a public defender and how his sense of fulfillment is more important than financial gain.

    On Loan to the Poor, Conversations magazine, Issue 48 - Fall 2015 (written by Allen Elzerman '03)


    UDM Law is pleased to announce the founding of the Hon. Lawrence Paul Zatkoff Endowed Scholarship, made possible by the Zatkoff family, in memory of the late judge.  This gift is the first million-dollar scholarship the law school has ever received.  The scholarship provides support for a student to extern or intern with a federal court or state supreme court judge.

    Press Release>>