pro bono service
Michele Halloran does whatever it takes to help those in need. Just ask Stella Shimamoto.
A few years ago, Shimamoto was a law student representing an impoverished client through the Michigan State University College of Law Tax Clinic, which Halloran oversees. The client's finances were in terrible shape—her phone had been turned off and she could only communicate via postal service mail—and Shimamoto was concerned the client couldn't even afford stamps. She sought Halloran's advice on what to do.
"Without a moment of hesitation, Michele gave me some of her own personal stamps and told me to send them to the client to help alleviate the financial burden of buying stamps to mail information to us," Shimamoto said. "This small act of generosity really touched me, as I saw that Michele cared about her clients as real people and she understood and sympathized with their plight."
Halloran also helps her community and employer on a much larger scale by volunteering on numerous boards and committees. She has served on the MSU Curriculum Committee, University Steering Committee, Faculty Senate, University Council, and as faculty coach for MSU teams that took first place in the American Bar Association Student Tax Challenge competitions. She served as a founding member and first president of the Michigan Women's Tax Association and was on the Michigan Department of Transportation's Business Tax Advisory Group, the East Lansing Children's Film Festival Board of Directors, and the Advent House Ministries Board of Directors.
But it is in her day job as director of clinical programs at MSU College of Law where she truly excels.
When Halloran stepped into this role in 2000, she oversaw two clinics. She has since expanded them to eight, dealing with immigration, civil rights, pleas and sentencing, small businesses and nonprofits, chance at childhood, First Amendment issues, housing, and low-income taxpayer law. In addition to overseeing the clinics, Halloran also teaches and supervises second- and thirdyear law students representing taxpayers in cases before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court.
She and her students find creative ways to work with the more than 200 clients they serve on a pro bono basis. They purchased a motor home to function as a clinic on wheels to provide legal services to those without transportation, like the migrant worker population in the state. Since Hurricane Katrina, Halloran has taken her tax clinic students to New Orleans every year for an alternative spring break, helping residents fill out tax returns. "Michele Halloran has been a tireless voice and a devoted advocate for the rights of low-income people both here in Michigan and nationally," wrote MSU College of Law Dean Joan W. Howarth in her nomination. "She exemplifies the highest standards of dedication and devotion to the practice of law."
—Mike Eidelbes, Lynn Ingram, and Samantha Meinke
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Michele L. Halloran
The Champion of Justice Award is given to practicing lawyers and judges of integrity and adherence to the highest principles and traditions of the legal profession, superior professional competence, and an extraordinary professional accomplishment that benefits the nation, the state, or the local community in which the lawyer or judge lives.