Joel Michel

Hometown: West Philadelphia

Undergraduate school: Haverford College

Job: Clerkship with the Hon. Petrese B. Tucker, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of PA; then, Associate at Blank Rome

Student groups

During my time at Temple Law I was a member of the Student Public Interest Network (SPIN), the School Discipline Advocacy Service (SDAS), the International and Comparative Law Journal, Vice President of Temple’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) chapter, and on Temple’s National Trial Team. Of these activities Trial Team has been the most rewarding. In addition to teaching me great litigation skills, Trial Team has helped me develop what I like to call the art of self-forgetfulness. That is the ability to put one’s pride and desires aside in order to accomplish the collective goals of others. I learned that each time I walked into a courtroom I was representing my client, my team, and my school.

Experiential opportunities

I participated in the Philadelphia Public Defenders clinical, and I did a practicum with the Honorable C. Darnell Jones II of the Eastern District of PA. The Public Defenders clinical was my best experience in law school. I had the opportunity to prepare and litigate real cases, represent real clients, and argue before real judges. My time with Judge Jones has also been impactful. Observing the grace, compassion, and intelligence with which Judge Jones operates has given me a desire to sit on the federal bench.

Favorite memory

One of the most memorable moments for me during my time at Temple was trying out for Trial Team in my second year. It was a really busy week. I had written my closing argument the night before and was up most of the night memorizing it. To make matters worse, my Legal Research and Writing oral argument was scheduled for the same day as my audition. At one point, I had convinced myself that I would not try out, but then something inside me said, “just do it.” So, I did. Throughout my entire closing argument, Professor Jen Bretschneider sat there with a smile on her face, which made me think that I was doing a terrible job. I thought to myself, “Why is she smiling? This is a closing about a poor woman who was harassed.” At the end of my closing, Professor Bretschneider explained what her smile meant. Her first words to me were, “I think you can win a National Championship.” That moment was significant to me because it gave me confidence. It indicated to me that someone saw something special in me. In that moment a flame of confidence and passion was lit within me and it has been growing ever since.

Making an Impact

At this point I’d like to use my degree to be a trial attorney. However, I am determined not to let my legal career be the extent of my life’s work. In other words, the impact that I would like to have is not limited to the legal field. I am passionate about bringing change to the low-income African-American community. I have a number of ideas that I hope will help bring about this change. For example, I would like to start a boarding school that offers free education for low-income African-American kids. I would also like to start a shelter for homeless individuals and families that not only provides temporary housing, but also provides resources, such as job training, that will allow homeless people to get back on their feet. My education from Temple has helped inspire these ideas and has also given me confidence in knowing that these goals are achievable. Temple is a hub for public service. I’ve been inspired by the faculty and fellow classmates to intentionally seek ways to give back and make a positive change in this world.