One of the best compliments I have received at the law school came from Adam Decker. He told me “Joel, you’re one of the nicest guys at the school. You’re almost as nice as Michael Lanahan.”
I consider this very high praise. Almost everyone in the school knew Michael: the students, the professors, the staff who cleaned the rooms and watched the front desk. He even put together a fundraiser to help a woman who worked in the law school cafe pay for her fiancé’s funeral. Every time I would see him, whether at school or at church, he had a great big grin on his face.
What made Michael’s gregariousness even more remarkable was how involved he was in the life of the school. There is a saying that in the third year of law school, they “bore you to death,” reflecting a detachment and lack of motivation. Michael was not that way at all. He took challenging courses and was dedicated to the work of the IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship, helping low income business owners with legal issues. He was involved with various student organizations, from the Law School Musical to the Federalist Society. He continues on this work in St. Louis; he is a part of a group of volunteer attorneys helping small business owners in Ferguson, MO.
What I admire most about Michael is how he balanced conviction with compassion. He held very strong beliefs and values, but aways approached those who disagreed with him with humility and consideration.
All of this is to say that I am very much looking forward to seeing Michael and Maria Lanahan in St. Louis in a couple weeks.