Class of '24: Law grad continues family legacy after leaving HR role

May 06, 2024

kevin lynch

Each year, University of Detroit Mercy’s Marketing & Communications department profiles members of the graduating classes. Students chosen were nominated by staff and faculty for their contributions to the life of the University. Click here for more information about 2024 commencement exercises.

Being a lawyer is in Kevin Lynch’s blood. 

His father, mother, a pair of uncles, an aunt and grandfather have all worked as attorneys. 

“There actually was sort of this built-in path of going to law school,” Lynch said. “I knew that I had a lot of family members who had done well at it. But I never wanted to choose it just for that reason.” 

“If I was going to do it, I wanted to have my own reason to do it.” kevin lynch 2

That reason was Lynch’s favorite part of his previous career: working with attorneys. 

He spent nearly a decade in human resources and worked with outside counsel in his role. 

“I always thought that was neat,” Lynch said. “They were leading the show, and I was more in an assisting role in HR. I liked their job and I thought, ‘I want to do that job.’  

“So, I ultimately made the decision to go to law school on that basis.” 

Three years later, Lynch will graduate from University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Law on May 10. He is set to join Butzel Long in September as an associate in the firm’s labor and employment group. 

Lynch chose Detroit Mercy Law for a variety of reasons. He wanted to work in the Detroit area and remain in southeast Michigan, where his family is located. His father, Terrance Lynch ’83, is a Detroit Mercy Law graduate, and he enjoyed the friendly atmosphere from the campus community during a tour. 

Having lots of family connections to law was helpful when Lynch made the leap to attend law school. 

“I think it gave me confidence that this was a good decision, sort of a tried-and-true one for my family,” he said. “They just had all kinds of advice. I think that’s part of what led me to Detroit Mercy, because I knew my dad had a great career, and he did it through going to Detroit Mercy. I wouldn’t have known that reputation but for him.” 

Lynch dedicated his Detroit Mercy Law experience to Law Review, where he served as editor-in-chief the past academic year. He oversaw Law Review’s annual symposium and had an article published in its winter 2024 issue. The article, Beyond Right-to-Work’s Repeal: Examining Other Reforms to Michigan Labor Law, had ties to his days in human resources. 

“Law Review was my life for the last couple years, and that was deliberate,” Lynch said. “I didn’t take on anything additional outside of that, just because it’s a huge commitment. It’s humbling how much work is involved with it and you really need to give it your full dedication, I think, to do it right.” 

Lynch’s career in human resources consistently intertwined with law.  kevin lynch symposium

His first job in the field was at a small employment law firm that did human resources consulting with companies. In that role, he investigated employment disputes. 

From there, Lynch took a job in the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation’s (SMART) human resources department as a labor and employment specialist, where he worked with attorneys. 

Those interactions piqued his interest, and around two years before starting law school, Lynch said he started thinking about making a move: Go all-in on human resources or study law? 

“I ended up taking a transfer within the company to another area of HR, recruiting, and I didn’t like it,” he said. “The idea in taking the role was to explore another area of HR, and it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t meaty enough for me.  

“It’s really important getting good people in your company, but after a while, it became pretty routine for me. I like big, complex puzzles, I don’t want to just keep repeating the same thing week in and week out.” 

Going to law school after already being established in a career was crucial for his success, he said. 

“I needed it. I did not have the discipline coming out of undergrad to be successful in law school,” Lynch said. “It’s tough. Going to law school is the hardest thing I ever did.” 

Lynch worked for Butzel Long as a summer associate last year and is happy to be returning to start his career. Working in the firm’s labor and employment group is a full circle moment, he said, after so many years in human resources. 

“I actually worked with one of the guys at Butzel when I was in SMART,” he said. “I used to be his client; now, I’m his coworker.” 

Lynch feels properly equipped for his next journey as a lawyer. He appreciates the breadth of his law education and enjoys the direct experience he gained at Detroit Mercy Law. 

“My favorite moments at Detroit Mercy have been hands-on and clinics,” he said. “We got to do mock trials and try out doing different oral arguments. I was in the Federal Pro Se Clinic, so I got to work with real clients, actually doing some employment law stuff. It wasn’t just that I got to work with clients, but it’s also in the field I’m going into. I got some really good opportunities to do some lawyering. 

“Beyond that, the reason I came here is also turning out to be true: It’s set me up for success in Detroit and in Michigan.” 

For Lynch, his Detroit Mercy Law experience and all that has come from it has been beyond his wildest dreams. 

“I didn’t see it coming,” Lynch said. “I knew I was going to try my hardest to get as much as I could out of this. I’m just so grateful for how it turned out. Really, I just feel lucky.” 

— By Ricky Lindsay. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.