MLaw students battle to 'catch 'em all'

By Jordan Poll
U-M Law

“I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.” Sound familiar? Let’s try one more verse: “To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause.”

For those who have yet to burst into song, these two phrases are the opening lines of the original theme song for one of the world’s biggest sensations, Pokémon.

This catchy tune is not only a theme of a generation but that of this year’s Nannes 3L Challenge at University of Michigan Law School.

Students currently are working together to “be the very best like no one ever was” as they shine a spotlight on private support in a manner true to Pokémon’s “you teach me and I teach you” philosophy.

Each fall, 3Ls partake in the Nannes 3L Challenge in order to effectively spread awareness of private support by celebrating, participating in, and teaching one another about the vital role it plays in the Michigan Law experience.

Through the Challenge — conceived and funded by John Nannes, a 1973 Michigan Law grad and a partner in Skadden Arp’s Washington, D.C., office — students pledge to make a contribution to the law school in each of the first four years after they graduate.

In exchange for each student’s pledge, Nannes will give $250 to their chosen law school student organization.

If they so desire, students are welcome to split Nannes’ contribution between multiple student organizations in order to support as many as five organizations.

“Student life is a vibrant and active part of Michigan Law,” said 3L Julie Siegel, co-chair of the Nannes 3L Challenge committee. “Student organizations are such a large part of day-to-day life here at the law school, so the direct impact of the Challenge is something we see every day.”

Building awareness of the law school fund’s importance is another key goal of the Nannes 3L Challenge.

The law school fund, the school’s annual source of expendable support, sustains many aspects of Michigan Law life, including scholarships, summer fellowships, experiential learning opportunities, faculty recruitment and retention and student organizations.

Because most gifts made by recent graduates benefit the Law School Fund, the Nannes 3L Challenge seeks to introduce soon-to-be alumni to the prospect of philanthropy in hopes that they continue the time honored tradition as so many have before them.

“The organizations that we are a part of, our interactions with faculty, the types of programing available to students, these are all really integral parts of what it means to go to Michigan Law,” said 3L Carly Weiss, co-chair of Outlaws and the Nannes 3L Challenge Committee. “When we give back, we are preserving them and what it means to go to Michigan Law for future generations.”

The Nannes 3L Challenge historically was open to only the first 200 3Ls who signed up.

However, that number has steadily increased over time.

This year, the number of participants is expected to surpass 245, the 72-percent participation rate set by the previous 3L class.

The Challenge is not only a race to convince the most friends to commit and provide their favorite organizations with much-needed funding. It is also one more platform for old rivalries to come out of the shadows and compete for both bragging rights and the title of “best section” — cue the “gotta catch ‘em all” battle hymn.

“Through the Challenge, we make it very easy for students to give back. When pledging, we just ask that they give an amount that is meaningful and affordable for them,” said 3L Jade Yee, co-chair of the Nannes 3L Challenge Committee. “Every one of us has benefitted from private support, and it’s really important to keep it going, to enable the school to continue doing all that they can for students. This, the whole Michigan experience, it doesn’t work without us.”

This year’s Nannes 3L Challenge ends Oct. 14.