Eye on the ball: Student dreams of becoming NBA associate counsel


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News   

The great-nephew of boxing great Joe Louis, law student Matthew High clearly has inherited that icon’s competitive spirit and drive for success.

With a passion for sports in his blood, the 3L Detroit Mercy Law student would ultimately like to become associate counsel for the NBA.

“Before law school, I was really interested in Sports and Entertainment Law. I saw Michigan wasn’t the best market for it,” he said. “Then, I became interested in employment law. Associate counsel for the NBA combines two things I love — basketball and law. So, that’s my goal and there’s no doubt in my mind I will get there.”   

With an undergrad degree in political science and government from Western Michigan University under his belt, High headed to Detroit Mercy Law School in 2015.   

“I love to argue,” he said. “Anybody that knows me can attest to the fact that I love to get my point across. Law was a natural fit for me.”   

He has high praise for his law school professors.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for professionals who have mastered their craft,” High said. “My professors are an exceptional example of that. The fact they take an interest in their
students beyond the classroom is a testament to Detroit Mercy Law.”   

Treasurer of the Black Law Students Association, High saidhis goal in belonging to the BLSA is to “pay it forward” and help fellow students.     

“The number of black law students is fairly low,” he said. “With that in mind, failure is not an option for those of us that are here.”

As a BLSA board member, High said his responsibility is two-fold.

“First, I try to be the best example I can. This may include placing second oralist in our Keenan Moot Court Competition or taking an active role in community service around Detroit,” he said.   

“Secondly, a common fact is that about 70 percent of jobs are filled by networking — the legal field is all about connections,” High added. “Like most black law students, I didn’t know any lawyers before I came to law school. I’ve worked hard to build a solid network, which I will continue to extend to students that come after me.”

High finds his interests in areas of the law change on a daily basis.

“I’m extremely fond of litigation, but in-house counsel is intriguing as well,” he said. “I’m really interested in employment law. I had the opportunity to be taught by, Bart Feinbaum, an employee rights professor at Detroit Mercy Law. I had some interest in employment law, but his class spiraled that interest.”   

Several legal jobs have helped build High’s portfolio of experience.

A summer job at Goodman & Hurwitz in Detroit after his 1L year, taught him a great deal of Constitutional Law.

“I also had the pleasure of writing legal memos on police brutality, an issue I’m very passionate about, so it was an amazing experience to help real clients,” he said.   

High followed that with three months clerking at the Detroit firm of Cripps & Silver, a job he chose for its immersion in legal writing, something that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Brian Zahra encouraged him to hone in on, as many students struggle with this crucial skill.    

“On my first day, I was assigned to write a motion and brief on a Miranda rights issue due that same day,” he said. “I honed in on my legal writing skills every day of work. This was an invaluable experience because legal writing is the kryptonite of most law students.”   

In six months at Med Lien Solutions in Southfield, he researched subrogation statutes across all 50 states to see how they applied to a case.

“This experience allowed me to improve another skill that law students tend to struggle with,” he said.   

This past summer’s clerkship at Allstate in Farmington Hills provided the opportunity to combine and apply all the skills acquired through previous positions.

“Each day was different,” High said. “I got an opportunity to watch attorneys argue motions and assist them with crafting arguments. Of course, I was assigned the occasional legal memo or brief. But, the cases were always fascinating. And to top it off I was invited to the Allstate attorney conference in Ohio where I gave a brief presentation to the attorneys there — an exciting time to showcase oral advocacy.”   

High now is doing research and writing for Dayna Millbrand PC, in Mt. Clemens.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work independently and lend assistance to an experienced attorney on an ongoing case,” he says.   

He recently started interning in the in-house legal department at Horizon Global in Troy.

“I’ve learned a lot already,” he said. “I gave a presentation on a new Global Data Privacy Regulation in the European Union. I’m also gaining exposure with various other regulations like the TCPA — Telephone Consumer Protection Act — and California’s Proposition 65 law.   

“I’m fortunate to have legal experience as a law student and every position has trained me on how to be a lawyer.”   

In his leisure time, High relaxes by watching Netflix, playing NBA 2K video games, and reading — especially about black history, financial literacy or law books. He also enjoys travel, and in 2010 took a mission trip to Guatemala.

“It was the best experience of my life,” he said. “I would do nearly anything to return.”   

He is a big supporter of the Midnight Golf Program that helps under-served young people transition from high school to college and into a professional career.

“I was in this program in high school and I hope to become a mentor of the program,” he said. “My mentor, Judge Mark Randon, has instilled in me the value of lending a hand to those that come after you. As he has done for me, I wish to do for others.”   

The Detroit native credits his parents with his success.

“My mom is a clinical psychologist and my dad is a chemical engineer. It’s a lot easier to reach success when you grow up with examples of success,” he said. “My parents have been instrumental to my maturation process.”   

In the spring, High and his mother will launch a podcast, Real Talk Real Solutions.

“The purpose of the podcast is to educate and engage the public on deep issues such as race, politics, religion, gender and many other issues.” High said. “My mom, a residential psychologist on Channel 4 WDIV and Fox 2, is spearheading the show.”