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Andrew J. Mertzenich

Andrew J. Mertzenich

Andrew Mertzenich believes that the diversity and acceptance of the NIU Law community is unparalleled and values the relationships he developed during his first year. He invests heavily in the law school and local community as a member of numerous student organizations and an ambassador to outside groups. Mr. Mertzenich has aspirations to build on his law school experience by representing his values as a legal practitioner.

What was your experience as a first-year student like? My first semester of law school was amazing. I had the opportunity to be active in many student organizations, do what I enjoyed, and have fun along the way. The readings in preparation for class were tough, but I met people that, because of the experience we shared, are lifelong friends. My biggest comfort was knowing that if I found life stressful or complicated, we were in the same boat. Despite the amount of reading, the rewiring of the brain, and the constant attempts to stay ahead in an already exhaustively overloaded schedule, I would not change my experience for the world.

Sum up your first year in one sentence. It was the most challenging endeavor I have ever undertaken, but the best decision I could have made.

What was the most rewarding part of your first year? It was getting to know all of the amazing people that have become a part of my life. Scholars say the best friendships are based on foundations that are formed through a common challenge or experience. Each one of us took on this challenge; each one of us has set the goal of passing the bar; and each one of us will do our part to help everyone succeed.

What was the most challenging part of your first year? Time management was always critical, but not in the way most would expect. Allowing yourself the time to maintain your hobbies, making time for friends, and making sure to keep contact with your family are most challenging. Law school will consume a person. Between readings, organizations, office visits, and more, the days fill quickly. However, no one can get through law school alone. That’s why you have to make time (rather than find time) for family and friends.

Why are you thankful you chose NIU Law? Nowhere on earth will you find a community so accepting of every kind of background and personality.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year law students? I would give the same advice that I would give to someone who asks me what the biggest challenge in law school is. That is, make time for family, friends, and fraternity. It’s easy to be consumed by this endeavor. 24 hours is a lot of time, but it’s not nearly enough to build friendships or maintain a relationship. My advice is to take one day off a week. Call your parents or siblings, meet a friend for lunch, invite a friend over to chat.

What activities are you involved in (both inside and outside of the law school)?I am involved with the Gay-Straight Alliance as president, the Professionalism and Ethics Society, the NIU Law Review, the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, Lawyers Opposing Violence Everywhere, the Student Bar Association as a 2L representative and I am the 7th Circuit ambassador to representatives of the American Bar Association.

What did you do this summer (externships, clerkships, internships, study abroad, etc.)? I studied abroad with NIU Law's Agen, France exchange program.

What has your study abroad experience been like? It’s been a wonderful experience. Learning the difference between European and American legal systems has been so beneficial. I have also made many friends that make the experience that much better.

What is your goal after law school? My goal is to start my own law firm following graduation. I want to focus on LGBTQ trusts and estates, as well as small business advisement and formation. After practicing a few years, I would love to become the probate judge in Illinois. The other goal I have is to become a professor at a law school (maybe NIU if I can).

This interview was conducted in Summer 2016. 

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Student Facts

Undergraduate Institution:
Concordia University Chicago

Undergraduate Major:
Business Administration, emphasis in Management

Hometown: Roscoe, Illinois

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