Law Student of the Year: Mark Timmerman, Saint Louis University

Mark Timmerman arrived in St. Louis for his first year of law school just one day before the death of Michael Brown. To say that he was profoundly affected by Brown’s death and the events following is an understatement. As a fresh law student he leapt into action, organizing an event to promote peace, understanding and expression at a very difficult time for the St. Louis community.

The Sounds of Change event brought together people from across the campus and the city for a night of music, poetry and spoken word inspired by Ferguson.

“The event demonstrated his belief in promoting change through peaceful and meaningful actions,” said Shannon Morse, assistant dean of student activities and leadership. “It was the first time we saw Mark in action and lucky for us, it was just the beginning.”

Shortly after the death of Michael Brown, Governor Nixon formed the Ferguson Commission to study the underlying social and economic issues that led to the unrest in Ferguson and to develop recommendations of policy changes to address these issues. Timmerman applied and joined immediately. 

From gathering research and organizing and attending meetings, to taking and analyzing notes and helping working groups organize the policy recommendations, his days with the Commission were fast-paced, often leading to long and intense conversations and debates among the working group members.

"I believe that there is a difference between practicing law and practicing Justice using the practice of law,” Timmerman said. “Law school is teaching me how to practice law. But my experiences with the Ferguson Commission and SLU Law Clinics have taught me how to practice justice. Justice means access to quality education for all youth, regardless of skin color, neighborhood, or family wealth. It means unbiased and community-based policing. It means families have access to livelihood. Justice means the eradication of institutionalized discrimination in all its forms."

Timmerman is one of 25 future lawyers honored in the National Jurist’s inaugural “Law Student of the Year” feature.