When not flying his airplane, traveling with his grandchildren to Scotland, or taking a biking trip in Florida, Michael Fayhee, JD ’73, LLM ’20, is thinking about the law. More specifically, he ponders the why and how behind our legal system—and wants to ensure that students at the Law School have the opportunity to do the same.
Currently of counsel at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago, Fayhee previously chaired the tax business unit and served on the firm’s executive committee. He recently took the somewhat unusual step of coming back to Michigan Law to pursue an LLM degree in his 70s, and he even lived in the Lawyers Club on a part-time basis. This experience influenced his decision to set up a fund to support the study of the philosophy of law. “I thoroughly enjoyed the professors that focused on philosophy questions and have come to believe even more that law students benefit from not only learning the law, which is priority number one, but also from sitting back and contemplating how the law intersects with morality and what role the law should play in a well-functioning society. That is a deeper question than just what the law is,” says Fayhee.
By establishing the Michael R. Fayhee Fund for the Philosophy of Law, Fayhee hopes to provide more opportunities for students to engage in the reasoning behind their studies. Currently, students have the opportunity to study and question the philosophy of law through a number of ethics, theory, and morality classes, including a seminar on academic freedom and campus speech, which explores the theory and law of American academic freedom and recent controversies over free speech on campus.
“Having a fund dedicated to making sure that those courses are offered for the students is beneficial. And I think among this existing student body, there’s quite an interest in those subjects, so I wanted to make sure that those subject matters and the people who teach them are well funded,” he says. “I enjoyed being in the classroom with the 2 and 3Ls. It gives me faith in the next generation of lawyers: very smart, serious, intelligent, and thoughtful—they were very impressive classes.”
Fayhee believes that the philosophy of law does not get the same amount of attention as other areas of legal studies. He hopes that this fund will shine a light on the importance of studying jurisprudence, which he says is important for the benefit of society. “I wanted to do something a little bit different than a scholarship fund and see if we can introduce a level of support that might not otherwise exist for a subject that I think is important,” Fayhee explains.
While not occupied with his work and private study, Fayhee always has something exciting up his sleeve. He hopes to continue his adventures, such as retracing the military routes of Napoleon, a man he finds “fascinating,” by motorcycle. For Fayhee, someone with such an active and rigorous interest in history, the law, and our world at large, that seems about par for the course.—CLP