Meet Singer, Pianist and Michael Harrington, '09
Although a majority of UC Law students hail from the Midwest, an increasing percentage of them have ventured from further afield to experience all that UC has to offer. One of those students is Mike Harrington, Class of 2009, who traveled from Salt Lake City, Utah to study at UC Law. Harrington attended college at the University of Utah where he majored in piano performance. He’s been a pianist since the age of six when his mother, a well-known piano teacher in the Salt Lake City area, began to work with him. Not only is he an accomplished musician, he is also a singer, a former member of an acappella group, The Crimson Five. They had opportunities to perform across the city, including at many University of Utah events and at the President's Mansion.
Doctor v. Lawyer…Which Will It Be?
Unlike some law students who had dreams of practicing law at an early age, Harrington spent most of his college years trying to decide between practicing medicine or law. Following his high school graduation, Harrington went on a mission trip to Russia for two years where he was immersed in the culture and the language of the country. He returned to Utah fluent in Russian and enrolled in classes at the University of Utah. After four years of study, Harrington took some time off to work at a local law firm while shadowing doctors in local practice in an attempt to discover his true love. Upon his return to school, he completed his final recital, necessary to graduate with a piano performance degree. He then made his decision. “I was studying with a friend of mine for the MCAT,” he explained. “I had been pretty vocal about the fact that I was choosing between law and medicine so no one was too surprised when I made the final decision.” Law school would be his next step.
Innocence Project Seals the Deal
If his choice between law and medicine hadn’t been hard enough, Harrington’s next task was to decide on a law school. “I knew I wanted to go to a place that had an innocence project,” he explained. “Our singing group had performed at prisons and I had met some people there that I felt didn’t deserve to be where they were. I had read about the number of innocent people who were wrongly convicted and wanted to be involved in one of those programs.” At the end of 2005 when Harrington was making his decisions about where to apply, Clarence Elkins was released from prison with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at UC Law. He submitted his application and made a decision without hesitation. “In Salt Lake City, if you don’t go to the University of Utah or Brigham Young University, you’re a good 10 hours away from any other law school in terms of driving distance,” he explained. “Once you get that far, it’s all flight distance and, frankly, it’s all pretty similar in terms of travel time.” UC Law seemed to be the best solution.
Harrington wasn’t the only one who would make the journey to Ohio. His wife Alexis, who he met through mutual friends before his last semester of school, joined him. Their family expanded a year ago on February 20, 2008, when they became parents to a son, Grayson Michael. Through all of the changes in his life, Harrington has managed to keep up with school work and continue his obligations with the Ohio Innocence Project. “Having Grayson hasn’t affected law school at all,” he explained. “I just spend my free time differently now. I spend it with the baby.”
Harrington was thrilled to be involved with the exoneration of Robert McClendon this past year though his work with the Ohio Innocence Project. He and his OIP partner Dan O’Brien were in charge of the case and have gotten a chance to spend time with McClendon and his family since the release. “It has been one of the highlights of my life,” he said.
Post graduation, Harrington has accepted a job working with a law firm in Vernal, Utah where he will be responsible for misdemeanor prosecutions for local municipalities, in addition to corporate work. He is excited to be going back to his home state and looks forward to honing his litigation skills.
Author: Mandy Shoemaker, '09