[Attending MSU Law] created an instant network that was unparalleled.
Donald Nystrom, ’00
For Donald Nystrom, ’00, a degree from MSU College of Law reinforced a commitment to building a life in Michigan.
Nystrom, chief operating officer of the private equity company Dynamic industrial Group, graduated in 2000 as a member of the first class to spend all three years in the current Law College building. He was attracted to the school in part due to its extensive alumni network in the state.
“The Law College had been so successful in graduating successful attorneys in Michigan, and also the greatest number of judges in the state,” Nystrom says. “It created an instant network that was unparalleled.”
Nystrom has worked hard to reinforce that network of successful attorneys. During his second year at MSU Law, he created a “best brief” competition for first-year students, which continues today. The contest has been named for Nystrom, who funds the annual prize.
At the end of his second year, Nystrom was elected editor of the Michigan State Law Review and worked hard to raise the publication’s profile. During his tenure, the journal hosted a one-day telecommunications symposium in Washington, D.C., whose attendees included three former Federal Communications Commission chairs and featured Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as the keynote speaker. A special issue of the Law Review followed.
Nystrom interned with Miller Canfield and took a job at the firm right after graduation. During law school, he says, “I think most people, based on my personality, assumed I’d be a litigator.” But he chose transaction at all work instead at Miller Canfield.
“I loved it,” he says. “The law practice at Miller Canfield was really fantastic—the firm treated me really, really well.”
After six years at the firm, Nystrom’s father, a 1967 Detroit College of Law graduate, invited him to join a growing private equity investment group he co-founded. The group comprises five companies in the aerospace, defense, rail, and automotive industries.
“Each industry has its own nuances,” Nystrom says. “Rather than working in one area of finance, I’m working in four.”
Nystrom travels 200 nights a year for his work, making four to five annual trips to Europe. He still finds time to support MSU Law’s programs. He recently agreed to help raise scholarship support for the Law Review.
His aspiration, he says, is to continue to grow the family business. He still finds his MSU Law education integral to the success of his work.
“We live in a world that is not only more litigious, but you don’t walk through a door without signing a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement,” he says. “I think there are a lot of businesses that don’t take the impact of that seriously enough. It’s like paying for insurance: insurance is really expensive until the day you need it. Law school training forces you to do that due diligence up front. I think we’ve ended up with better relationships, or more clarity in our relationships, than we otherwise would have.”
A version of this profile originally appeared in the spring 2011 issue of Amicus, published by the MSU College of Law.