Ernscie Augustin

2017 | Lansing, MI

Michigan State University | Political Science

“Understand that your classmates become your colleagues. A lot of students don’t think that way. They spend so much time competing with each other.”

Attorneys have the important role of providing legal counsel to their clients, but for Ernscie Augustin, ’17, her work in elder law also allows her to be another type of counselor. 

Augustin’s pursuit of a legal career was driven by her passion to help people – and believing that law was one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in other’s lives. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science and completed a master’s degree in human development and family studies at Michigan State University prior to starting at MSU College of Law.

During law school, she took advantage of opportunities to see the law working in real life beyond the classroom by way of participating in MSU Law’s Chance at Childhood Clinic and internships. She catered her studies toward a career in family law – where she thought her ambition to serve and guide people through legal challenges would best fit – but didn’t close herself off to other potential practice areas. Her openness led her to Chalgian & Tripp Law Offices, PLLC in Lansing, where she realized the overlaps between family law and elder law. 

Augustin has been with the firm since she graduated from MSU Law in 2017 and her primary work is in estate planning; probate, trust, and fiduciary litigation; and guardianship, conservatorship, and estate hearings. 

Through her work, she regularly engages with clients navigating high-stress situations, often paired with the varied emotions that come with change, like a death in the family. These cases allow Augustin to use her legal knowledge and skills to provide expert counsel, while also compassionately supporting her clients. 

“The thing I love about elder law is that there’s a balance,” she explained. “People are emotional, but they’re also logical because they’re dealing with money, assets, and transfers.”

Originally from Florida, Augustin’s decision to stay in Michigan after completing her studies was motivated in part by the network and relationships that she had developed over the course of her time in the state. She advises law students not to alienate themselves from their law school peers by thinking too far ahead or being too narrow-focused, because they can be valuable connections to have in your career.

“It’s really hard to think outside the bubble when you’re living in it,” she said. “In the blink of an eye you’re graduating, trying to figure out where you’re going to move and work. It’s easier said than done but take it one day at a time. Calm down. It all works out in the end.

“Understand that your classmates become your colleagues. A lot of students don’t think that way. They spend so much time competing with each other.” 

Augustin mentors law students through her role as vice president of the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association, an organization that seeks to promote diversity in the practice of law and fosters an engaged community where students can come together to connect with local attorneys and judges.