Landing in Lansing: Matt Wyman
Matt Wyman loves to cook.
The 29-year-old attorney relaxes by flexing his culinary muscles and being creative. He tries a dish at a restaurant or sees a recipe on TV, then adds or omits an ingredient or two and sees where it goes. Then he'll change the recipe up again until he's found his "stand-by" favorite.
He's apparently taken the same approach to deciding where he'll live and work. A 2007 graduate of DePaul University's College of Law, Matt took the Illinois bar first, then Michigan's the next summer, and passed both on the first try. He's been a practicing attorney for three years. He was practicing law he didn't love at a firm with no advancement opportunity in a city, Chicago, which had lost its allure so he decided to change things up.
He considered moving to Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor (but not Detroit; that would be trading one metropolis for another) but his current employer the Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes law firm in Okemos, where he practices trademark and copyright law made him an offer he couldn't refuse: to work in an area of law that he studied in school and wanted to pursue In March, Wyman moved back to Lansing.
Trading a Concrete Jungle for Green Space
He had grown tired of the hassles that come with a city the size of Chicago home to over 2.8 million people compared to Mid-Michigan's 464,000 like how it took 60 minutes to travel 12 miles. He also missed green things.
"In Chicago, there's concrete everywhere," he explains. "If I drive two hours outside of Chicago, I'm likely still in suburban Chicago. Nature and forests are very hard to find. I drive two hours outside of Lansing and I'm in Grand Haven or a national forest; in the winter I'm almost [always heading] to Boyne for a day of skiing or snowboarding."
Wyman thinks Lansing has a lot of potential. "There's a lot of room for growth and improvement," he says. "More importantly, there appears to be a young and inspired demographic that wants to see this accomplished sooner rather than later."
He'd love to see downtown Lansing develop into a vibrant cityscape with unique, locally-owned shops and restaurants. He thinks it's off to a good start, and "Rome wasn't built in a day."
Lansing's Changing Atmosphere
He mentions the Stadium District, on Michigan Avenue between Cedar and Larch which brings young professionals downtown to live, not just attend an occasional Lugnuts game and the Waterfront Bar & Grill at Lansing City Market as examples of places that interest and attract people his age. He also likes Old Town and the Lansing River Trail, and appreciates that "Lansing's atmosphere is one where people want to come to the city and interact commercially, socially and artistically rather than avoid it."
Wyman's mother is from Chicago and his father is from Clare. His younger sister and her fiancι just returned to Lansing from Colorado which he thinks is further proof that Lansing's becoming a place to be.
He earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan in 2003 and describes himself as "unequivocally a Michigan fan" he and his mom, an MSU graduate, don't speak to each other on one Saturday each year but Wyman thinks growing up here and graduating from Haslett High School give him the ability to be a good ambassador for both fan bases.
He's staying in Lansing as long as he feels productive as an attorney and valuable to his colleagues and friends. He's thankful to be practicing cases relevant to his interests with people who believe as he does, and enjoys a good network of friends.
The social scene in Lansing is similar to Chicago's, only smaller in scale something that's changed since he left. Back then, college graduates were abandoning the Great Lakes State. It was hard, he says, to connect with neighbors who were undergrads or married couples caring for infants. So he was concerned about making new friends once he came back but he was introduced to the Grand River Connection, which didn't exist when he left, and his concern proved unfounded. GRC a nonpartisan, diverse network of young professionals in their 20's and 30's committed to the Capital Region's success is one of the reasons why he thinks the city is headed in the right direction.
Staying Grounded in Lansing
It's fitting that Wyman likes all kinds of music, from opera to rap to country to rock, since this year's Common Ground Music Festival downtown featured acts as diverse as LL Cool J, The Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Larry McCray. His musical choice depends on the situation he's not going to listen to Verdi on a Friday night or Metallica at Sunday dinner and he says he'd listen to blood-pumping speed metal like Slayer on the way to trials and contested hearings in Chi-town.
Not what you'd expect from a guy in a suit, right?
Another thing you might not expect is for someone to take a bar exam, then race to Fowlerville on a motorcycle for a little skydiving. But that's what he did. After taking the Illinois exam, Wyman returned to Michigan and headed to Capitol City Skydiving to fulfill a lifetime goal. He needed the adrenaline, he explains.
Wyman doesn't own a home yet but he's looking for a place for himself and his two dogs. At the top of his list of must-haves? Being close enough to work so he can get home for lunch. This Lansing lawyer is finished commuting.