As a 1L at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Beau Fike sought out a student support group for those in recovery from substance abuse. But Fike soon realized there were others in need of help who would be unlikely to reach out through formal channels. That was the genesis for “Flannel Friends.”
“The idea of Flannel Friends is to catch people who would maybe not go to a panel where somebody who is a recovered alcoholic would talk,” Fike said. “I just feel like I had a lot of conversations with people where they didn’t have an outlet.”
I just feel like I had a lot of conversations with people where they didn’t have an outlet.”
Now a 3L, Fike, a Minnesota native who identifies as gender nonbinary and uses “they/ them/theirs” pronouns, has spent their entire law school career finding ways to support fellow students.
In addition to founding Flannel Friends, they have been president the past two years of Out!law, the group for LGBTQ+ students on campus, and this past year Fike was named Student Leader of the Year by the Lavender Bar Association. They also serve on the health and wellness and the diversity and inclusion committees for the Student Bar Association.
“Building community at a graduate or professional level is really hard because people are here for very different reasons, they’re here very different amounts of time, but we spend a lot of time here, and we’re going to make decisions that impact the community, so I want to make sure I feel like I’m part of a community here,” Fike said.
Fike started professional life working with middle- and high-school students and continued that interest in law school.
Fike participated in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project at Mitchell Hamline, teaching constitutional law to high school students. “Beau demonstrated a unique passion for teaching the law, which was inspiring to observe. Beau is also exceptionally reliable and was always willing to pick up an additional project or step in when other law students were unable to fulfill their responsibilities. Beau is an absolute joy to work with, and I have no doubt they will succeed in whatever they choose to do,” said Natalie Netzel, director of the Marshall-Brennan project and education and advocacy director for the Institute for Children, Families, and Communities.
Fike also took part in the Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners (LAMP) Clinic at Mitchell Hamline. “Beau has been an incredible student attorney. Under difficult circumstances, they have represented their clients zealously and tenaciously. Despite the challenging cases, Beau has maintained their sense of humor and perspective on life and the law,” said Brad Colbert, supervisor of the LAMP Clinic and a resident adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline.
Fike found it especially satisfying to be able to represent a transgender prisoner through the LAMP Clinic. As a transgender, low-income, incarcerated person, that client was “at the intersection of many oppressions,” Fike said.
My understanding of how social change would occur is at the lowest common denominator.”
“My understanding of how social change would occur is at the lowest common denominator,” Fike said. “I want to do something that affects mental health, addiction, the queer community, and people of color. That’s who I’m really wanting to see change for.”
Fike currently works for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, handling sentencings. They have previously volunteered with the Center for Homicide Research and with Street Law. They are an avid circus performer and participate in a showcase a couple of times per semester. They are also concurrently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Hamline University along with their J.D.
Fike was drawn to law school as a way to “leverage my privilege” in collaboration with those most marginalized in society. They are still considering various career paths for after graduation in May, but some things are certain. “I didn’t come here to learn what the law is, only. I came here to learn what the law could be. So I need to be in a space where we’re talking about how to make sure that the law is just in its application.” Tim Post