Active Duty Law Student, Notre Dame Law School - Class of 2022

For Mike Atkins, Notre Dame was a natural choice for law school. A lifelong Catholic whose ancestors emigrated from Ireland during the Potato Famine, he was drawn to the application of Church traditions in a legal context. There, too, was a powerful sense of purpose, manifest in the ethos that a career in law isn’t just any career: It is a mission, a vocation, a means by which to effect positive change. And, of course, the added appeal of watching the Fighting Irish on fall Saturdays cannot be denied.


Mike, an active duty Coast Guard lieutenant, did choose Notre Dame for his law studies, and upon graduation he will serve as an attorney in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) corps. The Coast Guard, our nation’s smallest military service, affords its roughly 200 JAGs a wide array of opportunities. Mike’s first legal billet will likely be at a district headquarters, where he will serve as prosecutor – but also at times as defense counsel – in courts-martial convened under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). He will also pursue criminal convictions in maritime cases alongside Department of Justice prosecutors and advise commanders on precarious operational matters, as well as draft regulations that protect mariners, vessels and the environment.

Before arriving in South Bend, Mike spent three years as a Journeyman Marine Inspector at USCG Activities Europe, in Limburg, the Netherlands, where he led statutory inspections of U.S.-flagged deep-draft freight and tank vessels (carrying both military and commercial cargoes), offshore supply vessels and construction barges, verifying compliance with U.S. regulations and international standards. He also examined foreign-flagged tank and cruise ships bound for U.S. ports. The travel demands were heavy, about 130 days per year, and widespread, covering the service’s largest inspections area of responsibility – west to Greenland, south to South Africa and east to Pakistan.

Prior to his post in Europe, Mike was Assistant Chief of Inspections at the Marine Safety Unit in Houma, Louisiana, an office responsible for ports and shipyards at the epicenter of America’s offshore oil and gas industry. While there, Mike gained six Marine Inspections qualifications, conducted more than 350 vessel exams and served as Verifying Officer on more than 10 qualification boards.

Mike received his commission upon completion of Officer Candidate School in 2013. His personal awards include a pair of Coast Guard Commendation Medals with Operational Distinguishing Device, the National Defense Service Medal and Pistol Sharpshooter.

Mike studied journalism and German at the University of Mississippi, where he earned four varsity letters in track and field and graduated cum laude. He enjoys traveling to and hiking in faraway lands, researching histories and cultures, as well as participating in endurance sports, spending time with friends, and listening to podcasts. And, of course, cheering for the Irish!