Graduation Spotlight — Meet Avery Welker

By Anna Sago

Law school can be many things: exciting, stressful, scary, competitive— but only a select few would describe the experience as “fun.”

And yet, that was the word that came to 3L Avery Welker’s mind when describing his three years at Mizzou Law.

“I started my undergraduate career in fall of 2011, and this three-year span has been the most fun I’ve ever had in school,” Welker said.

Originally hailing from southeast Missouri, Welker grew up around his grandfather’s propane business. He always knew that he wanted to go into petroleum engineering, so he began working towards his undergraduate degree in engineering at Missouri S&T after graduating from the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics, and Computing at Northwestern Missouri State University.

“I really enjoyed petroleum engineering,” Welker said. “It’s all about engineering stuff that you can’t see. You’re making a guess of what’s going to come out of a wellbore a couple thousand feet below the surface.”

As he progressed through his undergraduate degree, Welker watched the petroleum market slowly dry up. After talking to his adviser, he decided to try graduate school while waiting for the market to recover.

But instead of recovering, the market for petroleum only tanked harder as a result of the 2020 pandemic.

“That was just one of the several straws that ended up breaking the camel’s back,” Welker recalled. “I decided that I really needed to make a change.”

Welker’s interest in law school was originally sparked by his time on the UM System Board of Curators, where he was surrounded by several attorneys. Marcy Graham, a fellow Mizzou Law alumnus, encouraged Welker to make the jump.

And jump he did. In May of 2020, Welker dropped everything and began studying for the LSAT and applying to law school.

Though transitioning from engineering to law may seem like a big jump, Mizzou’s own professor Dennis Crouch— a respected figure in the patent law field— believes engineers may be uniquely suited for the profession.

“A science or engineering background can be really helpful for students who are handling cases involving new technology,” Crouch said. “This comes up in classic legal areas such as products liability and medical malpractice as well as rising areas such as privacy law, internet governance, and medical device regulation. Engineering is problem solving, and so is much of legal practice.  I see them as a very good fit. ”

Welker chose Mizzou Law because of the extensive opportunities and network.

“You know, being on the board, I’ve seen the impressiveness of Mizzou,” Welker said. “I knew that it was somewhere I wanted to be.”

Though law school has been quite the change from engineering, Welker says he has enjoyed every minute.

“I’ve had the most fun with the people here,” Welker said. “The community at Mizzou Law is unmatched. Everybody’s really great to work with, and I think everybody would stick out a helping hand to anybody here if they wanted it or needed it.”

In only three years, Welker has managed to leave quite the mark. Crouch recalls Avery’s impact on campus.

“Avery has made some great contributions as a leader for the law school,” Crouch said. “He was always asking questions and trying to figure out how the pieces fit together. He wrote a great article that was recently published by the Missouri Law Review and also led our student body as head of the Student Bar Association. I’m really looking forward to watching his career develop as he moves into practice.”

After graduation, Avery plans to study for the Bar and move to Houston, where he has a job lined up as a patent attorney.

Though his presence on-campus will be missed, all of Mizzou Law wishes him success- and of course, plenty of fun- as he begins his career.