Oswalt was most recently a law fellow for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, D.C., where he provided counsel to a variety of low-wage worker organizing campaigns.
Prior to joining SEIU, Oswalt clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was then a judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Michael brings a unique and diverse array of experiences with him to the College of Law,” said NIU Law Dean Jennifer Rosato. “His record of devotion to public service is a great fit for the mission of NIU Law and I look forward to the wonderful contributions he will make to the development of our students and to shaping our community,” she added.
Oswalt’s scholarly research focuses on the relationship between law and activism, particularly how legal and other regimes transform the possibilities for engagement in civic and institutional areas, including the workplace. His current project considers the impact of workplace culture on the frequency of National Labor Relations Board representation elections.
“I was immediately attracted to NIU Law,” Oswalt said, “because of the warmth I felt in every encounter I had with a member of the community. The school’s commitment to service and to building on a track record of results in the public interest sealed my excitement.”
He hopes to convey that enthusiasm in the classroom while helping students to think intentionally about finding the right fit for their legal passions and individual gifts as they carry NIU’s inclusive and welcoming culture far beyond campus throughout their careers.
Oswalt lectures on labor and employment law and his written work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Duke Law Journal, the Minnesota Law Review (with Catherine Fisk), and the Journal of Catholic Studies. Since joining NIU Law last month, he wrote an op-ed piece on the labor movement, Labor’s New Strike-First Strategy, which appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times.
Oswalt received a J.D. and a master’s degree in theological studies (2008) from Duke University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology (2000) from Haverford College.