Q&A | INTER-NETWORKING
Law Student’s Web Site Tells Story, Showcases
by JEREMY ROE
Posted June 8, 2010
When you enter MICHAEL GUMPRECHT’S personal web site, Gumpville.com, it feels like you’re about to embark on an adventure. From just one glimpse of the site’s cinematic opening sequence, it is clear this recent Liberty University School of Law graduate possesses a unique ability to combine his passions for technology and multimedia with the pursuit of justice. Started 14 years ago by then-11-year-old Gumprecht for a teen web site contest, the site has survived the dot-com crash and the social media craze. Some law students blog, and others have web sites that house their resumes. But Gumpville.com illustrates how one law student put his creativity and computer skills to work in a way that impresses colleagues, future employers, and clients alike. What’s next for Gumpville.com?
Q: Where are you from? Tell our readers a little about yourself and how you came to Liberty University School of Law.
GUMPRECHT: I grew up in the Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho/Spokane, Washington area until graduating from high school, excluding brief moves to South Dakota and Georgia. After high school, my family moved to North Carolina and I attended college in Ohio for four years. While in Ohio I worked for LexisNexis at their corporate headquarters. Once I graduated from college in May 2007, my wife and I were married and we moved to Virginia for law school.
Q: Your web site’s introduction is really dramatic and has a cinematic quality to it. What inspired this unique introduction?
Honestly, my patriotism motivated me to create a brief intro to convey the proper role of government and the importance of our values. I added a narrative by my hero, Ronald Reagan, which summarized it perfectly: “Individual liberty, representative government, and the rule of law under God.”
Q: How did you decide to attend Liberty University School of Law?
I originally planned on obtaining a master’s degree in international relations or public policy, but during my senior year of college I realized how many of my political and public policy interests were directly connected to the law. A law degree appeared much more versatile and, as a result, I decided to attend law school instead. I looked at a few different schools but was impressed with LUSOL because the mission statement supported both my Christian faith and conservative legal-political philosophy. In addition, Liberty’s lawyering-skills program is most impressive.
Q: Did available scholarship money factor into your decision to attend Liberty?
I was interested in Liberty Law before I was offered a scholarship, but the scholarship offer became a blessing and indication as to where I should attend since I was going to be newly married when school began. This freed up my savings to be used for moving and living arrangements in Lynchburg. The Dean’s Scholarship has also enabled me to be more flexible with my future plans by reducing my loan liabilities, thus enabling me to use my salary on future plans as opposed to past debts.
Q: How did you acquire and hone the technical abilities to develop the web site?
Computers have been my hobby since I was very young. My friends and family always expected that I would become a computer engineer. I was never taught how to do anything; my natural interest in computer hardware, software and programming led me to spend many hours playing with computers until I developed new skills on my own. Web site development was just another example of this – I created my first web site in 1996, Gumpville Version 1, when I saw a challenge. [For a full history, click on the “web site history” link at the bottom of www.gumpville.com.]
Q: In what ways has the web site helped advance your goals?
I haven’t overtly used Gumpville.com for any particular purpose since it was last renovated. Instead, it’s a consolidated area on the Internet containing my work samples and interests, all while quickly demonstrating some of my technical abilities. The simultaneous demonstration of my technical abilities and values has opened up numerous doors for political networking and potential jobs.
Q: What other sort of web sites have you developed?
I have completed over two dozen domain-level web sites for all types of companies across the U.S., including chiropractic clinics, ship-building companies, and local emergency-service-alert systems, to name a few.
Q: What are your future plans?
I loved my college years in Ohio and seriously considered moving back. However, despite all my time as a Northerner, I always feel at home in the south. My wife is from Louisiana, my family now lives in North Carolina, and we will be moving to Georgia after I take the bar exam. It’s a great halfway point, and the areas outside of Atlanta are exploding in growth. In addition, Georgia was my first southern experience when I was still a high school student. My family was going to move there, and I briefly began my senior year in northern Georgia. The plans fell through, and my family later moved to North Carolina instead, but I never forgot the incredible kindness I saw in Georgians. Given all the factors of family, growth, and my positive past experience, Georgia is exactly where my wife and I would like to start a family. Lord willing, I would love to become heavily involved in my community and run for office one day – the people of Georgia are the kind of people I’d love to represent. Separately, if I ever have the time, I would like to obtain a Ph.D in either the computer sciences or international studies, but time will tell!
Q: Where do your technology skills fit in?
I would like to start my own law firm one day. When this happens, I will create a separate web site for the firm to attract clients and ensure top visibility in search engine results so that the right type of client is able to find me. Even if not my own firm, I will take advantage of my abilities as an attorney through every avenue affected by technology, whether it be advanced evidence discovery, technology contracts, or digital forensics and investigation. If I ever run for office in Georgia, massive marketing and technology firms must be consulted to handle that kind of operation full time. I would be excited to provide direct input into that process since I am fortunate to understand many of the technical elements that drive that kind of work.
Q: What’s next for Gumpville.com?
Gumpville seems to get an update every time I reach a new chapter in my life. Sometimes it’s been many years – whenever I’m in the next “chapter,” I’m sure it’ll get an update!