Dual role: Detroit Mercy Law student gains unique perspective of 2 systems

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Nashara Peart has found her studies in the Dual J.D. program at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and Detroit Mercy Law fascinating as she has gained a unique perspective on both legal systems.

"Given the recent change in American government and the extensive media coverage on the results of the change in power, I find it exciting to be studying law at this moment in history," she says. "We're discussing topics in class that I am literally seeing play out before my eyes, and I am grateful to be developing the legal knowledge that will make me useful to society in very tangible ways."

While the dual program can be challenging, the Canadian native enjoys the juxtaposition of the law.

"I hope my knowledge of both legal systems will make me an asset in positions I hold in the future, as I intend to work on both sides of the border," she says.

The 2L student, who this summer will work as a summer associate at Miller Canfield in Detroit, would like to work in litigation, and hopes to focus her future career specifically on criminal defense. To that end, she has been volunteering since last May as a student assistant with M. Gordner Law Professional Corporation, a criminal defense law firm in Windsor.

"Working with Mr. Gordner has taught me so much," she says. "He's an amazing mentor, and knowing he trusts my research and assistance with active case files is an incredible boost of confidence. He let me know right away that he was willing to help me learn and grow as an attorney, and that it was okay to make mistakes along the way. I deeply appreciate his help and support up to this point and look forward to maintaining a relationship with him as I continue in my legal career."

She has found her involvement as a junior member of the Moot Court board at Detroit Mercy Law to be both beneficial and exciting.

"There's nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you can speak confidently about the law after doing effective research and preparation," she says. "Moot Court is a balance of planning and quick thinking that I find to be a welcome challenge."

One of the highlights of Peart's legal education is serving as National Conference Chair on the Black Law Students' Association of Canada's national executive panel. The 26th Annual National Conference, with its theme "Oneness in Motion: Impacting the Future," was held Feb. 9-12, 2017 in Windsor.

Peart says her work with BLSA Canada has further entrenched the value she places on teamwork.

"I always aim to give my best to any team I work on, and when I am in a position of leadership as I am on the BLSA Canada executive, I also aim to lead with integrity," she says.

"Working with a team of fellow black law students, I not only have come to further appreciate how privileged we are to be joining the legal profession, but I am also more acutely aware of the struggles of racialized attorneys, or those that fall into other minority groups. It's truly humbling to know that I, along with my teammates, have an active part in changing the landscape of the legal profession."

Peart, whose older sister was called to the bar in Ontario last June, knew from a young age she was destined to enter the law, and working with youth considered "at risk" solidified that desire.

"Working with these young people demonstrated to me the need for strong advocacy for youth who are negatively stereotyped, and often misguided," she says. "I want to make work in criminal law, specifically with youth, a significant part-if not the main focus-of my future career."

Peart brings to her legal knowledge a background in sociology, with an undergraduate degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where she also earned a graduate diploma in public relations management.

"I enjoyed sociology because, at its core, it's about understanding how society works and how our interactions with each other and the broader society affect the people we become," she says. "I deeply value creating meaningful relationships with people, so the science behind how it actually works was intriguing to me.

"PR drew me for similar reasons. Once I had studied sociology and the way interactions shape us, PR was a way of understanding how we build on those relationships and convey messages to others, whether in personal or corporate settings."

Born in Toronto, Peart was raised in Brampton, a suburban city in the Greater Toronto Area, where her parents still make their home. She lived in the Ontario port city of Hamilton for six years while she attended McMaster University, where her younger brother is now studying for his undergrad degree.

"I grew to love the city so much that I stayed after my undergraduate degree was complete," she says.

She currently makes her home in Windsor, where she is an active member of Rapha Christian Centre.

"They are a wonderful group of people that I have come to love very much, and count on for their continued support," she says.

She also is involved with the Windsor High School Law Outreach.

"In my first year I was part of a team that visited a high school classroom weekly to teach them about the stages of a criminal trial and run a mock trial with them," she says. "This year I was asked to return as one of the classroom coordinators that oversaw the team in the classroom."

Music plays a large role in her life, and this past summer she took in the Broadway musicals "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Color Purple," and "Waitress" on a trip to New York. Passionate about singing, a choir she belongs to in Toronto released its first CD, "Your Blessing's on the Way!" in 2014.

"I also really enjoy riding roller coasters," she says. "I took my first trip to Cedar Point last summer, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my time off school."

Published: Mon, Feb 13, 2017

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