On the rebound: Law student overcomes COVID-19 to succeed at Detroit Mercy Law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Nicole Miller is a Lebanese-American in her 3L year at Detroit Mercy Law. Miller will be a junior member of Law Review and is looking forward to writing a Note that analyzes legal issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miller has first-hand experience with the disease, when she, her sister, and her parents fell sick at the end of March, as did 10 extended family members.

“My grandmother didn’t make it, but thankfully everyone else is okay,” she says. “The long period for recovery definitely inhibited my ability to perform at my academic best, but everything fell into place.”
Miller is now back on track with her legal studies, although the adjustment to online classes has been a challenge.

“At first it was really hard for me with the essentially overnight adjustment to being online, and with my family and me being sick,” she says. “Now, I have no choice but to accept the situation for what it is, adapt to it, and get through my final year of law school.”

Miller didn’t always have Lady Justice in her sights. Her original goal was a nursing career, and she attended nursing school straight out of high school. But when she realized nursing was not her calling, she decided to give law school a try.

After earning her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Miller headed to Detroit Mercy Law, where she appreciates the close-knit community of faculty, administration, and students.

“I feel everyone is genuinely trying to help one another out, making it a better learning environment for all,” she says. “I ultimately want to practice real estate and business law. I have no set game plan, though, and plan on going wherever life takes me.

“I wasn’t sure about my career choice at the time, but I can honestly say that I am happy with the decision I’ve made so far,” she adds. “I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, and law school was something others suggested to me when I was growing up.”

Last summer, Miller interned for Judge Gershwin A. Drain in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. In her upcoming 3L year, she will be in the Housing Clinic; she also is on the Moot Court Associate Board, and is a teaching assistant for legal research and writing, having previously been a TA for property law.

She also is a co-founder of the Arab American Law Student Association (AALSA), and is currently working to create scholarships for minority law students as the chair of AALSA’s Scholarship Committee.

“AALSA was planning a scholarship fund-raiser that was canceled due to the pandemic. In light of the circumstances, we decided to redirect our funds to provide laptops for school-aged children in need to engage in school online, and we also provided gift cards to help financially unstable families purchase necessities,” she says.

Before the pandemic shut things down, she enjoyed the school’s downtown location, and looks forward to returning to that lifestyle.

“I really enjoy the livelihood throughout downtown Detroit,” she says. “I also love how close everything is, and that everything is within walking distance.”

In her leisure time, Miller – who lives with her family in Dearborn Heights – enjoys cooking, baking, and gardening. Her younger sister Natalie is attending the University of Michigan – Dearborn; her father Sam does property tax appeals for his own firm, Proptax America in Dearborn, where her mother Lisa also works. Miller herself has worked in both the real estate appraisal and property tax fields for the past five years.

She also finds time to give back to the community. During Ramadan and on Thanksgiving she volunteers to help the Amity Foundation’s “No Family Unfed” program, which organizes for hot meals and groceries to be delivered to needy families in Metro Detroit. In addition, she volunteers with Zaman International, a nonprofit organization that is currently partnering with the International Medical Corps to fund-raise to provide aid to Lebanon in the aftermath of the devastating August 4th explosion at the Port of Beirut.


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