Immigration law is 'near and dear' to this student's heart

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Aya Beydoun has wanted to be an attorney since fourth grade when she verbally defended a classmate who was being bullied by a permanent substitute teacher because of his ethnic background.

“I got in big trouble for it by my school and my family because they didn’t want to hear my side of the story,” she said. “However, it was worth it because the kid told me I should be a lawyer and I found my career path from there.”

The budding attorney earned her undergraduate degree in criminology/criminal justice from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she served as vice president of the Pre-Law Association.

“I enjoyed helping people while also benefitting myself,” she said.” I still to this day make sure I’m involved in any event that comes my way to help prospective law students, and speak to anyone that needs help outside of events.
Beydoun said she initially thought she wanted to be a criminal justice advocate “due to a system I believe is broken when it comes to people of color and immigrants in general.

“I even began my master’s program with a thesis about expungement and recidivism rates and whether recidivism rates would go down if we were to expunge criminal records. I found yes, but didn’t continue with this path due to career changes in the legal field.”

Her undergraduate studies included a four-month internship at the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, an experience that piqued her interest in family law.

Beydoun landed the internship after doing well on a presentation during her forensic science class, when she briefed a case. Her professor, Donald Shelton, a retired judge from Washtenaw County, suggested she pursue a judicial internship.

“I agreed because it was a judge that does family and criminal law,” Beydoun said. “There was me thinking I would hate family law and love criminal law, but I walked away with the total opposite perspective.”

Beydoun particularly appreciates the oral skills she has obtained as a participant in Moot Court at Detroit Mercy Law.

“I’m an introvert and Moot Court really got me out there due to the litigation,” she said. “It gives me practice on my research skills and makes me a better litigator. The experience is like job experience but through the school.”

Over the summer, she clerked at Bodman. A year ago, she accepted a remote internship at Lakeshore Legal Aid in Port Huron, where her work included working with VAWA — Violence Against Women Act — clients in divorce cases.

“It was very heartbreaking,” she said.” I also got to help with estate planning clients with drafting power of attorney’s, deeds, and wills, and did some discovery work.”

Beydoun is no stranger to legal work, having worked as a legal assistant at Dagher Khraizat Immigration Law Group in Dearborn since December 2018.

“I do everything, from opening a case to closing it,” she said. “The attorneys check my work and follow up with clients, but I usually am in control. I like that part of the legal assistant work, where my work is trusted and looked over for any errors. I don’t like micromanagement.”

Beydoun, whose family hails from Lebanon, has been successfully helping family members with immigration papers since her early teens.

“Immigration law will always be something near to my heart since I come from a family of immigrants,” she said. “I also joined the school’s Immigration Law Association as secretary but ended my term there. Immigration law is something I will always do pro bono for family and friends, but that will probably not be my career path in the future.”

Studying remotely during the pandemic proved to be an unexpected benefit, Beydoun said.

“I think the 24-hour day feels like 35 hours because of waking up to get ready, talking to people in the hall, walking from class to class, going out for lunch and packing lunch, and the drive,” she said. “I’m a part-time student and I work part-time, but being remote has allowed me to be a full-time student while still balancing work.”

She has intensive plans in mind for when she graduates Detroit Mercy Law.

“I want to work at a big firm that I can get lost at, where work is piled up and keeps piling up,” Beydoun said. “I love to work and have a case list that is at least a couple pages long. I like transactional work and maybe even litigation sometimes.

“Something I love and am highly passionate about is contractual work, mediation and business law. I’m not sure where I’ll end up — I’m learning something new about myself and my interests every day.”

Born and raised in Dearborn, Beydoun  — who has two older brothers and a younger brother — is the first in her family to go to graduate school and the first in her extended family to attend law school.

“My father dropped out in high school and my mother dropped out in high school then completed her GED and associate’s degree,” she said. “I love my family, they are very supportive, especially my father.  I would not be anywhere without that man.

“Also, through every achievement I’ve ever experienced, my mom cries her heart out, for happiness, and donates money to the poor for good karma, so that pushes me forward to want to achieve more. My family is who I am today.”




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