Like mother, like daughter


Student follows in mom’s footsteps at law school

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Shannon Brown would see the heavy study load her mother tackled as a mature law student—and joke that she herself would never consider law school.

Never say never, as the saying goes.

Brown is now following in her mother’s footsteps at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, where her mother, Angela Medley, earned her J.D. five years ago.

“I’d planned to go to grad school to study English or history—my undergrad majors—but then I started taking classes that included legal topics and eventually settled on applying to law school,” Brown says.

“For my mom, becoming a lawyer was a second career—she was working as an administrative assistant when she decided to attend law school,” she adds.  “She worked full-time while going to school, all while raising her three children on her own—my older sister was in college at Grand Valley State University, my younger brother was in high school, and I was just starting at Alma College. My mom now owns her own law firm, Polizzi & Medley Law in Mt. Clemens, where she practices family law. She’s truly an inspiration, and I wouldn’t have achieved my level of success without her.”

Now in her 3L year, Brown is enjoying her law school experience and the personal relationships she has developed with her professors—many of whom also taught her mother.

“It’s clear our professors genuinely care about our success,” she says.

This year, Brown spent three months as a summer associate at Dickinson Wright, working on a range of legal issues.

“I typically wrote research memos for partners and associates, but I also had the opportunity to draft motions and observe courtroom proceedings,” she says. 

She will return to the firm as an associate after graduation and the bar exam, and plans on a career in estate planning and probate litigation, as well as taking on pro bono cases.

“I’m currently taking Estates and Trusts, and it’s one of my favorite classes,” she says. “What I’ve always loved about studying the law is that one day I’ll have the ability to help and serve others.”

At the end of her 1L year, Brown was a judicial extern for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Helene White, Sixth Circuit, where she drafted a bench memorandum and worked on other cases. 

“My absolute favorite part was attending oral arguments at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and sitting at the clerks’ table when my case was argued,” she says. “That summer was truly one of the most valuable experiences of my legal education.”

Brown is executive editor of Inside Articles for the school’s Law Review, and enjoys reading and editing articles on different legal issues, as well as helping junior members write their Notes.

She also serves as a teaching assistant.

“The best part is getting to know the first-year students and helping them navigate law school,” she says. “That first year can be really overwhelming, and I like to help any way I can.”

Next semester, Brown will work at the Family Law Clinic, and is looking forward to learning more about her mother’s practice area. 

A lifelong resident of Clinton Township, Brown lives a mile from her mother’s home, with her fiancé and two dogs. 

“Nick and I plan to get married in the next few years, once law school and the bar exam are over,” she says.

A varsity softball player in undergrad, Brown still plays whenever she gets the chance, including on Dickinson Wright’s slow pitch team this past summer. 

“I also love working out—CrossFit has kept me sane during law school,” she says.    


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