Legal roots run deep in family of law student

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Coming from a long line of lawyers, it’s no surprise Elise Mashni was drawn to the law. Both her parents are lawyers, as are many members from her mother’s side of the family, and her maternal grandfather was a prosecuting attorney and judge in Jordan.

“Their expertise in the law that remains today, coupled with their skills and dedication to the law, sparked my interest at an early age,” says Mashni, a rising 2L at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “My loving parents encouraged me to follow my passion for law and supported me through every step of the way.”

This curiosity about the law prompted Mashni to start an internship during high school, at a law firm in downtown Plymouth—an experience that made her realize attending law school was her future path.

“I knew this field was for me,” she says.

During undergrad at the University of Michigan, where she majored in political science, Mashni interned at the House of Representatives in Lansing, researching laws, bills, legislation, and opinions to communicate with 11th District constituents.

She then did a summer internship at the Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz in Southfield, collaborating with personal injury senior attorneys and completing discovery such as witness lists, interrogatories, initial disclosures, and case evaluation summaries, and virtually delivering documents to courts and defendant attorneys.

“I enjoy personal injury because I have a strong passion to advocate on behalf of injured individuals—these clients are facing distressing situations due to unexpected accidents that can ultimately alter the course of their life,” she says. “I’m able to assist in at least bettering their situation by helping them recover compensation, seek justice and hold parties accountable, help clients navigate the legal system, and offer support and guidance during what is often a challenging and stressful time in their lives.

“I was able to receive hands-on experience as someone who had not yet started law school yet, which allowed me to see the direct impact of legal principles on clients’ lives. Personal injury is a dynamic aspect of the legal field that always involves staying updated on legal developments, medical knowledge, and evolving case law.”

In 2022, Mashni was a summer intern at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, working under assistant prosecuting attorneys in the General Trials Department to review and investigate more than 70 criminal case files and assisting in finding evidence from statements, motions, briefs, findings, judgements, body camera videos, to present in court. She attended more than 20 criminal court hearings and observed voir dire jury process, opening and closing statements, witness testimonies, cross examinations, and verdicts.

“I enjoyed every single aspect of this experience, from the type of law itself, the investigative work, the fact that it was a fast paced and demanding high pressure environment, that it was collaborative and team oriented, to being able to actually observe court hearings,” she says.

A highlight was participating in a mock court hearing, as a defendant against a law student as plaintiff, led by an APA as the judge after being given evidence from closed real-life cases to practice presenting in court as attorneys and acquire tactical and litigation skills.

This internship reinforced her desire to become a litigator—and eventually a prosecutor and eventually a judge. She will spend this summer as an intern at a personal injury law firm in the Financial District of New York City.

While personal injury law is a passion, she also is interested in criminal law/prosecution, and in becoming a judge, as well as legal consulting.

“My passion for practicing law stems from a deep-seated belief in justice and fairness, driving me to advocate for those who have been wronged or marginalized,” she says.

At Detroit Mercy Law, where she served as 1L class president, Mashni will serve as SBA executive secretary in her 2L year, and plans to join Moot Court and the Women’s Law Caucus. Mashni appreciates the strong sense of community at Detroit Mercy Law.

“The atmosphere here is incredibly welcoming, with everyone displaying genuine friendliness and a willingness to lend a helping hand. I instantly made close, lifelong friends upon starting law school this past fall,” she says. “And the school’s curriculum focuses on preparing students for the bar exam and the demands of life as a future lawyer.”

Mashni values the faculty members and their commitment to their students’ success; and also enjoys the school’s location in the heart of Detroit.

“I constantly look forward to being able to walk downtown to grab food or a cup of iced coffee with my friends during break time in between classes on sunny days—it reminds me of living in Ann Arbor during my time at the University of Michigan and makes me look forward to living in New York City this summer,” she says. “I love how Detroit is always evolving and growing, with new restaurants popping up and exciting events happening all the time. It’s inspiring to see the city’s ongoing transformation and the vibrant energy it brings to the community.”

In her leisure time, Mashni enjoys golf, tennis, taking walks, visiting coffee shops, shopping, and photography. Travel is another passion—and before law school, she traveled to Lebanon, Jordan, all over Europe, and to many U.S. states and cities, including New York and Chicago.

“I took this opportunity to immerse myself in new experiences and cultures,” she says. “I enjoy traveling or trying anything new because I prioritize adventure, new experiences, stimulation, stepping out of my comfort zone, broadening my perspectives, and my desire to create meaningful memories.”

Detroit Mercy Law rising 2L student Elise Mashni is pictured with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop.
(Photo courtesy of Elise Mashni)

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