Student offers global outlook on life in legal world


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazi, and growing up in Canton and in Durango, Mexico, Heather Muir saw and experienced stark contrasts in economies — and from a young age was eager to understand the reasons behind these differences.

She went on to earn her undergraduate degree in economics at Kalamazoo College, where a class focusing on Game Theory Economics piqued her interest.

“That sold it for me,” she said. “I love how much the field of study has to do with the study of human behavior as it does with the consumption, production and transfer of wealth.”

After her June 2021 graduation, Muir spent six months as a caseworker at George P. Mann & Associates in Farmington Hills. Working primarily on asylum and cancellation of removal cases, she enjoyed the client interaction.

“It put into perspective for me how much clients rely on and trust their legal representatives,” she said.

This was followed by nine months at the Troy firm of Ellis Porter — The Immigration Attorneys, mostly working on work visa applications for employees among companies coming to work in the United States.

She enjoyed the mentorship provided by the firm and the professional relationships that developed from her time there.

Now in her 1L year at Detroit Mercy Law, Muir noted there were several things that pointed her in the direction of studying law. A major inspiration was volunteering during undergraduate studies as a Spanish interpreter for JFON —Justice For Our Neighbors —in Kalamazoo, helping clients fill out intake paperwork and helping with childcare for parents meeting with an attorney.

“One of the girls I helped asked me if I wanted to be a lawyer one day and I replied with, ‘I think so, I’m still in school though.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Échale ganas, necesitamos abogadas como tú’ which translates to: ‘Give it all you’ve got, we need lawyers like you.’ Since then, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” she said.

Muir appreciates the Detroit Mercy Law community, where she is particularly interested in international business transactions or data security and would like to combine her economics degree with her legal and multi-lingual skills — she is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, with a working knowledge of French and Japanese.

“I feel the professors push us out of our comfort zones and encourage us to explore paths that are new and challenging for us,” she said. “My goal is to establish a legal career where I’ll have an opportunity to combine my multi-lingual and legal skills to contribute to a firm that works with international clients.

“The overarching mission that drives me to achieve this goal every day is my desire to give back to the immigrant community in southeast Michigan. I hope to reach a point in my career where I can provide pro bono services to immigrants, particularly those in low-income households, with their legal cases.”

Muir currently serves as secretary for the law school’s Immigration Law Association and is a member of the Hispanic and Latino Student Association.

“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be involved in spaces where meaningful conversations and knowledge are shared with such wonderful individuals,” she said. “Especially as a first-generation immigrant and law student, it’s easy to fall into the imposter syndrome hole, but these organizations have really made me feel welcome and like I belong here.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Muir was six months into undergraduate studies abroad in Kyoto, Japan, with six months left in the program. Within a week of Kyoto’s first outbreak, the program was cancelled and students sent back home. She nevertheless has many happy memories of her time in Japan.

“I enjoyed conversing with the local restaurant owners around the area where I lived. My Japanese was pretty broken, but they were always so patient and willing to help me develop my language skills,” she said.  

Muir said she learned a great deal about mindfulness and meditation while in Japan.

“Among the temples, shrines, beautiful gardens and nature, I had a lot of opportunities to practice this and have tried to implement these practices into my lifestyle today,” she said. “It really is amazing!”

Muir completed the remainder of her junior year online while living in Monterrey, Mexico, with her parents. Her mother, who is of Japanese descent, hails from the south of Brazil, and her father is from Paisley, Scotland, a city bordering Glasgow.

She also completed her senior year online, but this time in Michigan, living in Plymouth while working as a Co-Op at DTE Energy and caring for her brother, who was 14 at the time.  

“The pandemic brought a lot of challenges, but what helped me cope was focusing on the good it brought,” she said. “I think if it weren’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have been able to juggle so many things at once such as helping my parents care for my brother while they were still living in Mexico, working full time, and finishing my studies as a full time student.”

Muir still makes her home in Plymouth, and enjoys spending time in the Motor City.

“I love the blend of different cultures and the deep sense of community that comes from it,” she says.


Subscribe to the Legal News!

Full access to public notices, articles, columns, archives, statistics, calendar and more

Day Pass Only $4.95!
One-County $80/year

Three-County & Full Pass also available