Detroit Mercy Law student strives to increase access to legal system


Detroit Mercy Law student Stephanie Brown is pictured on a trip to London, England. Brown studied at Oxford University for a semester in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Brown

Student externed with Judge  Charles S. Hegarty

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

As someone who hates to be “boxed in,” Stephanie Brown is delighted to be a student in the Dual JD program offered by Detroit Mercy Law and the University of Windsor.

“It provides me with several opportunities to pursue my goals and be of service to as many as I can, whether that be in the U.S. legal market or the Canadian one,” she says.

While Brown has long aspired to be a lawyer, throughout her law school educational journey she has had more time to reflect on why she held that dream.

“As law students who undoubtedly are on the path to becoming lawyers, we’re placed in fortunate positions to provide assistance and to be of service, most importantly to those in dire need,” she says. “For me, the concept of providing access to the legal system for those who require it the most has been the overarching focal point of my study in law.”

Brown notes that Detroit Mercy Law’s motto, “Educating the Complete Lawyer,” wholly embodies the reason why she enjoys Detroit Mercy so much. 

“I’ve been provided with several experiences and opportunities, both academically and experientially, that have contributed to my law school journey,” she says.

Brown is extremely grateful for her 2019 externship experience with Judge Charles S. Hegarty at the Wayne County Third Circuit Court-Family Division, where she worked alongside Judicial Assistant Patricia Woodruff in assisting self-represented litigants by preparing case files for docket and by filling out Judgment of Divorces; and conducted legal research on family law matters concerning the issue of parental alienation and the best interest factors of the child under MCLS §722.2.

“It provided me with ground knowledge and awareness of actual legal practice in the courts, which, was acquired in chambers and in the courtroom,” Brown says.

Brown currently serves as National Chapter Representative on the Executive Board of the Black Law Students' Association of Canada (BLSA Canada). The national student-run nonprofit organization promotes increased representation of Black students in law schools and law firms across Canada, while also providing professional opportunities and resources.

Brown started her academic journey with a double major in Ethics, Society and Law, and English from the University of Toronto’s Woodsworth College.

“The Ethics, Society and Law program provided me with the foundational knowledge and prepared me for further studies in law by offering courses that challenged me to think critically and engage with the materials; and the English program allowed me to hone my reading, writing and comprehension skills,” she says.

She thoroughly enjoyed an undergrad semester in 2017 at Oxford University in England.

“I enjoyed being able to study at such a revered and renowned University, while being located in and around Oxford’s medieval city center holding such rich history,” she says.

“With such stunning architecture, history, and culture, I had the opportunity to visit museums and do fascinating things such as walk the grounds where Harry Potter was filmed.”

Volunteerism was—and continues to be—a focal point in Brown’s life. In her 1L year, she participated in a community service project in partnership with Greening of Detroit.

“This mini-clinic volunteer position involved assisting with the process of clearing up civil issues or misdemeanors that individuals needed to resolve in order to begin the process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license for employment,” she says. “Through this experience, I further understood the importance in advocacy for my clients to ensure the highest quality of service was provided.”

She also had the opportunity to be a service volunteer with the Pope Francis Center.

“This experience was very meaningful for me as I assisted in providing meals for the homeless,” she says. “Being able to speak with many individuals and hear their stories was touching and uplifting.”

A lifelong resident of Mississauga, west of Toronto, Brown loved to travel before the pandemic temporarily put paid to that passion. The daughter of parents from Ghana, she has visited Africa, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Australia, and many of the United States; and post-pandemic, she has Asia and Antarctica in her sights.


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