Second step: Detroit native pursues lifelong dream of law school

Detroit Mercy Law student Eden Shikwana is pictured outside the law school with his children, Sonny and Giselle.

Photo courtesy of Eden Shikwana

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Eden Shikwana dreamed from an early age of a career in law—but Lady Justice proved to be a tad elusive until his mid 40s.

After graduating from Lawrence Tech University in Southfield with an undergrad degree in humanities—a major that helped develop his written and verbal communication—Shikwana was ready to register for the LSAT. But after learning his first child would be born with health issues requiring open-heart surgery, he decided to take a “small break” and get a job that provided health insurance.  

“That ‘small break’ ended up being a 15-year career with an S&P 500 company that took me from Detroit to Indiana to Chicago, ultimately settling in Fort Worth, Texas for 12 years,” he says. 

His entry-level job eventually took him to a director-level position where he oversaw a market covering Texas and Oklahoma with $50 million in annual sales.  

“I absolutely adored the nearly 200 team members that made up my market and many of those people still inspire me today,” he says. “I just never felt fulfilled because I knew I was meant to be an attorney.

“That company invested heavily in my development as a leader, a public speaker, a problem solver, and a performer. My hope is all of those things translate into making me the best attorney I can be. While I regret getting a late start to my law career, I pray the skills I gained during my other career will contribute to our legal community in Detroit.”

Now a 2L student at Detroit Mercy Law School, Shikwana says the dream of becoming an attorney never left his heart.

“In my other career, I was financially well off, I had a big house in Texas, and wanted for nothing,” he says. “However, I could not shake the feeling I wanted to practice law—specifically, I want to be in the courtroom. Now I’m working to fulfill that dream.”  

Shikwana is proud to be a “Titan” student at Detroit Mercy Law.

“It feels like home—from my Catholic background to the fact our dean is so approachable and genuinely cares about the students,” he says. “I love our professors, and being a single parent I’ve always found the support I’ve needed in trying times. 

“Coming back to school after 15 years—law school at that—was daunting. From my first visit I knew University of Detroit Mercy Law would provide the support system I’d need to be successful.  From my first visit I knew it was home and even in the most overwhelming times I’ve never once regretted that decision.”  

Shikwana’s career goal is to become a trial attorney.

“Arguing in the courtroom and in briefs nurtures my competitive spirit,” he says. “I know I have a passion for our Constitution, I also have a passion for helping others. I love being in federal court. I’m not sure what side I will represent, but I know my heart belongs in a courtroom arguing cases.”  

His ultimate aim is to make a difference.

“I know it’s a cliché, but I truly believe there’s no other profession that has a bigger impact on the world today than law,” he says. “My goal is to be the type of attorney that is not only respected by clients, but one my brothers and sisters in the law will be proud of and be able to say that I’ve always handled myself with integrity. 

“I’d also want opposing counsel to see my name on the docket and know they have to bring their A-game.  I know I’ll have to earn that, especially in a city with so many talented attorneys.”  

Between being a single dad, working full-time, and going to school full-time Shikwana has had to forego many student organizations in which he would have loved to participate. 

“Rather, I try to mentor any of the more traditional students that ask for help by providing advice and guidance from the real world,” he says. “My hope is that when someone leans on me for guidance, that I give sound advice that would have helped me at that stage of my life without sounding condescending.”

When the pandemic presented the need for remote studies, Shikwana says the agility of Detroit Mercy Law rose up to overcome that challenge.  

“I was just so proud to see how quickly the University was able to adapt to the changing parameters during the pandemic,” he says. “While I prefer to learn in person, I believe I got the most out of my education during that year as a result of how quickly our school was able to adapt.” 

Shikwana is grateful to everyone in the law community that has touched his life.  

“This dream has been in my heart for over 30 years,” he says. “Now I’m actually fulfilling this dream everything is moving in slow motion. While I’m eager to graduate and practice law, the journey itself is so surreal to me.”

At a Federal Bar Association luncheon, Shikwana sat with Judges Sean Cox and Jonathan Grey. 

“I know it may have been a quick luncheon to them, but their kindness and generosity with their advice was so meaningful,” he says.

He currently is clerking for a law firm in Farmington Hills, with many talented attorneys to learn from. 

“But one attorney who has been practicing since the 1970s, Joseph Falcone, has mentored me and shown a genuine interest in the lawyer I’m to become,” he says. “Another attorney at work, Hayden Leithauser, has a different skill set that challenges my ability to be a better formal writer and I enjoy our conversations on constitutional law.  I’m blessed with such a diverse group of attorneys.” 

In addition, Rhonda Brazile from the Federal Defenders Office shared kind words with Shikwana when she introduced herself during a five-week trial at work; and attorneys Ed Martell and Mohammed Nasser from Perkins Law Firm shared advice over coffee. Even reading orders from Judges Denise Page Hood and Matthew Leitman for work are meaningful to him, Shikwana notes.  

“I’d just encourage all the legal professionals out there to remember the kind word or interest you show to your clerks, your paralegals, or any law student are so meaningful to us,” he says. “I know we all have busy lives, but what more can you ask for than to know you touched someone’s life, especially in the legal field. Each encounter is forming the attorney I’m to become, and I’m grateful.”  

A member of the Chaldean community, and born in northern Iraq, Shikwana was in the United States by his first birthday. The family’s first home was in the 7 Mile Road area of Detroit; and the family also lived in Lambertville and Sterling Heights.

Shikwana currently makes his home in Ypsilanti..  

“It’s about as far removed from Fort Worth, Texas as you can imagine,” he says with a smile. 

“I have two amazing children who go to Ann Arbor Schools,” he adds. “My handsome son, Sonny, is a junior and has been wanting to be an engineer since he could talk. My perfect daughter, Giselle, is a freshman, and was undecided on a career for many years. Recently while visiting the law school with me, she shared she is considering becoming an attorney. Any parent who is reading this will understand how that just melted my heart.” 

In his leisure time, Shikwana enjoys spending time with his children, golfing, and shooting at a range. He also is a facilitator for Google’s “I Am Remarkable” initiative empowering women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond.

One of the things instilled in Shikwana during his previous career was a passion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and over the years he has had the good fortune to meet some of the patients and their families.  

“Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about the young heroes at St. Jude, and have been researching ways I can get back to contributing to that great cause once I begin practicing law,” he says. 

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