Law student interning at Rock Central in Detroit

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A resident of metro Detroit her entire life, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law student Livia Khemmoro loves her summer internship at Rock Central.

“It’s a company whose culture places a significant importance on making a difference in Detroit, and I love being part of a team who is dedicated to donating time, energy and money on revitalizing the Detroit community,” she says. “Obsessed with finding a better way, rather than cancelling, Rock Central sent me technology to be able to work from home, and I receive bi-weekly care packages to enhance my internship experience.”

The Rock Central Legal Team provides legal services to all the Rock Family of Companies; and as a member of the litigation team, Khemmoro has been looped in on cases, completed various legal research and writing projects, and attended meetings with the attorneys on her team, including their meetings with outside counsel.

Despite being virtual, Khemmoro says it’s been an absolute joy working on the Rock Central Detroit Legal Team.

“I’ve had the opportunity to learn about mortgage litigation and how to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. I’m excited to see what knowledge the rest of the summer will bring me!”

With business know-how a strong asset in any field, Khemmoro started her career trajectory with a degree in business administration and management from Walsh College, before entering Detroit Mercy Law in 2018.

“When I was 17, I had a life-changing experience that taught me you only have one life to do everything you’ve dreamed of and that experience brought me to law school,” she says. “I’ve always been passionate about advocating for people who don’t necessarily know their rights.”

She appreciates the tremendous amount of support from the faculty, administration, and fellow classmates.

“Detroit Mercy Law’s support, open-door policies, and caring about each other is what makes the Detroit Mercy Law community strong,” she says. “I’m proud to be a member of this community.”

Khemmoro particularly relishes the versatility of the legal field.

“I started law school as an aspiring litigator, anxious to get inside of the court room, and zealously represent my clients,” she says. “Although I do still enjoy litigation, my experience in house at Rock Central has shown me that I could be just as happy as an in-house attorney or practicing a different area of law.”

For the first five months of this year, she externed for the Attorney General’s Office, where she was involved with the Flint Water Crisis investigation.

“I thoroughly enjoyed learning from a team of lawyers, composed of zealous advocates, who were passionate about restoring justice to the Flint community,” she says. “Although the pandemic put a dent on my experience, I was glad I was able to complete my externship virtually.”

Prior to law school, a job with the Sterling Heights firm of Dobreff & Dobreff PC, a general plaintiff’s litigation law firm with the bulk of the firm’s work centered on plaintiff personal injury, solidified Khemmoro’s love for the law and her decision to go to law school; and she continued working for the firm during law school.

“Bill Dobreff has been my mentor since I started working for him in January 2016. He taught me everything I know about the civil litigation process from case inception to case closing. In addition, he taught me how to legal research and write, important questions to ask during a deposition, how to draft various motions, how to win a jury trial, and so much more,” she says. “Bill Dobreff embodies the qualities every great litigator should have, and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from him.”

One of Khemmoro’s most meaningful experiences at Detroit Mercy Law has been Moot Court.

“Participating in Moot Court has given me a taste of what a career as a litigator would be like and I love every second,” she explains. “The adrenaline of oral argument is my favorite part. I’m excited to compete in Keenan this fall and hopefully represent Detroit Mercy Law at Nationals in the winter.”

During her 1L year, Khemmoro was a student attorney in the Experiential Clinic, where she was trained to assist attorneys with counseling indigent guests of the Pope Francis Warming Center, including researching court records and determining subject-matter jurisdiction.

As a research assistant, at the law school, she has conducted in-depth research for a complex legal research project involving the pandemic; and gained experience analyzing and synthesizing legal information from multiple sources to answer complex legal questions.

In the fall, she will be an Applied Legal Theory and Analysis II (ALTA II) teaching assistant.

“ALTA II was one of my favorite law school courses and I’m excited to pass on the invaluable skills that I’ve learned to the rising 2Ls,” she says. “With being online in the Fall, I plan make myself readily available to provide students with support and guidance in their legal research and writing.”  

Khemmoro also will be a member of Law Review.

“I look forward to spending many hours doing precisely the kind of in-depth, meticulous legal research and writing that will be required of me as an attorney,” she says.

During her final semester, she plans to participate in the Federal Pro Se Clinic that provides an opportunity for hands-on legal experience while emphasizing the school’s Jesuit service-based mission.

Khemmoro says that while difficult, the unique challenges of online studies during the pandemic have better prepared her to overcome obstacles as she transitions into the practice of law.

A Macomb County resident for most of her life, Khemmoro now calls Shelby Township home, and is a big fan of the Motor City.

“I love Detroit because of the spirit of the people. Detroit hustles. Period. It is a city filled with opportunity, hope, and promise,” she says. 

“My parents are Chaldean immigrants who came to America in their late 20s with nothing but hope for a better life,” she adds. “My dad taught me the secret to success is hard work and my mom taught me the value in studying hard. I have an older and a younger sister who are my best friends. My family is life’s ultimate gift to me.”

In her leisure time, weightlifting started as a hobby but became a way of life.

“Weightlifting has taught me the value of investing in focus, how to manage fatigue, and that my limits are far beyond what I ever thought they were,” she says.

Her favorite pastime is karaoke—and she is known at law school as a “Karaoke Aficionado.”

“Karaoke helped me manage my mental health and I credit my most successful semester in law school — ending my 2L Fall semester with an overall 4.0 GPA and securing my rank in the top 10 percent of my class — to the joy karaoke brought me and the impact I was able to have on so many,” she says.

During her 2L year, Khemmoro started “Karaoke Tuesday”— a movement towards inclusiveness, and the perfect icebreaker to get students comfortable to network outside of their typical friend groups.

The success and impact of “Karaoke Tuesday” motivated Khemmoro to start one of Detroit Mercy Law’s newest student organizations – Detroit Mercy Law’s Community W.E.B., that seeks to foster an inclusive environment by breaking down legal barriers, cultivating long-lasting relationships among law students, and enhancing member mental health. The organization provides life-enhancing activities through networking events that provide a healthy respite from the intensity of the study of law.

“We are organized to empower all law students with the knowledge and resources to be successful students, mentors, and professionals in the legal community,” Khemmoro says. “My organization is firmly committed to providing students with speakers and panels from various legal practices and firm sizes. Even during these unprecedented times, as president and founder, I remain committed to finding a way to making the impact this organization would have had pre-pandemic.”

Khemmoro also has happy memories of her 2019 opportunity to participate in the Vanderbilt University Law School Study Abroad program, in Venice, where she completed courses on International Arbitration, Comparative Corporate Governance, and Counter Perspectives on Counterterrorism.

“Every day was like living a dream,” she says. “I would wake up, walk out of my Airbnb to the most beautiful and peaceful scenic view, and take a boat to class every morning. My study abroad experience provided me the perfect mix of academics and leisure. The opportunity to learn, live, and breathe the Venetian culture made this one of my most memorable law school experiences. I learned to make the most of the world around me and gained diverse perspectives on legal issues.”

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