Reinvention: Engineer heads down a new career path into the legal field

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

A warranty engineer at the international automotive firm of Adient, when her work day is done, Stephanie Moore heads to her studies at Detroit Mercy Law four nights a week.

Her desire to earn a law degree was sheer serendipity. Attending an alumni event at the University of Detroit Mercy, where she earned her degree in chemical engineering, she ran into a former engineering classmate who is now practicing intellectual property law—and her interest was piqued.

Encouraged by her husband, Moore took the LSAT in June 2016 and entered law school two months later.

“It was quite a whirlwind,” she says. “I’m having so much fun. The professors, the administration, and my fellow classmates make Detroit Mercy Law a place I want to come to every day. The law school has a mission, a focus on community, and an understanding of its existence to serve and mature the students into ethical, responsible, and knowledgeable lawyers.”

A Detroit Mercy Law Fellow, a student ambassador, and treasurer for the 2L evening class, Moore appreciates the flexibility of evening classes that enable her to continue working full time.

“The commitment is still intense,” she says. “Before I started, I thought I could accomplish all this by taking classes two nights a week, not four—I’m on campus Monday through Thursday nights. That was a big adjustment during the first semester.” 

Moore, whose own mother returned to nursing school during Moore’s middle and high school years, says her kids are proud of her achievements—so much so that her oldest son, 11, wants to follow her footsteps into law.
“I reason that if I’m the bar for him, and undoubtedly the other two are watching as well, I need to go as far as I can go and do it well,” she says.

Moore notes there are many advantages of being a mature student with life experience.

“I understand enjoying the moments and savoring the process more now versus just getting through it,” she says. “I think having a bigger picture view of life in general gives me a different perspective.”

 For example, following the first quiz in Civil Procedure last year, several students did not perform as well as they had in undergrad.

“That’s pretty typical for law school, and my own score was lower than I would have liked. However, as an adult who has had good performance reviews and needs improvement performance reviews throughout a career, I also understand in life that feedback is a gift,” she says. “The quiz was not worth a lot with respect to our final grade, and we now had information on where to improve. I enjoy having the opportunity to mentor my classmates and give them a glimpse of what years teach a person.”

While the path of least resistance and expectation is IP law, Moore will see where opportunities and interests lead her.

“My highest grade the first year was in criminal law which, beyond watching ‘Law and Order,’ I do not have much interest in,” she says. “I also enjoyed evidence this past summer, taught by the federal prosecutor. In high school, many eons ago, I thought it would be interesting to be a judge, so maybe that door will open someday.”

Before working at Adient, Moore was employed at Johnson Controls in Plymouth; Air Products and Chemicals in Calvert, Ky.; and Dow Chemical in Marietta, Ga.

“I love being an engineer,” she says. “My career is very fulfilling—the work is always challenging and there are constantly new problems to solve.” 

Early in her career she set a goal to be a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and achieved that goal in 2013.

“Black Belts are problem-solvers who used data to identify root causes and implement actual solutions,” she explains. “I’m fortunate to be working for a company that recognizes and appreciates the value I provide.”

A Livonia native, Moore currently lives in that city with her husband Scott, an application support supervisor with Livonia Public Schools, and three sons, Sam, Nate, and Dan. She also is a volunteer teacher of Masterworks, a program about great art, at her children’s school.

“It’s amazing to watch first-graders learn about Degas and Michelangelo,” she says. “This year I had a third-grader who became very, very interested in Van Gogh. Every time I brought in a Van Gogh, he could immediately identify the painter and on one occasion even pulled a book from his desk to reference. We also learned about the Sistine Chapel and taped paper to their desks so they could draw while on their backs. We talked about how much more difficult it would have been on scaffolding ceiling level. I love doing this; it feeds my soul!”

Moore was delighted to return to the Detroit area after a few years out of state.

“Our goal was always to return to Michigan for family reasons, but additionally I love this city,” she says. “When I was young I sang in the City for Youth chorus through Wayne State, practicing every Saturday at Central United Methodist Church on Woodward. The choir would perform at events throughout the city like the Festival of Trees. I’ll never forget my dad meeting and shaking Dennis Archer’s hand. There was great hope for Detroit even then, my dad would talk about the comeback that felt so within reach.”

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