Dual JD candidate serves as vice chair of ABA Law Student Division

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Ayat Nizam followed her accountant father into the business world, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business from the University of Windsor in Ontario.

But Lady Justice had her eye on Nizam, who has long had an interest in the law.

“My grandma had wanted my mom to go into law—unfortunately, between going to school, getting married young and having six kids, she didn’t get the chance. So I think they both placed that desire in me from a young age,” Nizam says.

“From there, I gained a passion for advocating on behalf of others, mainly revolving in the business realm. I’m sure the fact my mom would always tell me I’m defensive in my nature played a role as well.”

As a Windsor native and resident, the Dual Canadian & American JD program offered at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and University of Windsor was an obvious choice for Nizam, now in her 2L year.

“Seeing the growth, as well as decline of both cities, drew me to want to work in both cities and hopefully make a long lasting impact in both communities,” she says.

“My favorite part about Detroit Mercy Law is how invested and integrated it is within its local community—its events, networks, programs and initiatives are centered around growing and furthering the Detroit community.”

Nizam, who says she happened to join the American Bar Association by chance, notes that it has been one of law school’s best experiences to date. Serving this year as vice chair of the Law Student Division, she will help work on developing programs, content and events across the country to enhance the experience for all ABA members; and also serve as a liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Membership. 

“I enjoy seeing the real impact the Law Student Division has on the everyday law student,” she says. “Recently, we started a Mental Health T-Shirt campaign to raise awareness about the ‘taboo’ and unspoken mental health issues within law students. In addition, we’re able to bring the issues of law students from around the United States to the House of Delegates and advocate on their behalf to have resolutions passed and implemented across the country.” 

Drawn to extracurricular activities since high school, Nizam is serving as 2L class president for the Dual JD program, liaising between the students and Detroit Mercy faculty and administration.

Also a member of the Arab American Law Student Association and the Black Law Students Association, she finds she is able to interact with the different communities and partake in events she may not previously have been aware of during her law studies.

“I like to think of myself as a people person and with that, any chance to engage and interact with others is one I find myself taking advantage of,” she says.

Nizam, who has previously worked as a law clerk for Farhat & Associates Law Firm in Windsor, relishes the litigation experience gained from competing in Moots.

“Putting in the hours to research and practice arguments is a process I enjoy,” she says. “Like my mother said, being defensive in my nature, I genuinely enjoy advocating on behalf of issues I’m passionate about. When faced with mooting on an issue I don’t necessarily agree with, it pushes me to utilize creative thinking methods and tactics to predict what the possible counter arguments would be and how to approach them.” 

This past summer, Nizam interned for Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry, mainly in the civil division.

“However, Judge Berry ensured we were able to gain a holistic experience and sent us to the Personal Protective Orders Court and Criminal Court,” she says. “I was able to observe a variety of trials, research into legal matters for Judge Berry and have prepared a memorandum regarding a landlord liability claim.”

After graduation, Nizam plans on working in Michigan, in corporate and commercial litigation.

“I’ve always wanted to combine my love for business with my passion for the law,” she says. “Being that business is so general, I can find myself working in just about anything.”

The oldest of six, and born and raised across the border in Windsor where she still makes her home, Nizam considers herself an honorary Detroiter—and enjoys participating in both communities.

In Windsor, she has participated in charity events, political networking initiatives with her local mosque and helps low-income residents at Community Legal Aid.

“The experience is obviously great but having a real impact—that you can see at the end of your case with your client—is in and of itself the rewarding part,” she says.

In Detroit, she participated in a project working with a Flint church to assist in the water crisis, as well as an experiential clinic in Detroit where she worked with pro bono attorneys to assist people trying to avoid foreclosure.

“I love having witnessed the economic growth and development of Detroit,” she says. “I had the chance to work with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation throughout my MBA and being able to see the revival of Detroit first hand is truly remarkable. I love roaming around Detroit, exploring the different communities, local markets and restaurants. The general atmosphere is one that’s welcoming and enjoyable—I can honestly say Detroit is my favorite city.

“I love to eat,” she adds. “In coping with law school stress, my friends and I created a food Instagram, ‘A Taste of Two Cities,’ where we go around Detroit and Windsor eating and documenting our food adventures. I also love travelling around the United States, exploring new cities and new restaurants. Also, being in a generally male-dominated family, I love watching sports—I’m currently my twin brothers’ soccer mom.”

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