Award winner: Dual J.D. student focuses on career in corporate law


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

At a young age Matthew Tapia enjoyed hearing stories from his businessman father about complex financial transactions and working with lawyers. His interest in the legal aspects of the corporate world increased as he grew older, and he set his sights on entering this field.

His first step was an undergrad degree, with honors, in political science and criminology from the University of Toronto, a major that helped hone his research, reading, and writing skills.

Then the Canadian native chose the Dual J.D. program at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

“The part I enjoy most is the energetic atmosphere amongst my colleagues—you regularly hear about students from both schools making great accomplishments,” he says. “Being in an environment with so many talented, hard-working people is inspiring and has motivated me to become heavily-involved at both schools.”

As a junior member of the Law Review, he wrote an article under the leadership and advice of Professor Erin Archerd that received the Sengstock Award for excellence in legal writing and was selected by the previous Executive Board for publication this coming academic year.

“Professor Archerd has been an outstanding adviser, supporting me throughout the entire past academic year as I embarked on the challenging journey of academic writing,” he says.

In April, Tapia took the helm as editor-in-chief, where his goals are twofold: to publish high-quality articles of significant interest to the legal community, and to support students as they develop and practice their legal writing through the Writing Program.

Recognized as a best oralist in the Patrick A. Keenan Appellate Advocacy Moot Competition in Detroit, Tapia looks forward to representing Detroit Mercy Law at a National Moot Competition this academic year. 

“Moot Court is an excellent way to practice litigation skills,” he says. “And while I enjoy the oral advocacy component, writing briefs is my favorite part.”

A three-month internship last summer at the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office was an opportunity to learn about the special Mortgage Fraud Unit, one of the first of its kind in the country, and where he reported to then-Assistant Prosecutor Mariam Bazzi, recently appointed as a judge to the Wayne County Circuit Court.

“My most memorable experience was being able to observe criminal trials and litigation, while also talking with prosecutors about the challenges of building a case,” he says. “I learned a lot about evidence and trial preparation in a short amount of time.”

With a primary focus in law school on litigation and corporate/business law, Tapia is entering a summer internship at Blaney McMurtry LLP, a full service firm in Toronto, where he will have the opportunity to gain experience in corporate, real estate, and employment and labor law. His career goal is to work at a large American corporate law firm.

“Large American cities are the forefront of new, North American legal developments, and I want to participate in the foreground of these developments,” he says.

A native of Brampton, west of Toronto, Tapia enjoys his time in the Motor City.

“The thing I enjoy most about Detroit is the vibrant culture and food,” he says. “Everyone I meet is very friendly and welcoming.”