Cooley Law Student Seeks Chance to 'Create Change'
Never tell Heather Silcott she can’t achieve success—whether in the legal field, hockey arena, or pageant world.
A comment from an employer that she could “always be a legal assistant,” gave Silcott the impetus to apply to law school—and she is now a rising 3L at Cooley Law School with an exciting legal career in her sights.
Silcott’s original career goal was law enforcement, following in the footsteps of some family members. She earned her undergrad degree in the subject from Wayne State University, interning with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Detroit; and working as a police cadet in Farmington.
“I enjoyed being a police cadet because I could get hands-on experience and see what it’s like to be an officer,” she says. “I loved seeing how the legal process starts.”
But a couple of jobs as a legal administrative assistant turned her sights instead to pursuing a law degree.
“I wanted to do more than assisting lawyers—I wanted to create change,” she says. “I also want to show other young women they can do anything even when told they can't.”
Juggling full time work while attending law school, Silcott is enjoying her experience.
“I enjoy how much each professor really cares about your success—Cooley Law School wants to see you succeed,” she says.
Silcott currently is working full time at the Livonia office of Smith & Brink, a national law firm that concentrates in complex civil litigation and anti-fraud work, including RICO, False Claims Act, health care, fraud recovery, class action, commercial, insurance litigation, and internal investigations. She helps support one attorney and handles his filings and scheduling.
“I also get opportunities to do legal research and really dive into the pending cases,” she says.
This hands-on work as a legal assistant, with its view into the world of lawyers, is a boon to her legal studies.
“It helped me tremendously with the civil procedure because I was already handling procedural matters during the day,” Silcott says.
The pandemic and remote studies have made her plan out her days efficiently.
“It’s very easy to get distracted being at home,” she says. “I have a calendar I write down when and where I’m going to study. I’ve been using a coffee shop on the weekend to get out of the house to study.”
Silcott, who started playing ice hockey in 2001 after her brother told her girls couldn’t play the sport, plays competitively for Belle Tire, and her team recently won a national championship in Tampa. This sports background has given her a goal of becoming a highly successful sports and entertainment contract lawyer.
“I want to show others that even if you don't have anyone in your family that is a lawyer, that shouldn't stop you—you can do anything you set your mind to,” she says.
HOCKEY AND PAGEANTRY
As a hockey player, Silcott is not a typical pageant entrant—yet she currently is Miss Michigan U.S. International 2021, and recently had the honor of representing Michigan at the Miss U.S. International Pageant in Orlando.
“This was such an amazing opportunity,” she says. “Although I didn’t win, I made friends from around the U.S. and was involved in all different careers. I started doing pageants for fun—I like to step out of my comfort zone and push myself. I enjoy pageants because I love meeting new people. I love watching others succeed and hear their stories.”
Silcott adds that pageantry builds confidence to help prepare for walking into a courtroom and being able to talk in law classes.
“Walking out onto a stage and having a crowd watch you, and judges judge you on how you walk and how you talk, takes a lot of confidence,” she says. “Pageantry has helped prepare me to answer questions on the spot and not have an opportunity to prepare an answer. This will help with being in a courtroom because I will not know what questions a judge may ask me, but I’ll be prepared to respond and not get nervous.
“It's intimidating being a female lawyer and walking into a room that might be full of men. Pageantry has given me the confidence to not feel intimidated. In pageantry, you’ll always have another girl who may have done more training than you or walks better than you, and that’s the same in law. There will always be a lawyer with more experience, but as long as you stay true to yourself and do what's best, you’ll succeed.”
A native and current resident of Waterford in Oakland County, Silcott enjoys life in the Motor City area—and appropriately enough is a huge car buff who took auto shop in high school—and particularly relishes trying out new food from different restaurants.
“Detroit is beautiful and full of hidden gems,” she says.
Silcott grew up with her mother, stepfather, and her brother, who is her best friend.
“My favorite thing about my family is we don’t hang up the phone without saying ‘I love you,’” she says. “If you don't say ‘I love you,’ you’ll get a phone call back asking what’s wrong.”
She volunteers as an “Angel” with “Hope Not Handcuffs,” part of the organization Families Against Narcotics—volunteerism that means a great deal to her because her brother struggled with addiction.
“It was tough to go through,” she says. “Knowing I’m someone's ‘Angel’ and showing up at the police station when someone struggling asks for help, is rewarding to me. I love knowing I’m part of someone's path to recovery.”
This article about Cooley Law School student Heather Silcott was written by Legal News writer Sheila Pursglove originally published by the Legal News on July 12, 2021. Reprinted with permission of The Detroit Legal News. Photos courtesy of Heather Silcott.