Miriam Heard, L’09, is a familiar face to the many Elon Law students who intern with Legal Aid of North Carolina in their Greensboro Office, located two blocks from the law school. As a staff attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina, Heard assists low income clients in a wide array of areas, including: social security disability, unemployment insurance and medicaid appeals; due process petitions for children with disabilities and landlord-tenant disputes. Heard also trains various people and groups through Continuing Legal Education (CLE) presentations, substantive law training for medical providers and community education for individuals who choose to represent themselves in court.
“I appreciate that understanding legal issues and teaching others about those same issues are two distinctly different skill sets,” Heard said. “I'm learning to start teaching where my audience is and build on that knowledge base.”
Before coming to Elon, Heard graduated from Salem College with a degree in English literature. She minored in creative writing and still makes time to write as a member of the Writer’s Group of the Triad. She has won numerous honors for her writing, including awards from the Burlington Writer’s Club, Our State North Carolina magazine and the State Bar Fiction Contest.
While in law school, Heard worked as an extern for Advocates of Children’s Services and as a summer intern, and then a law clerk, with Legal Aid of North Carolina - before securing full-time employment there.
“I get to work with real heroes every day. My colleagues work with law enforcement to save victims of domestic violence from their attackers, to save families from homelessness and to gain access to services and educational opportunities for children struggling with disabilities. These men and women give justice hands and feet. The law does not get more relevant than that,” Heard said. “There have been days that my clients' narratives have moved me to tears. On other days, the inadequacy of legal remedies have led me to close the door of my office and scream. But there has never been a day that I haven't been grateful to have this job at this time in my life.”
Heard advises students to take initiative and seek out their own career opportunities.
“While in law school, take charge of your education and don't shy away from a challenge,” she said. “Don't wait for career opportunities to come to your campus for an interview. Find a cause that resonates with you; find an agency that does what you want to do for people. Contact that agency and ask how you can use your legal skills to help.”