Grad spotlight: Meghan Higgins, Eddington, Maine

In April, about a month before receiving her J.D. degree from the University of Maine School of Law, Meghan Higgins traveled to the state capitol in Augusta for a meeting with Maine Attorney General William Schneider.

Higgins had already been informally offered a job as a litigator with the AG’s office in Bangor, just a few miles from the family farm on which Higgins grew up. But Schneider makes a point of meeting personally with every new hire, to talk about the job and make the offer official.

“It was great. I let him know how thankful I was for the opportunity to pursue my career in my home state,” Higgins said. “There is a lot of talk about keeping our young people in Maine to work and raise families. They backed it up.

“I’ve always wanted to go back home,” Higgins said. She and her three older brothers represent the sixth generation to live on the same property in Eddington.

As an Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Division, Higgins will represent the state Department of Health and Human Services. She will be responsible for child protection cases at every level of the court system, all the way up to appeals before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Higgins graduated from John Bapst Memorial High School in 2005, and Boston College in 2009, with degrees in linguistics and contemporary ethics. She didn’t know what aspect of law she would pursue at Maine Law, but she found her passion during her 2L year while clerking for Charles LaVerdiere, Chief Judge of the Maine District Court.

“That was my first real exposure to the courtroom, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a litigator,” Higgins said. “I wanted to be standing and arguing in a courtroom, not sitting at a desk all day.”

During her 2L summer, Higgins was an intern at Maine Law’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, representing low-income clients, prisoners and children, under the guidance of Maine Law professors. In the fall of 2012 she worked as an extern in the Child Protection Division of the state Attorney General’s Office, an experience that paved the way for her new job. This spring she returned to the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic as a student attorney. Also this spring, Higgins won a Law Student Ethics Award from the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. Higgins and award recipients from 10 other law schools in New England were honored April 5 at the Union Club of Boston. The Law Student Ethics Awards honor outstanding ethics in a clinical program.

Besides Law School graduation and a new job, Higgins will also celebrate a September wedding in 2012, to fellow Mainer Chad Szylvian. Higgins met the Brewer native at Boston College. Szylvian is in his fourth year of medical school at Tufts University, where he is a participant in the “Maine Track” program, which seeks to help doctors who want to practice in rural Maine. Szylvian hopes to begin residency in Bangor next summer and launch his career in family medicine back home.