PORTLAND, Maine — Meghan Higgins was thinking about applying to law school 3½ years ago during the fall semester of her senior year at Boston College when her father called. He told her the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, was being offered at the University of Maine on the upcoming weekend.

“He told me if I came up and took it, he’d pay the fee,” Higgins, 25, of Eddington said last week. “So, I did. Then, I only applied to one law school.”

Higgins was one of 88 students awarded degrees Saturday by the University of Maine School of Law in Merrill Auditorium.

“I was planning on being a speech pathologist, but I’d been told my whole life I should go to law school,” she said. “Dad thought I’d be a great lawyer. He lost a lot of fights to me.

Higgins graduated in 2005 from John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor. She majored in linguistics and contemporary ethics at Boston College.

She is expected to begin working Aug. 1, after taking the Maine Bar Exam in July, for the Child Protection Division of the Maine attorney general’s office. She will work out of the Bangor office handling cases in District Court in Skowhegan.

“When I first started law school, I had no idea what kind of law I wanted to study or pursue a career in,” Higgins said. “What I did figure out really quickly is that I wanted to be in the courtroom.”

She found her passion during her second year of law school 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 from observing what happened there that I wanted to be a litigator,” Higgins said.

During her third and final year of law school, Higgins was able to stand in the well of a courtroom and represent clients, under the guidance of law school professors, while working at the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. “I found out I just love the feeling of having to think on your feet and the adversarial nature of the process,” Higgins said. “I found it challenging, and interesting and that it suited my skill set.”

But she underestimated how engaged she would become with the people she was representing.

“I thought it would be more of an impersonal academic exercise,” Higgins said. “It was so emotional to get so involved with clients and to really understand how important your role is in their lives. You’re dealing with people when they are in crisis. Working at the clinic, I found out it’s really a privilege to be able to help carry someone through that time in their life.”

Last fall, she worked as an extern in the Child Protection Division of the state attorney general’s office in Augusta. During that time, she learned how challenging her new job mostly likely will be.

“The subject matter is heavy and I’m glad I’ve already experience it for a short period of time,” she said. “I’m going in with my eyes open knowing what a toll it can take but I feel it’s meaningful work. I feel lucky to have a job where I can make a difference.

“My client will be the Department of Health and Human Service,” she continued. “My job will be to support the caseworkers, who are making the really tough calls, in court. I’m there to support them.”

Last month in Boston, Higgins and recipients from 10 other law schools received the Law School Ethics Award from the Northeast Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. Higgins received the award for an incident that occurred while she representing a law school clinic client.

“My client stole … from another party in the courtroom,” Higgins said. “She took his notebook and threw it away in a bathroom trashcan. I had to get it back and advise my client not to answer questions so she did not incriminate herself.”

In addition to studying for the bar exam and preparing for a new job, Higgins also is planning her wedding on Sept. 1 to Chad Szylvian, 25, of Brewer at St. John Catholic Church in Bangor. Szylvian is in his fourth year of medical school at Tufts University in Boston.

Despite the fact that they grew up in adjoining towns, the two did not meet until both were students at Boston College, Higgins said. Szylvian will apply to the family medicine residency program at Eastern Maine Medical Center and hopes to practice in the area.

Higgins is the daughter of Frank Higgins, the city engineer for Brewer, and Winnie Murray-Higgins. She and her three older brothers are the sixth generation to live on the same property in Eddington, Higgins said.

Once she passes the bar exam, Higgins will be the first attorney in her immediate family but not in her extended one. One of her uncles is Superior Court Justice Robert “Buddy” E. Murray of Bangor and another is Severin Beliveau of Augusta.

24 replies on “Dad’s lost arguments lead to law school graduation for Eddington native”

  1. I love the internet. Instead of sitting in my apartment, alone, yelling at my newspaper, I can immortalize my (important) thoughts on the web.

    1. Instead of being negative, go to the YMCA and walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  Or walk down your street for ten minutes and then ten minutes back.  In addition to getting a little fresh air into your body, you might get the chance to say, “Good morning” to someone.  It totally changes your mindset for the day.

      Shut the computer of for a couple of hours.  It’ll change your life.

    2. Yes, I understand your enthusiasm and exuberance, Kroog.  However – and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way – last night I read your first comment on this piece, a comment since flagged for review, and I think you got a little carried away in what you tried to immortalize.

  2. I have to agree.  While I am happy for this woman who graduated from law school, did everyone who graduated from Maine School of Law get a write up in their local paper?

    There was a concert on the waterfront Friday night, and I haven’t seen even a mention of it (not that that is huge news, but I think it would rate a mention).

    1. Everyone knew about/heard about (literally and figuratively…) about the concert.  This would be a “human interest story”.  You find these in papers all the time.

      Good for her!  Congrats on a job well done…

      1. It is a job well done, but if graduating from college is a human interest story then the BDN will never run out of stories.

        As for the concert coverage (or lack thereof), it just seemed strange since the BDN always has a write-up on the shows, that’s all.

        1. Since the concert was on Friday, was there coverage on the BDN website maybe Saturday instead?  Or maybe it is just a slower news right now…. Just a couple thoughts.  

          Sorry if I sounded snippy in the other remark.  I went back and read it, and realized how it may have come off; so it has been edited at this point…

          1. Sara, every concert does not need to be published in the paper. I hate to admit it, it was not as good as godsmack could have done.  

          2. I am not saying it has to be — I was just trying to offer an explanation for tjones as to why they didn’t see it on the BDN website this morning.  I had a meeting in the Downtown Bangor area Friday night, and drove by the concert venue; certainly looked like a good turn-out from what I could tell. I am assuming by your comment you went to the concert… Have you been to see them before and that is how you are able to say it was not as good as could have been done?

          3. I am not a fan of godsmack at all, but i went with a friend who asked me if she would buy me a ticket so i did.  This is the third time i have seen them, last two times great, this time not so great.  Yes there was a great turnout, even with outsiders gaters.  Some people who comment on here praise waterfront concerts and think they need to be mentioned 27 hours 7 days a week  I honestly think Alex is doing a great job, but it does not need to be mentioned of every single concert and i know what you mean.  Thank you for responding to me

          4. Maybe if alex spent some money advertizing the shows on the BDN,  then the paper would put the concerts out as news for us to see

    2. This isn’t the first story written regarding this young lady, there was one awhile back on how her mother  and her uncle who’s a priest(pro homosexual marriage, liberal  Catholics)  haave been an influence on her.   I think she’s being prepped for politics.  Congratulations Meghan and the other 87 graduates of  University of Maine School of Law.

      I still don’t get how she got an Ethics award for this incident . “My client stole a from another party in the courtroom,” Higgins said. “She took his notebook and threw it away in a bathroom trashcan. I had to get it back and advise my client not to answer questions so she did not incriminate herself.”  How was what her client did be ethical?  Her client stole something.

      1. The award has to do with her ethics, not her client’s, but I’m not sure why she received an award in the first place.  Obviously, advising her client to remain silent was an ethical and proper thing for a lawyer to do, but it’s such a no brainer that I’m not sure why it would warrant an award.  As to retrieving the notebook that the client threw away, I think it could be argued that was unethical inasmuch as it was evidence that could be used against her client.  Furthermore, if she only knew that her client had taken the notebook because her client told her so after the fact, it might have been improper for her to retrieve it, and presumably return the notebook to the owner, because that would violate the attorney-client privilege.

    3. I hate to say this, but every concert does not need to be published in the paper. Some yes but not all. I happen to be in the area and caught the tail end of it, not to impressive.  But i have to admit he has some great ones coming up ill be at

    4. My Potato’s went in a week ago, the rest of my garden went in Friday and Saturday. I’m very happy with the weather for it’s great for gardens. Pictures of  hot radishes will be posted asap.

  3. Very impressive young lady. A credit to Bapst and her community

    I just hope she doesn’t vote like Judge Murray and Mr. Beliveau.

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