70-year old Michel Mirman is about as Brooklyn as it gets.
The lawyer, a practicing attorney for 45 years, was born and raised in East Flatbush and Mill Basin and said that her background has allowed her to connect with her clients due to their shared living experience.
“Having grown up in Brooklyn and lived here all my life, I use all the same services my clients do, subways, buses, the parks, the streets – I’m familiar with all the hospitals,” Mirman said. “Anything that my clients go through, I’m familiar with. It’s not a surprise to me, it’s not a shock.”
Mirman is the founding partner of the firm Mirman, Markovits & Landau, PC, established in 1977, whose practice deals with cases ranging from medical malpractice to worker’s compensation to personal injury cases of all kinds. She received an undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1973 and a law degree from Antioch University (now The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law) in 1976. Mirman said her law school, primarily focused on civil practice, inspired her to embed service into her everyday work.
“People are hurt everyday of the week by other people’s carelessness. It doesn’t rise to the level of crime, because it may not be intentional, but that does not mean the victim is not hurt,” Mirman said.
She said she became interested in public interest law from a young age, particularly from being raised during a politically active period. She said that there were opportunities to get involved with Freedom Schools down South, anti-war demonstrations opposing the Vietnam war, as well as President Nixon’s controversial presidency.
Mirman started practicing law at a time when there weren’t many women in her field. As a young trial lawyer in the civil courts of Kings County, she said her other colleagues didn’t take her seriously. Mirman said the idea was that women were thought of as temporary fixtures in the courthouse, on their way to get married, have kids and never come back to the lawyering lifestyle.
“That really wasn’t my idea about my life. My idea was that I was going to work, I was going to try cases, I was going to try bigger cases, better cases. I also write, I wrote a lot of appeals. I really realized my dream,” Mirman said.
Mirman was only 23 when she started practicing, a result from skipping eighth grade and completing her undergraduate degree in three years. She said she was ready to begin her career and wanted to prove herself in a field that was male dominated at the time.
“I wanted to work, I wanted to get out there and actually work, so I was practicing at a fairly young age. Between being female and being young, I really got it from all sides. You know, what doesn’t kill you makes you tougher, right?”
Mirman said she has always supported women and has tried to counsel young women starting out in their career for as long as she’s been a lawyer. She said she also tried several sexual assault or rape cases at a time when it was not as common to take them on. More than anything, Mirman said all women should try to support other women in their respective fields.
“I also have to say that I’ve always promoted women. I’ve always mentored other women from taking young women in high school and teaching them how to be paralegals. Some of my women who have worked for me have gone on to college and have gone to law school and become lawyers,” Mirman said. “I think it’s something that we all should do.”