Jane Muir ’02 recently completed her term as the 105th president of the Miami-Dade County Bar Association – the youngest woman ever to serve in the role. To date, her career has also included transformative professional recovery after losing a job, founding her own law firm, establishing a non-profit that raises funds to support the work of the Miami-Dade County Bar Association and Dade Legal Aid, and earning numerous professional awards and accolades.
From an early age, Muir knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “Law is our family business. My mother, father, and brother are all attorneys, and I am the sixth-generation lawyer on my father’s side. Aside from practicing, my father is also an adjunct law school professor, and my mother recently retired after serving as a judge on our state court bench for thirty-five years.”
While Muir grew up in Miami in a largely Hispanic community, where culture typically dictates that kids are educated close to home, Muir came from a boarding school tradition. “My parents favored coed, Episcopal, smaller-sized schools, and Hotchkiss was my favorite!”
She developed strong relationships in Lakeville. “I loved musical theater with Joel Brehm and Ruth Lansche. Mr. Bell, my math teacher, came to my defense when some doubted my commitment after mono knocked me out for a quarter. Mr. Mark, English teacher and advisor became a dear friend and advocate. I loved Lill Salek Helming who worked in the admissions office; she taught me how to knit!”
Though Muir had previously been an excellent student, Hotchkiss challenged her. She found herself earning Cs. “It took me until senior year to really succeed academically. It must have surprised everyone when I was one of the sixteen students who earned a perfect score on the SAT! The academic improvement occurred mainly because I was able to choose courses I was interested in, like languages, neuroanatomy, and modern European history (with Mr. Drake!). Working my way up from mediocrity in a highly competitive environment prepared me well for law school.”
After earning her degree from the University of Florida (political science and art history), Muir enrolled in the University of Miami School of Law. She captained the Mock Trial Team, earned the John F. Evans Memorial Scholarship for excellence in Litigation Skills, and was admitted to the prestigious Order of Barristers for her performance in intramural and interscholastic competitions.
A year after passing the bar, amidst the mortgage foreclosure crisis, she lost her first job. On the advice of a mentor, she joined forces with her law school trial partner to establish her own firm.
The work wasn’t easy, and she gained a special affinity for struggling entrepreneurs. Today, she provides legal assistance for small businesses (jmuirandassociates.com). “I try to provide resources that will help empower and educate everyone about legal procedures and options.” Her firm, J. Muir & Associates, P.A. of Miami, FL, focuses on complex commercial litigation, business transactions, and general counsel.
Muir most enjoys jury trials, drawing on her time in Hotchkiss debate and theater. “The performance is my favorite part. I love telling the story and earning the trust and respect of a jury. I also enjoy building my firm and keeping my clients out of trouble.”
In 2009, she became active in the voluntary bar, using bar events to help launch her career. She has since been elected to leadership positions, including President of the Dade County Bar Association. During Muir’s tenure, the association initiated an ambitious renovation of their headquarters and adopted the name Miami-Dade Bar Association.
Under her leadership, “43 risk adverse attorneys were persuaded to take a moderate business risk by borrowing $3 million against their downtown Miami building for a renovation, greatly increasing its value and the service we can provide to the community. A modern rebranding was implemented, enhancing the future recognition, stability, and continued preeminence of the Miami-Dade Bar.”
Her presidency ended, but she remains involved as a board member, and founded a sister non-profit entity, the Miami-Dade County Bar Foundation, where she is leading the efforts to raise funds and support their work with charitable activities like Dade Legal Aid.
A fourth-generation resident of Miami, Muir practices in the Middle and Northern Districts of Florida and the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal for the Tenth and Eleventh Circuits. She has served on a Florida Bar Grievance Committee for the 11th Circuit by the Florida Bar Board of Governors and currently chairs the All-Grove Crime Watch, advocating for crime victims. She supports Dade Legal Aid and Legal Services of Greater Miami and was given a Pro Bono Service Award for Innovative Projects by the Dade County Bar Association.
Recognized as an “AV Preeminent” attorney (the highest level of professional excellence ranked by peers) by Martindale-Hubbell, Muir is the recipient of the Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division’s Lynn Futch Most Productive Young Lawyer Award, and in 2014 was named by The Miami Herald one of “20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders in South Florida.” More recently, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce named her Businesswoman of the Year for Philanthropy.
She sends an important message to current students: “Everyone has unique traits and abilities. Play to your strengths and focus on a niche where you are happy!”