Like most good sons, Luiz Miranda always wanted to make his father proud. The senior Miranda is a legend in his son’s mind: a highly respected attorney on two continents, a charismatic leader who draws admirers like a Pied Piper, and a trusted advisor to his two sons.
Paulo Miranda, 3L Luiz Miranda, and Senior Judge Richard Linn
That moment arrived last summer when the 3L J.D./LL.M. in International Law was offered a position at Mayer Brown, the storied Chicago-headquartered international law firm. Miranda called his father, catching him at dinner with family and friends in Rio de Janeiro.
“He started crying, then I started crying,” Miranda says. “He had to hand the phone to my mother. He told me that he felt that it marked the moment that he had done his job as a father.”
Paulo Miranda, LL.M. in Comparative Law `96, had brought his family to Miami from Brazil when Luiz was twelve. Paulo Miranda worked at Baker Mckenzie, Greenberg Traurig, and Akerman, before opening his practice, though neither of his sons showed an interest in law at the time.
Luiz Miranda grew up boating. Member of the Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club, he spent practically every weekend of his youth with his family sailing Angra dos Reis, a Caribbean-like destination in Rio. When not on the water, he remained active competing in club sports – volleyball, tennis, swimming, and basketball – while operating a small disc jockey business spinning for parties and working in radio during his summers in Brazil.
He also became more technology focused, building and selling computers, and hosting bulletin boards. He continued in college, receiving a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the University of Central Florida.
“I could not see myself doing what my father does. My father is superb with people,” Miranda says. “It felt like that world was very geared toward men with picture-perfect families, and I couldn’t picture myself in it.”
Instead, Miranda took his degree and headed to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where he started out an engineer with a team in the company’s support services. Over the next 13 years, he would rise into software development and design engineering, but it wasn’t enough for the guy who spent his weekends alpine snow skiing and offshore boating.
"I had reached a ceiling as to where I could go in the engineering field, and I wasn't too interested in going into a managerial role," Miranda says. "I wanted to explore the passion that I had long had with the law, but with an eye toward combining it with my love of technology. I also felt that I was older and could better overcome perceived challenges of my youth."
Miranda sought the counsel of both his father and Horacio Gutierrez, J.D. `98 and then-general counsel and head of intellectual property at Microsoft. IP law seemed to dovetail nicely with Miranda’s previous experience and interests.
"Once I better understood what the career was like, I felt that it would be something great to work on," Miranda says. "Even if it didn't work out in a big law way, I could always join my father's corporate law practice. It felt like a good fit."
He weighed offers from Seattle University, where he could do a night program and stay at Microsoft, and Miami Law. Ultimately, he opted for Miami, where he could engage in the law school experience full time and start building relationships in a legal community where he would someday like to work. Family, finances, and weather -- and access to year-round boating -- tipped the scales.
“With so many changes – leaving the job I loved, changing cities and changing careers – I thought it would all be easier to balance if I was closer to my family. And in Miami, I would have more access to the business traffic between the United States and South America, and especially Brazil,” the dual citizen says.
Miranda spent his first summer at Miami Law in Washington, D.C., at the Hispanic National Bar Association/Microsoft Intellectual Property Institute, a coveted opportunity for 25 Latino law students from across the country interested in IP law. Gutierrez was one of the speakers.
With an eye toward advocacy for the underserved and gaining some real-world experience, Miranda also joined Miami Law's Health Rights Clinic and represented more than a dozen Spanish-speaking clients, developing strategies and serving them in immigration and Social Security hearings.
"The clinic involvement was both highly rewarding and, in hindsight, critical to my growth," Miranda says. "It was exciting to help people in great need, and it left me empowered in the knowledge that I could thrive in a client-driven environment."
Miranda attended the largest IP job fair in the U.S. at Loyola University in Chicago. He landed a highly coveted summer slot at Mayer Brown, the firm that would eventually lead to a post-graduate position.
Around the same time, he was awarded an IP scholarship from The Richard Linn American Inn of the Court. "I had applied with zero expectations. The previous winners were from the very top schools," he says. "I was so pleased when I received the award."
With the award, was a fully paid trip for two to Chicago to accept at a banquet. Miranda took his father. "I thought my dad would love it. So much of what I have achieved is because of his support, advice, and acceptance," he says. "As it turned out, Mayer Brown had a table at the event. I introduced my dad and, of course, he charmed them."
When the call came from Mayer Brown, Miranda had a month to respond to the offer as a first-year associate. "It was a no-brainer," Miranda says. "It is experience second to none."
"I know I made the right decision coming to Miami Law," he says. "The experience and the opportunities have factored hugely in what I have become and where I am heading. It is more than I could have ever hoped.
“And I hear Lake Michigan is world class place for sailing," he says.