Student is passionate about civil legal aid

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PHOTO BY MILLARD S. BERRY

by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Hussein Jaward went to undergrad at the University of Michigan-Dearborn with the goal of becoming a college professor or an attorney. The die was cast when the college’s cooperative education director pointed him toward an open position at Bodman PLC, a major banking and business law firm in Detroit.

“I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to determine whether being an attorney was a career I’d truly want to pursue,” Jaward says.

He applied, was hired and worked at Bodman for 2-1/2 years, before heading to Wayne State University Law School, where he is now in his 2L year.

“Going to law school was always very natural,” he says. “My two great loves have always been American history and politics, and law is so intimately and inextricably intertwined with both. Though I thought for a time I’d be a college professor in one of those subjects, law ultimately won me over.”

He particularly appreciates the law school’s alumni network, course offerings, faculty, curriculum rigor, and professional opportunities.

“In fact, one of the biggest problems I’ve had is fitting in all of the opportunities offered before I graduate,” he says.    

With a smorgasbord of offerings, he is trying a little bit of everything.

“I came to law school having worked for Bodman PLC. Right now, I’m working at a plaintiff’s injury firm. At some point before I graduate, I’ll be working in one of our law school’s clinics. I’m trying not to box myself in.
Ultimately, I think I want to be a litigator as opposed to a transactional attorney. I just have to decide what type of cases I want to litigate.”

He enjoys the camaraderie with the professors.

“Last week, for example, I was racing down the hall to get to class, when one of my favorite professors yanked me to the side to ask how my clerkship applications are going and demanding to know when I’m going to join her clinic,” he says.

He also recently attended a screening of Mitch Albom’s new documentary, “Walk With Me: The Trials of Judge Damon J. Keith,” with another professor. “Our professors are always there for us and genuinely care about students on a personal and professional level,” he says.

Jaward is currently serving as vice president of the school’s Entrepreneurship and Business Law Society.

“We bring speakers to campus from the business and legal professions, including attorneys, entrepreneurs and the like to discuss their professional experience,” he says.

He has spent the past few months clerking at a Detroit plaintiff’s injury-firm where he has put into practice the substantive law he has learned and practical skills he has developed, and has had the opportunity to assist on constitutional rights violations, gender discrimination, products liability, medical malpractice, and a variety of other cases.

“I’ve also had the privilege of developing my advocacy skills by authoring complaints, interrogatories and requests for production, research memos on some pretty novel issues of tort law, and even a federal appellate brief,” he says. “Client interaction has also taught me that the practice of law, unlike law school itself, is not an abstraction; that there are people whose legal rights and future depend on how well – or poorly – an attorney, a law clerk, a paralegal, does his or her job.”

He also has enjoyed meeting mentors and making friends at the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association and Oakland County Bar Association “Michigan has a very, very small legal community, as opposed to other markets, he says. “It’s great to be writing a brief challenging opposing counsel’s motion for summary judgment at 1 p.m., and then hanging out with the same opposing counsel at a local bar event that very afternoon! It’s very collegial.”
His community involvement revolves around the legal profession. In any given week, he’ll attend at least one local bar event or bar committee meeting. As a political independent, he is also heavily involved in both Democratic and Republican causes.

He also is passionate about efforts to secure indigent citizens’ right to counsel in civil cases.

“During undergrad, I interned for an indigent advocacy group in Detroit, and this semester I’m enrolled in a seminar, ‘Access to Justice,’ which examines the whole slew of issues indigent citizens face in handling their legal problems and securing the justice that they are entitled to,” he says.

He recently toured the Salvation Army’s William Booth Legal Aid Clinic in Detroit and spent a couple of hours with its director discussing current issues in securing indigent citizens legal counsel in civil matters.

“Indigency touches every demographic group in our society: veterans, those who are ill and in good health, urban and rural citizens, the youth and elderly – everyone. I’m proud to be involved in our country’s increasing recognition of the importance of civil legal aid,” he says.

A native of Dearborn, where he still resides, Jaward would like to move to midtown or downtown Detroit after graduation, and enjoys everything about the Motor City – “whether it be bar hopping, going to the Detroit Institute of Arts, or the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History, the Walter P. Reuther Library, going to a concert at The Fillmore, or just going out for a jog or bike ride on the river,” he says.

“I love Detroit because we’re a perfect embodiment of why America is the greatest country on Earth. When life hands us lemons, we come together and make lemonade. We may disagree, perhaps vehemently, on how to get to where we need to be, but we always come together to get the job done.”

He attributes his own success to supporters on the sidelines cheering him on: “My loving family, my law school and undergrad professors and classmates, attorneys from my previous and current firms, and even a couple of bartenders at the restaurant just a few blocks away from the where I typically grab lunch between classes,” he says. “My success isn’t really ‘my’ success – it’s their success. If the diploma I’ll receive at my law school graduation will be truly accurate, it would bear all their names instead of just mine.”




 

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