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Released on Jun 21, 2023
Student Profile: Incoming SBA President Jalela Jallaq

Cleveland State University College of Law 3L Student and incoming Student Bar Association President Jalela Jallaq knew that she wanted to become an attorney when she was 12 years old.  She credits this to growing up in a single parent household where she held extra responsibilities as a child and was exposed to many injustices in the world. This stayed with her, and she knew she wanted to work in a profession where she could help people and give back to the community.

As an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati studying criminal justice, Jalela interned at the DC Corrections Information Council. There she worked with incarcerated people and provided tools and resources for re-entry into society. The experience only confirmed for Jalela that she was heading down the correct path.

“As I answered our clients phone calls and letters, I felt I was their voice outside of the penitentiaries. Being a lawyer, to me, means being a voice to those whose voices aren’t always heard,” Jalela explained.

Jalela also discovered at a young age that she wanted to practice law as a personal injury attorney.  When she was 16 years old, Jalela was involved in a horrific car accident that left passengers critically injured and Jalela traumatized to this day. She was able to recover physically and received a settlement with monetary damages from the crash.  That settlement check ultimately helped her pay for college.

“Being in a car accident is traumatizing, so to have some recovery made it easier to move along in life and, as a lawyer, I hope to do this for others.”

Jalela graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic and went to work as a preschool teacher while considering law schools. She fell in love with the CSU campus on a visit and appreciated the personal outreach CSU|LAW made, including a phone call from Dean Lee Fisher, upon her acceptance.

During law school, Jaelea has partaken in several positions that have only further confirmed her career path. She has worked as a law clerk at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg, & Lewis, Plevin and Gallucci, and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutors Office, and is in Atlanta this summer working as a law clerk for personal injury attorney Keith Lamar Jr. Her favorite experience on campus has been the opportunity to apply her classroom knowledge hands-on  as a member of the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial that finished third nationally in 2022-23.

Jalela’s involvement on campus includes serving as President of the Arab Law Student Association (ALSA) last year.  A goal of hers was to drive collaboration among affinity organizations on campus and she did that, hosting the first diversity panel with the affinity organizations on campus and in the community. ALSA also hosted networking events where ALSA members were introduced to judges, prosecutors, and litigators. Students who participated in those have subsequently received positions at McDonald Hopkins, Thompson Hine, Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office, and the United States District Attorney’s Office.

“To see powerful people come back to their school to be a resource for the students now is very inspiring,” said Jalela. “Repeatedly our alumni have told me how they are willing to help, but no one asks. I will be the person to ask for help for the benefit of the community as a whole."

Jalela plans to bring those kind of networking events to the entire student body this year as President of the Student Bar Association (SBA). Last year, Jalela was Secretary of the SBA, learning from outgoing President Christina O’Brien ’23, who she admires as a leader. .

“I have been on SBA since my first year and have loved it because it is a way to connect with my peers and be a voice for them to the administration and vice versa,” said Jalela.  “I love helping people and being a voice for others and I felt the best way for me to continue being a voice was to run for President and leave the school better than we found it at the end of the year.”

In addition to an increase in networking events with alumni, Jalela’s plans for the SBA this year include hosting Townhall meetings in an effort to create more opportunities for students and administration to communicate with each other, making new CSU|LAW branded business cards available to students, restructuring grading for the Mock Trial and Moot Court teams, addressing safety concerns around campus, and hosting additional community days where students would get involved in local schools and neighborhoods.

As a Palestinian woman, representation, inclusion, and community involvement have always been important to Jalela. She has become involved in the Cleveland community serving as a volunteer teacher at the John Marshall Civic & Business Leadership School. Long-term she can see herself running for national office but would also like to return to school and to receive a Ph.D. in International Law. and possible start a firm overseas and provide legal assistance to Palestinian people and refugees.

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