Sami Jameel’s work with international refugees and prison detainees has led him to have a personal ethic of compassion in the law.
“I hope to be judicious and empathetic to all whom I encounter in my career,” said the new Rutgers Law graduate, who will serve as an Assistant District Attorney in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
While at Rutgers Law, Jameel, a 27-year-old native of Virginia, founded and co-directed the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), a student-led pro bono project dedicated to serving the legal needs of asylum seekers. Started at Yale Law School in 2008, Jameel founded the Rutgers chapter of IRAP in 2015 under the guidance of Susan Feathers, Assistant Dean for Pro Bono and Public Interest.
Through a partnership with the law firm Duane Morris, Jameel and other members of the assistance project have been providing legal representation to Iraqi and Afghan nationals who provided services to the U.S. military and are seeking to resettle in the United States.
But that’s not the only experience Jameel had working with international clients as a law student.
As a Kinoy-Stavis Fellow, Jameel worked on a case with Professor Jeena Shah and the International Human Rights Clinic, representing individuals who were detained and treated inhumanely at the Abu Ghraib Prison. He went to Richmond, Virginia to observe the arguments in the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. As a member of the Constitutional Rights Clinic, he also worked on the Right to Heal Coalition’s effort to clean up toxic combat materials in Iraq and advocated for recognition of harms suffered by veterans and civilians after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He credited Professors Jim Pope, George Thomas, and Shah for influencing and supporting him during law school and said he’ll never forget taking Professor Brian Neary’s Intensive Criminal Trial Practice Course for six Saturdays in a row. For the final exam, the students conducted a full-length mock murder trial.
“Professor Neary took the time to work with each individual student’s weakness in a way that inspired each of us to be more confident,” Jameel recalled. “By the end of the semester, I felt like a veteran trial lawyer and conducted my final trial with confidence.”
Jameel also interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, which inspired him to pursue an internship with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, which led him to his post-graduation career. He said when he got to law school, he never thought he’d practice criminal law, but learned, “I should never rule something out until I try it.”
He said he chose to attend Rutgers Law because he wanted to be at “a big market law school that had a rich tradition of promoting public service.” When he got here, Jameel said he didn’t know anyone, but made his first friends through the Minority Student Program. One of his new friends introduced him to another MSP student during his first semester. That student, Bisma Muhammed ’17, became his fiancée last year and the two law graduates plan to be married this summer after taking the bar exam.