Law student committed to leadership and service


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News
Nadine Dabaja says she was drawn to study law by a “genuine and burning passion for justice.”

“As cliché as that sounds, I’ve developed such a strong attachment to any opportunity that allows me to utilize my strengths to do what gives me perhaps one of the strongest feelings of gratification — helping others,” says Dabaja, top of her 1L class at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. “Studying law and eventually being licensed to practice will enable me to do exactly that — bring justice to the underprivileged.”

“I’m an Arab American woman with rights and privileges far beyond what men and women across the globe can imagine,” she adds. “My goal is to utilize my background and identity to offer my services to members of a community I’m passionate about through a unique lens shaped by personal experience and awareness.”

Dabaja earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Wayne State University before heading to Detroit Mercy School of Law.

“I enjoy the level of empowerment that every aspect of the school brings to me,” she says. “Since my first days at Detroit Mercy, I’ve been given every opportunity to spread my wings and pursue what I’m most passionate about while being nurtured by the faculty. I also enjoy the sense of inclusion and community that exists there.”   

Serving as 1L class president has allowed her to combine two things she has always been passionate about — leadership and service.

“I mostly enjoy the platform it’s given me to serve my peers and offer guidance, advice, and help where it’s needed,” she says. “I definitely enjoy the wholesome relationships it’s allowed me to build with my peers, and the gratification I receive when I fulfill my responsibilities.”

With an underlying interest in criminal justice reform, Dabaja has a passion for criminal defense — her goal is to practice as a defense attorney and later to start a nonprofit organization providing relief to underprivileged members of society.

“However, I’m allowing myself an open mind and open heart as I progress in law school, and leaving myself open for opportunity,” she says.   

Dabaja is a current general member of the Middle Eastern Law Student Association, the Black Law Student Association, the Women’s Law Caucus, the Wolverine Bar Association, and the American Bar Association.

“All of them have provided me with opportunities to network and make a smooth entrance into the legal realm of Detroit,” she says.

“Being a member of the Wolverine Bar Association has exposed me to the true value of utilizing one’s strengths and unique background in dedication to the community,” she adds. “The WBA has given me the opportunity to network with some of Southeast Michigan’s strongest difference-makers and influential practitioners. I admire the WBA’s encouragement to embrace being a member of a minority group and its empowerment of such people.”

She also is member of the law school’s Fellowship Program, a merit-based program that awards exceptional leadership, service, and other accomplishments.

“The Fellowship Program encourages us to give back to the community and offer our services where they are needed, and provides us with opportunities to do so,” she says. “I’ll soon be volunteering my time with the United Community Housing Coalition to provide legal assistance to low-income individuals with housing issues.”

A native of Dearborn and graduate of Fordson High School, Dabaja now makes her home in Dearborn Heights.

Aside from her law studies, she is a writer, mainly of poetry; and also has special interests in fashion, using social media to profile her style

She volunteers at local places of worship, Detroit soup kitchens, and at an organization near and dear to her heart: Alternatives for Girls, a Detroit-based nonprofit providing safe shelter, street outreach and educational support, vocational guidance, mentoring, prevention activities, and counseling to homeless and at-risk girls and young women.


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