Dual Purpose: Law student dedicated to public service on both sides of border

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Lina Chaker spent more than six years as a public servant advising various levels of Canadian government, including her membership on the Ontario Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities and the Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security.

At the same time, she represented a community of more than 20,000 as the spokesperson and youngest board member of her local mosque in Windsor, Ontario. At the height of her volunteerism days she was honored with the Youth Changing Lives Award from United Way.

“I was especially committed to food justice, environmentalism, and newcomer settlement projects,” she says.

Currently in the Dual JD Program at Detroit Mercy Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, Chaker was drawn to the legal field by her passion for public service and desire to enhance her critical thinking of established systems.

“The curriculum’s focus on transnational law challenges me to constantly think about the underlying foundations of established law while practically serving marginalized populations in each country,” she says.

With a particular interest in civil rights and conflict of law issues, Chaker notes that in an increasingly shrinking globe, people relate to more than one set of law at a time.

“Whether it’s the set of personal norms adopted from their religious systems, or the set of laws adopted from their place of residence, I think it’s essential for lawyers to understand the diverse backgrounds of clients to ensure you understand their needs,” she says.

Chaker notes that both law schools have offered incredible experiential learning opportunities.

After her 1L year, Chaker completed a Social Justice Fellowship through the University of Windsor, at the National Council of Canadian Muslims. This was a self-directed research experience of comparing Canada’s Countering Radicalization to Violence program to other violence-prevention policies across the globe.

After her 2L year, she completed a Voices for Justice Fellowship at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Michigan Chapter. The Fellowship, through Detroit Mercy Law, exposed Chaker to the field of human rights litigation. She helped interview clients and draft pleadings alleging various forms of religious discrimination and civil rights violations in the contexts of employment law, real-estate transactions, and instances wherein individuals felt targeted by corporations or inadequately trained staff persons. She also conducted research for potentially unconstitutional state statutes.

Chaker enjoyed working in Detroit Mercy Law’s Immigration Clinic, where she helped individuals apply for status on a humanitarian basis.

“I learned about a people-focused area of the law which encouraged my passion for civil rights issues in the context of administrative law,” she says. “I worked on three cases, two of which involved a claim for status in relation to domestic violence, and one of which was an asylum-seeker fleeing from governmental persecution in their home country.”

Chaker is also currently completing a judicial internship with Justice Lloyd Dean through the University of Windsor.

Chaker touts Moot Court Board at Detroit Mercy Law as “by far one of the most meaningful experiences of law school.”

Says Chaker: “After being a quarter-finalist for UDM’s internal moot competition, I got the opportunity to argue the Civil Rights McGee competition this past month along with two other talented oralists: Scott Kolasa and Jonathan Wylie.”

Also at UDM, Chaker serves as treasurer on the executive board of the American Constitution Society, where she particularly appreciates the guest speakers.

On the other side of the Detroit River, she is a junior editor of the Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues (WRLSI) and volunteers with the Family Law Project through the organization Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) that operates in 22 law schools in Canada.

“I’m able to fill a needed gap, especially with the current government cuts that Legal Aid is facing across Ontario, all while learning about the common issues of family law practice,” she says.
While Chaker is still refining her specific career goal, she is confident it will be in the realm of public service—and she will spend the upcoming year articling at the Ministry Attorney General’s - Crown Law Office, Civil (MAG CLOC) in Toronto.




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