Positive impact: Law student interned at Conviction Integrity Unit

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Law student Sydney Gebara’s goal has always been to make a positive impact on the world—and to that end, she earned her undergrad degree from Michigan State University in International Relations.

“I felt I needed to gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the intersection between economics, culture, education, political theory, and the impact they have on societies,” she says.

After her 2019 graduation, Gebara spent a year as a legal assistant for Sinas Dramis in Lansing, with the intention of going on to pursue a law degree.  

“I enjoyed the exposure Sinas Dramis gave me to the legal field. It was there I was able to have my first experiences with direct client interactions, case screenings, legal research and writing, and was fortunate enough to work with some of the most exemplary mentors in the field—and thanks to them I was able to make an informed and confident decision in going to law school,” she says.   

As the first person in her family to study law, Gebara is often asked why she chose this path.

“The truth is, I decided to study law because it’s not simply a profession—it’s a mechanism by which I’m empowered to create real and lasting change, whether that’s in the life of just one person or society as a whole,” she says. “The study of law also allows me to use my skills of abstract thinking, problem-solving, and follow my passions of seeking justice, removing bias, and protecting fundamental human rights.”

A rising 3L at Detroit Mercy Law, Gebara is enjoying many of the countless opportunities.

A four-month summer internship last year at the Veterans Law Clinic was one of the most challenging courses , she says.

“The clinic taught me how to handle real-world deadlines, manage multiple clients on my own, and learn many of the ins and outs of a completely new area of law calmly and effectively. It was a true honor to work in the clinic and assist our veterans in receiving the benefits they not only are entitled to but deserve.”

In that same time frame, she also was a law clerk at Lakeshore Legal Aid in Detroit, advocating for clients on the record in 36th District Court and the Third Circuit Court. Since last November she interned at the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office—Conviction Integrity Unit.

“Working under (director) Valerie Newman in one of the most active CIUs in the country has been one of the greatest and most influential experiences of my career,” she says. “We work every day to investigate claims of innocence in an effort to improve the criminal justice system from the inside out. The work is invaluable, provides real lasting impacts to the lives of the innocent people that have been wrongly convicted, and serves to correct the grievous wrongs of the past.”

This summer, she will work as a summer associate at Goldman Sachs Ayco Personal Financial Management.

Over the last couple of years in law school, Gebara has explored many different areas of law; and her main interests always return to criminal defense, corporate, and international law.  

“My first love is litigation,” she says. “I enjoy the challenge, excitement, and opportunity it provides to help clients when they are often in one of the most difficult positions of their lives. That being said, I am eager to take on every opportunity that comes my way.”

Gebara is president of the Women’s Law Caucus, the Community Advisor for Community W.E.B., a Junior Member on Moot Court, as well as a member of the Arab American Law Student Association, the Environmental Law Society, and the Business Law Society. For her, serving as president of the Women’s Law Caucus has been a very rewarding experience.  

“It’s provided a platform for me to connect my passions for community service, mentorship, the advancements of women, and the promotion of equality, equity, and social justice,” she says.

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