Law student got her start interning at the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

During undergrad at U-M Dearborn, Rebecca El Badaoui tested the waters of a  law career with a hands-on internship at the Washtenaw County Office of Public Defender, conducting conflict and criminal history checks, scoring sentencing guidelines, conducting client interviews, and observing probable cause conferences, preliminary exams, and criminal trials at 14A-1 District Court.

“I appreciated being in an advocacy role where I helped represent under-represented youth and adult defendants—it was a very rewarding experience that laid the foundation for me to attend law school,” says El Badaoui who recently completed her 2L year at Detroit Mercy School of Law and is working at Bodman this summer.

“I’ll have the opportunity to take on assignments from a wide variety of practice groups,” she says. “I look forward to gaining a variety of experiences and learn as much as possible. I hope to take these experiences and lessons and develop into a successful attorney at Bodman, while continuing to help women and minority students who come after me. In addition to developing my legal craft, I aim to play a role in the diversity and inclusion efforts at Bodman and within the legal profession as a whole.”

El Badaoui, who is interested in transactional work or in litigation—such as complex corporate litigation, intellectual property, or white-collar criminal defense— says her experience at Detroit Mercy Law has been “nothing short of amazing.”

“I’ve established a great community of support, in part because of the accessible and supportive faculty and staff who are dedicated to helping students succeed and develop into the best attorneys they can be,” she says.
At the end of her 1L year, El Badaoui interned for the Hon. Arthur J. Tarnow at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, improving her legal research and writing skills with a wide variety of assignments.
She transformed one such assignment, a criminal procedure memo, into a topic and thesis for her Law Review Note, about whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity can be gleaned from driving in tandem alone.

“My hope is that criminal law practitioners can use my Note as a valuable guide in assessing tandem driving cases and Fourth Amendment justifications,” she says. “My Note would not have been possible without my judicial internship and I’m thankful to Judge Tarnow and his law clerks for giving me such a rewarding experience.”

The incoming Editor-In Chief of Law Review, El Badaoui says Law Review has instilled in her the skills to succeed as an attorney, helped her become familiar with the Bluebook, and enriched the fundamental skills of legal research and legal writing. “I know the lessons I’ve learned will help me immensely at Bodman, both this summer and post-graduation,” she says. 

“When I was selected for Editor-in-Chief, I knew my hard work had paid off and I could be proud of the legal writing skills and leadership skills I accumulated throughout law school,” she adds
She will capitalize on skills learned as the Student Bar Association Executive Treasurer, an experience that enhanced her understanding of the law school’s administrative process and how the practical aspects of running an organization contribute to a well-rounded curriculum.

A junior member of Moot Court and secretary of the Middle Eastern Law Student Association as a 2L, she will serve in her 3L year as WLAM-Wayne Region Liaison on the Women’s Law Caucus Executive Board. “My goal is to bring the relationships I develop with successful female attorneys and ideas generated for helping women lawyers to the school as part of a never-ending effort to encourage women in the profession to succeed and grow,” she says.

El Badaoui was born in Beirut, Lebanon, amid the repercussions of civil war. The family immigrated to the United States soon after her birth and lived in Tampa for four years, before moving to Canada. When El Badaoui was 19, the family moved back to the U.S. to be closer to family in Michigan, settling in Northville.

“I’m the proud daughter of Lebanese immigrants,” she says. “My parents’ robust work ethic and resilience have allowed me to take every opportunity the United States has to offer—especially higher education. Despite being the first member of my family to attend law school, my parents never cease to amaze me with their support and guidance.”