Third year Michigan State law student sets her sights on Washington D.C.


MSU Law student Deema Tarazi has worked in D.C. andplans to return after graduation. She is pictured at the U.S. Department of Interior in the nation’s capital.

by Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

The daughter of Palestinian immigrants who settled in Troy 28 years ago, Deema Tarazi is the first in her family to set her sights on a legal career.

“I knew I always wanted to help people and I jokingly always say that I want to change the world, so I thought a good place to start would be law school,” she says.

With graduation from Michigan State University College of Law looming in 2016, Tarazi’s sights are set on heading to the nation’s capital.

“I got the opportunity to partake in the D.C. program and was in D.C. during my second semester of my 2L year and then extended my stay throughout the summer,” she explains. “I decided that I’m taking the Maryland Bar and will be going to D.C. to work for the federal government or a nonprofit organization.

“I’m going to miss being part of the MSU community and as graduation approaches at full speed, I’m starting to get nostalgic remembering all the good times I’ve spent in East Lansing,” adds Tarazi, who is a huge fan of Spartan football. “I love the Big 10 atmosphere that MSU Law shares with the rest of the MSU community. But I always know MSU is home and I’ll come back to visit very soon!”   

Tarazi spent four months a legal extern for the Hemophilia Federation of America in D.C., and returned for a further four months in the summer as a policy analyst for the Advocacy and Policy team. She learned about insurance issues encountered on a daily basis by people who suffer from hemophilia, a bleeding disorder that impacts about 20,000 people in the United States. She also drafted issue briefs regarding health policies that impact the hemophilia community; discussed current health policies with Congressional Staff on Capitol Hill; and researched State’s health legislation that affect the community.    

“I had the opportunity to participate in their ‘Hill Day’ and led a group of constituents from Kentucky, Memphis and North Carolina to talk with their Senators or Representatives about the important health bills for the hemophilia community,” she says. “I really enjoyed walking around on the Hill and interacting with staff members – now I want to get into lobbying at one point in my career.”   

Tarazi spent three summer months as a Journal Intern for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in D.C.

“I had the opportunity to work on the commission’s first production of a Civil Rights journal where I and another intern wrote a legal opinion regarding the Voting Rights Act – I’m anticipating publication in the New Year,” she says.

She also spent five months in 2014 as a law clerk with Legal Services of South Central Michigan.

“I had the opportunity to run the pro-se clinic and help clients file a divorce, custody or a protective order. I really enjoyed working one on one with clients and lending a supportive ear by helping them fill out paperwork, which hopefully made the divorce process a bit more easier,” she says.   

A Spartan through and through, Tarazi also earned her undergrad degree from MSU, in Comparative Cultures and Politics at the James Madison College, which is where she found her passion for international affairs.

As an undergrad she was a mentor of The Madison Academic Diversity Initiative Program, a reporter for the Spartan Review, and a member of the MSU Rotaract Club, where she also served as vice president.
“I was able to participate in various volunteer activities that helped raise money that we usually sent to countries in South America that needed help building wells to receive clean water,” she says.

Before law school she worked as a legal assistant at the Debra Baltus Law Offices in Troy learning how to draft wills and trusts, which helped solidified her decision to go to law school.

At MSU Law, she has served as secretary of the Arab and Chaldean Law Student Association, and has been a part of the Journal for Animal and Natural Resources for the past two years.

“This year, as articles editor, I help the associate editors with their citation assignments and make sure the footnotes we check as a journal are ready for publication,” she explains. “I’ve really enjoyed working with the other board members and getting to know all our new associate editors. Volume X is going to be great!”

Tarazi spent the summer of 2011 working for Accem, a non-governmental organization for immigrants and refugees in Madrid, taking advantage of the Study Abroad programs offered by MSU and wanting to visit Spain to practice her Spanish. She interviewed new families and helped them get situated in the center; organized, composed, and typed resumes for immigrant family members from Bulgaria and Romania; scheduled and coordinated meetings, interviews, and appointments with potential employers; taught conversational English and organized various activities for children.

Tarazi still has a passion for issues regarding immigration – and is especially excited for her last semester at MSU Law where she will work in the Immigration clinic.

“I’m looking forward to helping current immigrants try to receive status to stay legally in the United States, and fulfill their American dream just like my parents have,” she says. “This is something I’d also like to pursue in the future, when I head to D.C. in the summer.”

In her leisure time, Tarazi is an avid reader, and also enjoys travel, with a trip to Italy and Greece in the cards for next year.

“Studying for the bar during the summer will be stressful, but having a trip to look forward to afterwards, hopefully will help with the motivation and keep the stress level low,” she says.

“Law school has been a challenging but rewarding journey and I’ve met some great people along the way – and I can’t wait to celebrate with friends and family once I graduate.”