Mohamed Hammoud was always fascinated by the criminal justice system, and always wanted a legal career, but was afraid the demands and cost were too much for him. That was until his first son was born, Mohamed Ali, was born in 2015.
Baby Hammoud was immediately rushed to the hospital's newborn intensive care unit (NICU) upon delivery. The doctors gave him a 50/50 chance of survival.
"I made a deal with my son that very minute," remembers Hammoud vividly. "I swore to him that if he found the strength to survive, I would find the courage to go to law school."
The young fighter fulfilled his end of the agreement, and now it was dad's turn.
Grit and Smarts
Hammoud talked to the professors at WMU-Cooley. "They talked about students needing grit in law school, and that students would need to rely on more than just smarts.
"I’ve always been a smart student," admitted Hammoud, "but I wasn't sure if I had the grit - the passion and dedication needed to succeed in law school."
Add to that Hammoud was going to start law school at 30. Would he be the oldest person in law school? Not so, he found out quickly on his first day. He described his class as "every kind of student."
"We had young, we had middle-aged, we had seniors," shared Hammoud. "That somehow was a comfort to me. I wish I hadn't waited so long, but am I ever glad I’m doing law school now rather than never."
Flash forward, with only one more semester to go, Hammoud sees that he made the right choice.
"I now know I have what it takes," smiled Hammoud. "I've made the Dean's List and Honor Roll every semester in law school. That pride I had for my son in his fight for life when he was born – that grit and fight – I now feel in myself for my commitment and perseverance to succeed in law school."
If Hammoud could give any advice to others interested in a legal career, he would tell them to be patient and to do what the professors tell you to do. Whether it's an outline, or read, or a brief. "They’re asking you to do it for a reason. It’s a skill that you are going to need for the rest of your life.
"The faculty go the extra mile and show real concern for their students. They’re not just doing it for a paycheck. They are focused on your education and your success as a student."
Diversification in Profession
Like many law students, Hammoud takes diversifying the legal profession to heart.
It's something that informs his actions and behaviors every day. His contributions to diversity in law school was noticed by the administration at the law school's Auburn Hills campus. On November 29, 2018, Hammoud was awarded a Scholarship for Academic Excellence by the Michigan Muslim Bar Association for Academic Excellence. The MMBA was founded by a WMU-Cooley graduate, Dewnya Bazzi from the At Law Group.
"I was very honored and humbled to be chosen over a lot of other worthy students for this scholarship," stated Hammoud. "It made me realize how highly I was thought of by the administration. That in itself was very rewarding."
Passion in Justice
According to Hammoud, Muslim attorneys are always needed in society.
"I do think Muslim attorneys have it hard, but not as bad as any other ethnic or racial group," shared Hammoud. "But that shouldn't deter anyone. We should always strive for excellence and greatness.
"My passion is justice and there can never be too many attorneys who believe this. Listening to clients, there are too many who have gone months or years without hearing from their attorney. There seems to be a disconnect. I hope to fill that gap."
Hammoud sees his future as very bright. For now, he plans to continue on as an attorney for Keller and Avadenka Law Firm in Bloomfield Hills once he graduates and passes the bar. He very much enjoys the work there and appreciates their philosophy of giving back.
"What really impresses me about the firm is that once a month we go down to Detroit at City Covenant Church and offer legal services, on the weekend, at no cost, " described Hammoud. "That says a lot about the attorneys that work for the firm. They are a husband and wife team. They go there for a couple hours and just talk to residents. If I am with them, I work on expungement cases. We will do background checks for them, which normally can cost $500 - $1,500 dollars for this service. I plan to do this kind of pro-bono work throughout in my career."
Mohamed Hammoud was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, a first generation American. His path to law school was shaped by his father's and mother's determination that their children would become an integral part of their adopted home. He learned early on the value of hard work by watching his father get up every morning to go to work on the Chrysler assembly line to provide for his family. Hammoud worked to support himself, his wife Angelica, and son Mohamed Ali, during college and law school but found time to volunteer and give back to the community by volunteering at the Islamic Center of America in its soup kitchen, the Detroit Children's Hospital, and with juvenile adjudicated youth residents.