Elena Noureddine ('14) Receives Ethics Award for Work in Immigrants' Rights Clinic

New alumna will work at PAIR - Boston advocating for immigrants' rights next year

elena noureddine
(L to R) ACC Chapter President Paul Nightingale, Elena Noureddine ('14), Ethics Committee Co-Chair Jim Peck

Elena Noureddine (’14) has received the Law Student Ethics Award for Boston University School of Law from the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Northeast Chapter.

The award, which includes a $1,000 scholarship, was given to one student from each of the twelve participating local law schools that has demonstrated an early commitment to ethics through work in clinical programs representing their first real clients.

“I am so honored,” says Noureddine. “The award is great recognition of the difficulties that come with the representation of clients, and of the fact that the legal community values the ethical practice of law.”

Noureddine was nominated by Clinical Associate Professor Judi Diamond and Clinical Teaching Fellow Sarah Sherman-Stokes of BU Law’s Civil Litigation Program.

“For the last two years, Elena has provided thoughtful, competent and passionate immigration legal representation while also going above and beyond to assist clients in other areas of their lives,” says Sherman-Stokes. “Her work as a student attorney, and then as a research assistant, has been in the very best tradition of zealous advocacy, and our clients are exceedingly lucky to have her on their side. We are excited to see the attorney she will become.”

Noureddine has also received one of the highly competitive BU Law Public Service Fellowships, which will fund her work with the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (PAIR) in Boston for the year following her graduation.

It’s a dream realized for Noureddine, as the desire to pursue such a career in public interest, discovered while an undergraduate, fueled her decision to attend law school in the first place.

During college, Noureddine participated in a service trip to DC to work with the CAIR Coalition, where she interviewed detained, noncitizen clients to assess possible avenues for relief from deportation. “It was then that I saw for the first time the law’s ability to effectuate real social change for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized noncitizens,” she says. “And as an immigrant myself, with a family fortunate enough to find legal support, I became committed to using my legal education to support those who need it most.”

Noureddine chose BU Law “because of the amazing clinical programs and staff,” she says. Looking back, both exceeded her expectations.

She was able to spend the entire second half of her BU Law tenure in practicum as a student attorney and then a research assistant in the Immigrant’s Rights Clinic. Describing the experience as “the best thing I did in law school,” Noureddine managed a variety of cases, aiding clients equally diverse in scope—including transgender asylum-seekers, victims of domestic violence, families seeking reunification, and many teens fleeing violence, abuse, poverty, and neglect.

In addition to presenting many complex issues from a legal standpoint, her clients faced very serious personal challenges as well. “Many are survivors of domestic violence, rape and abuse, and have myriad needs outside of their legal case,” Noureddine explains. “I met with school counselors, social workers, medical and mental health personnel, and I worked collaboratively with criminal defense attorneys and benefits and housing attorneys to ensure that all my clients’ needs were met.”

She credits her clinical supervisors—Elizabeth Badger, Hermanth Gundavaram, and Sherman-Stokes and Diamond—for showing her how to best serve her clients’ interests. “My supervising attorneys taught me the importance of caring about the clients, independent of their legal case,” she says. “This in turn proved essential in ensuring that the work we did on their actual immigration case actually made a difference.”

This knowledge will be essential as she embarks on her career. “At PAIR I will represent immigrant teens who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents but who, because of their age, are neglected for services,” Noureddine explains.

Thanks to her time in the BU Law Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, she feels well prepared to take on the challenges ahead. “Most importantly, the clinic taught me how to be a resourceful and zealous advocate for my clients.”

Reported June 5, 2014

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