Chicago attorney on promoting law education among Assyrian students

The Assyrian Journal | January 2018 | Photos from Assyrian American Bar Association | By Ramsen Shamon

Name: Phillip Rehani
Hometown: Skokie, Ill.
Occupation: Attorney at O’Hagan Meyer, LLC

Phillip Rehani, the 30-year-old secretary of the Assyrian American Bar Association, always knew he wanted to find creative ways to help people solve their problems, especially Assyrians. He transferred that passion into becoming the only Assyrian to graduate from his Chicago-Kent College of Law class in 2012. But Rehani, further compelled to help his community, co-founded the Assyrian American Bar Association in 2017. “I immediately knew this was a special chance to make a difference,” he said. “I have been searching for a way to become more involved within our community and the Assyrian American Bar Association has been the perfect fit.”

What law school did you attend? What year did you graduate?

Chicago-Kent College of Law; 2012.

How was your law school experience? Did you have any Assyrian classmates?

My experience in law school was positive. The education I received taught me to look at a problem and identify multiple issues in a single fact scenario. This taught me the importance of utilizing a dynamic method to problem solve. Unfortunately, I did not have any Assyrian classmates. One of the main reasons for creating the Assyrian American Bar Association (AABA) was to promote the legal profession as a viable and attainable option for the Assyrian youth. We want to provide our youth with the tools to be successful – whether it be in the classroom, or in their professional endeavors.

What kind of law do you practice? Why did you decide to practice this specific kind of law?

I am an attorney at O’Hagan Meyer, LLC. My practice focuses on a variety of civil matters including labor and employment law and tort litigation. After graduation, I was unsure which area of law held my interest. I just knew that I wanted to be in a court room. I was lucky to have that opportunity and develop interests in many areas of law along the way.

Why did you choose to study law? Was it something you knew you wanted to do since you were young?

I did not know that I wanted to go to law school until I was a Sophomore in college. I knew that I wanted to find creative ways to help people resolve their problems. I had many conversations with family and friends before deciding on this career-path.

AABA LogoWhy did you decide to help start the Assyrian-American Bar Association?

When I learned about the opportunity to join a professional organization for lawyers with a focus to help the Assyrian community, I immediately knew this was a special chance to make a difference. I have been searching for a way to become more involved within our community and the Assyrian American Bar Association has been the perfect fit.

What are some of the association’s goals?

We wanted to create a strong network of Assyrian attorneys with a range of expertise to serve as leaders in our community.

Why was the association established?

The main objective is to promote high standards of professionalism and integrity while inspiring our youth to join the legal profession.

How many members currently exist?

We have approximately 50 members. The majority of the ABA membership reside in Illinois. We hope to expand to include members nationwide and we are on the way to achieving this goal. We now have members in Arizona and California.

Will workshops be held?

We have not held any workshops, but we have presented seminars in the areas of immigration law, corporate law and labor/employment law.

What advice do you have for young Assyrians who are thinking to go to law school or are currently in law school?

We want all students that have an interest in pursuing a legal education to know that we are here for your support. My advice for college students thinking about law school is to take advantage of opportunities to make an informed decision on whether law school is right for you. Applying for and attending law school is great financial undertaking so you must do your research. Reach out to your professors and school advisors for guidance. The more first-hand knowledge you can get the better. You can begin your law school search by narrowing where you want to practice law and get information on the schools in the area.

My advice for law students is that building relationships through networking (along with getting good grades) is the key to finding a job after school. You have to be proactive. The job market is competitive and separating yourself from other candidates for positions could be as simple as maintaining a friendship. Also, use the opportunities provided by your career service offices, such as resume building and cover letter workshops. If you have an opportunity to run through a practice interview, do it. More experience with the interview process will build your confidence.

What does justice mean to you?

Justice is an outcome we strive for in society. As a society, [we] have laws that govern behavior to protect rights and punish wrongs. It is the reason why we have police, politicians, lawyers and judges.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

Please search for the Assyrian American Bar Association on Facebook. You can follow us to see what events we have coming up in the near future.

Assyrian American Bar Association

To learn more about the Assyrian American Bar Association, visit Assyrian American Bar Association

The Assyrian American Bar Association is a nonprofit organization founded to promote high standards of competence, professionalism and integrity with and among Assyrian attorneys and the Assyrian communities within the State of Illinois. It seeks to cultivate a strong network of Assyrian attorneys with a comprehensive range of legal expertise to serve the Assyrian community and mentor our youth who aspire to join the legal profession.

Read more about the organization at AINA News: New Bar Association to Serve Assyrian-Americans Elects Officers

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