Civic Spirit Brings Law Student National Acclaim

Sam Faisal JD '20 among ten U.S. Law Students of the Year
Suffolk University Law School student Sam Faisal, JD ’20, has been named a Law School Student of the Year by National Jurist magazine. The much sought after honor is given to just ten law students across the country.
Sam Faisal
Sam Faisal, JD '20

The publication notes Faisal’s many accomplishments, from teaching high school students constitutional law, representing low-income clients, serving the immigrant community, and offering a sense of community and support for underrepresented students.

Making good things happen

“Sam has this great quality of being gentle, at ease and warm, yet tenacious—and with the good sense to know when the latter is called for,” Professor Ragini Shah, director of the Immigration Clinic told the publication. “Whether he’s helping clients in the immigrant community, teaching high school kids, or representing fellow students, he brings that warmth and determination to bear — and good things happen.”

As a 3L Faisal serves in the Suffolk Law Immigration Clinic. Among other cases, writes National Jurist, “he is working on the asylum application for a gay Brazilian man who fears continued harassment and persecution in his home country if he is forced to return there. Faisal and his clinic partner spent countless hours preparing the client’s affidavit, researching country conditions under the regime of Jair Bolsanaro and crafting a legal argument.”

Faisal wasn’t initially thinking of becoming an attorney, the publication explains, until he began receiving lessons in constitutional law from two Suffolk Law students at his public high school in Boston. Faisal’s mentors were serving as part of a group of Suffolk Law students, Marshall Brennan fellows, who fanned out to Boston area public schools.

Faisal became a mentor in the same program, commuting a few times a week to train a public high school class. One of his students went on to win one of the country’s preeminent high school moot courts—with federal judges deciding the final round.

Faisal volunteered at show cause hearings in Boston Municipal Court, where he worked with indigent clients attempting to get their cases dismissed. “Criminal charges can result in a loss of public housing, school scholarships and make it difficult to get a job,” notes the publication. “He went nine for 12 on the dismissals… convincing the magistrate to allow one of his clients to pay back a store for a stolen iPhone and another to enter treatment for drug addiction.”

National Jurist also remarks on Faisal’s tenure as president of Suffolk Law’s Black Law Student Association. “He led the school’s effort around Black History Month with a series of empowering events culminating in Elephant in the Room. During that event, underrepresented students shared their law school challenges anonymously; Faisal listened and shared relevant issues with law school deans.”

Suffolk Law Dean Andrew Perlman told the publication, “It’s one thing to talk about improving your community, but Sam makes it happen, both at Suffolk Law and in the larger Boston community. He is innovative, has a willingness to talk about difficult subjects on behalf of the students, and brings tenacity to his work that has allowed him to give back in spite of his law school obligations. We’re proud to put his name forward.”

Faisal is an immigration law clerk at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a Boston law firm specializing in business immigration law.

A winning recipe: students who give back

Cherina Wright JD ’17, now the Law School’s director of student engagement and inclusion, earned a National Jurist Law Student of the Year accolade in 2017, and Cherie Ching JD ’16 made the shortlist in 2016. In a profile of Wright, National Jurist noted that she was able to manage prestigious government internships while still mentoring first-generation law students, training urban high schoolers, and “helping to craft legislation to help people in a city [Flint, Michigan] 700 miles away.”

The publication said of Ching, “[She] has encouraged the Suffolk minority community toward public service and to become involved in conversations surrounding diversity, discrimination, and inequalities in the justice system.” As a student attorney in the Law School’s Accelerator Practice, Ching represented low- and moderate-income clients in consumer protection and housing discrimination cases.