Student Honored for Exemplary Work in Chicago-Kent Immigration Law Clinic

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Hussein NofalEvery year at least one student working at Chicago-Kent College of Law’s law clinics is recognized for their stellar work.

Hussein Nofal’s efforts within the college’s Immigration Law Clinic, where he has connected with clients going through difficult removal proceedings, was remarkable enough for him to receive this year’s Gary Laser Professionalism Award.

While immigration law is not his specialty, coming from Palestine—and having family members who still live there—allowed Nofal ’22 to deeply sympathize with his clients.

“We have around six million people here [in Palestine] and another five million outside Palestine. Half of us are refugees. So, you really feel for those people who are refugees from other countries as well,” Nofal says.

Victoria Carmona, the clinic’s supervisory attorney, says of Nofal, “Beyond drafting affidavits, organizing complex legal research, and consulting with clients, Hussein is balancing empathy and compassion for all his clients—which may be children, refugees, and other survivors of torture.

“He has exemplified the highest standard of ethics and promise as a future practitioner. My recommendation is just one in a sea of professors and lawyers anxiously awaiting to see the contributions Hussein will bring in his promising career,” Carmona adds.

The Laser Award’s recipients are selected without their knowledge by members of the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent, the overarching organization that houses nine of the college’s law clinics, including the Immigration Law Clinic. There is no application process.

“When I received this award, I was very surprised. I didn’t know it existed,” says Nofal.

Nofal worked on multiple asylum cases, including one whose client was a mother of three whose husband was kidnapped and killed by members of a criminal organization. Other clients had been in the country for 20 years, but were caught without paperwork. The cases were eye-opening, and Nofal credits Carmona for inspiring him to do the kind of work he did.

“She really puts her heart in this; I think that’s what made me get engaged. It’s because of her and her dedication to it, and the way she got me interested in immigration law,” Nofal says.

“Hussein demonstrated superior initiative, putting in time above and beyond expectations,” says Jonathan Decatorsmith, interim director of the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent. “He consistently reflected a dedication to his work and his clients that reflected the ethical, aggressive advocacy that would make Professor Laser extremely proud of him. As are we.”

Born in Chicago, Nofal moved at age nine with his family to Palestine until his early teens, then moved to Florida to graduate from American Senior High School, just south of Miami.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, with a concentration in finance, from DePaul University.

While he wants to pursue tax law as a career—he is pursuing a public accountant certification and is also creating a preparatory course for the CPA exam—Nofal joined the Immigration Law Clinic to do something different. He added that he still might like to work in the field of immigration law pro-bono.

The Gary Laser Professionalism Award goes to at least one student annually who exemplifies promise as a practitioner and maintains the highest standard of ethics. Laser established the Legal Services Center, now the Chicago-Kent Law Group, in 1976, the year after he was hired at Chicago-Kent. He supervised the clinics for decades and retired from the college in 2015. His family established the $2,500 award two years later.