Ali FaridOriginally from Baghdad, Iraq, Ali Farid was Maine Law’s first LL.M. to J.D. transition student.

Class Year: LL.M. ’13, J.D. ’17

Hometown: Baghdad, Iraq

Undergrad: Al Rafidain University College, Bachelor of Laws

What did you do prior to coming to the University of Maine School of Law?

I proudly served as a combat interpreter and cultural liaison for the U.S. Army in Iraq. I immigrated to America in 2011 because it was no longer safe for me to remain in Iraq. Prior to my admission to Maine Law, I worked as an interpreter and led the Employment Department at Catholic Charities Maine, Refugee and Immigration Services. I also volunteered with the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP) and worked briefly as a shelter attendant.

Maine Law

Why did you choose to attend the University of Maine School of Law?

I chose Maine Law because I liked my initial interactions with the staff in the Admissions Office. They welcomed me and exhibited immediate willingness to help me. I was referred to Professor Charles Norchi to discuss my background and future goals. I remember when he called me personally to inform me that I was admitted. These little details had a tremendous impact on my decision to attend Maine Law.

What was most helpful to you in making the adjustment to life as a Maine Law student?

Everything about Maine Law provides the perfect environment for the healthy and productive adjustment to life as a student. It is important to note that I came from a very different culture, both legally and socially. (The legal system in Iraq adheres to civil and coded law.) Because of this, making a smooth adjustment to life here involved a variety of factors. At Maine Law, students have access to incredibly supportive faculty and staff who are very committed, dedicated, and always available to help. I was also privileged to meet amazing students at Maine Law who were immediately available to help me adjust to life in Maine. Students at Maine Law are active community members that respond skillfully to the rapidly evolving social and political landscapes.

How would you describe your experience at Maine Law?

Unforgettable! My experience at Maine Law helped me realize my full potential. This experience helped me to grow and develop both personally and professionally.

Activities

While a student at Maine Law, were you involved in extracurricular activities, either at Maine Law or elsewhere? What were they?

I participated in number of activities that involved community-oriented approaches to spread principles of peace, unity, and reconciliation. I participated and continue to participate in multiple forums, debates, and other civic engagement activities to help refugees better acclimate, integrate, and positively engage in the American community. I am an active member in the Iraqi Community Association of Maine. I founded the House of Modern Intellect, which is an informal forum that debates modern struggles, which pertain to human rights abuses in Iraq. The goal is to produce realistic solutions to help combat against violence and radicalism. I am also a frequent guest on the television show, “Perspectives.” On this program I research and present to the community a series of episodes on the history of Mesopotamia; and also discuss the rapidly evolving political landscape in the Middle East.

Portland

What do you like best about Portland?

I like Portland’s diverse and inclusive communities. As someone who comes from a country currently ruled by militias, a country where suicide attacks and explosions represent daily phenomenon, I find great comfort in Portland’s safe neighborhoods.

What are some things that have surprised you about Portland?

I would say the weather. I come from Iraq and snow is not part of the climate there. However, I have learned to enjoy the many rituals Mainers do on snowy days.

Advice

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Maine Law, what would it be?

Be part of it! Maine Law has top-rated, very well educated, polite, and well-informed faculty and staff. I am thankful to each and every one of them for being part of my life.