Posted: February 2nd, 2016 | By: Mary Giunca
Samya Abou Sharif (LLM ’16) has known adversity from an early age. She was only 5 years old when her father died, which lead to difficult times for the family. At that young age, though she was a far from deciding what she would do in life, she observed the lawyers who worked with her family to settle her father’s business and personal affairs.
“I was seeing the lawyers decide many things, so I grew up with the idea that by being a lawyer, I could control my options and make decisions that could improve my circumstances in life,” she said.
After graduating from high school, Abou Sharif, who is from Amman, Jordan, evaluated her career options. She was attracted to legal studies because of the opportunity for an independent career with a variety of rich experiences.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from the University of Jordan, and after graduation she worked at two law firms. Then she joined the Central Bank of Jordan, where she has worked as a senior legal researcher and legal consultant. Her areas of specialty include financial services regulations, regulations of electronic payment systems, anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.
Abou Sharif spent several years looking for an LLM program and was intrigued by the variety of courses the Wake Forest University School of Law offered. Once she entered into communications with the International Graduate Programs Office, she knew had found the right place to build on her existing legal knowledge and skills.
“I found the help, support and professionalism that made me feel it was the right place,” she said.
While at Wake Forest Law, Abou Sharif has concentrated on courses in business and finance. She has realized that in order to support her employers as a lawyer working on the regulatory side of banking and financial services, she would benefit from better developing her analytical skills.
Abou Sharif has found Wake Forest Law’s much-touted ability to teach students to think like lawyers is making her more confident. She feels she is better at performing legal analyses and assessing legal risk. Studying the intricacies of a foreign legal system has also opened up the possibilities of practicing law on an international level.
When she’s ready to take a break from her studies, Abou Sharif enjoys the natural beauty of Winston-Salem, particularly Old Salem and Washington Park, where she can often be found with her children, Alma, 6, and Faris, 4.
“My kids like it, and I have the opportunity to read while they are playing,” she said.
She has been surprised that Wake Forest Law helps students begin practicing law at a high level right after graduation. In Jordan, recent law school graduates must undertake a mandatory two years of training before gaining practical experience.
“I think the approach in the U.S. system, which is based on mixing theory with practical experience, is really a great way and has impressed me,” she said.