Originally from Tripoli, Libya, Yasmine Hajjaji ’22 came to law school knowing she wanted to litigate cross-border disputes because of her international background. Three years later, she graduated from UC Law SF and will join Jones Day, a firm with a renowned Global Disputes practice, as an associate in their San Francisco office.
In 2011, Hajjaji moved from Libya to Ottawa, Canada, during the Arab Spring, where she continued her French education and passed the French Baccalaureate in 2015. She attended McGill University in Montreal from 2015-2019, where she earned a Bachelor of Commerce.
Hajjaji said she was drawn to UC Law SF because of its prime location in San Francisco and deep connections to the “innovative legal market” in California. “Hastings, being its own institution also has a very close community where students form tight-knit relationships with the faculty,” she said.
Hajjaji recalled two “incredibly impactful” experiences from her time at UC Law SF: her externship at the Supreme Court of California and time spent as a member of the UC Law SF Moot Court team and Moot Court Board. She competed on the team in her 2L year and later served on the board where she coached two teams. “The Moot Court experience taught me one important thing: you can always have fun in challenging situations,” she said.
Working at the state’s highest court taught Hajjajj not to take the law at face value, to recognize gaps in the legal system and to look for unique solutions to complex legal problems, she said. “Coming out, I gained an incredibly important trait as a lawyer: having the confidence to not only challenge a case on its merits, but on its legal standing. It taught me to view lawyers as the forgotten players in this game of creating law,” she said.
For those thinking about attending law school, Hajjaji said she would tell them to “trust the process” and don’t try to go it alone. “Use every single one as a resource and build a network for yourself that you can fall back on,” she said. “Ask questions. Understanding that you do not know much about the system is an incredibly important starting point.”
Coming to California as an outsider, Hajjaji said she knew zero people in the legal profession and had to put herself out there to build relationships – even when it felt uncomfortable. She attributes much of her personal and professional development to the supportive community of faculty and students at UC Law SF.
“Law school pushes you to grow like you have never before,” she said. “The Yasmine that was going into orientation and the one that is now graduating are two completely different people. Growth mindset in law school is absolutely key. If you enjoy the ride and take the good things and leave out the bad, you will turn into the best version of yourself.”