Around the World and Back: Helping Families at Home

The Editors at Jury of Peers present insightful, inspiring stories about LLS students.

Determined to help others and make a difference in the world, Amal Sardesai traveled the globe, learning and working, sharpening her skills, and expanding her perspectives. Those remarkable experiences fueled her inspiration and led her to Loyola Law School where she discovered her true calling, serving families in Los Angeles.

Helping People on an Multinational Scale

Her journey began with a decision to go overseas, attending the prestigious London School of Economics to study conflict resolution. “I was really interested in comparative politics and international relations,” she says, “and I planned to some day work for an NGO or nonprofit.” From London, she landed an opportunity to work in Beirut conducting research for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The center provides in-depth analysis of the political, socioeconomic, and security issues facing the Middle East and North Africa. Amal was given the opportunity to work on conflict resolution research for Kurdistan and Iraq. “Beirut was a beautiful and diverse city, full of history,” she says. “It was an incredible experience, and it made a lot of sense for me, given my background and interests, to have international work experience. I enjoyed the research, however I was craving more hands-on interaction.”

Returning to the United States, she was offered a job in D.C. working for AECOM Technology Corporation, a leading global infrastructure consulting firm dedicated to uplifting communities with sustainable solutions in architecture and environmental engineering. Amal’s conflict resolution studies and experience abroad were good preparation for her work on complex international contracts to build irrigation canals in Afghanistan. The U.S. aid-based project involved her operating on the ground as a project manager with government officials, contractors, and Afghan farmers. “It was very fulfilling,” she says. “I got to work on the front lines helping farmers develop a source of income to make their lives better, send their kids to schools, and create a sustainable existence. I got into this work because I wanted to make a positive impact in the world.” Working with the complexities of a multinational conglomerate, she realized that if she wanted to be truly effective in the long run, she would need to deepen her skill set with further education. She resolved to pursue an MBA and apply to Law School.

“I knew immediately that LLS was the real deal. They really practice what they preach.”

Pursuing a Law Degree for More Impact

Loyola Law School’s reputation and emphasis on public interest were significant factors in her decision to attend. “With all my professional and international experience, I knew immediately that LLS was the real deal,” she says. “They really practice what they preach. They’re not just coming in and teaching a class, a lot of them are successful practitioners who are on the front lines of public interest law every day.”

“This is what LLS means when they talk about community.”

The community at Loyola had a major impact right from the start. She had recently married, and four days before second-year classes started, she gave birth to her son.  “I really wanted to continue and not take time off,” she says. “My professors were so accommodating. I was able to do the first few weeks from home, watch lectures and keep up with my schoolwork, then return to campus when my son was a little bit older, which made a world of a difference. I never felt like I was a number. The professors are real allies. They even share their personal contact information with students if they need to get in touch, which is honestly amazing, this is what LLS means when they talk about community. They even created a pumping room when I needed a private space to feed my baby! And students continue to use that resource today.


Finding Purpose at Home

An opportunity to intern at the Dependency Court Mediation Assistance Clinic within the Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution was a transformative experience.

Sara Campos, director of the clinic and professor, became an important mentor. “She really helped me discover my true calling,” says Amal. “I knew I wanted to work in the pro bono space and I have always been interested in mediation. I was given the perfect opportunity. The clinics really help you develop and hone your skills and interests. We worked on real court cases with parents and visitation agreements for their kids. The final exit from dependency court is an all-day process. These families don’t normally have the resources to get this kind of help and advice. On that one day you really have a tangible effect on peoples’ lives for the better, and you can see the impact you’re making on a daily basis.”

“I never thought I would become a lawyer,” Amal reflects. “However, my experience at LLS introduced me to my true passion and shifted my perspective. It was eye-opening. While I’ve been able to travel and do amazing things worldwide, my next chapter is right here in Los Angeles, where I can make a difference in my own backyard. I realize the importance of this work, especially as a parent myself. Public interest law and mediation are the driving forces that will help me truly make a meaningful impact in the world, and I am committed to continuing my work at the clinic, where I can assist families from marginalized communities in the region to help them realize better lives for themselves and their children.