College of Law

Linda Amrou '15

Shaping Global Dialogue at Columbia

Feb. 1, 2021

Linda Amrou

Since 2016, Linda Amrou '15 has been working in New York City. First, as an attorney with an immigration law firm, and later, as a program officer at Columbia University's Global Centers. Her immigration work was rewarding but limited due to the legal and administrative restrictions facing the sector at the time. It was then that Linda realized higher education was the perfect way to create unique opportunities through promulgating programs and policies that could level the inequalities faced by refugees and forced migrants.

Now, Linda uses the skills she gained during her time at Toledo Law to manage global programs, negotiate inter-and intra-institutionally, and dream of a world large and abundant enough for all to enjoy. Recently, she designed and launched the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students to support up to 30 displaced students annually. Linda is passionate about this program and the ability to shift the global dialogue surrounding displaced persons from one that views them as a burden to one that recognizes them as vital contributors to global innovation and prosperity.

Linda received her B.A. in law and social thought and economics from The University of Toledo and her J.D. from The University of Toledo College of Law.

Q&A with Linda Amrou

You attended The University of Toledo for your undergrad. Did you always plan on attending law school?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to effectuate change by being in service to humanity, though I wasn't sure about the method of doing so. The more invested I became in community organizing and human rights, the more convinced I became that law school was the best path for me. Watching my parents navigate the immigration system is what ultimately solidified my decision.

Do you have a favorite memory from attending Toledo Law?
I have many favorite memories though one, in particular, stands out. I had returned from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after observing the 9/11 commission hearings as a human rights observer when I decided to run for president of the International Law Students Association (ILSA), which governs 700 law schools in 100 countries and organizes the largest moot court competition in the world. I had won "Student Organization of the Year" for my work as president of Toledo Law's International Law Society and missed the award ceremony to travel to Washington, D.C. and submit my candidacy. I was conflicted about missing the Toledo Law awards ceremony but was ultimately elated to learn that I had won the presidency and was able to bring home another win to Toledo.

Do you have a favorite professor?
I wanted to take a moment to encourage students to find professors that can also serve as mentors. Had it not been for the leadership and care of professors like Professor Ben Davis and Professor Shelley Cavalieri, I may have changed course. Instead, I have been able to amplify the tools I gained from their courses and mentorship to achieve success and international acclaim.

How did Toledo Law prepare you for your current position?
I had considered large law schools for their expertise in international law and human rights. I decided on Toledo Law based on the financial freedom it would allow me to experience following graduation. This would not have been possible if I had gone elsewhere. As life would have it, after graduating from law school, I began working for Columbia University in the human rights and forced migration field with many of the same professors and departments I would have learned from if I had attended their law program. It was a full-circle moment for me. Toledo Law enabled me with leadership opportunities, skilled mentors, and the financial freedom to pursue my dreams after graduation that no other institution would have been able to match. Toledo Law allowed me to have a personalized experience, obtaining great support from faculty and staff. I am grateful to Toledo Law for the opportunities and the ability to make an impact.

How has COVID impacted your work?
Last year, after years of work and negotiation, the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students was launched. I had so many grand plans for how we were going to welcome our inaugural cohort on campus that were thwarted by COVID. Despite the challenges, we were able to (virtually) welcome 18 incredible students from 13 countries. Instead of viewing this as a hurdle, the pandemic has provided a forum for innovation and resilience, and this cohort is the epitome of both.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love cooking and sharing my creations with those I love. On the days when law school stress became unbearable, I would look up different culinary schools promising myself I would attend the second I reached the finish line of graduation. Though I haven't been able to enroll yet, I know I will implement my love of food alchemy and food justice in the future.

What have you found most satisfying about your legal career so far?
The flexibility. Many career paths are extremely rigid, and so I am extra appreciative that a law degree affords me the ability to change course as I grow and as the world also changes.

Do you have any suggestions for current law students or new lawyers who might be interested in pursuing a career path similar to yours?
Your network is your net worth. As heavily as you invest in your studies, invest in growing a community that believes in you and promotes your personal and professional goals. These are the same people who will be references for career opportunities, highlight where you may be holding yourself back, and provide support in a fast-paced, competitive world.

Do you have any suggestions for law students or recent grads who would like to practice in another state following graduation?
I am a big advocate of taking the bar in a UBE state. It allows you to pursue jobs nationwide, which is particularly important as people reconsider where they want to live in a post-pandemic world. Grant yourself the most leeway in where you will work geographically and institutionally, and you might pleasantly surprise yourself as to where you end up.

What are you passionate about?
I'm passionate about creating spaces of equity for traditionally disempowered communities, especially if those spaces are historically exclusive. Seeing people in places that would not have been available to their grandparents or even parents is what keeps me going on my hardest days.

Is there anything else you would like alumni (or students) to know about you?
Change is the only constant that we have, and the more you lean in to embrace it, the more it will embrace you back. Lean into the uncertainty with the lens of opportunity. Anything is possible. Also, I am always happy to connect on LinkedIn and provide any support as students lean into their dreams.

Last Updated: 6/27/22