How a Syrian refugee found a home and career in Manchester

Ahmad’s journey to become a lawyer has taken him all over the world.

The 25-year-old paralegal initially won a scholarship to study at the University of Evansville, USA, before coming to Harlaxton College, Grantham, in 2017 as an exchange student on a temporary visa.

However, he was expelled from the US when Donald Trump came to power when he banned Muslims from entering the country.

Speaking to I Love Manchester, Ahmad said: “I didn’t know what to do and I had nowhere to go. It was like being lost in a foreign country.

“I remember applying for asylum in the UK, but the Home Office initially rejected my application. I couldn’t study, I couldn’t travel or work and I just remember feeling powerless. I was completely alone and because Syria was at war, I didn’t even have a country to go to.

“Luckily I did some reading about the law and remembered something I learned while volunteering with the British Red Cross and appealed my decision, which I luckily won. It was a huge relief for me and I felt like I had been given a new life.”

After finally being granted asylum in 2018, Ahmad went to the University of Sussex to study law.

Having graduated with his LLB (Hons) last year, he plans to take the Solicitor Qualifying Examination (SQE), for which he is seeking funding, after gaining 2 years of legal experience at Barings.

He continued: “I want to thank Barings Law for allowing me to fulfill my ambition to become a lawyer. It is my own experience of the legal system that inspired me to enter the profession and help others.”

Ahmad said going through the legal process to apply for a visa inspired him to pursue the profession.

Ahmad wants to show people how having legal knowledge can help in life, and he hopes to use his legal experience to help vulnerable and marginalized communities.

His ultimate goal is to promote access to justice and advance the justice system, both in the UK and in his beloved country, Syria, which has been at war for 11 years.

Ahmad is originally from Jableh in Syria and has not seen his family in four years, but he talks to them regularly, especially since the recent earthquake that destroyed parts of the country.

“Fortunately, my family is fine, but it is the last thing Syria needed. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” she added.

“My beloved Syria will always have a special place in my heart and what happened recently is absolutely devastating. I wish I could go back and help with the relief efforts.

“People are now beginning to see the immense suffering my nation has experienced and the urgent need for relief, reform and justice. Syria needed this help long before the calamity struck.

“The country has been at war for 11 years. I was one of the lucky ones who got out, but sadly I have lost many friends in the conflict. When I see images on the news, I find it hard to believe that those places where I used to play and walk are now under rubble.

“I hope one day you turn on the news and hear ‘the war is over’.”

Ahmad also volunteered at his university’s law clinic, which he says taught him a lot about the judicial system.

His goal is to become a qualified solicitor at Barings Law, a firm that specializes in helping victims of sales fraud and employs over 100 people at its Manchester headquarters.

He adds: “By qualifying, I want to promote access to justice by working with Barings and organizations that support vulnerable and marginalized communities.

“I understand that certain groups may face additional barriers to accessing justice, and I am committed to using my skills, knowledge, and personal experience to help them overcome these obstacles.

“I believe it is essential for me to be an active advocate for the legal profession, and I am dedicated to advancing laws and reforms that advance access to justice and ensure that the judicial system is fair and just for all citizens of this nation.

“After working towards this goal in the UK, I will feel more confident and have more resources to focus on my long-term goals of promoting access to justice in my beloved country, Syria.”


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