College of Law > About > News > Student Bar Association President and Vice President

Meet the 2021-2022 DePaul Law Student Bar Association President and Vice President

Meet the 2021-2022 DePaul Law Student Bar Association President and Vice President 

Following a mostly remote academic year in which our community did its best to connect virtually, the DePaul Law Student Bar Association (SBA) is committed to bringing the law school community even closer together as students and professors return to campus this Fall. We talked with incoming SBA President Simone Freeney (’22) and Vice President Mohammad Barakat (’23) about their plans and hopes for the 2021-2022 academic year.  

Q. What did you do before law school? Why did you decide to go to law school?  

Simone: I came to law school straight from undergrad. I was a political science and sociology major at Wingate University in North Carolina. I always wanted to go to law school, and after doing some nursing during college, I expected to go into health care law and work in-house at a hospital. Currently, my focus is on employment litigation. I was interested in working for the City [of Chicago].  They had an opening in employment litigation, and I just kind of fell in love with the work.  

Mohammad: I went to the University of Illinois at Chicago. I studied political science with a concentration in urban politics, and I majored in criminology and criminal justice with minors in entrepreneurship and psychology. I knew back in the second grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. While an undergrad, I took internships and volunteered with legal service organizations, because I wanted to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice. My key interests are criminal law and business/transactional law. I decided to go to DePaul because of their great reputation for community across its student body and its alumni network, and I got to experience that during my 1L year.  

Q. What inspired you to run for SBA? 

Simone: I was looking to get involved in something that wasn’t necessarily specific to a practice area; I wanted to be in touch with all areas of the campus. I was part of SBA last year as secretary, and when it came time for elections, I saw a great need to re-introduce the campus to so many of the students. The 3Ls haven’t been on campus since their 1L year, the rising 2Ls were hardly on campus during their 1L year, and this is the first time the entering 1Ls will be on campus. I recognized a need to foster community, and the best way to do that was through the SBA. 

Mohammad: I’ve always been interested in student government and having a say in the issues that directly affect the student body. I can listen to student concerns, represent my peers well and direct them to the appropriate people and resources that can make a positive difference. Last year, we held a forum where 1Ls were able to raise concerns, and we brought those issues to Dean Jenn. I hope to maintain an open line of communication with my fellow students, where they can come to me or other members of the SBA and have their voices heard.

Q. What are some of the plans you have for the coming year? 

Simone: A big focus is getting students used to the Loop campus. We want to introduce them to professors they might not know or didn’t have access to during the pandemic, and we want students to get to know each other in person. Right now, we’re considering a beginning-of-the-school-year scavenger hunt. There are three different classes of students who haven’t been on campus in a long time, if ever, and we thought this would be a good way to acclimate them to the campus–where the professors are located, where the administrative offices and staff are located, and where to find various resources. It would enable them to work together and become familiar with the campus, so they’re not lost when classes start. 

We also want to do something for mental health week, covering how law school and different mental health issues work together. ADHD has been very prominent over the past year, especially now that so many things are online, and it’s hard to concentrate. We want to do programming about how you can do well in law school when you have a disability, such as ADHD, which might hinder performance.  

Additionally, we’re excited to bring back the traditional things that the law school did before the pandemic like the third Thursday brunches, Barrister’s Ball and the Thanksgiving community dinner, among others. 

Mohammad: Our major task is rebuilding a sense of community, especially for the new 1Ls and rising 2Ls who have had minimal time on campus. I want to strengthen that across all academic levels and hopefully restart activities that we weren’t able to have last year, as well as keep everyone safe and listen to student concerns. 

Q. What do you see as the biggest difficulty in transitioning back to being on campus?  

Simone: I see the biggest difficulty as knowledge of the campus. Rising 2Ls felt isolated and didn’t know who to see when they had certain problems, because they were only on campus one day per week. They’re just looking for information, and we hope to alleviate that issue. 

Mohammad: Getting people back into their normal schedules and making it an enjoyable experience with activities and programs.  

Q. Do you have any final comments or hopes for the new year?  

Simone: My biggest hopes for the new year are 1) that we are able to make a smooth transition, and 2) that I will be able to advocate for the students if unpredictable issues arise. I know that the law school is doing the best it can to foresee all the issues, but that’s just not possible. I think students will feel comfortable coming to me, and that when they do, I’ll have the information needed to help them. 

Mohammad: I hope we have a successful, solely on-campus year with no outbreaks and no variants of the pandemic; that we have a great vaccine distribution throughout campus and Chicago; and that everyone can seamlessly transition back and the incoming 1Ls are able to build a community with 2Ls and 3Ls. That life can finally get back to normal.  ​