Adele El-Khouri '13
Adele El-Khouri’s senior thesis at Northwestern University, which focused on the history of two Chicago neighborhoods and explored the impact of private developers on urban renewal efforts, ultimately led to her decision to study law. El-Khouri won the Johnston Prize for best senior honors thesis in history and a prestigious one-year Northwestern fellowship that placed her after graduation with the Chicago office of The Community Builders, Inc. (TCB), a non-profit affordable housing developer. There, she had the chance to actually do the type of work she had written about in her thesis. “TCB is one of the largest non-profit housing developers in the country,” she explained. “TCB primarily develops mixed-income housing on former public housing sites using a mix of private and public financing.” When her fellowship year ended, she was offered a permanent position in TCB’s Chicago development office, where her work involved project planning, budgeting, construction management, and writing financing applications. She worked with competent lawyers, which piqued her interest in a legal career.
El-Khouri applied to Vanderbilt both because of its reputation for rigorous academics and because of family ties. Her sister earned her bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt and was completing a master’s degree in organizational development during El-Khouri’s 1L year, and her father earned his Ph.D. in economics at Vanderbilt in the 1970s. “I’ve lived in the D.C. area or Chicago my entire life, and I really didn’t see myself in the South,” El-Khouri admitted. “Then I visited Vanderbilt, and I loved it here. The law school is beautiful, and the campus is incredible.”
Although her work with real estate transactions originally attracted her to the study of law, El-Khouri now finds litigation more compelling. She and partner Scott Farmer won the 2012 Moot Court competition. El-Khouri also joined the Vanderbilt Law Review’s editorial staff as a 2L and will serve as the journal’s Editor-in-Chief in 2012–13. She has found a mentor in Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Lisa Bressman, an administrative law scholar for whom El-Khouri is working as a research assistant, and she was accepted into the Vanderbilt Legal Academy Scholars Program, which allows students to explore the possibility of entering the legal academy. “We attend the paper talks delivered by Vanderbilt and other law faculty,” she said. “The thing I’ve been most impressed by at Vanderbilt is the quality of the professors.”
El-Khouri has chosen a number of electives that not only focus on core areas of law but also present compelling issues. She is currently taking Actual Innocence, a course that addresses wrongful criminal convictions, from criminal law expert Terry Maroney. “We discuss the causes of wrongful convictions, the legal procedures available to discover and correct them, and the types of compensation available,” she said. “Professor Maroney has actually worked on wrongful conviction cases, and she is an amazing teacher.”
El-Khouri spent summer 2011 as an intern in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where her work dealt with enforcement of the Fair Housing and Fair Lending Laws. During summer 2012, she is working for WilmerHale in Washington, D.C.
Class of 2013
- Editor-in-Chief, Vanderbilt Law Review, 2012-13
- Winner, 2012 Moot Court Competition with partner Scott Farmer
- Summer 2012—Associate, WilmerHale, Washington, D.C.
- Summer 2011—Intern, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
- B.A. Northwestern University (history, minor in French)
- 3 years of work experience in affordable housing development in Chicago with The Community Builders, a non-profit organization
- Hometown: Bethesda, Maryland