Attorney Emmanuel Olawale, L ’05, was the first person in his family to attend college, go to law school, become a lawyer, and own his own business in the United States.
“It was a lonely journey,” he says. “I had no mentor, no one to look up to.”
Still, Olawale says, the best thing his parents gave him was the gift of education despite an impoverished childhood.
Today, the owner of Olawale Law Firm is dedicated to making sure the path is easier for those who follow. The Emmanuel Olawale Law Scholarship for New Americans will give preference to incoming Capital University Law School students who have participated in the immigration process themselves or have parents or grandparents who did.
“Education is empowering,” says Olawale, who is a native of Lagos, Nigeria. “Education is a great equalizer. It opens doors that wouldn’t exist without it. I hope this scholarship will attract new Americans to study law. Few immigrants consider law as a career.”
Olawale has known since he was 14 years old that he wanted to be a lawyer. His inspiration came one day after he worked from sunup to sundown on a construction site moving concrete. The employer refused to pay him because she had not authorized the foreman to hire him.
“The experience was the seed that propels me every day to stand up for justice,” Olawale says. “Especially for people who are marginalized or treated unfairly. That is the propelling force.”
After immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 20, he graduated with honors from City University of New York, College of Staten Island, where he received an associate of arts degree in liberal arts and a bachelor of science degree in communication, media studies and journalism.
Olawale has authored two books, “The Flavor of Favor: Quest for the American Dream” and “Starting and Growing a Law Practice without Breaking the Bank,” and is the recipient of several professional, leadership, and academic awards, including being named a Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers’ Rising Star, National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and National Black Lawyers Top 100.
He remembers his first day at Capital University Law School and says it is a day he will never forget. That was the day he met his best friends in law school and felt like he was part of a group of unique people with the same aspirations to become lawyers.
“It was a day of personal pride,” he says. That was the day that he began to see himself as a lawyer.
Olawale attended Capital University Law School as a day student while juggling full-time jobs while attending classes.
“I think Capital is one of those institutions that built me. It’s my foundation.”
As a result, Olawale wants to ensure that he helps others achieve their dream of becoming lawyers, and he encourages his fellow alumni to do the same. “There’s no better time to do the right or good thing than now,” he says. “Pay it forward. Sustain the institution that made you. Make sure that all those coming behind us get the same opportunity.”
His hope is that the Olawale Law Scholarship will break barriers, encourage new Americans and support future leaders.
Dean and Professor of Law Reynaldo Anaya Valencia notes that, “Emmanuel Olawale is an excellent example of what someone with a Capital law degree who is willing to work hard, has grit and determination, can achieve. As a school of access and opportunity, Capital University Law School is proud of its tradition of empowering individuals to meet their full potential. We are grateful that our accomplished alumni continue to give back and support the law school.”