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An Interview with John Al Saddy, Legal Research Fellow

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Today’s interview is with John Al Saddy, Legal Research Fellow at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

John Al Saddy in the great hall of the Library of Congress.
John Al Saddy, Photo by Geraldine Dávila González.

Describe your background? 

I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, where its old city, according to the UNESCO, is considered to be among the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. As an Arabic speaker of Aramean descent, I have witnessed the Levant’s rich history first hand.

I was raised in a family of lawyers, with my parents having met at the law school that I later attended. My late father was a judge and my mother practiced as a lawyer. This background inspired me to pursue a career in the legal field. I am married and have a little daughter.

What is your academic/professional history?

My professional history has been pretty diverse. Before joining the Library of Congress I attended the George Washington University Law School, and also worked as a foreign attorney with law firms in the city of Los Angeles.

In Syria, I earned my law degree at Damascus University Law School, completing over 48 law courses in a rather rigorous program. After graduation, and obtaining my attorney’s license, I worked and consulted with several international organizations, financial institutions, private businesses, law firms, and government agencies.

I was the principal attorney in Al Saddy Law & Strategy, working on everything from legal and strategy consultations to conducting financial risk management, compliance advising and training, corruption and fraud investigations, mediation, and arbitration. I also tried cases and argued before trial and appellate courts in Damascus, Syria. I am especially passionate about advancing rule of law reforms. I am concerned with strengthening efforts to curb corruption and achieve good governance in the Middle East and North Africa.

How would you describe your job to other people?

At the Global Legal Research Directorate we respond to legal inquiries from the U.S. Congress, executive agencies, the judiciary, international organizations, academic institutions, and the general public. I work on requests related to Arabic-speaking jurisdictions, as well as write articles for the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor. I also work with the Legal Reports Publishing Project team, reviewing large volumes of legal reports, contacting congressional offices and committees to seek permission to publish, then preparing the reports for digitization and online publication.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

At the Law Library foreign and U.S. -trained attorneys work in harmony to deliver authoritative information and analysis of foreign law to Congress and the U.S. government, and provide reference services to the public. As a foreign-trained attorney, being a member of this team and the first recipient of the Law Library of Congress legal fellowship is one of my life’s greatest accomplishments.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

That the Law Library is the only institution in the U.S. government that has lawyers covering all of the world’s jurisdictions, whose foreign and international law expertise is sought by all branches of the U.S. government as well as academic institutions and international organizations.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I love all kinds of ancient martial arts. I hold a black belt issued by the Japan Karate Association, and have won two gold medals and several silver and bronze medals in Syria’s Karate Championships. I am certified as a personal trainer and referee for karate and kick boxing in both Syria and the U.S.

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