Rabih Hamawi, like many Arab Americans, has a familiar yet unique story of overcoming challenges to reach success.
From working in the insurance industry to becoming a lawyer, he has pursued the American Dream to its fullest. Hamawi has also added community service to match his excellent work in law.
Hamawi only takes cases related to properties damaged by floods, fires or other events. He says his work in the insurance industry has taught him insurers sometimes try to shortchange clients making legitimate claims.
The lawyer immigrated from Lebanon to the US in 2003. The first order of business was to get an education. He had previously studied law in Lebanon but always aspired to be an attorney in America. He attended Henry Ford College to learn English and went on to earn a master’s in financial management from Walsh College before getting his law degree from Western Michigan University.
The road to success
Hamawi said the road to making his dream come true was difficult, but he persisted in making it a reality.
“I’m board certified and admitted to the Michigan Bar,” he said. “People assume that I’m actually a Yemeni American because of my looks.”
Hamawi told the Yemeni American News he was initially drawn to the insurance industry because it relates to “every aspect of life”.
“Whether it’s health, auto insurance or business insurance, everything pretty much in the United States needs insurance. I was interested in the industry, not only because it’s a great profession but because it’s one of the areas where community education is needed.”
Working in insurance was not only about selling policies to customers and making money to Hamawi.
“I wanted to provide a service and gain skills and experience, while educating the community about insurance matters,” he said.
Besides his experience, Hamawi’s degree in finance helps him understand complexities of business transactions. His native Arabic also comes in handy when helping Arabic-speaking customers, giving him another advantage over other lawyers.
Educating the community
Hamawi is on a mission to inform Arab Americans about issues that help them maneuver the system. In immigrant communities, it is vital for residents to understand the law, so they make the most of it without risking being the victims of fraud and misunderstandings.
“I have a weekly program where I talk about the law and educate the community as well as writing a column for a law magazine,” Hamawi said.
“In these avenues, I explain at length the law when it comes to fire and destroyed property. I always help out with community events.”
Hamawi lauded the Yemeni American community’s development over the past year, pointing to an increased number of white collar professionals.
“The Yemeni American community had many strides in the past few years and is no longer a ‘spectator’, but a shareholder and participant in the community,” he said. “The Yemeni American community now has many professionals – doctors, engineers, business owners – but I do not have any personal relationships with Yemeni attorneys.”
Hamawi said he strives to provide exceptional services to his clients. He values his clients’ time and that’s why he is always accessible and always return phone calls.
“We have more than 100 cases, and we treat every client as the only one,” he said.