DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Law grad and Student Bar Association president builds community

Law grad and Student Bar Association president builds community

SaDella Duval d’Adrian will pursue corporate litigation career

SaDella Duval d'Adrian stands with arms folded in a courtyard.
SaDella Duval d'Adrian, DePaul Student Bar Association president, will give the student address at the College of Law's commencement ceremony. She is pursuing a career in business litigation. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

Amid COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions in the spring of 2020, SaDella Duval d'Adrian logged onto a Zoom event for students admitted to DePaul's College of Law. She met another prospective student from Arizona. That interaction combined with the diverse community and financial support from DePaul sealed the deal.

"I was uprooting my whole family. I was quitting my career. It was a big risk," says Duval, who moved from Arizona with her husband and young daughter. The risk paid off. She'll graduate May 20 and deliver the student commencement address as president of the Student Bar Association. In September, she will start a job in corporate litigation at Benesch, a law firm with offices in Chicago.

"Taking contracts, sales and business-type classes showed me that I can integrate what I learned in retail management and owning my own business into law and help other companies," she says. "I can also use pro bono time and the resources of big law to help the communities that I'm part of."

DePaul Professor Gregory Mark says Duval's exceptional writing and quick analytical skills will serve her well in the law profession. Duval was a teaching assistant in Mark's class.

"SaDella sizes up situations with remarkable speed and acuity," Mark says. "She understands incentives and motives as well as any student I have had over the past few decades. Those are hard-learned assets. Having them on entering a law firm will put her well ahead of the game."

These skills were also important in her time competing in Moot Court. The competition pits teams of two law students against each other in arguing for and against appeals topics currently before federal and state courts. Duval and her partner explored a case on enhanced sentencing in criminal cases last year. Duval won Best Overall Advocate at regionals, where the team placed second. They placed among the top 16 nationally in their competition.

Community post-COVID

When Duval ran for Student Bar Association president, she focused on a commitment to building community, particularly through campus events. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, she and her classmates wanted to feel connected. When faced with rising costs for events, students met the challenge through resource-sharing and collaboration. This included social events, such as an end-of-semester celebration for students, hosted by the bar association and three law societies. They also held educational events, partnering with the DePaul Law Review to hold a panel discussion on ending cash bail in Illinois.

As she prepares for commencement, Duval is grateful for the resilience the Class of 2023 showed during their three years of law school. "We started our first year online, and no one knew what was going to happen," she says. "I'm most proud that we were able to rebuild the on-campus community this year and do all we were able to do."

DePaul’s College of Law will celebrate commencement at the Chicago Theatre on ​Saturday, May 20 at 11 a.m. Visit the commencement website for more information and a link to the livestreamed ceremony.