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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Alumni

UH alumna running for Harris County District Court seat


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UH alumna Lema Barazi takes her passion for equal representation in the court of law and carries it to the Harris County District Court elections. | Courtesy of Lema Barazi

Striving to become the first Arab American judge serving in Texas, UH alumna Lema Barazi is running for a Harris County district seat on the platform of furthering minority representation.

The trial attorney of 15 years announced her candidacy for the Harris County 189 District Court judge position in November of last year, officially being put on the ballot in December.

“I have seen discrimination against individuals, against my clients and against others in the courtroom for years, and I’ve seen it here in Harris County,” Barazi said. “I want that to stop and I think the way to get this to stop is to run for office.”

Barazi’s time at the Honor’s College as a dual English and political science major and later the UH Law Center for her J.D. isn’t the beginning of this prospective candidate’s story.

Barazi’s world changed when her family immigrated to the U.S. from Syria when she was a child, where they struggled to adjust to a completely new culture and language.

“Growing up in a working family, I saw things that I didn’t like. I saw my dad being made fun of because of his accent,” Barazi said. “I saw my mom being made fun of because she wore hijab. She was maltreated often.” 

Despite the hardships of immersing into this new culture, Barazi is grateful for the opportunity to live in the diverse Harris County and attend schools reflecting that.

Barazi credits her life in Alief as well as her experiences traveling the world for helping her become more empathetic and compassionate towards others.

Along with her personal life experiences, Barazi said her time at UH has helped solidify her beliefs and express them through multiple organizations she took part in.

Barazi spoke fondly of her position as a columnist for The Cougar, noting the times she received varying responses on her opinions for controversial current events at the time such as the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.

“Sometimes I took unpopular stances and I got a lot of positive feedback. I also got some backlash at the time. I even received death threats for some of my columns, especially my anti-war columns,” Barazi said. “That helped me grow a thicker skin and it helped me stick to my beliefs.”

Barazi said it was eye-opening and helped her experience the world in a way she hadn’t before. This carried over into her involvement at the UH Law Center.

Aside from her membership in activities including the Moot Court Team, Barazi was a research editor with her name appearing in publications such as the Houston Business Journal and the Houston Journal of International Law.

Barazi also founded the Muslim Law Student Association and remained its president for three years.

After her time at UH, Barazi practiced in several fields of law including civil trial litigation, medical litigation, personal injury and commercial litigation and worked on felony prosecutions where she was involved with the high profile Andrea Yates case.

Barazi is currently a partner at the Lloyd & Mousilli Law Firm representing small businesses and startups. She also does pro bono work for asylum-seeking individuals that are fleeing from Middle Eastern countries.

With this passion for helping represent her community, Barazi said it’s important to have a voice with these elected positions and with her love of being a public servant, running for a judge seat was how she looked forward to doing so.

“Our judiciary doesn’t properly reflect the constituency. We’ve never had an Arab American judge in Texas, so I think it’s time to change that,” Barazi said. “If you wait for others to do it, you’re gonna be waiting a very long time. That’s why I’ve decided to step up and serve in this capacity and to hopefully, make a change and make history.”

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