Via the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

3b4dac68-8eec-4054-9b74-8a040dd42e0bJemel Derbali
Alumnus, Co-founder of WISE Systems
Class of 2013

“At the Bureau, the way I was thrown into new cases and had to respond on the fly helped prepare me for the twists and turns of a young company.”

Where are you working now?
I founded a company, WISE Systems, with friends from MIT. WISE provides software to help organizations that deliver goods and services on-demand reach customers more effectively.  I am in charge of operations, so I work on everything from finances, to business development, strategy, management, HR, and legal.

How did your time at the Bureau influence your work now?
The bureau taught me how to get things done – how to hustle and solve problems. A lot of the work in founding a company is new to our team and it changes constantly. Similarly, at the Bureau, the way I was thrown into new cases and had to respond on the fly helped prepare me for the twists and turns of a young company. The Bureau taught me how to negotiate, talk to people, work with a team, and to always recognize how discrete details affect the greater whole. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to work alongside incredibly talented individuals. The inspiration and motivation I received from the CIs and students and interns continue to fuel me.

When you graduated law school, what did you think your life would look like in 2015?
I had no expectations. I felt as if HLS and HLAB prepared me to open a lot of doors, and I was intentional about opening the one that made the most sense for me rather than the one most traveled. This instinct brought me into family court and later brought me into my startup.

What’s your favorite memory from your time at the Bureau?
My best memory is of a case where I worked to reunite a client with his child who had been kidnapped by in-laws. In this work there are few clear victories, but this was certainly one of them. I also have fond memories of hanging out on the front porch of 23 Everett chatting about cases and life with the Bureau family.

What was your dream job when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a zookeeper. I loved animals. But I grew to dislike cages.

Who would play you in a movie?
Adrien Brody—because he is skinny and lanky and I think he is handsome.

Any tips on work/life balance?
I need tips myself. Being in love makes everything, life and work, better. Doing something you love around people you love is absolutely necessary.

Filed in: Clinical Spotlight

Tags: Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

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