Drawing inspiration from his challenges and triumphs, Lex Dosunmu empowers the next generation of lawyers.
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

While many individuals spend years, if not decades, searching for their ideal career path, Lex Dosunmu's journey to becoming a lawyer was a destiny he understood from the beginning.

Raised in the Southwestern region of Nigeria with his five siblings, Lex grew up in a robust support system. However, this foundation of security took an unexpected turn when Lex's father passed away when he was just 12 years old.

“When I lost my dad, I had to go live with my cousins. My mom had six young kids, and she needed help. Being in a new household was really difficult,” Lex recalls. “I felt alone, and I didn’t like having to depend on other people, even though they were my family members.”

The emotional void he felt during the separation from his mother and siblings became the driving force behind Lex’s determination to pursue a career in law.

“Living with my cousins—it didn’t feel the same. That voicelessness and powerlessness of not being able to assert my own self, my own wants and needs, and possibly rights, made me feel eager to create a better life for myself. I wanted the security that comes with being able to do just that, and becoming a lawyer made perfect sense,” says Lex.

Yet, Lex's passion for law didn't unfold overnight. While living with his cousins, he turned to literature and poetry as an escape. The pivotal moment arose when he immersed himself in legal writings, uncovering a profound and enduring interest.

“It started with me reading books, poems, and novels. Thinking back, before I knew what was happening, I was just drawn to the legal profession. I loved reading about things like justice and fairness. So that’s what confirmed my passion for law.”

Lex began his legal education at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in 2015. Post-graduation, the prolonged wait for his family's migration paperwork to the United States concluded, with approval obtained after more than a decade. "I finally moved to Houston, Texas, in late December 2017, making 2018 the official beginning of my new life in the U.S.," says Lex.

Upon settling in Houston, Lex encountered unexpected challenges in pursuing his legal career in the U.S.. He recognized the imperative of state bar membership for legal practice, so he returned to school for his LLM (Master of Laws).

"In Nigerian law school, we were indeed educated about the distinct requirements for bar membership and practice in each jurisdiction across the world. While this knowledge lingered in the background, the stringent nature of these requirements was never anticipated," Lex says.

In 2020, Lex enrolled at the University of Illinois College of Law for his LLM. After graduating in 2021, he began his legal career as a Legal Affairs Contracts Assistant at Carle Health in central Illinois. During his time there, Lex forged meaningful connections with his colleagues, who keenly noticed his passion for the law and encouraged him to pursue a JD. Among those who recognized Lex’s ambitious nature was Mary Twigg, the Senior Paralegal at Carle Health.

“Lex was a diligent worker and enjoyed learning. He gave a 100% effort to every project, regardless of size or significance,” says Mary. “His sincerity and strong work ethic are rare qualities, and I have no doubt that Lex will succeed in all his endeavors.”

 The supportive individuals at Carle Health recognized Lex's potential and gave him the confidence he needed to take a step forward in his legal journey.

“The people at Carle Health are truly exceptional,” Lex Says. “My boss, the VP/Deputy General Counsel, even committed to writing a reference letter for Iowa Law’s JD program. Mary, who was like a big sister, took the time to guide me and was consistently there for me. The support I received at Carle is something I’ll forever cherish as I move forward in my life.”

In 2022, Lex enrolled in the Advanced Standing Program at Iowa Law, drawn not only by the program’s efficiency but also by the positive testimonials from friends who had followed the same path.

“I’m fortunate to have a wonderful group of friends from the LLM program at Illinois, and a handful of them chose Iowa Law. Their praise wasn’t limited to academics or career services; it was about the quality of the faculty, the staff, and the collaborative atmosphere that can be hard to find. Iowa Law was my first choice, so when I received that acceptance letter, it felt surreal,” says Lex.

During his time at Iowa Law, Lex has focused on corporate and transactional law, a passion that stemmed from Nigerian law school.

“In Nigerian Law school, there was a corporate law professor who really stood out to me. His passion was contagious, and I found it inspiring. It was then when I started picturing myself in that role, and I knew that this was it,” Lex recalls.

During his first summer of law school, Lex worked as a Summer Associate at Dechert LLP in New York City, New York, where he will return after graduation. Lex credits his readiness for the real-world legal landscape to the guidance and teachings of his professors at Iowa Law.

“I’ve had the privilege and honor of collaborating with Professor Dick as her research assistant, an experience that has been invaluable,” says Lex. “Reflecting on last semester, I worked on a project centered around tracking litigation for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Fast forward to the summer program in New York, and I found myself engaging in a similar task—it was like having the answers before an exam. These are the aspects of my Iowa Law experience that I value the most.”

Having spent considerable time with Lex as her research assistant, Professor Dick is unequivocally confident in Lex's future success as a lawyer.

Diane Lourdes Dick teaches in a classroom in BLB.
Lex worked as a research assistant for Professor Diane Lourdes Dick (above) whose research focuses on business and tax law.

“Lex has been an outstanding research assistant,” says Professor Dick. “He brings a winning combination of substantive knowledge, practical experience, and genuine joy and excitement for his work. He has the skill, enthusiasm, work ethic, and professionalism to become a leading practitioner and reach the very highest levels of the profession. I look forward to watching his exciting career develop.”

In addition, Lex attributes his renewed passion for writing to Professor Crouse, recognizing the importance of this skill in any facet of legal practice.

“I’ve always gravitated towards writing. As a kid, I envisioned myself as a poet or novelist, crafting stories, mostly about my own experiences,” Lex says. “Professor Crouse’s class played a pivotal role in reigniting my confidence in my writing abilities and preparing me for the real world. He did a wonderful job presenting the material, and the way he broke it down was perfect.”

Professor Crouse attests to Lex's writing skills soaring to new heights, crediting his diligence, eagerness to learn, and ability to take feedback.

“Like his classmates, Lex arrived at Iowa Law with considerable gifts. But he has used his time here to sharpen and polish his writing skills. He was a good writer; now he's excellent,” says Professor Crouse. “However he chooses to practice law, Lex will be able to communicate, analyze, and persuade at the highest level.”

Now in his final year of law school, Lex remains dedicated to supporting those with a similar background. As the president of the International Law Students Association (ILSA), he champions the organization’s commitment to fostering mutual friendship, academic success, professional growth, collegiality, and a genuine sense of belonging within the diverse community of international law students and other members of the Iowa Law community.

“ILSA provides an invaluable support system. My experience has been incredibly beneficial, so I always encourage fellow international students to join. The ability to learn about other peoples’ unique perspectives and connect with law students from around the world is amazing,” says Lex.

Living in the U.S. for over six years, Lex's exposure to new experiences and deepened understanding of American culture, particularly in the observance of Black History Month, has heightened his commitment to embracing diverse perspectives.

“Growing up in Nigeria shielded me from the realities faced by African Americans in America. The concept of racism held little meaning because, in Africa, everyone shared a common racial identity,” Lex says. “Moving to America was a cultural shock. Now, as a black individual residing in the U.S. and on the verge of becoming an American citizen, I believe I have a responsibility to help shape a better future for the next generation of Black kids in America.”

Looking ahead, Lex plans to establish a nonprofit dedicated to empowering young Black children—a vision ignited during a Nonprofit Organizations course at Iowa Law.

“My goal for the nonprofit is clear: to empower and inspire young Black boys and girls to pursue their dreams and enter careers in which the demographic is often underrepresented, particularly in law and in STEM fields,” says Lex.

Nearing the completion of his legal education, Lex shares an important message to incoming law students with backgrounds like his own.

“Take initiative. Put yourself out there. Volunteer, raise your hand in class, and take the time to get to know your professors. As the saying goes, America is the land of opportunities, but if you don’t put yourself out there, opportunities might miss you left and right. At the same time, be open to meeting others, and don’t be afraid to embrace your own culture. Everyone’s story is important.”