As a youth growing up in the projects, El Mahdi Young believed there were many things wrong with the judicial system, one being the economic bias. He watched the trials on television of high-profile defendants who could afford "hotshot" lawyers and received better treatment because of their money. One turning point case for him was the infamous O.J. Simpson trial. El Mahdi viewed this as another case of a famous, wealthy man paying his way to freedom, at the same time pointing out the travesty of the "justice" system. He was "sick and tired of seeing the disparity caused by economics in legal defense and the subsequent convictions of those who could not afford quality representation."
"A highlight of my law school experience was my externship at the DA's office where I could participate in preliminary hearings like a 'bona fide attorney' while still in law school."
Determined to be part of the solution, El Mahdi enrolled at Southwestern, originally attracted by the law school's "historic commitment to minorities and women, and the diverse student body." He was eager for hands-on legal experience, which he obtained through his externships at the Federal Court of Appeals and the District Attorney's Office. He found it particularly exciting to be able to participate in preliminary hearings "like a bona fide attorney, while still in law school," and get an insider's view in the process.