October 25, 2017
It was, ironically, the ceaseless conflict of work as a
litigator that led John Allelo (L ’87) into some of the world’s most fraught
conflict zones, working with refugees, former child soldiers, and victims of
It all happened because he took a risk – taking a leave of
absence from his Baton Rouge law firm to take a year of pro bono work for the
American Bar Association in Bulgaria.
“You have to be very careful in choosing your law career, or
someone will choose it for you,” Allelo, who visited Tulane Tuesday for a lunch
seminar, told a roomful of law students.
“My advice is make it a priority to find your passion, and practice in
Allelo, who was recently honored by the ABA for his work
overseas, was back on campus to discuss the role of lawyers in
international development and advise Tulane students interested in
international legal careers.
Allelo’s year in Bulgaria led him to his current position as
a senior Foreign Service officer with the U.S.
Agency for International Development (USAID), where he specializes in promoting
democracy and reconciliation in countries riven by war and civil conflict. In
his current posting in Islamabad, he oversees efforts to support Pakistan's fragile
democracy by promoting free and open elections, gender equality and civil
rights, and initiatives to curb violent extremism.
Prior to his work in Pakistan, Allelo
worked for USAID in Colombia, leading U.S. efforts to help the displaced,
rehabilitate child soldiers, and seeking inclusion for marginalized communities
following the decades-long war between the Colombian government and the FARC.
Previously, he was a legal advisor for
USAID in Bulgaria and later in Kosovo, where he helped the country’s governing
body to draft its first constitution. He also served in South Sudan as the
nation transitioned towards independence.
He encouraged students to be mindful of
the power of law and lawyers to changes lives.
“The law is such a powerful tool,” Allelo
told Tulane students. “We have unique access as lawyers to the most vulnerable
as well as heads of state. We can influence economies, provide access to
education, create fair systems for native people, help homeless youths in
Colombia, and assist Syrian refugees . . . .
We can do good.”
Also, he credited his time at Tulane Law
School for broadening his imagination.
“One of the great things about a Tulane
education is that it brings such a blended class together -- you realize there
are so many different perspectives,” Allelo said. “The more we are different,
the more we are alike. Talking about these differences of ideas with can brings
us to a commonality that I think is crucial to practicing internationally.”
For his public service promoting peace
and democracy in turbulent regions, Allelo was presented with the 2017
Fellows Award by the ABA Young Lawyers Division at its annual gala.
A native of Louisiana, he received his
Bachelor of Science degree in finance from Louisiana State University, and his
law degree from Tulane in 1987.