Born in Nigeria, Damilola immigrated to America as a young child with his parents. The challenges he faced growing up inspire him to fight for a brighter future for others as a lawyer and policy advocate.
When Damilola Arowolaju was young, him and his family emigrated from Nigeria to Chicago. Their resourcefulness and perseverance called for by their journey and economic hardships instilled in him a diverse mindset, an enduring work ethic, and a passion to serve others.
When preparing to enroll at Rich South High School, he was nervous. He heard only bad news coming out of the school, but his mom told him: “Dami, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.” And she was right. Although he struggled with debilitating social anxiety and suicidal thoughts, he graduated at the top of his class. He used football as a coping mechanism to deal with his mental health—it gave his life meaning. Upon graduating, he went to Northwestern University, where he walked onto the football team.
After his first season, he was cut from the team—losing his coping mechanism. Depression soon followed; he was lost and hopeless. But in that darkness, he found God and was led to a Social Policy class that changed his life forever. As a Black man in America, he knew life could be unfair. But at that moment he learned of the systemic racial inequality that manifests itself in every fact of life from health, education, to justice and more. At that moment, he decided to dedicate his life to service—designing a better world through policy reform.
This service started at Northwestern, leading several groups and initiatives focused on providing social, academic, and emotional support for students of color. And as part of a special task force convened by the Vice President of Student Affairs, he contributed to a report presented to Northwestern’s leadership on improving the Black student experience. In 2017, he graduated with his B.S. in Education and Social Policy and had the honor of delivering the student convocation speech to his graduating class.
Damilola then went to law school at the center of law and policy in D.C. to equip himself with the tools needed to create the change he sought. He received his Juris Doctor with Honors from The George Washington University Law School in 2020, where he also delivered an address to his graduating class. While there, he was elected Student Body President and expanded resources and support for underrepresented students. The American Bar Association awarded these efforts that year as the initiative that most improved inclusion and diversity in an American law school. Damilola also worked as Judicial Intern for a federal judge, a Policy Fellow in the Office of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, and had the opportunity to study International Human Rights Law abroad at University of Oxford.
While studying for the bar exam, Damilola served as a Legislative Analyst for the District of Columbia’s Committee on Business and Economic Development. And then he began his legal career at the MacArthur Justice Center’s Supreme Court & Appellate Program, where he co-authored and authored nearly a dozen briefs in state and federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court—defending his client’s constitutional and civil rights, including victories in Thompson v. Clark, Wooden v. United States, and Timpa v. Dillard, People v. Smith. As an associate at O’Melveny & Myers, his practice focuses on the intersection of economics and technology. He is an expert on blockchain technology and digital assets. Damilola maintains a body of published work in the space, including in Georgetown University’s Institute of International Economic Law’s Fintech Week 2021.