Long before he was hired by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, Amando E. Dominick, LAW ’21, eyed the progressive office from a distance and even applied to law school in Philadelphia because he could envision himself working there.
Now part of the Major Trials unit, he handles felony jury trials, felony waiver trials and appears in court on a daily basis. He prioritizes negotiating fair sentences for convicted people—which he says is much harder than going with the status quo, but delivers a better outcome for the individual.
“We can’t just prosecute and enforce our way out of issues,” he said. “We have to be proactive and invest in communities.”
A personal mission
Born and raised in New Orleans, Dominick grew up with a single mother who dropped out of school in ninth grade. His father was incarcerated during his senior year of high school and was eventually sentenced to 20 years in state prison. Around that time, Dominick began tuning into the national dialogue about mass incarceration and developing his own beliefs about the justice system.
“Traditionally most people in this position don’t have the kind of background I have, racially, ethnically or socioeconomically,” he said. “My father is Creole and my mother was Hispanic. I don’t come from money and I definitely experienced housing and food insecurity growing up—you don’t see a lot of lawyers who look like me, and especially not prosecutors.”
During his first year of law school, however, an unimaginable tragedy occurred—Dominick’s mother was killed during a carjacking. His grief only fueled his desire to both protect victims of crime and find ways to reform the system.
Amando at a Glance
A fairer future
After graduating from Baylor University with a BS in psychology, Dominick received an almost full scholarship to Temple Law School, which sealed the deal, making his dream possible.
At Temple, Dominick discovered that Philadelphia’s legal community is quite small, and engaging with it early on helped pave the path to his success. He was also the criminal justice chair of the National Lawyers Guild where he helped organize reentry clinics, hosted special speakers and engaged fellow students in dialogue about criminal justice reform.
Tipping the scales
In the longer term, Dominick envisions taking on bigger issues. He wants to work to transform what is currently a reactionary system into one that helps to prevent crime. Whether or not that kind of leadership role would involve rising higher through the ranks at the DA or seeking political office, he’s not yet sure.
Recently Dominick published his personal story in the American Bar Association Journal, exploring how both his parents’ experiences have informed who he is today.
“That was a real high point,” he said. “I saw the article in print and I thought, wow, I’m proud of that person. Then I realized: Wait, I am that person.”