Janet ismailJanet Ismail

When the Chancellor’s Centurions gather together, “we strategize on how to meet the challenges our communities face and discuss ways to promote and improve higher education.”


Living the Life She Imagined

Changing course, but staying on track

Janet Ayyad Ismail has never had trouble imagining that her future would be bright. She has always had a direction and purpose.  Still, her ambition has never been blind.  Janet’s path to her present reflects a willingness to consider many options and the courage to change course, if need be.

When choosing a college, for example, Janet was set on attending a particular institution, but after visiting The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), she decided that was where she needed to be.  “I really enjoyed the friendly and collegial atmosphere at UT Dallas and the opportunities the smaller class sizes offered was very attractive.”  (See UT Dallas: A Family Tradition)

Once in college, Janet decided not to declare a major until the end of her sophomore year and opted to study psychology and math rather than stick to her original plan to become an engineer.  At the end of her junior year, Janet changed course again, choosing to pursue a law degree rather than attend graduate school.  She wasn’t fickle; she was judicious.  And, since joining the Dallas office of Haynes and Boone, LLP, Janet has been on a steady upward trajectory.  Janet is a proud member of the Labor and Employment Practice Group, which was named the 2013 Labor and Employment Litigation Practice Group of the Year by Texas Lawyer.  In 2013 and 2014, she was recognized by Texas Super Lawyer as a Rising Star in Employment & Labor law.

Janet believes that the winding path she followed prepared her for success in labor and employment law.  “I love psychology and math, and both have helped me hone my analytical and problem-solving skills,” both of which have been critical when litigating complex labor and employment matters and advising clients regarding labor and employment issues.

Janet’s psychology classes also helped her understand the deep need human beings have to bond with one another.  She was more than eager, therefore, to join the Chancellor’s Centurions.  “When I got the invitation, I thought it would be a great way to stay connected with alumni,” she says. “I was looking forward to being a part of something with the UT System.”   At the inaugural meeting, Janet was excited to visit the Chancellor’s house, meet graduates from other UT Institutions and learn about the various projects underway for the UT System.  When the Chancellor’s Centurions gather together, “we strategize on how to meet the challenges our communities face and discuss ways to promote and improve higher education,” she states.  “I’m excited to see how the program will evolve.”

The meetings she has attended as a Centurion helped strengthen Janet’s already firm belief in her responsibility to give of herself.  Janet participates in many Dallas-area charitable events, including the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Luncheon and the Dallas Heart Walk.  She also co-chairs the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers’ Attorneys Serving Troops Committee, which focuses on service, both legal and non-legal, to local veterans.  Such service is just part of Janet’s DNA.  “My parents were very involved in our education and the community. They instilled in us the importance of education and giving back.”  Her mother, especially, was a great mentor throughout her academic journey.  “My mom was there every step of the way—she was my rock,” Janet states.

Janet believes that, under the Centurions banner, she can bring the benefits of mentoring to those young people who may not have the kind of support at home that she found so critical.  She believes that the Centurions can reach out to the youth in their communities—even to those who have just started middle school—and let them know that they, too, have a path to success, however winding. “I want to say to young people, ‘You can achieve success, you can go to college. Here’s how.’”

Certainly, one benefit of mentoring and community involvement is the opportunity to promote the breadth of The University of Texas System, which Janet will experience first-hand as a Centurion.  “We plan to go to different UT campuses and witness the new and exciting projects underway. It’s a worthwhile goal,” she says.  “We need to spread the word.”