Before he became the CEO Lawyer, Ali Awad was one of six children who group up around cars, karate, and business.
Ali was the product of Palestinian Immigrant parents who moved to the Bible Belt in Dalton, Georgia to raise six children. Every morning, Ali’s father would wake up for morning prayer to take Ali and his three brothers to a small building that had been converted into a prayer hall in Newtown. Newtown wasn’t the formal name for the area, but it was understood that it was the poorer part of the city that gang members would often hang around. Aside from the green dome that Ali’s father had fabricated for the mosque, no one would have known that the square shaped, cinder-block building was a place of solace for local Muslims.
After morning prayers Ali would read Quran, practicing letter by letter, accent by accent, word by word. He attributes this consistent study to his fluency in Arabic today.
“I rarely meet people who grew up and lived their entire lives in the U.S., but can still speak Arabic fluently,” Ali says. “It’s not just about the religion, but the culture and pride that comes with being a Palestinian-American Muslim.”
Work was not limited to adults in the Awad household. It was a collective effort; however, developing a strong work-ethic did not come without a price.
Ali’s first workplace injury was at age 8 when a propane tank fell on his foot and it swelled up to the size of a rugby ball. His third grade teacher, Mr. Kittle, had to pick him up and take him to class because Ali could not walk up the stairs. The next year a used tire exploded in Ali’s face while he was working at his dad’s mechanic shop. His ears rang for three days.
By age 10 Ali was doing basic oil changes and other light mechanical work. This was also around the same time Ali began his martial arts training, where he won first place in his first sparring tournament ever.
Being successful in Martial Arts tied physical and mental fortitude into one activity. In the beginning, it was easy to win and collect trophies at the local level, but when venturing into larger tournaments, it was a different story. The losses brought with them the greatest growth.
It was only a matter of time before these physical and mental accomplishments manifested themselves into entrepreneurship. Ali’s father always encouraged hard work and independence, so by age 13 Ali began buying and selling electronics online. Before long he built a full e-commerce store to help support his family. While Ali was still in middle school, his mom would pick him up early each day so he would have time to package electronics at home and run to the post office to ship them before 5pm.
“I distinctly remember selling over $10,000 worth of refurbished Audiobahn amplifiers and Kicker L7 subwoofers in one week,” he said. “It wasn’t about the money; it was about the thrill of running my own business and doing something I actually loved. Although I maintained good grades my entire life and even had a 4.0 in college, I only did that so my parents would let me pursue other passions like fixing cars, training martial arts, learning new languages, and starting businesses.”
By age 15 Ali became financially independent, before even getting his driver’s license. By the time he graduated high school he had changed over 10,000 tires, won over 100 fights, and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars online. Because he grew up in a predominantly Hispanic community and catered to many Mexican customers for his electronics business, Ali also became fluent in Spanish. But things started to take a turn when he started his first wholesale company.
“I made the mistake of trusting someone with $25,000 worth of merchandise. He paid me with bad checks, and when I asked him to pay me or give me my merchandise back he told me that if I returned for my merchandise, I’d get a bullet in my head. That’s when I knew this business thing can be dangerous, and I needed to learn how to properly protect myself.”
So, Ali applied for law school and received a scholarship to start his juris doctorate at age 21. After the first year he wanted to take on a new challenge so he began his masters degree in business at 22. The following year he completed 59 credit hours while remaining at the top of his class, working two legal jobs, becoming a published author, and managing his automotive customization company (which his younger brother Sam has since taken over).
At age 24, Ali became one of the youngest JD/MBA graduates in Georgia State history and Snapchatted the graduation hooding ceremony. His famous “selfie” with Georgia State University College of Law faculty can still be seen on many campus materials.
But he wasn’t just doing this for fun, as Ali had a much bigger plan in mind.
“I started playing around with social media in middle school, back when MySpace was a thing. Then when I started getting customers for my business in high school and college, I realized this would be a game-changer if I used social media as a lawyer. So I made sure to let people see the process of going through law school, becoming a published legal author, studying (and passing) the bar exam, and starting my career. I basically built a fan-base that cheered me on, and now many of them have become my clients.”
After law school, Ali took a job working for $40,000 a year because he wanted to learn about personal injury. In his first year of practicing law, he successfully litigated a medical malpractice case and won a toxic mold exposure case. However, his true passion was in car accidents.
“I remember one case where a client was rear-ended so hard that the factory radio in his 2002 Ford Explorer flew out of the dash. My inner nerd loved studying the mechanical force required to push out a radio like that, and from my research I was able to collect the entire insurance policy for my client. That’s when I knew I was going to be a car wreck expert, and I branded myself as the CEO Lawyer.”
Ali says the day he quit his job was the most liberating sensation of his life. He started signing up cases from the trunk of his car with no office or staff. When asked what his greatest fear was when he started his firm, Ali responded: “I was legit scared that if I myself got into an accident, I could lose all my client files. But since I kept my costs low and marketed myself heavily on social media, I was able to weather the storm.”
Ali now has his own law firm servicing personal injury victims nationwide. Because he provides free legal advice on Instagram (@ceolawyer) and many other social media channels, he has amassed a following of over 100,000 followers. He handles cases for clients who speak Arabic, English, and Spanish, as he is fluent in all three languages. He posts engaging content on social media daily, with one of his most suspenseful videos posted at the end of 2018 when he reached the astonishing goal of $1.5 million in settlements in 105 days.
He did this in his first full year of business as a firm owner in 2018.
“I have the best support staff and attorneys that come to work every day motivated to change lives. Even though I worked almost every single day of my life and thought there was no end in sight, I knew that with proper education, determination, and execution, something would eventually happen. We have no control over our upbringing and our childhood circumstances, but with faith and gratitude, even the unimaginable can become possible.”
Ali seems to have accomplished so much in under 30 years, but for him it’s just the beginning.
He now has a media company dedicated to teaching attorneys and other professionals how to brand and market themselves on social media. Ali believes most professionals need help with understanding and leveraging platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and LinkedIn, and he is now on a mission to chanhe the way professionals use social media.
“I think too many people are playing in 2005 when they should be competing in 2025. Social media isn’t going anywhere, and if you’re a professional you will either adapt or die. Simple as that.”