When Eleasalo “Salo” Va’alele Ale, LW’94, left his home in American Samoa, he had the goal of someday returning to the islands to serve his community.
His wish would come true.
Salo’s journey would lead him from Drake Law School to Hawaii to Minnesota, but he finally returned to American Samoa and became Attorney General in 2014.
“It is a great privilege and honor to serve as the Attorney General of American Samoa,” says Salo. “This position gives me a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, help individuals in need, contribute to shaping the future of our island territory, and still find time to practice law.”
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.
Like many young Samoans, Salo departed the islands after high school to pursue higher education and work experience on the mainland United States.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). Following in the footsteps of his father, who received his undergraduate degree from Drake University, Salo chose to attend Drake Law School and graduated with honors in 1994.
“Drake Law School offers excellent value,” Salo says. “It provides a strong foundation to equip you to become a successful lawyer.”
After law school, Salo clerked for Chief Judge James Burns of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, before moving to Minneapolis to practice with the international law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels. During his 17 years at the firm, Salo developed a successful practice focused on commercial litigation and was named a partner in 2003.
However, Salo found his calling to return home in 2012 to serve as deputy Attorney General of American Samoa, overseeing the Civil Division.
In January 2014, he was appointed Attorney General by Governor Lolo Moliga and was confirmed by both houses of the legislature one month later.
As Attorney General, Salo is the chief legal advisor and law enforcement officer of the American Samoa government. He heads the Department of Legal Affairs, which includes the Office of the Attorney General, Immigration Office, Office of the Registrar, and Weights & Measures.
“To me, the best part of my job is seeing the joy in the faces of those individuals that I am privileged to help,” Salo says.
He is also actively involved in the community in his roles as church deacon and as a Samoan matai, holding the chiefly orator title “Talauega.”
Salo credits his experience at Drake Law School with helping him along his career path, and he continues to be involved with the Law School as a member of the Drake Law School Board of Counselors.
“From private practice to becoming Attorney General, Drake Law School planted a solid foundation that has allowed me to succeed in every stage of my career thus far,” Salo says.