Sanad Karkar, currently in his 3L year of law school, shares his thoughts about his experiences thus far in CalSouthern’s JD program as a global marketing professional living overseas.
What do you do for a living?
I am currently the Adviser, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer for Ericsson, which is a global leader in delivering ICT solutions. In fact, 40% of the world's mobile traffic is carried over Ericsson networks! Just recently I relocated to the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden, where our headquarters sits.
What inspired you to pursue a Juris Doctor degree?
I have always admired how lawyers think. The study of law provides you with a unique way of thinking and perceiving the world around you; this does not come in naturally, rather it requires tremendous training and copious amount of reading. I believe this training enables you to unlock a lot of doors in life and open up a lot of possibilities. I was in a place in my career and life where I felt I could use such improvements. It helped me focus for the past three years on a bigger goal, a bigger purpose that has inspired me to do more and become more. It also transformed the way I do things from work to personal matters; it has been a great journey, and I am so determined to conclude it!
How did CalSouthern’s JD program stand out from the other programs you were considering?
In 2014, I was an account manager at a boutique advertising agency based in Dubai. At the time I just recently received my LSAT scores, which were decent enough to get me into a few respectable brick and mortar law schools. However, that meant that I would have to stop my career for the next three years or so and take an enormous loan to cover up the expenses. I was completely torn on what to do next; should I go to law school and forgo my career, or should I follow my dream and be in enormous debt and a few years behind everyone else.
Then I came across CalSouthern, a school that allowed me to have the best of both worlds. They say hindsight is 20/20, and looking back now I have made the right choice. I stuck to my job, and I found myself progressing quite rapidly in my career while doing a fantastic job at law school at the same time. I think being busy all the time helped me stay on my toes and kept my mind sharp.
There were multiple factors that lead me to choose CalSouthern, the cost to the quality of education was definitely an important determinant. Here, I was given the same curriculum as other schools, but I had a very supportive and responsive team and much smaller classrooms which meant more attention from the mentors. But also, I cannot stress the importance of the personal touch from the advisers, and the faculty. I got the feeling that they do care about our success as learners and they are always trying their best to help in any way possible. Furthermore, if you look at the passing rate of the baby bar and the actual bar exam, CalSouthern has a pretty decent percentage.
What was your experience preparing for the First-Year Law Students’ Examination?
The first year studying at CalSouthern truly prepared me for the test. The multiple choice questions and the long assignments really paid off. When it came to my preparation, I just downloaded as many questions from the CalBar website, set the stopwatch, and it was go time. Of course, the most important aspect was creating proper outlines that encompassed the core elements of each concept in the tested subjects, and I went over the outlines over and over again until I memorized each rule.
What has been your favorite course thus far in the JD program and why?
I would say Criminal Law hands down. It is the most relevant area of law; we always watch it in TV shows and movies. It was kind of fun (for myself) and extremely annoying (for my friends) when I started pointing out all the plot holes in movies and TV shows. Even better, when I start counting the number of crimes committed by beloved characters in situational comedy sitcoms, in that world everyone seems to get off scot-free for some pretty heinous crimes!
Given your international travel for work, where are some of the more interesting places you’ve found yourself studying?
Since I have a very demanding job that requires me to travel most of the time, I find myself carrying (what I started calling the casebook bag), which is basically an XXL messenger bag that fits my casebooks and my personal and professional laptops. I have found myself studying in Saudi Arabia, Barcelona, Amsterdam, San Francisco, and Singapore, after working hours of course. One time I actually took my books on a vacation to the Maldives, believe it or not, just to catch up with my work load; I actually did get a lot of work done there! What I love the most about being at CalSouthern that it enables me to continue my career and develop it while following my dream of becoming a lawyer.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering applying to and enrolling in the JD program at CalSouthern?
It's going to be a very long journey so brace yourself. If you have a full day job like me, then you will have to squeeze in studies at every possible spare moment. That means there will be a lot of sacrifices, that nice BBQ party all your friends are excited to go to, you have to skip that and catch up on your reading and assignments. But it is extremely rewarding at the end! You have to be an active self-learner, and you have to keep your motivation up at all times. Just because it's online, it does not mean it's any less work than traditional brick and mortar law schools; it actually might be a lot more work. You have to steadily research through the various databases that are available to get a full grasp of the many complicated areas of law that you will encounter. Always remember, that you are doing a great thing that will change your life for the better and it is worth the hard work!