Photo of Lola Zakharova

Lola Zakharova

Class of 2012

Associate, MacDonald Hoague & Bayless

What did you do before law school, and what led you to pursue a law degree?

Before moving to the U.S. from Uzbekistan, I spent 10 years working at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. At the Embassy, I did consular work with a heavy focus on prevention and detection of fraud in U.S. visa applications. In addition to expertise in forensics, that work required intimate knowledge of immigration laws. During my time with the State Department, I received extensive training at the Foreign Service Institute and U.S. and international law enforcement agencies.

Having arrived in Seattle in 2006, I obtained an Advance Paralegal Certificate and joined T-Mobile in Bellevue. I was part of Legal Affairs, providing immigration support to T-Mobile's foreign national employees. With emphasis on business immigration, my job there also exposed me to issues arising in family-based immigration as well as employer compliance context.

With considerable experience in immigration law, I was admitted to the Part-time Program in 2009.

How did the Part-time Program benefit you? What law school experiences helped you in establishing your career?

With a full-time job and two young children, I first considered SU's part-time program as a necessity rather than a benefit. I was wrong. Not only did the part-time program allow me to earn my tuition money and support my family, but it also introduced me to some of the best professors. Many adjunct professors are also practitioners, and having a practicing professor allows you to receive practical insights into theory. It also puts you on an equal footing with a professor, who, just like you, is the classroom after spending a full day in the office, and opens immense networking opportunities.

I also made great friends. Professionals by day, part-timers are generally more mature than their day counterparts, reflecting positively on class discussions. But the best thing was the sense of solidarity and care for each other. Although most of us had to juggle work, family, and school, there was always time to help a struggling friend.

What advice would you give to prospective or current students?

First and foremost, sleep. With all your commitments, sleep easily becomes the lowest priority. Wrong! If you don't sleep, not only do you look and feel awful, but your productivity plunges, and your heath suffers a great deal. Burning midnight oil two nights during the finals won't kill you. But systematic disregard of sleep is simply dangerous. Leave those supplemental readings for another day and take a snooze!

Secondly, know what is expected on the exam, especially during your first year. You may know a great deal about the subject, but get an average grade if you don't know what your professor is looking for.

Lastly, make time for externship. I did full-time judicial externship during my last semester, serving as an extern law clerk for the Honorable Michael S. Spearman of the Washington Court of Appeals, Div. I. It the best experience in law school, and I cannot say enough to recommend it to everyone.