Alex Karana is one of three LCA interns this semester. Alex is a graduating 3L at UIC John Marshall Law School. Before LCA, Alex served as a student attorney at the John Marshall’s Patent Clinic. Currently, Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Intellectual Property Law at UIC John Marshall and also serves as a judicial extern at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Before law school, Alex worked in the automotive industry and holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University ‘13.
Q: Many of our interns come to us with unique backgrounds in the arts. Do you have any personal background in the arts?
A: I am originally from Detroit, MI, and I grew up playing classical piano. Last summer, I learned how to use Ableton, a digital audio workstation. Since then, I’ve been making some electronic beats in my spare time. I’ve always had a passion for music and one of my favorite things to do is attend music concerts. Some of my favorite concerts I’ve been to have been Eminem & Jay-z, Flume, and Bassnectar. Naturally, my interests in copyright law and the music industry grew out of my passion for music and LCA was a great way to get the arts back into my life.
How did you hear about LCA?
I heard about LCA during my 2L year in law school after taking entertainment law. I learned more about it when I took a music transactions class and my professor talked about how LCA was a great way to get into the art community in Chicago. Being from Detroit, LCA has been a great way to make new friends in Chicago.
What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?
I expected to do a bit of research in entertainment law but I never expected to directly interact with so many different artists. I’ve talked to actresses, non-profits, authors, graphic designers, and inventors. I was able to help out a number of musicians which was what I wanted to do most. But I didn’t expect to talk to so many. There are so many artists that need legal help and it was very enjoyable for me to help get them legal aid. LCA’s clients are also extremely appreciative which made it more enjoyable.
How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?
Having an engineering background, I started law school with intentions to practice patent. I never had a chance to take trademarks or copyright, but LCA allowed me to gain experience in both those areas–mainly from clients but also from researching law in the arts.
A lot of LCA’s clients, don’t just have IP issues. A lot of contract law and business law issues arise too. Speaking directly with clients allowed me to apply a lot of what I learned in my law school classes to help the artists get the help they need.
Do you have any favorite moments or projects from your time with us?
Getting to see and meet the Sklar brothers with Jan our Executive Director. They were hilarious. I also miss our lunches with the team before the pandemic started.
What’s next for you? Has your time at LCA helped you to narrow your options?
I am hoping to start off my career in IP litigation or transactional practice. LCA has actually widened my scope as I would love to practice all IP areas. Eventually, I’m hoping to practice in the technology, sports, and entertainment industries. I’ve always wanted to start my own firm in those areas, so we’ll see where my career takes me. It’ll definitely be somewhere in Intellectual Property, if not most of it.
Do you plan to volunteer with LCA once you have your degree?
For sure! I plan on joining on as an Associate Board member and using my law degree to help some future LCA clients.
What value does an organization like LCA add to the arts community?
LCA provides a ton to the arts community besides helping artists find legal help. LCA does a fantastic job of educating the community by holding legal workshops and creating online legal resources for artists. As an intern, I helped do some research for these. Beyond the arts community, LCA does a great job at helping others set up non-profits in the community. It’s almost like an LCA is an incubator for non-profits.
What's a fun fact about you?
I’m a first-generation Chaldean-American. Both my parents are Catholic-Iraqi immigrants and we speak Aramaic at home, which is one of the oldest languages in the world.
Which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
I recently finished the book Creative Quest by DJ Questlove from the Roots. I highly recommend it and it’s an easy read. He talks about his career and what made him successful from an arts perspective. He also discusses his process for actually creating art whether it is music, painting, or culinary arts. I found a lot of his recommendations to be insightful and actually very applicable to other areas, even law.