Zahra Zavari is one of three LCA interns this semester. Zahra is currently a 3L at Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Before LCA, Zahra served as a student attorney at the Children’s Legal Center and as a Law Clerk at Meltzer Hellrung. At Chicago-Kent Zahra was also an Entrepreneurship Research Assistant with supervising attorney Heather Harper. Zahra also currently serves as a legal extern with Saper Law.
Many of our interns come to us with unique backgrounds in the arts. Do you have any personal background in the arts?
I played violin as a child and have always loved clay sculpture and glass art. As I got older, I grew interested in fashion and its intersection with the law. It’s a very interesting area that comprises of various types of intellectual property including copyright, trademark, and design patents. I also find the entrepreneurial aspect of building a brand incredibly interesting from a legal standpoint.
How did you hear about LCA?
I was looking for opportunities in the arts in the Chicago area. I actually learned about LCA from Thomas Key (a former intern) and later talked to one of my professors about getting involved in the arts community. Both strongly encouraged me to pursue an opportunity at LCA.
What did you expect? Did anything here surprise you?
What’s most surprising is the scope of the work and number of matters that we accept. I expected there to be artists and musicians, but so many of our clients are documentary filmmakers or people who are working on forming a nonprofit. It’s been wonderful to see how much business can intersect with the arts, which happens to be a major interest of mine.
How has your experience at LCA connected with what you’ve been learning in law school?
There has been the most overlap in trademark and copyright. I’m also finding some parallels with the work I’ve been doing at Saper Law this term. The work here is slightly different; at Saper Law I draft contracts and motions, whereas here, I have the opportunity to speak directly with the clients to understand and identify their issues. Working at both LCA and Saper Law simultaneously, I’ve had a chance to see both sides of the process.
Do you have any favorite moments or projects from your time with us?
It has been really interesting learning more about the needs of the arts community in Chicago. Some of my favorite projects have been working with documentary film makers and entrepreneurs of all kinds to get their ideas in motion. Intakes have allowed me to learn so much about the growing stages of artists.
I also really loved the lunches we shared as a team. Towards the beginning of my time here we managed to get all of the interns and staff together for a lunch. It was a great opportunity to talk about what to expect in this internship and in the legal world generally.
Everyone on staff is incredibly kind and encouraging. I’ve learned a great deal from the research projects I have been assigned and I love that much of our work is very hands on. Not all legal institutions have those opportunities.
What’s next for you? Has your time at LCA helped you to narrow your options?
I’m hoping to work in Intellectual Property, especially as it relates to fashion or entertainment. In general, I think my work here at LCA led me to explore other areas that I’m now even more interested in. Initially, I was mostly focused on fashion; I had thought about film and music, but now I think about these areas so much more.
Most people don’t realize how much Arts law integrates so many of these different areas of law. You mostly hear about the copyright and trademark issues, but there are so many areas that all intersect. It’s important to think of Arts law in this more holistic way than as just an area dominated by Intellectual Property.
Do you plan to volunteer with LCA once you have your degree?
Yes, definitely! And even if I don’t end up in Chicago, then I’ll probably look into volunteering with a local VLA wherever I end up.
What value does an organization like LCA add to the arts community?
Besides providing legal services, I think organizations like LCA are important because they expose the fact that so many smaller artists are being exploited by larger organizations. We have to do everything we can to minimize this exploitation and raise awareness. I don’t think most people see the arts as an area where people are particularly vulnerable to such abuses and oppression, but it is a huge issue. LCA and organizations alike are essential components to protecting the rights of artists.
What's a fun fact about you?
I’m from Singapore! My mom and I moved to Chicago when I was 8 years old. It has been a pretty big culture shift growing up here. Many of my aunts and uncles are attorneys in Singapore and they have definitely played a role in my interests in the law.
Which tv-show/movie/song/book have you recently finished that you would recommend?
I have always been obsessed with crime TV shows. Some of my favorites include Broachchurch, Seven Seconds, and Law & Order. More recently I’ve been hooked on Safe and The Fall.
Thank you for telling us more about yourself! Do you have anything else that you want to add?
I’ve really enjoyed working here and I truly appreciate the immense value LCA contributes to artists all over Chicago.