By Andrew Cohen
Chalk up yet another example of student excellence and diversity at Berkeley Law: the Latham & Watkins 1L Fellowships and 2L Diversity Scholarships. The school accounted for five of the 28 coveted selections overall—more than any other law school.
Sanjana Parikh ’20 and Lana El-Farra ’20 were among 10 students chosen for the 1L fellowships from a pool of roughly 1,600 applicants.
As 2L Diversity Scholars, Djenab Conde ’19, Andrew Huang ’19, and Jack Siddoway ’19 receive $10,000 upon starting as Latham summer associates and another $15,000 if they stay on as full-time associates after graduating. The firm received more than 500 applications from 2Ls at more than 90 U.S. law schools.
The 1L Fellows spend five weeks of the summer working in a Latham office, then another five weeks in a client’s legal department. Parikh, now in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, will later work for Comcast while El-Farra (Los Angeles office) goes to Paramount Studios.
“I’m overwhelmed to even hear the size of the applicant pool,” Parikh says. “That’s incredible. I just got very lucky.”
All humility aside, both students have overcome formidable obstacles to become extraordinary budding lawyers.
Parikh, who lives with a chronic illness, promoted campus initiatives to combat sexual assault as an undergrad at Stanford, worked on a campaign to elect more women to the California Legislature, and won three university awards for academic achievement and community impact.
Her health condition “has really shaped my perspective and life. It’s helped me recognize that everyone has something they’re struggling with, even if it’s not readily apparent. … It inspires me to find other ways to recognize stories that aren’t always being told.”
El-Farra’s father died when she was just nine years old, shortly before 9/11.
“That time shaped a great deal of who I became,” she says. “I was the oldest of three kids, with an immigrant mother. English isn’t her first language, I had to help support her, and I had to navigate being a Muslim-American in the wake of 9/11. It helped me figure out that I wanted to advocate for others.”
The first member of her family to attend college, El-Farra excelled at UCLA, serving on the board of directors for the UC Student Association and winning a university award for outstanding contributions to the school. Elected external vice president, she led a campaign that registered more than 6,000 voters in three months while working with state and campus organizations.
Before law school, El-Farra worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles as the organization’s voting rights coordinator and in other capacities, including a legal advocate for various ethnic minority communities.
“It was a great place to be,” she says. “I worked with lot of attorneys and part of the time I was the pro bono coordinator. It was also when the travel ban came down, so I was really busy helping to coordinate know-your-rights training and collaborating with other organizations.”
Law and economics
Parikh spent two years as an analyst at Compass Lexecon in Washington, D.C., before enrolling at Berkeley Law. Her work included conducting economic research for expert witness testimony in antitrust litigation and regulatory investigations, performing advanced econometric regressions, and leading a seminar on legal research methods.
“Every day was challenging, because I was always being asked to take on new kinds of work and keep growing as an analyst,” Parikh says. “But that helped a lot with the transition to law school too, because it felt like even though I had left college, I had never really stopped learning.”
During the coming school year, Parikh will stay involved with the Berkeley Technology Law Journal and InSITE, which teams law and business students to assist startups. El-Farra will serve on the board of the law school’s Coalition for Diversity and the Berkeley Law Foundation.
In the meantime, both are enjoying their first law-firm experience and will soon learn about the role of in-house counsel at Comcast and Paramount, respectively.
“It’s a blessing to have this opportunity,” El-Farra says. “It’s humbling, and very exciting.”