The son of Pakistani immigrants and entrepreneurs, Zain Haq witnessed the impact of small businesses on communities early on. Near his home in Toronto, he saw that they provided jobs and services to common people. He also saw the important role lawyers play in business success. From finances and contract negotiations to employee relationships to compliance with laws and regulations, lawyers make the difference. Haq knew he wanted to become a lawyer to help business owners like his father.
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario with a bachelor’s degree in political science – and starting an entertainment company himself – he applied to more than 30 law schools in the United States. Family and friends advised him to look for a program that focused on practice preparation and Georgia State College of Law quickly rose to the top of his list. After enrolling in Georgia State, Haq interned with the Georgia Justice Project and the ACLU. He was also an intern in the DeKalb County’s Attorney General’s office, where he was prosecuting Rule of Student cases in his third year.
Now a junior at Swift, Currie, McGhee and Hiers, he represents companies with compensation cases so they can keep America going.
What was your favorite class at the College of Law?
I really liked Advanced Criminal Prosecution with Professor Brickman. The professor was a former prosecutor and is now a criminal defense attorney. This class was fantastic because it was all hands-on learning. In each class, he gave us the facts from real cases and we worked out possible arguments for law enforcement and defense. He also went through everything from containing customers on the witness stand to developing relationships with the jury.
Another of my favorite classes was Professor Kinkopf’s legislation. I didn’t love this class back then because it was so difficult and different from any class we went to when we were freshmen law students. In hindsight, it’s the most useful class I took in law school. This class is all about legal interpretation, which is much of what you do as a lawyer. It also gives you the tools you need to not only interpret the law, but change the law for the better.
What is a typical day for you? And how did COVID-19 change that?
I practice insurance coverage litigation, and this particular area of law can be very voluminous. I have 30 to 40 active cases that I am working on right now. On a typical day, I make a lot of statements, go through medical records, and advise employers. I’ve always wanted to represent employers, so I can gain a lot of practical experience. It is unusual for a sophomore to say they made more than two dozen statements.
Regarding COVID-19, I would say that technology plays a bigger role. For example, if there was a case in Savannah or Augusta, I had to go there and make a deposit. Now I just do it through Zoom, which saves me time and money. This makes for a more efficient legal profession.
If you could offer one piece of advice to current students, what would it be?
In law school, professors always remind you from day one to the last that your reputation is everything. It may sound cliché, but I’ve found it to be very true. Students will remember if you were nice to them, if you worked hard, if you shared your notes, etc. Your legal reputation follows you when you become a practicing lawyer. It will serve you well beyond your law school years. So make sure you are professional, kind, and hardworking.
Is there anything else I should know?
I met my wife, Grace Starling (pictured with him above) in law school. We started dating, got engaged to law school, and got married soon after we passed the bar exam. I have many reasons to love GSU.
Interview by Kelundra Smith