Darius Izad’s first college class was Chinese, and after 9 years of university-level study, Chinese will very likely be his last college class. Darius is a third-year JD candidate at the UW Law School, and an East Asia Center FLAS fellow in Chinese. He has been interested in China ever since he attended a summer exchange program in Beijing at the age of sixteen. From that point on, he knew that he wanted to build upon that experience and focus on learning Chinese during college. He knew that the US-China relationship would be very important, and that he would be able to apply his Chinese skills in a multitude of areas, including business, government, and law. He started studying Chinese as an undergraduate student at Hamilton College in 2009, and by the time he was a junior he had already spent eight months studying abroad at Minzu University in Beijing, China. After college, he continued studying Chinese, as well as Chinese security studies and politics, as a Master’s student in Asian Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
He decided to integrate his cultural and linguistic fluency in Chinese into a legal career, and began his studies at the University of Washington School of Law in 2015. In Summer 2016, he returned to China for a legal internship at McDermott, Will & Emery in Shanghai. It was his first time in China in five years, and it proved to be a very valuable experience because it taught him what he wants (and doesn’t want) in his legal career. He decided that the narrow, detail-oriented focus of corporate law was not his preferred mode of practice. He instead discovered that he prefers public service, and devoted his energy to applying for federal positions. During his second year of law school, he was offered a position as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the U.S. Air Force.
The JAG position will allow him to pursue international opportunities and a wide variety of casework—from examining the legality of specific military actions, to representing U.S. military and civilian personnel in civil and criminal cases. As an Air Force JAG, he will be posted at bases in the U.S. and abroad. He started his ROTC training this past summer at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Now in his final year at law school, he continues to participate in ROTC, where he learns leadership skills necessary to being an Officer in the U.S. Air Force. His China Studies coursework is focused on comparing Chinese law to other systems of law, and on the legal structure for human rights and security in China. His knowledge of China and skill in Chinese will contribute greatly to his ability to make determinations regarding U.S. engagement and security in East Asia and globally. Pursuing public service is a challenge for any new lawyer, as public-sector salaries do not compensate for law school tuition in the same manner as corporate salaries. The FLAS Fellowship is helping Darius to pursue a public-sector career by paying $33,000 of his law school expenses.
FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education Office of the U.S. Department of Education. FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply. Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.