In this week’s edition of the Diaspora, we spoke to Sarjo Barrow, a young Gambian born who graduated with a cum laude from a United States university and is now a private legal practitioner in the United States.
I was born and raised in Niamina Dankunku. I grew up at my grandparents’ house before my parents brought me back to Pakalinding to continue my schooling. I used to watch my late grandfather, Chief Saja Mboge, adjudicate disputes in the village with my cousin Abdou Mboge. I started my primary school in Dankunku and sat to my common entrance examination and moved to Pakalinding junior. I attended Nasir [Basse] High School because my family was there for posting before coming back to Tahir for grade 11 and 12 when my family was moved back to Mansakonko again.
I have a humble beginning like most people. Do not come from a rich background. I was privileged to have hard working parents especially my mom. She believed in education and pushed for it. If you want to be her best friend, do well in school. She is so tough that I was more afraid of her beating than my dad. So for this reason, I was the kid in school with my shirt tucked and obey rules. My friends Ebrima Sanyang and Abdou Joof would know. My elder sister Kaddy Barrow set such a high standard it almost made the rest of us losers. She was the first to be in school and first out when the bell rang. This has earned her the nickname Mrs Basaratou.
I traveled to the United States of America in December 2003. I went to the US to further my education. It was myself, Lamin Juwara and Saja Mboge who were all issued I-20 from IUP in Pittsburg, PA. Believe it or not I only planned to come and study and go home. But that was naive of me and not everything was black and white as I thought when in Gambia nonetheless, I thank Allah for what he blessed me with. Saja holds a Master’s Degree in social work and he is a clinical therapist now.
I started at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York, where I pursue an Associate of Arts Degree (AA in Public Admin) before transferring to John Jay College of Criminal Justice for my BA in Criminal Justice and minor in law. Before graduating with my BA, I wrote the LSAT (law school admission test) because I want to fulfill my dream of becoming an attorney. I attended Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. I graduated with my Juris Doctor in Law in January 2013.
While in law school, I extern at the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. I worked under A. Peter Govorchin, the Assistant Attorney General. Our division dealt with section 1983 cases; mostly prisoners suing the state for civil right violations.
I also extern at the Washtenaw County Public Defender’s office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We defend indigent people in the criminal justice system. I extern for a private law firm in East Lansing, Michigan and the Law office of Steven Dulan, where we handlse both criminal and civil matters.
After law school, I wrote my bar and was admitted to practice in the state of Wisconsin. I briefly worked as a document review attorney in Dallas, Texas before rolling the dice to open my own practice in October of 2013.
Now, I am the owner/managing partner of the Law Office of Sarjo Barrow, Llc. We handled immigration and nationality law in all 50 states. Our focus is on removal/deportation defence and family based immigration
I do handle family and criminal matters in Wisconsin but the firm is trying to limit its practice to immigration and nationality law, exclusively.
I graduated with cum laude in both undergraduate and law school. I do not consider myself as an influential person. However, I hope I get to aspire others to do better than me. If I came from nowhere and can do it with hard work, anyone can surely do it. Now it would be foolish to say that I am not a role model to younger Gambians. Therefore, I have to legislate myself and always try to do the right thing.
I have so much passion for the field [of law]. But I do not want to be consumed by the practice to the extent that I forgot to enjoy the very simple things in life—family, friends and fun. I am fortunate enough to have great friends in my life.
It’s always my plan to come back to The Gambia one day. It will always be part of me. I have to give back to the very community that was part of my growth. But right now, I want to grow professionally because I’m a young lawyer and have a lot to learn.
I believe with all the new and young graduates from Gambia law school, we can shape and change the future of jurisprudence in Gambia.