Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Education: The Pennsylvania State University, University Park; English/British Literature
Job: Investment Management Associate, Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP; Course Designer and Co-Teacher, Temple Law Asylum Project
Program: Full-Time Day
Temple Law Community
While at Temple Law, I served as a Teaching Assistant to Professor Kathryn Stanchi for Legal Research and Writing and Professor Nicholas Wilhelm for Drug Law and Policy; Research Assistant to Dean Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Professor Theresa Glennon; and Staff Editor for the Temple International & Comparative Law Journal (TICLJ). I also served as Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), Secretary of OUTLaw, Community Service and Public Interest Chair of the Student Public Interest Network (SPIN), Physical Wellness Chair of the Student Wellness Association, and Member of the Student Body Association/Faculty Committee for Public Interest.
These experiences helped shape the legal professional that I am today. As a Staff Editor for TICLJ, I assisted in the editorial process—fine tuning articles into published scholarship. Implementing what I learned, I crafted a comment on religious sanctuary that was chosen for publication. As Vice President of APALSA, I was introduced to the legal Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Philadelphia. From these introductions grew lasting connections with AAPI attorneys and judges. Finally, as Chair of Public Interest for SPIN, I discovered the importance of community engagement. Through organizing blood, food/can, and toy drives, I gained a sense of purpose. I realized that no matter where my career takes me, an integral part of my work will always be public service-oriented.
The clinicals and practicums at Temple Law were the highlights of my coursework. As a Law Clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, I prepared complaints and motions in the prosecution of attorney misconduct. I assisted in disciplinary hearings, which were akin to trials, and even had the opportunity to mock examine a witness. Furthermore, I spent three semesters interning at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. As a Judicial Intern for the Honorable Joel H. Slomsky, I drafted bench memoranda and non-precedential opinions. As a Federal Judicial Honors Clerk for Judge David R. Strawbridge, I drafted reports and recommendations and facilitated settlement conferences. My time at the courthouse improved my legal research and writing skills tremendously. I also gained an intimate knowledge of the American judiciary and familiarized myself with the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure.
No other faculty member has influenced my legal education as much as Dean Jaya Ramji-Nogales. Before Temple Law, I was a Corporate Immigration Paralegal for nearly two years. I possessed the knowledge to push forward in business immigration but knew that my true passion was for asylum law. Accordingly, I enrolled in Dean Ramji-Nogales’ Refugee Law class. This course laid the foundation for my non-profit work in immigrants’ rights today. It was also my first foray into drafting legal scholarship, challenging me to devise theories and proposals to solve today’s most complex immigration issues. I carried these lessons forward to my work as a Staff Editor for TICLJ, where Dean Ramji-Nogales served as the faculty advisor to my published comment.
In addition, I assisted Dean Ramji-Nogales in starting the Temple Law Asylum Project (TLAP), a collaboration between the Sheller Center for Social Justice and the Washington Office on Latin America, a Washington, D.C. non-profit that advances immigrants’ rights. TLAP provides immigration lawyers and their clients with detailed and compelling country conditions information to support prospective asylum applications. Launched at the end of February 2019, we have received nearly 1,400 requests for our research. And beginning Fall 2019, I will be continuing my work with Dean Ramji-Nogales as Course Designer and Co-Teacher for the TLAP clinical.
Temple Law Lessons
Never deny yourself an opportunity. Give yourself a chance, even in the face of fear. As the eldest son of refugees—specifically, “Vietnamese boat people” who escaped communist Vietnam—I embarked on my law school journey as the first person in my family to graduate high school and the only person to graduate college. We grew up in poverty as my dad labored as a construction worker and my mom cleaned houses. Seeing my parents toil day after day pushed me to work hard but admittedly, the legal field was alienating. At times, I felt fear well up in my body and threaten to consume me. But in these moments, I remembered their blistered hands and dirt-stained faces. And so, I told myself that I would always try. Even against insurmountable odds, I would take every chance to succeed. I applied to every position that interested me, attended every interview, and asked for help at every turn. I refused to deny myself an opportunity before someone else did.