Monthly Archive: July 2006

Getting ready for the move

Threw away some, sold some, and threw away some more.

Finally, just about everything is packed into a dozen big boxes and shipped via FedEx. Remaining odds and ends, including some that I thought were lost long time ago but resurfaced during the packing, either go in the car with us for the long drive, or end up in the trash.

Departure is set for Monday evening. It’s going to be a long drive.

Shallow reflections of McKeldin

A few hours earlier Ping called to tell me her good news. It looks like she also got her future employment settled, even before she quits her old job and starts B-school. It’s at a well-respected investment bank with offices scattered across the globe, so in all likelihood we will both have the option to split the time between a U.S. office and an overseas office in China next summer.

Later, I dropped of my car at the dealership for the third time in a month to get a noisy strut replaced. Without a car I pretty much could not function, so I decided to get a ride to the nearby University of Maryland, my alma mater, to spend a few hours at the library.

It must have been months since I last visited. Fiberglass Terrapin mascots popped up everywhere on campus like giant mushrooms with an evil grin. The rolling meadow in front of the church was green as ever in the heat of the July sun. The never-ending construction work on the Stamp Union had miraculously ended, leaving the interior of the Union as confusing to an old-timer like me as a labyrinth.

I sat in the corner of the McKeldin Library, facing a window that looks out to my old dorm, Dorchester Hall, where I lived for the first year after I came here. At that time it was fashionable if not entirely lucrative for Chinese students with an advanced degree from the U.S. to return to China. That thought crossed my mind a million times too, but for whatever reason I stayed, perhaps feeling insecure about my dime-a-dozen undergraduate degrees.

When I first applied to American colleges as a high school kid, my primary motivation was to be able to sell my labor to whoever is willing to pay a price higher than what I can expect in my home country, so that I can buy good things, like a car so that I would be done with riding the bicycle everywhere. That, and the promised “land of the free.”

It’s a wonder what a decade can do to a person. I have a car now and don’t ride the bicycle anymore, but I wish I could live without the car and that I could have a bike and have the time to ride it on the weekends. The “land of the free” is, as it turned out, not free, at least not as free as I thought, if there are various degrees of “free,” and I, living in this free society, somehow managed to develop a belief that being free always comes at a cost — a cost that is often to much to bear.

It’s also a wonder what a decade can do to a country. Ten years ago if someone returned to China after having completed an American education, there were typically two explanations: either he is exceedingly patriotic and wants to serve the motherland, or he miserably failed to secure even a half-decent, minimum-wage-paying, green-card-earning job to stay in the U.S. The newspapers often touted the former (and invariably described the good things this individual has turned down: job, house, car, even a future wife candidate, all arranged by his boss — some romantic imagination at work, Chinese style), while neighborhood gossip often concluded the latter.

But ten years later, the tables have started to turn. More and more people are heading back, perhaps still partly owning to patriotism, but more and more it is because it makes economic sense to head back, for the same salary, lower cost of living, and more advancement opportunities.

It’s a lot of fun watching this trend. The earliest signs that I detected were from my classmates in the law school, as I often told my friends. There were some law students who had no prior connection with China and barely spoke any Chinese but wanted to work in China because the pay is actually higher there, with the expat stipends and the lower tax rate (and of course, the vast reserve of underpaid, well-educated and good looking — all measured by Western standards– Chinese girls, but I quickly knocked some sense into those single guys who dared think that way). The Q&A session of one of the 1L receptions that I went to, hosted by one of the premier international law firms based in NY, quickly evolved into an exclusive discussion of opportunities in China as students of all ethnic backgrounds poured questions about opportunities for foreign lawyers in China (and the answers were overwhelmingly positive, too).

Then I accompanied Ping to her Chicago GSB admitted student event where the discussion once again centered around China and the vast opportunities there. The most recent official Chicago GSB publication had a special on how foreigners can land a job in the Asia Pacific and, in particular, China (we chuckled as we read that article — who would have thought?).

The conclusive proof came this week. The law firm I interviewed at gave me an offer on the spot partly because it is prepared to expand its presence in China and its DC office was apparently in need for well-qualified, American trained, Mandarin-speaking lawyers (and to think, I don’t need any visa or work permits to visit China or even work there, ha). The investment bank where Ping will probably spend her next summer also highlighted her ability to speak Mandarin, and its managing partner has visited Beijing three times so far this year in an effort to expand their business there as well.

So these are the random thoughts as I sit in McKeldin, waiting for my car to be repaired. I sometimes complained that I was born a few decades too late (otherwise I would have found half a dozen fresh topics on law and economics for my LR note), but looking at this from a different angle, there is no better time than now to be a Chinese.

good news and bad news

Got back to DC last night. The bad news is that my professor emailed me back and said that the idea I had for my LR note was very similar to an article from 30+ years ago. So I am back in the hunt for a topic. The good news is that I went for an interview with the DC office of a NY firm and received an offer on the spot. This somehow offsets my disappointment in getting my note topic nixed. But, if I learned anything outside of law during my 1st year in law school, it is how to deal with disappointments, especially in this field where the smartest converge. So this smal setback is nothing that can’t be drowned with a couple beers.


In NYC for a couple days. Stayed in the hotel this morning to outline the idea I had for the LR note while Ping strutted away in her suit to a pre-MBA i-banking event. A couple hours later I fired off an email to my editor with my outline attached (using “borrowed” wireless connection), and felt pretty good about being able to spend the rest of the day wandering in NYC with some old friends doing absolutely nothing in this busy city.

Note II

Thanks for everyone’s kind suggestions — it looks like I have a viable note topic, for now at least, unless it again turns out to have been written by someone else before.

Through out the brainstorming process I felt like I was walking in a vast field and everywhere I looked there were no stones unturned as far as I could see. Many of my “brilliant” ideas were actually already explored and written about by others, and after reading their articles I knew I couldn’t have done a better job. It was a frustrating process — and one that made me wonder why wasn’t I born 5 years earlier, and sometimes, 25 years earlier. Case in point: I had this great idea of writing about the allocation of attorney fees under the American and British system (American: each party pays their own legal fees, British: loser pays all) and their implications on individual’s decision to bring suit or not. I had a hunch that a mathematical model could pin down the behavioral difference of litigants under the two different systems… but alas, as I researched this topic I found out that someone, now a HLS professor no less, already wrote about this precise topic 25 years ago, and did a much better job with the article than I could ever hope to do…

Anyways, I am happy with what I have now. It is related to property law and law and economics, and argues something that’s hopefully (fingers crossed) rather novel. At least that way I get to masquerade my ignorance in law with my limited knowledge in economics and math.


What to write for my LR note? So far I have no clue. Coming up with a note topic is my #1 priority in the next couple weeks. This means a lot of reading, thinking, head scratching and hair pulling.

I’d appreciate any suggestions. Anyone with a legal topic that can save me from the next few weeks of frustration and deperation please kindly offer your help.

Where did the LR people work?

I looked up where the current members of the Michigan Law Review worked as a 2L summer associate, and was surprised to find out that Michigan students were indeed as spread out as the admissions people said we were going to be. Only 7 went to NYC, 13 in DC, and the rest in all parts of the country (and the world).

Another weird thing: of the 13 in DC, more than half went to two firms: Williams & Connolly, and Covington & Burling. I know these are #1 and #2 firms in DC in terms of selectivity, and I am really happy that this many Michigan people made the cut, but I don’t see such a concentration in the NYC market (7 people went to 7 different firms – all good ones though).


I was quite busy this past weekend. I started to summarize the various types of 1L jobs but couldn’t see myself finish it anytime soon (that’s some serious writing…) I completed my internship with the Judge (the internship was a highly fulfilling experience – more on that later), met with a friend and took her around in DC, and today went to chat with two partners from an IP law firm.

The weekend was busy but I was happy. When I asked the Judge if I could reapply for a clerkship with him in two years, he winked and said don’t you worry about it. The clerk I worked with said this was highly unusual, as the Judge had done the same to only one other intern in the past, so I was honored. The friend that came over to visit over the weekend was a pleasure to talk to, although we’d talked with each other quite a bit before but never met in person, so the simmering DC summer heat didn’t seem all that bad. And finally the two partners I talked to today seemed really personable – and likable – and I was very impressed by what I learned about the firm from the conversation. The lunch was excellent, too.

More about the firm: I guess since I had nothing but positive comments about the firm it’s OK to mention it by name. It is the DC office of Kenyon & Kenyon, a NYC-based IP firm. Earlier in the summer I received an email from its HR inviting Michigan students to bid on K&K for OCI. K&K is among the few IP firms that I have heard of even before law school, so I decided to reply to that email and requested an informational meeting with one of their DC associates so that I can learn more about the firm and IP litigation in general (at that time I was still unsure about whether I should go into IP or do the good old corporate law). A month later I got my wish – sort of – I ended up meeting not an associate, but two of its partners, got a lot of good advice from them and left with a strongly positive feeling of the firm and its people. Highly recommended for anyone who’s interested in doing quality IP work.






1。面试后法官如果正式通知同意收你,除有特殊情况外千万不要回绝。业界流传“never say no to a judge”大意如此,是行业不成文的基本规矩。所以选择和哪位法官面试时一定要想好,如果法官愿意接收的话自已也愿意为这位法官干,如果面试时发现意向不合的话也要婉转但明白地表示出来,千万不要等到面试完了法官决定收你了以后再回绝。至于这条规矩的由来,我猜测大概是因为对于一个律师来说,没有什么比给法官留下一个坏印象更加糟糕的事了。(另外也要给你的学弟学妹留条后路——我的法官今年招clerk的时候有两个同一学校毕业的就事后变卦,法官直说这个学校教出来的人怎么连这点规矩都不懂,一个电话打到学校就业办,下一年度便不再从这个学校招人)