May 22, 2023 — Samuel Kuang, Lizzy Do, and Julia Tape, all 2Ls, Asian American, and first-generation law students at the University of Houston Law Center, share their unique academic paths to law school, the benefits of attending UH Law Center, goals as editors-in-chief, and advice to students.
The three incoming editors-in-chief represent increasing diversity in student journal/law review leadership. They met and became fast friends at an Asian Law Students Association (ALSA) event during their 1L year. They continue to be active in ALSA with Do who, in 2022-23, served as president, Kuang, also in 2022-23, as secretary and Tape as a member.
The students noted that their class of 2024, which started law school during the pandemic, includes many in their second or third careers. The three editors are no exception. Each developed an interest in law after working in the fields of tax accounting, biotech, and education, respectively.
ROADS THAT LEAD TO LAW
Kuang, the incoming editor-in-chief of the Houston Business and Tax Law Journal, has a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. He worked for about three years in tax accounting before deciding to attend law school.
“For me, law was a logical choice. Law school was something I always considered in the back of my mind. During COVID, it was a good time to make a switch,” Kuang said.
Do, the incoming editor-in-chief of the Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy, has a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked in clinical research for more than 5 years before starting her law journey.
“In clinical operations, I was dealing with regulations and working with legal counsel. That experience inspired me to consider law school,” Do said.
Tape, the incoming editor-in-chief of the Houston Journal of International Law, has a bachelor’s degree in education and challenged herself with a career change after two years in the education field as an outdoor educator facilitating lessons using the environment and as a private tutor. Tape now has an interest in labor and employment law.
“The intellectual challenge attracted me to the legal field. I wanted to grow and learn,” Tape said, adding, “my parents said as a child, I was quite the debater.”
THE DRAW OF HOUSTON
The three students chose the University of Houston Law Center for various reasons.
Kuang, who grew up in Dallas, picked UHLC for its high percentage of job placements for graduates, scholarship offerings, and because he had family in Houston.
“I did a lot of research and saw that UH Law Center scored highly for post-grad employment opportunities; a large percentage of graduates were employed in law firms,” Kuang said. “My sister is also in Houston attending medical school – it’s good having her around, and we’ll even be graduating at the same time.”
Do, who has lived in China, Vietnam, Texas, and California, was attracted to the location of the Law Center in the fourth largest city in the country.
“I wanted to attend a law school that was located in a big metroplex,” Do said. “Houston has a variety of industries and career opportunities.”
Tape, who was born in China but grew up in Fort Bend County, Texas, chose UH Law Center for its location near family, connections to the Houston business community and diversity on campus.
“Having the support system of my family and knowing Houston’s strong market brought me to the UH Law Center,” Tape said. “I also wanted to go to a school that had a lot of different perspectives.”
INCLUSIVE SCHOLARLY SPACES
As journal editors-in-chief, the students are looking forward to building inclusive spaces for scholarly research, networking with peers and alumni and, of course, publishing papers.
Kuang is excited to be a role model to other Asian American students.
“As an Asian American editor-in-chief, I hope to raise awareness and serve as an example. If I can be in charge of a law school journal, you can be the president of your organization,” Kuang said.
Do sees the Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy as an opportunity to develop her professional skill and encourage collaboration.
“I like the challenge and the moving pieces of a journal. I am also excited to continue the work of former editors-in-chief Bebe Thomas and To Nhu Huynh,” Do said. “I want to create an inclusive environment and empower people.”
Tape was inspired by the legacy of the Houston Journal of International Law and the opportunity to build a stronger community among law students.
“To me, the publication of scholarly works helps spread knowledge. It is long-lasting and worth the time investment,” Tape said. “This is the first year the Houston Journal of International Law will have a diversity and inclusion editor. Journals and similar academic spaces can be daunting for people. I am looking forward to creating a more inclusive space in the scholarly world.”
Kuang, Do and Tape encourage future law students to be open to new experiences and to seek out a supportive community.
“UH does a good job of creating a collaborative environment,” said Tape.
For those considering going to law school, they recommend doing your due diligence.
“Do your research. You don’t know until you try. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it,” said Kuang.
“There are so many different versions of what lawyering actually is. If it is something you are interested in, don’t be scared to try it,” Do said.
“Law school is an investment of your time, energy, and financial resources. Make the decision with intentionality,” Tape said. “Know what it will take to meet your definition of success.”
For their law school peers, they remind students that there is a community here at UH Law Center to help.
“You can set your own path. Being authentically you in the legal field is important so that you have longevity in the career from the investment you made and the time you put in,” Tape said. “Know your worth and that you belong. Many people struggle with imposter syndrome, especially if you are from a background where you don’t see legal professionals around you.”
“For current students, you do not have to do this alone,” Kuang said. “Remember there are a lot of ways to be successful in law school.” And ask for help.
“Keep your door open. Trust yourself,” Do said.
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