10 Questions With Legal Studies Graduate Ling Yao

Ling will return to UC Berkeley to attend law school

When Ling Yao stepped foot on the beautiful, sunny UC Berkeley campus to study at the Law School’s Legal Studies Department, she had already studied Chinese law for three years at Nanjing University.

But she wanted to add to her legal knowledge by learning more about American law—and what better place than UC Berkeley, the Number One public university. Recently completing her undergraduate studies and spending the summer in China with family and friends, Ling will be returning to Berkeley as a student in the Law School graduate program.

I recently caught up with Ling to learn more about her experience at UC Berkeley.

1. Why did you choose UC Berkeley for your undergraduate studies?

There are three reasons why I chose UC Berkeley to take my undergraduate exchange program.

  • The exclusiveness of UC Berkeley, a school that truly values diversity.
  • UC Berkeley provides an academic environment that is free of ideological constraints and encourages independence of thought.
  • The sunshine in California is so attractive!

 

When I came to UC Berkeley, I was eager to learn from a different legal system.

 

2. Why did you choose Legal Studies to be your major?

For me, law is so charming. As part of the fundamental construction of a society, law is elegant and well-organized. It is also powerful and carries the potential strength to make a better world.

When I came to UC Berkeley, I was eager to learn from a different legal system. Legal Studies provided exactly what I was looking for: a good platform to learn about American law. Also, many of the courses in Legal Studies are interesting, such as “Law and Society in Asia,” “Making Empire: Law and the Colonization of America,” “Introduction to Law and Sexuality” and more.

 

 

I joined a local voluntary organization, made friends and learned the American culture.

 

3. What was your experience on campus?

My campus experience was rich and colorful. Apart from taking lectures and participating in the discussions, I audited some cutting-edge presentations through the Visiting Scholars Speaker Series held by the Center for the Study of Law & Society (strongly recommend!).

I also joined a local voluntary organization, made friends and learned the American culture. Also, I was invited to several outdoor activities organized by Berkeley International Study Program in Sociology (thanks to the efforts made by Rachel Marquez and other staff).

 

 

Get prepared—you are sure to learn a lot!

 

4. Did you have a favorite professor?

It's truly hard to have "a" favorite professor because almost all of the professors I have met in Legal Studies are excellent ones! For example, Professor Jonathan Marshall is humorous, easygoing and possesses a global vision. Professor Christopher Tomlins is gentle, erudite and prolific in writing.

 

Different professors have their own characters and adopt different styles of teaching, but one thing they have in common is that they have gained great knowledge from both academic study and practical research, and are willing to share their knowledge with students. Get prepared, you are sure to learn a lot from your professors!

 

 

This experience could bring international students a clearer understanding of how American law works, and could also open their outlook and teach them to value and embrace diversity.

 

5. What are the benefits for an international student to study U.S.-based law for their future careers or continuing to law school?

The Legal Studies Global Access Program provides a great opportunity for international students to learn about a legal system that is different from ones in their own countries. This experience could bring international students a clearer understanding of how American law works, and could also open their outlook and teach them to value and embrace diversity.

American law has unique advantages and is quite different from the law of other countries. And this is exactly where I find the program to be especially meaningful.

6. What advice would you give an international student coming to Berkeley on how to best succeed?

  • Be prepared.
  • Read more.
  • Don't be shy, simply enjoy the discussion.
  • Learn from your classmates.
  • Stay open-minded.

7. What are your "5 must see or must do"?

  1. Take courses that you are interested in.
  2. Walk around the campus, ride to the top of Sather Tower to get a bird's-eye view of the city.
  3. Pay a visit to San Francisco, especially the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the Silicon Valley.
  4. Cook for yourself and your friends.
  5. Embrace the American culture, do some voluntary or community work.

 

8. What has graduating with a Legal Studies major meant to you both personally and professionally?

The experience in Legal Studies equips me with professional knowledge, teaches me both pros and cons of the American legal system, and lays down a foundation for me to better understand the law of other countries with a comprehensive view.

 

 

I plan to be a lawyer. But I am still open to other possibilities for my future career.

 

9. Congratulations on being accepted to UC Berkeley’s Law School! Do you have a specific aspect of the law that you'd like to study?

I haven’t decided yet—maybe criminal law.

10. What are your future career plans?

I plan to be a lawyer. But I am still open to other possibilities for my future career.