A Career in Law Begins With Our Legal Studies Global Access Program

Alumnus Jiayi Wang’s semester abroad helps gain admission to a top U.S. law school

After joining Berkeley Global’s Legal Studies Global Access Program (LSGAP) for the Spring 2020 semester, Jiayi Wang was one step closer to his dream of attending law school. During his semester-long study-abroad experience, he learned the ins and outs of the U.S. legal system from top professors and attended site visits with his international cohort.

All of these program benefits made Jiayi feel fully prepared for his next steps to becoming a future Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) lawyer. Sure enough, his hard work paid off. From one top university to another, Jiayi accepted admission to Cornell University Law School this fall.  

How did you hear about the program?

I spent a lot of time looking for a law program that accepted undergraduate exchange students. LSGAP was one of the best among the many that were available. A good friend of mine had studied in LSGAP and highly recommended the program.

I was hoping to learn how law and different subjects can converge and collide, rather than being limited to a single branch of law and specific legal texts. Before coming to LSGAP, I also wanted to test my suitability for the common law classroom before my graduate studies.

Tell me about your academic or professional experience before coming to Berkeley.

I was studying for my undergraduate degree in law at East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL). I did a short internship at a law firm for two months during that time.

What courses did you take with the program?

I took Law and Economics I, Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship and U.S. Supreme Court and Public Policy. These courses gave me new perspectives when analyzing law, such as how to design an efficient legal system for society, laws about starting a business and what laws need to be guarded against.

What was your experience taking legal studies classes?

Participating in these courses was both challenging and rewarding. At first, I had some trouble keeping up with my classmates, but I gradually adapted. I actively worked with the instructor in and outside the class, collaborated with my peers in discussions and projects, and presented a great business plan at the end of the semester.

How does taking these courses fit in with your goals?

The Law and Economics I course helped me in my dissertation research for my degree at my home university. I worked with faculty at ECUPL analyzing law and economics of anti-takeover measures. Taking related courses at LSGAP gave me a fresh perspective on the analysis of the problem, as well as guided me to read numerous excellent law and economics texts.

The Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship course gave me the business mindset that I will need to have as a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) lawyer in the future. I have high expectations of being an M&A lawyer.

In addition to providing legal analysis, it is essential to give advice that is commercially logical and helps clients achieve their business objectives. So having an entrepreneurial spirit and mastering an entrepreneurial mindset is very helpful for a good M&A lawyer, and this course has given me the ability to do just that and to think in a new way.

What are your top 5 things to do in the Bay Area?

There was so much I enjoyed doing while I was in Berkeley. My favorites were attending a California Supreme Court hearing and visiting Berkeley City Council. These site visits were run by the LSGAP staff. We had so many other opportunities for tours throughout the semester!

We also celebrated Chinese New Year in San Francisco's Chinatown, which was a unique experience. Watching a Warriors-Lakers game was so much fun. Lastly, I can’t forget celebrating my 20th birthday in Berkeley!

What advice would you give to a student who is coming to study at Berkeley Global on how to best succeed?

In addition to participating in regular classes and completing assignments, you should meet and interact with local students and go to the professor’s office hours. I found it helpful to discuss issues that I found particularly interesting, whether they were related to the course or not.

It is a valuable opportunity to improve your courage, knowledge and depth of thinking.

What does earning this certificate mean for you personally and professionally?

I think this certificate gave me confidence on a personal level. It also clarified my idea of coming to the U.S. to study for an LL.M. degree. Pursuing this certificate has boosted my résumé and definitely helped my acceptance to an ideal internship and university.