One Couple, Two Minnesota Law Degrees with a Third in the Works
Those in search of future goodwill ambassadors for the Law School need look no further than Yu-Chen and Ruby Wang, an enterprising couple from Taiwan who have already earned two Minnesota law degrees and are working on a third. Currently riding out the pandemic in their Minneapolis home, they are busy studying, changing diapers, and contemplating careers that promise to be impressive.
Ruby Wang, LL.M. ’13, was the first to explore Minnesota. She had wanted to visit the U.S. since her sophomore year at National Taipei University College of Law, where one of her professors encouraged her to study abroad. Despite little work experience apart from a summer internship and participation in the 2012 International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court, she applied to the LL.M. program and was accepted.
Her LL.M. year delivered good friends and new perspectives. “What surprised me the most was the way that U.S. professors teach law, which is a lot different from the experience I had,” she says. “In Taiwan, classes are more like lectures. Here, professors ask questions to which there may be no correct answers, which encourages us to think more.” She studied hard and passed the New York bar—not easy when English is one’s second language—before returning to Taiwan to handle litigation, corporate, commercial, and intellectual property matters for Formosa Transnational Attorneys at Law.
Back home, she also shared her positive Minnesota experience with Yu-Chen Wang, LL.M. ’20, whom she’d met in 2008 at Taipei University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law. He was pursuing public interest law, learning to interview and evaluate child witnesses in abuse and rape cases. But he, too, wanted to study the U.S. legal system and was eager to hear about Ruby’s experience. “That was a starting point for me. We talked about the course work but also about the whole learning environment for students. We didn’t have that in Taiwan,” Yu-Chen says.
Kara Galvin, director of international and graduate programs, got to know them both after Yu-Chen applied to the LL.M. program and Galvin visited Taipei in 2019 to explore a more formal relationship with their alma mater. “Ruby graciously welcomed me in, arranged a presentation at her law firm, and gathered people for me to meet,” she says. Yu-Chen also introduced her to his former mentor, Professor Rong-Geng Li.
When Yu-Chen was accepted into the program and headed for Minnesota, Ruby left her job at Formosa to join him. Galvin describes them as not only “extremely intelligent, studious, and kind,” but also willing to step up whenever asked. Ruby has shared her New York bar experience in presentations for other students, and Yu-Chen has helped Galvin make new connections. Last fall, when she asked if he would be willing to join a virtual presentation scheduled for the middle of the night to reach prospective LL.M. students in Taiwan, Yu-Chen readily agreed. Then he reluctantly pointed out that the date chosen was his baby’s due date. (He prepared a video instead.)
“They are a fantastic couple. We are honored to have them here in our program,” Galvin says. “They work hard, but they also know how to have fun and be a part of the community.”
Now sequestered with their son, Rainen, born in November, Yu-Chen is studying for his J.D., which he will finish in 2022. He says that at first he was unsure whether to pursue another degree, but discussing his career path with a mentor, Professor Claire Hill, inspired him to become an international taxation lawyer. “She encouraged me to get outside my comfort zone. I’m very grateful,” he says.
Meanwhile, Ruby was accepted into the Carlson School’s Master of Business Taxation program, but the pandemic and a new baby have delayed her participation. Her start date is uncertain, but she shares her husband’s enthusiasm for the subject. “Taxation is very important and also very difficult, especially when it involves international trade. I want to learn much more about it,” she says.
What happens next is up in the air. “Our current plan is to keep looking for opportunities in this country, but I don’t want to limit myself in either country,” Yu-Chen says. Wherever they land, they will harbor affection for Minneapolis as well as for the legal education they have gained.
—By Cathy Madison, a Twin Cities-based freelance writer