Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with Linchi Liang, who was recently awarded Top 40 under 40 from The National Advocates, to discuss his life and how his career as a business immigration lawyer has evolved over the years.
AALM: What drew you to a career in the law?
LL: I find a legal career is an excellent match for my personality and strengths. I am an extrovert and I like to meet people. I like to hear clients’ stories. As a lawyer, I am a voice advocating on behalf of my clients and helping to guide them through a difficult time. It is rewarding when I prevail on a case.
AALM: Tell us about one of the most important lessons you learned from a personal or professional mentor.
LL: I have been fortunate to have many knowledgeable mentors who have helped me develop professionally and personally. Specifically, I would like to mention one mentor who has changed my life. She is Judge Marianne B. Bowler, a federal magistrate judge at U.S. District Court, Massachusetts. She gave me constructive feedback about my writing and research. She also encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone by taking various assignments. My experience working with her has been immensely beneficial to my legal career. She is retiring this year. I want to take a chance here to thank her and wish her a great retirement.
AALM: What is the most important lesson your parents taught you?
LL: I went through a very difficult time in law school. As a foreign student in the United States, I faced many financial and personal challenges. I told my dad that I wanted to drop out. He told me: “If you dropped out, no one would judge you. However, ask yourself whether or not you will regret it.”
Eventually I made it through law school, with help from friends and family. My dad passed away in 2019. Every time I am at a crossroad in life where I have to make an important decision, I put the same question to myself: “Will I regret this decision later on?” So far, no regrets.
AALM: What drew you to practice at Hayman-Woodward?
LL: I have been blessed with a great career. After law school, I worked for Judge Harold Fullilove at Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County. Then I was a dispute resolution associate attorney handling international arbitrations at Hong Kong International Arbitration Center.
I speak Chinese, Cantonese, English and some Korean. At some point of my career, I felt I wasn’t utilizing my language skills to the extent that I could. I decided to look for a more robust role that needed my language skills.
Hayman-Woodward offered me an opportunity as a business immigration attorney. In that capacity, I constantly interact with incredibly talented people, from choreographers to scientists, medical professionals, engineers and entrepreneurs from all over the world. That is what initially drew me to Hayman-Woodward.
AALM: How would you describe the culture of Hayman-Woodward?
LL: It is difficult to pinpoint the culture of Hayman-Woodward. If I had to describe it concisely, I would say it is inclusive. The firm consists of employees from over 10 countries. We work together very well, leveraging our diverse experience and skills to serve our clients.
AALM: What is the role of an immigration attorney in 2022?
LL: I think the primary job of an immigration attorney is to be a voice for people in need of legal advice and advocacy on immigration matters. An attorney plays not only the role of advocate but also listener. I find it easy to understand my clients’ point of views and empathize with their emotional journey.
AALM: What cases are you currently working on?
LL: I am currently an immigration attorney at Hayman-Woodward. I mostly represent individuals and families before USCIS. I help clients file nonimmigrant or immigrant petitions based on their achievements and proposed endeavors. Most of my clients are foreign nationals who are entrepreneurs, scientists, medical professionals and engineers. They will make significant contributions to the United States once their immigration process is approved.
Additionally, I am involved in pro-bono programs for refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan and other nationals in need of asylum. I am also handling pro bono work for U.S. military families.
AALM: As technology changes the practice of law, how are you adapting? Do you believe these changes are good or detrimental?
LL: Technology brings convenience to the legal practice. It saves time, not to mention trees. With the ongoing pandemic, technology also ensures people can stay safe and healthy because everyone can conduct their work from home. However, I am always concerned about the possible privacy and client-attorney confidentiality issues. We need to make sure we’re striking a balance.
AALM: What are some of the challenges you see negatively impacting the judicial system?
LL: To achieve true judicial independence, the judicial system should be free from political influence. The judicial system should be less partisan and more civil. At its best, it allows judges to decide cases solely based on the law, without fearing any political consequences. When judicial independence erodes, democracy is at risk.
AALM: Tell us about your life outside the law.
LL: I am a dancer. More specifically, I do Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Urban and some Dancehall. In August 2021, I did a group dance showcase in China. We got fourth place among 25 groups. I am hoping to become a part-time choreographer one day.
One thing I love about my current job is I get to work with talented clients from all over the world in different fields, including people in the entertainment industry.