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Rising 3L Leia Gu Makes the Most of Her Michigan Law Experience

By Kristy Demas
August 9, 2019

Rising 3L Leia Gu hit the ground running when she first arrived at the Quad. Her interest in law had taken root as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, prompting her to work as a paralegal following graduation.

"My team mostly handled environmental cases, although we also worked on a few complex commercial litigation matters. I was fortunate to work for a fairly small team of attorneys, so I got hands-on experience and learned a lot."

Gu enjoyed the work and the close interaction with the attorneys, solidifying her desire to attend law school. Michigan Law was a top choice. "What really drew me to Michigan was everything I heard about the collegiality of the students and the faculty—that it was a supportive environment. I found that to be true as I was applying and when I visited for Preview Weekend."

Michigan Law's many opportunities and activities also attracted Gu, and she has taken advantage of a number of them including serving as associate editor of the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law and president of the Michigan Health Law Organization. She also is a legal research assistant for the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project, a member of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and a student-attorney in the Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic.

"The clinic professors teach you very practical skills. We had a mock trial at the end of the semester—a great way to apply all you've learned. We handled our own cases and had the opportunity to appear in court, interview our clients, speak in front of the judge, and negotiate with opposing counsel. It supplemented all of the in-class learning we do at Michigan."

But Gu's main interest is health care law—she majored in global health—which she was able to pursue through an externship with U-M's Office of the General Counsel. "I worked in-house for the office that handles all the legal matters for Michigan Medicine—a really unique and rewarding experience."

Currently, she is working in San Diego as a Latham & Watkins 2L Diversity Scholar. "The summer program at Latham is great because we have the opportunity to work in areas ranging from health care to finance to corporate law—the whole gamut of what our office handles."

Gu was thrilled to receive the scholarship, especially after attending Latham's Diversity Leadership Academy last year. The firm established its Diversity Scholars Program as part of its commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce. Awardees receive a scholarship, summer employment, and a position at the firm following graduation. Gu looks forward to joining Latham full-time next year, especially because the firm allows new associates to remain unassigned for up to two years. "We have the opportunity to try all the different practice areas to figure out what type of work is interesting for us." For someone with as many interests as Gu, it is the perfect place to land.

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