Legal Late Bloomers

July 22, 2014 – In The News
Inside Counsel

Jerry Liu was featured in the Inside Counsel article, "Legal Late Bloomers.” Full text can be found in the July 22, 2014, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Jerry Liu is among the legal late bloomers. Now a sixth-year associate at Fox Rothschild, Liu was a senior research investigator with Bristol-Myers Squibb before attending law school at the age of 38.

With a B.S. in chemistry, a Master’s degree in polymer science and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry combined with work experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Liu is well-versed in scientific reasoning, which presented challenges when starting out in law.

“I was a scientist by training. As a scientist, you always want to find the right answer. In law, there are no right or wrong answers; everything is a gray area,” said Liu.

In an effort to broaden his career, Liu sacrificed the good job he had to enroll in law school. “After working for several years as a research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically, as a process chemist at one of the major pharmaceuticals in the world, I felt that the career had a rather narrow scope which I did not want to be limited in,” he said.

“I felt that the job became quite routine to me. I wanted to pursue some more intellectual challenges. I thought, and still think, that being a lawyer is an intellectually challenging profession,” said Liu.

Liu attended law school part-time in the evenings, balancing school with work and his home life, where he is a father to three daughters.

Being older than his colleagues in Fox’s summer associate class may have been a bit awkward, but only at first. “I am glad to say that we got along very well, and all of my younger summer classmates showed enough respect for the additional education and work experience I had. I still think that participating in Fox’s summer program by quitting my full-time job in that summer was my best decision in terms of my career transition,” said Liu.

“At least in one aspect I am glad that I waited to go to law school until I became older, or let’s say after I accumulated a decent amount of knowledge in science and work experience in industry, because such knowledge and experience make me able to look at things from a different perspective. To do well as a patent attorney, one must be a fast-learner able to pick up and understand new scientific breakthroughs or improvements rapidly. This is why a scientific degree is mandatory for one to be able to sit in a patent bar exam,” he said.

Not only did Liu accumulate a great deal of knowledge through his years in the working field, he built a good network of colleagues as well. “The biggest advantage, now I realize, is my work experience, has paid off. I had a lot of former colleagues and friends. I had a bigger network, and it helped me develop clients. Many clients came from those people,” he said.

“Although I started late, I think I’m catching up pretty fast,” Liu concluded.