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Liangyu Fu '19 has just begun his journey here at Albany Law this fall, but he is already getting involved on campus as a representative in the Student Ambassador program and actively participating in the mentor program facilitated between Albany Law and the local branch of Barclay Damon, LLP.
“I don't plan on working or taking on any internships this year,” said Fu, who is enrolled in Albany Law's Four-Year J.D. Program. “Being in the four-year program allows me plenty of time to get involved with those type of commitments later on, and right now I am just focusing on managing my time well so that I can concentrate on my classes and adapt to life as a 1L.”
Fu, who is originally from China and speaks Mandarin Chinese as his first language, has found Albany Law to be very accommodating and supportive to students with an ESL background.
“I have access to resources like the Peer Writing Assistance Program, which is accessible to all students, and also accommodations specifically for ESL students or students with disabilities, like the extended exam periods," he said. "The professors here are phenomenal, so are the deans — they want to meet you in person and talk to you one-on-one so that they can discover your struggles and help you to learn better and succeed. The many resources have made this environment very conducive to learning.”
Fu's family moved to the United States in 2009 and settled in Queens, N.Y., where they had family willing to help them get on their feet.
“My extended family had laid a really solid foundation for our transition,” Fu said. “My parents sacrificed everything; they uprooted their lives in China so that I could have a fair shot and equal opportunities to pursue a world-class education that might not be accessible otherwise.”
“In this relatively small community, the kind of individual attention I get is just unparalleled. This is really an environment that you want to be in to study the law, to feel at home.”
Upon arrival in Queens, Fu spent two years in the NYC public school system, earning his high school diploma before pursuing his B.S. in accounting at SUNY Binghamton.
“It was very overwhelming at first,” reminiscenced Fu. “I did not speak the language even though I had studied it for a couple of years during junior high and high school in China, but it was all in written form, there was no emphasis on oral practice — we just learned a lot of grammar. However, I still felt like I was welcomed in high school because just like at Albany Law, the teachers in Queens were really helpful with the transition. There were a lot of resources available to me. There were also a lot of native English speakers who were willing to help me and just hanging out with them provided me with great exposure, not only to the language, but to the culture as well, and that was what really helped me to be ready for college.”
During undergraduate at SUNY Binghamton, Fu worked in the campus library as a circulation desk assistant, participated in the prestigious National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and volunteered on the weekends at a nearby school teaching Mandarin Chinese to children in the local community. He finished his undergraduate degree in three years and returned to Queens to contemplate where he wanted to go next. Unsure about pursuing accounting as a career, Fu enrolled in a local community college where he spent some time developing his interests in music and photography. The extra year gave him time to study for the LSAT and become a U.S. citizen.
“I decided to pursue a legal education because I feel that being able to understand the law is very empowering, and that my horizons will be greatly expanded as a legally informed individual,” he said.
As a 1L, Fu maintains that he has not yet had adequate legal exposure to decide exactly what area of law he would like to pursue. But from his own research he is leaning toward international law or immigration law.
“The community I am from is a predominantly Chinese community, where many residents are not aware of their legal rights or obligations. So many people are often put into difficult situations because of a lack of legal awareness. This is an area where maybe someday my legal education can help, in bridging the gap between a traditionally marginalized immigrant community to the American mainstream society,” said Fu, who also expressed a deep interest in the design of the American legal system. “The legal system in the U.S. is essentially a society of law whereas in other countries that might not necessarily be the case; it might be the society of 'the person' where someone can get away with things if they have the right connections, but in the United States it is a different case.”
The 1L student is eager to get involved with internships next year, which he anticipates will help him decide on a concentration and guide him in choosing classes that will ultimately hone his future expertise in an area that he is passionate about: “I don't necessarily need to change the world, but I definitely want to use my legal education, knowledge, and skills to make a difference.”
This year, Fu is focusing on building relationships with his peers and professors and says that the best part of his experience so far at Albany Law has been its nurturing environment.
“Albany Law has an exceptional reputation in the legal community and world-class faculty members, but when I came to visit the campus I was almost immediately drawn to the atmosphere," he said. "I don't feel like an outsider here at all — everyone is so considerate and amicable, ranging from the security guards to the faculty and staff, who literally know you by name. In this relatively small community, the kind of individual attention I get is just unparalleled. This is really an environment that you want to be in to study the law, to feel at home.”
Fu plans to share his experience and insight with potential applicants through the Student Ambassador Program and encourages prospective law students to apply.
“Law school is a lifetime investment and just considering a legal education is a bold decision," Fu said. "For me, I know that at Albany Law I will not only be able to focus and study, to give the best of myself to this legal education, but I will also develop lifetime relationships with my peers, professors, and the alumni professionals who are practicing in this area.”