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Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network » Alumni Spotlight » April Alumni Spotlight: Audrey Chang

April Alumni Spotlight: Audrey Chang

Audrey is an attorney practicing in Houston with the international law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors in French and the Plan II Honors Program. Audrey also earned her JD with honors from the University of Texas School of Law, where she served as President of the Asian Law Students Association.
Audrey’s involvement in the Asian American community is extensive. She is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and a mentor to many Asian American law students.  She is currently Vice-Chair of the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas and President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston.  Audrey is also a board member for the Houston Children’s Chorus.

1. What were you involved in while at UT, and what are you involved in now?

While I was an undergraduate student at UT, I was active in the Center for Asian American Studies. I had the fortune of being at the university at a very interesting time for the Center. As it was newly established and was in the process of searching for a permanent director, I was part of a committee comprised of professors, graduate students and undergraduate students who would meet and interview prospective candidates. In addition, while attending UT, I tutored for Neighborhood Longhorns as well as for Literacy Austin, and worked as an aide in the Texas Senate for State Senator J.E. “Buster” Brown.

As a law student attending The University of Texas School of Law, I was Co-President of the Asian Law Students Association and also was a member of the Texas International Law Journal. I also worked two sessions in the Texas House of Representatives for State Representative Brian McCall of Plano, who is now the Chancellor of Texas State University, and interned for Justice Michael Schneider, then serving on the Supreme Court of Texas and who is now a federal district judge. I guess you can say that it was here, I developed my love of the law. At the Texas Legislature, I developed my love of public policy and of crafting legislation. At the Court, I developed my love of interpretation of the law.

As a practicing attorney, I am currently the President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of Houston, which is a professional organization dedicated to serving the Asian American legal community and the Asian community in general in Houston (the “AABA”). The AABA of Houston is one of the most active Asian American bar associations in the nation, and we host approximately 20-25 events each year consisting of pro bono clinics, mentorship events, continuing legal education and general networking events for our members. I am also the current Vice Chair of the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas–the umbrella organization for the local Asian American bar associations of Texas.

2. What is your favorite memory, tradition, or thing about UT?

Honestly, there are so many things that I love about UT, as I attended UT both for undergrad and for law school. Therefore, it is difficult to pinpoint just one favorite memory. In undergrad, I have to say that I loved “Late Night” in the cafeterias–standing outside in line at Andrews with my girl friends, in pajamas, wondering if it was going to be chicken rings or chicken wings that night. In law school, I loved studying with my friends on the 6th Floor of Tarlton Library, outlining, reading cases, madly cramming for finals. The friends I made at UT, I have made for life, so I guess you could say that that is my favorite thing.

3. What made you decide that you wanted to practice law?

As hinted at before, I think I developed my love of the law while working at the Capitol and interning at the Court. The process of crafting and interpreting laws fascinated me–watching our legislators debate health care, budget and social issues, late into the night, talking with different constituent groups and industry groups about what proposed legislation would mean for them, talking with my judge about what I thought about a certain petitioner’s brief. You got the sense that everything you did somehow mattered, and it was this sense of purpose that led me to apply to law school. The practice of law, for me, was a way that I could connect with and impact my community.

4. UT’s motto is “What starts here, changes the world”. What is one thing you would like to see change at UT now that you’re an alum?

I do not know if I would change anything at UT. The University is so vast and affords you so many opportunities, that I think there is something for everybody.

5. Who has been a role model to you?

As quaint as this sounds, I would say that my mother has been a role model to me. Being a Chinese American woman trying to navigate in in a Western, male-dominated world, it was interesting (for me as a child) watching her grow and develop into a strong, self-sufficient person. She immigrated over to the United States in the 60’s in order to attend graduate school, brought her entire family over through education, and raised two children, all in a world that was not her own. In her late 40’s, she discovered her passion for politics but never forgot those around her. She has a heart for helping others and has never asked for anything in return. She taught me that it was of the utmost importance to have integrity, that it is easier to claim credit for yourself, but nobler to give it to others, and that there is something to be learned from everybody. I that is something that I carry with me always.

6. What are your future ambitions and career aspirations as an attorney?

I think if you asked someone off the street, “what do you think are the ambitions and aspirations of a young attorney,” I think many people would say that it would be to make partner, to became in-house counsel, to start your own practice. For me, my career aspiration is much simpler . . . to have made a difference–whether it be in the lives of my clients, my family, my friends or in my bar association or community, I think the most important thing is just to care. No one really knows where he or she will end up; it’s the journey and the decisions that you make along the way that matter.

7. What advice do you have for incoming freshmen or current students thinking about going into the legal profession?

I would tell them to think about the reasons they want to go to law school. If it is because they like to argue or they like to make money, then they need to think twice.

I love when parents tell others, “Oh my child would make a great lawyer, because (s)he loves to argue!” Little do they know that the practice of law is not about arguing, it is about advocating–advocating for your client and for what you think is right. It is also about thinking and knowing that, sometimes, it does more harm to fight, than to compromise. The practice of law is not just about books, cases, and winning, but about people. The best attorneys remember that they are consultants and counselors first.

In addition, if students think that the practice of law is an easy way to make money, then they are wrong. Law school takes consistent work and discipline. If you are not committed to exploring your options during school and if you do not find something that you love about the law, then taking on the debt simply is not worth it. There are easier and quicker ways to make money.

There is a reason why law is a “profession” and a “career.” One does not become an attorney simply to have a job.

Written by Jennifer Wang

Filed under: Alumni Spotlight

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