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Yen-Ting “Eddy” Lin LLM’21 advocates for young peoples’ democratic rights

December 15, 2021

Lin sought an LLM degree from Penn in order to better understand and compare legal systems around the world.

This feature is part of an ongoing series celebrating the diverse array of University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students who make up our Law School’s uniquely collegial academic community. Together, students at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School engage in rich academic discussions, push the boundaries of contemporary legal thought, and work collaboratively toward our shared goal of upholding principles of justice locally, nationally, and around the world.

Yen-Ting “Eddy” Lin LLM’21 is from Taipei City, Taiwan. As the co-founder of the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, Lin is an NGO worker focusing on youth issues and is devoted to advocacy such as amending the Taiwan Constitution to lower the voting age and promoting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He earned his first law degree in 2019 at National Taiwan University. There, he served as the president of the NTU Student Association and hosted the PTS Youth News in Taiwan Public Television Service for 4 years. Before joining the LLM program, he also worked as the chief policy manager for a Taipei City Councilor and completed the first-year program in the NTU Graduate Institute of Journalism.

What inspired you to pursue your LLM?

When I was a freshman, my Constitutional Law professor introduced the concept of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I was curious about why Taiwan Supreme Court Justices referred to other countries’ legal systems instead of independently evolving our structure. After starting to work, I realized that we have more or less adopted U.S. methods, not only in constitutional interpretation, but also in plenty of other legal areas. For me, this doesn’t mean that the U.S. legal system prevails over Taiwan’s; however, if we can take advantage of others’ previous experience and spare some unnecessary costs, why don’t we give it a try?

That is why I was eager to study here at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School as an LLM student. I hope to learn more about emerging legal issues and bring this knowledge back to Taiwan, inviting more people to participate in future discussions.

What aspects of your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School experience have you found most influential so far?

There are so many impressive things about Penn Law, especially the school’s respect for diverse groups and the assistance it provides to students. The Law School supports various activities that give students the opportunity to acquaint themselves with valuable cultures.

In February, our LLM community introduced the meaning of the Lunar New Year. The Law School also sponsored a Diwali celebration party and the distribution of mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Further, when I took remote courses from my country due to the pandemic, the Law School provided me with grants for learning equipment and the flexibility to commence my LLM program in the spring semester.

One of the most inspiring experiences was taking “Leadership in Law” with Jim Sandman L’76, Distinguished Lecturer and  Senior Consultant to the Future of the Profession Initiative. Although he is highly-respected, Sandman always expresses his humbleness and willingness to understand different perspectives. By his invitation, we had a great chance to interact with external outstanding leaders from law firms, NGOs, legal clinics, and courts. Their values have profoundly influenced my classmates and me as to how to treat others in the future.

How has Penn’s commitment to cross-disciplinary legal training impacted your education?

I am sincerely grateful that our Law School emphasizes the importance of cross-disciplinary learning to succeed in this quickly changing world. I engaged in Penn Law’s cross-disciplinary legal training in human rights, politics, business, and technology.

For example, from the beginning, Penn Law appealed to me because LLM students are allowed to take a course outside the Law School. I took a course on U.S. election techniques at the School of Arts & Sciences instructed by the former Philadelphia Mayor and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. That course, paired with the Law School’s “Election Law” course, helped me to more comprehensively understand the philosophy and challenges of the US election regulation.

Also, Penn law provides students with the unimaginable opportunity to learn not only outside the Law School, but even outside the U.S. In my spring semester, I enrolled in “Human Rights in Hong Kong” through the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, which enabled me to study both the U.S. and Hong Kong constitutional review systems at the same time. 

In what ways has Penn augmented your understanding of how the law intersects with the public interest?

Before coming to the U.S., I co-founded and acted as the managing director at Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving youth rights and empowering students to express opinions on public issues. In the past, we promoted lowering the age to vote in referendums and become an adult to 18, and we launched fundraising campaigns to bring the young generation back home to vote. Last year, every Taiwan presidential candidate was invited to our forum to discuss public policies with national university students.

Based on those experiences, I expected to know how US students exercise their influence upon those public issues — especially the controversial and those not being taken seriously. I was impressed by the student associations who invited the former Attorney General to discuss racial justice, debated publicly over capitalism and communism, advocated for human rights issues in the Afghanistan crisis, and so on. I also noted the public responsibility that the University and the Law School took regarding unlawful and unethical societal issues. For example, President Amy Gutmann appealed for respect to different cultures in the commemoration of 9/11, and Dean Theodore Ruger condemned the attack on Congress in January. Those actions in standing up for the rule of law affect my understanding of what we can contribute to the public interest.

What do you hope your University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School education will help you to accomplish?

I hope my Penn Law education will help me to build connections with different countries and more promptly and precisely analyze the legal issues from diverse perspectives. Legal professionals nowadays are required not only to be familiar with domestic systems, but also to have the capability to compare the pros and cons with international precedents. I believe my study here can assist me to accomplish these targets in the future.

What is one thing about you most people don’t know?

I started to learn how to read tarot cards here in Philly! I found a Philly-themed Tarot Deck when I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is adorable (e.g. the designer uses the Phillie Phanatic to substitute the Fool), and I couldn’t help but to buy one. I will bring it back to Taiwan and use the cards to introduce my Philly life to my friends.

What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?

Definitely jazz! Philly is famous for music, and it has several live jazz bars in Center City. I went to South and Chris Jazz Café after being overwhelmed with the tremendous amount of reading assignments. There, you can enjoy delicious foods like buttermilk fried chicken and cornbread while listening to amazing saxophone and piano performances. I have never had such a wonderful experience before!

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