Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Stephanie Shyu L’14 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers.
Shyu, who is planning a career in cross-border transactional law, has interned at the Beijing Arbitration Commission, with support from the Penn Law International Internship Program. She reports on a role model she encountered at the Commission, which is an independent non-profit organization in Beijing offering arbitration, mediation, and other dispute resolution services.
The person I admired and learned from the most during my internship at the Beijing Arbitration Commission (BAC) is an arbitrator named Mr. Wang JiaLu. He was not only known as the most quick-witted and efficient arbitrator among the BAC staff and among his peers (he is well known for starting and ending hearings within an hour and often leads seminars and workshops for fellow arbitrators that offer concrete ways to cut down the time and costs while maintaining effectiveness), but he was also a great teacher and a willing student. It is this latter aspect I most admired about him.
Mr. Wang is a well-regarded lawyer in Beijing and serves as an arbitrator both at the BAC and at the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). However, it was his willingness to learn from others and his subsequent constructive self-criticism that most impressed me.
As a prominent lawyer, he didn’t have to agree to let me tag along to a CIETAC hearing or invite me to his office to talk shop and drink German coffee. But he did. And he was very curious to learn about the American legal system and, by extension, American culture. He was quick to point out shortcomings in both the private and public legal sectors of China, but he also knew it would take time for systematic reform. So, in the meantime, he talked to people and traveled to enrich himself and learn from others.
It’s rare to find a well-established lawyer who is willing to really listen to an interning first year law student just because he recognizes the value of a different perspective. What he was most fascinated to learn from me was how the U.S. succeeded in making all its citizens feel proud to be Americans. From his travels, he noticed that, despite widespread criticism of the American government, everyone he asked–from the rich to the homeless–said the United States was the best country in the world. He lamented that the brightest and most accomplished left China at the first opportunity to study or work in the U.S. or in Europe. He wanted to know how the U.S. was able to achieve nationwide pride so it may be replicated in China and talent can be retained.
Mr. Wang struck me as an inquisitive person who was not too proud to ask questions and listen to others. I really respect and admire him for that and believe it’s lawyers like him who will be able to initiate the changes they wish to see in China. It’s also people like him we can all benefit by emulating: by being open-minded and willing to accept other perspectives. He’s promised to get in touch when he next visits the United States, so, hopefully, I’ll be able to introduce him to Philly cheesesteaks sometime soon–obviously, a staple of American pride.
- Stephanie Shyu
More summer student dispatches:
-Alisan VanFleet L’13, who is working in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
-Hannah Gerstenblatt L’14, who is working in the Commissioner’s Office of Major League Baseball in New York City.
-Lauren-Kelly Devine L’14, who is working for the Athletes and Personalities division of Octagon Inc. in McLean, VA.
-Will Moine L’14, who is working in the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
-Christen Farr L’13, who is working for the International Finance Corporation, a member institution of the World Bank, in Istanbul, Turkey.