From Beijing to Des Moines, Brooke Yang has had quite the law school experience. With an interest in intellectual property law, she has gobbled up every experience possible in her first two years of law school – including a clerkship with a federal judge and an internship in with one of the highest grossing law firms in the world.
“I think it’s important for students to take advantage of the opportunities,” says Yang. “These things haven’t fallen in my lap, I’ve reached out and had rewarding experiences as a result.”
|Yang with her colleagues in Judge Walters' office.|
For the first ten weeks between her 1L and 2L year, Yang clerked for Magistrate Judge Ross Walters. As an international student, she started law school not knowing anything about the U.S. court system, let alone the difference between state and federal court. She saw an opening posted in the Drake Law Career Development Office and applied for the position.
"I figured the best way to figure out how the courts worked was to work there,” says Yang. “The people there did everything possible to help me succeed. They edited drafts and gave me great feedback on my work, but also introduced me to the legal community in Des Moines by taking me to luncheons and speaker events.”
Primarily, Yang’s focus was to do in-depth legal analysis for each motion ruling in front of the judge. She would read and analyze both parties’ briefs, listen to the oral arguments, and after further research and analysis, write a draft ruling from the judge’s perspective. It was vital that Yang was neutral on each case. After writing a draft, it would be reviewed by the clerk and finally by Judge Walters. For some cases, there were three or four drafts written before the Judge was ready to finalize his ruling.
“My job was really to provide the best possible basis of research and analysis for Judge Walters so that he could make a well-educated decision,” says Yang. “Without a doubt, my legal writing and legal research courses prepared me well.”
|Yang with Prof. Ellen Yee and Chengfei Ding, LW'02, in Beijing.|
For Yang, working for the court was definitely an invaluable experience that could never be matched by simply hearing it in a classroom.
And her summer didn’t end there.
After finishing her clerkship on a Friday, Yang was in Hong Kong for an internship by Monday morning. Baker & McKenzie is one of the largest law firms in the world, boasting 60 nationalities, over 4,200 lawyers and 77 locations.
Knowing she wanted to pursue some experience with a global firm, Yang jumped on an opening she found for an intern who spoke fluent English and Mandarin and would work out of the Hong Kong office.
After submitting an application, she talked with Professor Peter Yu, Kern Family Chair in Intellectual Property and director of the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake. As a leading expert in international intellectual property and communications law, Yu was the natural person for Yang to talk with regarding a recommendation.
"We try to help students locate career opportunities that match their specific interests and backgrounds," says Yu. "Because Brooke had lived and studied in both China and the U.S., an internship in a leading international law firm immediately came to mind. I'm very glad she interned at the Hong Kong office of Baker & McKenzie this summer."
|The view from Yang's office in Hong Kong.|
She was looking for a taste of legal experience outside the U.S. and this internship was perfect. For three weeks, Yang dove into intellectual property. Specifically, she dove into researching U.S. intellectual property case law to better support cases of first impression in Hong Kong and China.
“I especially loved researching U.S. cases,” says Yang. “I often researched so much that I could find new information to add to an argument or a case.”
Both her clerkship and her internship helped Yang get a better idea for what is ahead for her. While she enjoy intellectual property (and it was one of the reasons she chose Drake), she has also learned to appreciate other areas of law and looks forward to pursuing even more opportunities.
Right now she stays busy writing for Drake Law Review and serves as president for the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, while also taking a full courseload. She’s interested in experiencing one of Drake’s outstanding clinics and hopes to also intern for a U.S. firm, just for comparison.
For this Drake 2L, attending law school at Drake has already givenYang an international experience.