1. She has a passion for patents.
“I was sitting in a lab one day in graduate school, and I had the sudden realization that I didn't want to do chemistry for the rest of my life. That's when I started looking around for a job I would be passionate about. I learned about patent law after talking to some patent lawyers who started out in science like I did.
“Patent litigation always begins with a valuable technology, and two people arguing over who invented it first. Their invention is their brainchild, and they worked really hard for it, so they get offended when someone else comes in and tells them it’s not their work. During my summer internship at Robins Kaplan, I had the opportunity to work with these incredible technologies, and I got to work on all kinds of litigation issues."
2. With success comes service.
“One of the main reasons I picked UW was for its LEO Program. I went to the LEO Banquet during my Admitted Students Weekend, and I could see that this law school cares a lot about diversity.
“Once I arrived, the mentoring I got – both informally and formally, through the LEO and APALSA/SALSA [the law student organization for Asian-Pacific American and South Asians] programs – really helped me through my first and second years of law school. I don’t have any lawyers in my family, so I didn’t know anything about law school. My mentors, who included current students, law professors, law school staff and UW law alumni from law firms, showed me how to make an outline from start to finish, read over my writing samples, and things like that. Now I want to give it back, so I try to mentor other students both officially and unofficially.”
3. She speaks fluent Chinese, English and legalese.
“I talk to a lot of LL.M.s and J.D.s who are international students, and sometimes they worry that their language skills will hold them back, that they won't be competitive with native English speakers. I tell them not to be intimidated.
“Law school is a new start for everybody – and learning legal vocabulary is hard for everyone, like learning a new language. I tried to prepare before law school: I bought Webster’s Dictionary for Lawyers and Black’s Law Dictionary, and I read up as much as I could, and it was still hard. You just have to do the work, and you’ll be fine.”
Li spent winter break in Beijing, her hometown.
4. Location, location … cheese.
“In China, I lived in a really big city, so when I moved to the States, I wanted a different experience. I wanted to live somewhere less crowded and to be around people who have the time to care for others instead of being so busy in their lives. People really are nice in the Midwest, and specifically at UW. I'm so happy about that because you hear such horrible stories about law schools. Also, I love Madison's lakes, and the campus is just beautiful.
“I do miss my family – my niece just turned one – and I miss Chinese food. I try to cook it here but it's just not the same. But when I'm in China, I look forward to coming back to Wisconsin for the Spotted Cow ale, Babcock Hall ice cream, and the cheese.”
5. She's a swimmer, a painter, a children's bookmaker.
“I want to compete in the Point to LaPointe Swim this summer. It's a 2.1-mile open-water swim race on Lake Superior. I'm already registered and I'll be ready to go. This year, I've had more time for swimming, so I’ll go two or three times a week for an hour.
“I like painting, too. Long-term, I'm kind of hoping to retire when I’m 50 or 55 and open an art studio, and probably write kids books.”
Submitted by Tammy Kempfert on April 27, 2015