Law in a Land of Immigrants: Laurinda Uang '06
by Cathy Mallen Webber
For most people, the prospect of dealing with the legal system can be daunting, even when it’s for something as minor as fighting a traffic ticket. So when it comes to major life changes, such as buying a house, applying for citizenship or getting divorced, it pays to have a good lawyer on your side. That’s why attorney Laurinda Uang ’06 knows she’s making a difference for people — despite the plethora of lawyer jokes she’s heard.
“I feel like attorneys have such a terrible reputation for being evil,” Uang says with a smile. “But I feel really satisfied when I help someone successfully through a milestone in his or her life.”
Uang, who graduated from Northeastern University’s School of Law in 2009 after earning bachelor’s degrees in politics and economics from Brandeis, launched her career as an associate at Yang and Sacchetti, a three-person firm in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. She devotes much of her time to family and real estate law. But this focus is a preamble to becoming an expert in immigration law. With the firm well-known for its expertise in this complex field, Uang has been trying to soak up as much knowledge as she can.
“I think it is a really interesting field to try to break into right now, particularly with the Obama administration trying to support immigration. We’re a country of immigrants,” says Uang, whose passion was spurred in part by the fact that her own parents came to the United States in the 1970s from Taiwan and Vietnam. Intensifying her interest was the recent defeat in the Senate of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided undocumented immigrant youths an avenue toward citizenship if they met certain educational or military service requirements.
The bill’s supporters, including Uang, say its passage would have offered undocumented students a chance to contribute to society in ways that would benefit the U.S. economy by strengthening the workforce in vital fields like science and technology.
“If you actually read the DREAM Act, you understand that a lot of innovations aren’t coming from people born and bred in America but from immigrants,” she says.
As Uang continues to navigate the broad learning curve of a law career, she finds she is also improving her skills in Mandarin and Cantonese. Her ability to explain convoluted legal issues in a client’s primary language provides a valuable resource to the community.
“Very few of our clients speak English fluently,” she says. “The law is complicated enough without a language barrier!”
Though she always wanted to pursue a career in law (“Maybe I watched too much ‘Ally McBeal’ growing up,” she quips), Uang credits her Brandeis experience with continuing to push her in that direction.
“Students at Brandeis come in with the goal of going to graduate school. It seems like half my class went on to become doctors and lawyers,” she says.