After working for three years as a senior associate in the merger and acquisition transaction services department for Deloitte Financial Advisory in China, Yue Yu decided it was time for a career change. She wanted to go somewhere outside her native country.
Yu graduated in 2015 from Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing with an LL.B. and a bachelor’s degree in economics. She wanted to combine her working experience and business background with an LL.M. degree. Her future plan is to seek a job, not only with a law firm but also with an investment company.
“Right now, we (China) are short legal people with foreign experience,” she said. “Our business law is still in progress. And some investment banks or investment companies in China are requiring talents with compound backgrounds like both law and economics.”
Friends recommended the University of Notre Dame to Yu because they had benefited from its strong alumni network. Yu also liked the idea of being involved with a tighter, smaller group of LL.M. students who come from a variety of different backgrounds.
Therefore, she chose to pursue her LL.M. at Notre Dame Law School.
“We have very tight connections with each other, with our professors, with our friends, with classmates,” she said. “And with native J.D. students and with other international students.”
Yu also loves Notre Dame’s location in South Bend, Indiana, which is 90 miles east of Chicago and just a few miles south of the state border with Michigan. She explains that the Midwest is a good place to experience “real American culture.”
Yue Yu is an LL.M. student at Notre Dame Law School. Photos by Alicia Sachau/Notre Dame Law School.
“People here are very warm-hearted. They are not as indifferent as people in the big cities; they smile and wave to you,” she said. “People know each other, and it is very easy to invite people over to your house or to be invited to the others’ houses — to get to know the people around you.”
Notre Dame’s campus itself offers students many rich experiences, too, she said.
“I love Notre Dame sports,” she said. “I know nothing about American football, but it helps you to melt inside this special atmosphere when you are inside the football stadium. Everybody is shouting. There is a student tradition where they raise each other up after the team scores. It’s quite a typical American thing. I love it, actually.”
Notre Dame Law School, the Asian Law Students Association, and other campus organizations ensure that international students have many social activities to participate in on the weekends. For example, the English for Academic Purposes Program threw Notre Dame’s international students a Thanksgiving party on campus. Around Halloween, the LL.M. student services program director, Margaret Lloyd, invited the students over to her house to carve pumpkins.
Yu said she has enjoyed learning from Notre Dame Law School’s professors, who are legal scholars and also have rich practical experience. For example, she said that Professor Julian Velasco is able to draw upon his past experience as a corporate attorney in New York City when teaching about mergers and acquisitions. She has also learned from Adjunct Professor John Griffith, who is executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary for 1st Source Corporation and 1st Source Bank.
The Law School’s professors are also very accessible, raising questions for students to answer and encouraging students to ask questions as well, Yu said. “They care about you. When you knock on their door, they are very happy to answer whatever questions you have.”
But it’s the interactions with her fellow students from the United States, Europe, and Latin America that she feels have provided her with the greatest benefit.
Yu explained that everyone shares the various legal problems and solutions that their countries are dealing with. This exchange provides students with a global perspective on the law. For instance, one of the American J.D. students works for an organization connected to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Yu had the opportunity to learn a lot of business-related and securities-related law from him.
Also, her Colombian roommate is studying international human rights and has presented Yu with new ways to think about law. In China, she did pro-bono consulting projects on corporate social responsibility for two major Chinese technology companies. Yu thinks she’d like to continue that kind of work when she returns home.
“You cannot be very informed if you just put yourself in a small circle. It was good for me to get outside and listen to others,” she said. “To know what’s happening in the world and be exposed to a foreign atmosphere and exchange of ideas.”
Learn more about Notre Dame Law School's LL.M. programs at law.nd.edu/LLM.