7 Qs with Lisa Miller, Esq.
Featuring Wendy Wen Yun Chang
WLALA recently asked Wendy Chang seven questions. Here are her responses:
What is your favorite technology device? Why?
Absolutely my smart phone. I'm old enough to remember what practicing law was like before technology became so integral to the profession. My little phone is more powerful than my computers from years past. It gives me the ability to access almost all necessary elements of my practice when I am out of the office, something that is critical to my ability to maintain a high level of service at all times. It is integral to my ability to function as an attorney, and as a mother.
What is/was your dream vacation? Why was it the best ever?
My dream vacation would be able to take an extended trip through the United Kingdom. Medieval English and Scottish history is something that I have always loved learning about. I also love English literature. I would love to experience the sites in detail, at a nice slow pace, someday.
Name the person you admire the most, and the quality that impresses you the most.
My parents. Both suffered a great degree of hardship as a result of the tumult of World War II in China, and in the early years after that, in Taiwan. My mother, in fact, was orphaned at age 11, and left to raise her twin 6 year old brothers with only the help of her also pre-teen sister. There was little institutional assistance for them. Both of my parents had significant economic hardships in those years. The strength that it took them both to survive those difficult years intact, then start all over again in America with nothing more than a dream of a better life – no language, no money, no job - They are amazing. All those years of multiple, low-wage jobs, learning a new language and a new culture. They worked so hard with no complaints. I am very lucky.
What is your most significant accomplishment, and what impact did it have?
I cannot define it as a single accomplishment; I see it as an ongoing endeavor. I love the law and the American legal system. I think it is the best in the world. Today, I am so very fortunate to be involved as best I can in helping to build and maintain a strong and vibrant system. I contribute in my substantive legal practice by advising, teaching, counseling, and defending lawyers; in working on a policy level on complex issues relating to the practice of law; and by helping to ensure access to justice by society's most vulnerable. On the flip side, my work helps to build a strong and diverse judiciary, at both the state and federal levels across the nation. I cannot adequately express how proud I am of the results of that work thus far. I love the people I have met through those efforts, and I hope to have the honor to be able to continue in this work at some level or another for the rest of my career. Maybe at the end of it, I can identify the most significant accomplishment. Right now, it all feels like it is still in progress.
If you could “fix” one global challenge, what would it be? How would you fix it?
This is such a hard question. The world is so interconnected today, in ways that trouble in a distant place can have significant ripple effects across oceans and borders, which filter down to each and every citizen, wither it be through finance, disease, violence, war, cyber, or even climate or environment. I wish we could all understand this, and each other, in more detail that we could collectively stop the elements that threaten us all, without impairing those characteristics that make each of us unique. I don't know the answer to how it could be solved beyond that there must be a collective “want” to accomplish it large enough to be effective. Certainly, better education, communication and interaction is a start. Perhaps the teaching of the value of coexistence in peace is another step. Finding ways that folks in each place can live a good life so there is no environment to grow a perceived need to conquer or destroy another out of greed, envy or pure desperation, or for an extremist's false promises of a better world to take root. Developing a way to address the universal threats, to which people are consistently committed. At the very least, it requires a great deal of collective will on the part of the people of the world.
If you could have a career different from the one you are now pursuing, what would it be? Why is this your alternate choice?
I don't think I would choose differently. I love the law and always have. I am one of those people whose elementary school projects featured my future self as associated with the law. I've literally never pictured myself doing something different.
What do you hope to accomplish after you retire? Why is this meaningful to you?
If I can leave the profession a little bit better than I came to it, I will be satisfied that I have, at least a little bit, satisfied my duty to give back to this wonderful country which so openly adopted me and continues to generously give me opportunities every day to live a good life, and to be a part of its magnificence.
Wendy Wen Yun Chang, a partner with Los Angeles’ Hinshaw & Culbertson, represents businesses in all types of litigation, with particular emphasis in high exposure complex litigation, trials and appeals. She also represents lawyers in complex matters that involve the practice of the law, including risk management counseling, ethics, crises management, fee related issues, discipline defense, and litigation defense. Ms. Chang is the immediate past Chair of the State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility & Conduct (COPRAC). Ms. Chang is also an Advisor to the State Bar of California's Commission for the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and a member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Ms. Chang is a Certified Specialist in Legal Malpractice Law by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization. Ms. Chang also serves as Co-Chair of the Judiciary and Executive Nominations and Appointments Committee for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and as Chair of the Pro Bono Advisory Council for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. In addition, Ms. Chang serves on the Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee (PREC) and the State Appellate Judicial Evaluation Committee for the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
Lisa Miller is a member of the WLALA Board of Trustees, where she works on the legal implications of domestic violence and homelessness. Ms. Miller is a civil litigator with the Los Angeles-based Marcin Law Firm, LLP. Ms. Miller teaches 1st Amendment / Law of Mass Communication at the University of Southern California, writes and speaks on free speech and related subjects, and consults on trials and appeals. She is a hearing officer for numerous California agencies, municipalities, and bar association fee dispute programs. She serves as a commissioner with the County of Los Angeles Small Business Commission.
Ms. Miller writes the “7 Qs” column for the WLALA newsletter and is always seeking interesting interview subjects.
7 Qs Wants You!
To be considered for profile in this column, e-mail:
Attn.: “7 Qs Profile Nomination | Your Name”