I Get to Make a Real Difference in People’s Lives

The biggest influences on my career choices have been my parents. I am a life-long learner, and I need to know that the way I spend my days makes a tangible difference in others’ lives. My mother was a teacher. Even while she worked full time and raised three kids, she always made time for service. One of my earliest memories is of her volunteering at refugee camps toward the end of the Vietnam War. My father worked as a wildlife biologist. He then had a long career in the tourism industry. Before he retired, he turned his attention to public interest work, serving both in the Guam Economic Development Authority and the Guam Visitor’s Bureau. Although he retired almost 20 years ago, you wouldn’t know it. He earned a PhD when he was 76 years old, and now teaches at the University of Guam.

My parents’ influence is reflected in both of my major career choices. Like my father, my first career was as a biologist. My work as a developmental molecular neurobiologist and my graduate and post-doctoral research focused on one unifying question: “How do you build a nervous system?” At a genetic and cellular level, what makes one neuron different from another? When I left academic science, I headed to law school and intended to go into public interest law. But I didn’t want to cast aside more than a decade of scientific training.

I found the perfect balance at Robins Kaplan. On the one hand, I get to litigate hard-fought medical-device and biotechnology patent cases. I constantly get to learn about new technologies that have real-world impact. On the other hand, Robins Kaplan has a long history of ensuring that everyone has access to justice. In contrast to most large law firms, our firm features active plaintiff- side civil rights, mass tort, and catastrophic injury practices, alongside practices like mine. The firm also puts a strong emphasis on pro bono work. I’ve been able to represent asylum applicants, ensuring that they can stay in this country and raise their families. I’ve worked with children who are receiving social services, and have twice been able to help siblings stay together. And I was part of a team that made sure that an incarcerated transgender woman received medically necessary treatment. Every day, I get to interact with friends and colleagues who are driven, intellectually curious, and talented advocates. I could not ask for a better professional home.