The UA Blog

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Lawrence Liu

Lawrence Liu from Princeton University was Highly Commended in 2015 for his paper “The Dual State and the Rule of Law: Defining the Dual State and that Definition’s Impact on our Conception of the Rule of Law”.

Lawrence is currently living in Berkeley, California USA. Starting next fall, he will be in New Haven, Connecticut for 3 years before heading back to Berkeley. He is a 2nd year PhD student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at UC Berkeley, and he also has a spot in Yale Law School’s Class of 2021. Fall 2018, he will put the PhD on pause to go to YLS and pursue his JD. After finishing at YLS, the plan is to go back to Berkeley equipped with a dissertation idea, complete the prospectus, and then write the dissertation to finish his PhD. Lawrence’s disciplinary interests are in political science and law, and his research interests are in China law and politics.

“Broadly speaking, I’m interested in the way China’s legal development, whether we think about that in terms of lawyers, court reform, specific laws or policies, etc. affects the strength and stability of the ruling regime. Lately, there’s been a big push among socio-legal scholars to better understand how law functions in authoritarian regimes, and I’m excited to see how China is both a case of this burgeoning research agenda.”

Living in California for graduate school has also given him the best lifestyle he could have asked for. It’s so easy for graduate students to get lost in their own heads, so being in a more relaxed, scenically beautiful place like Berkeley, CA helps him keep it all in perspective. Besides how much he enjoys the views on his 30-minute walk to school, he has really just fallen in love with the Bay Area lifestyle from hiking to eating healthier foods and is going to miss it while in New Haven.

“A funny example of this is what I did during Black Friday 2017. While I had always assumed Americans either raced to stores or slept in on Black Friday, I was happy to learn that Californians use it to go hiking! So, I woke up at 6am on Black Friday, hopped in a friend’s car, and we drove 3.5 hours each way to enjoy a beautiful day hike in Big Sur, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, definitely Google pictures!”

Lawrence’s ideal landing spot is to end up as a law school professor. At the same time, he would be happy to practice law if the teaching track doesn’t pan out at which point, he would be really interested in doing legal work in government, with an eye towards lawyering with the State Department.

During the last two summers, Lawrence’s has had the chance to teach at a 2-week leadership camp at Peking University for middle schoolers and high schoolers from all over China. While it’s a little removed from his specific research interests, it really reminds him that the things he studies always have people behind them. And as social scientists, we have to interact with people as much as we can if we ever want to pretend to understand them. Totally unrelated to academics, he also spent a few weeks the summer after graduating in 2016 traveling to Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea — with the highlight being bathing a senior citizen elephant with his best friend from college.

“Submitting my work to The Undergraduate Awards was an important step in my decision to pursue an academic career, and I’m so grateful a program like this exists! As someone who was going back and forth for a long time between research and practice, I needed an opportunity like The Undergraduate Awards to push me to share my writing more broadly. At least for me, submitting my writing to The Undergraduate Awards definitely helped point me towards the academic path I’m on now, and I’m really happy despite not having looked back since!”

Read Lawrence’s Highly Commended paper on The Undergraduate Awards Library.

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