Alice Pham ’24 is a first-generation, Vietnamese American woman who serves as co-president of the Vietnamese American Law Society at UC Law San Francisco. She talks more about her organization – including that you don’t have to identify as Vietnamese to join.
Q: What is the UC Law SF Vietnamese American Law Society?
A: The purpose of the Vietnamese American Law Society (VALS) is to encourage and promote the professional growth of its members; to foster the exchange of ideas and information among its members and with the community at large; and to support the Vietnamese legal community.
Q: Why did you join this organization? What do you like about it?
A: I joined VALS because I wanted to serve the Vietnamese American legal community and encourage other law students to get involved as well. VALS members form meaningful connections with peers and meet impressive attorneys and judges, who provide mentorship and support, through our close affiliation with the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California (VABANC). I’ve also met lifelong friends through this community. VALS is one of my favorite parts of law school.
Q: Talk about your journey to law school.
A: I am originally from Norwalk, California, a small suburban town in Los Angeles County. I majored in political science as an undergrad at UC Irvine. During my senior year of high school, I encountered a legal issue that impacted my family. A small team of attorneys, some of whom were Vietnamese American, helped my family during this difficult time. As a first-generation, Vietnamese American woman, I became inspired to do the same for others, and I hope to accomplish that goal by pursuing my law degree.
Q: Why did you choose UC Law SF?
A: My family roots ultimately led me to choose UC Law SF. During my undergraduate years, I discovered that I had cousin I had no prior knowledge of. Her family was located in San Francisco. I gravitated towards UC Law SF because of my newfound familial tie to the city. Her family was kind enough to let me stay with them during my 1L year and provided a lot of support during a transitional period for me. Through UC Law SF, I’ve been able to deepen professional and peer connections, but also familial bonds.
Q: How is this group furthering your career goals?
A: I think it’s important for law students, such as myself, to receive guidance from attorneys who were once in our shoes. Since joining VALS, I’ve become more comfortable interacting with attorneys and judges. Stepping out of my comfort zone has advanced my career goals by opening my eyes to opportunities I thought were previously inaccessible to law students. My goal is to make a meaningful career for myself, however that may look. I hope to make an impactful change within my community and give back to my family for their support over the years.
Q: What else should people know about VALS?
A: Some students are under the impression that you must identify as Vietnamese to join VALS, which is not true! Most of our executive board members and 1L reps for this academic year do not identify as Vietnamese, but are still involved, nonetheless. We welcome all students to learn more about the Vietnamese culture and become allies.
For more information about the VALS, email firstname.lastname@example.org.