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By the time he was in high school, Professor Kevin Tu knew he wanted to be a lawyer. His father had studied law in Vietnam before immigrating to the United States, and Tu’s curiosity about law was piqued at a young age. As an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, he developed a passion for business and commerce, majoring in business administration. Instead of leaving behind the law, Tu found a way to combine the two interests.
“Early on, I was fascinated with how powerful law can be and how access to that knowledge can affect people and communities in a positive way,” he said. “As I became interested in business, I could see how, as a business lawyer, I could help my clients and others come together to achieve their shared goals.”
Tu joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico School of Law in fall 2012 as an assistant professor. He teaches secured transactions, regulation of banking and other business law courses.
Helping others succeed
After earning a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 2006, Tu, a native of the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, joined the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, an international law firm where he had interned during law school.
Right away at Davis Wright Tremaine, he plunged into a wide range of business transactions. His practice included mergers and acquisitions, credit and lending work, and drafting and negotiating a variety of commercial agreements for businesses of all sizes. His clients included entrepreneurs and startups, as well as national banks and large technology/software companies with a strong presence in Seattle.
In addition to his breadth of transaction experience, Tu developed a strong regulatory practice advising banks and other financial institutions on a host of compliance issues primarily relating to new and emerging payments systems, including credit/debit cards, stored value, e-commerce and mobile payments.
“I liked the great variety of clients I had,” he said. “Because I had to understand a client’s business, there was always something new to learn. And it was rewarding to help them achieve their objectives.”
After five years of law practice, he was asked to teach contracts as an adjunct faculty member in the University of Washington School of Law’s LL.M. program. He jumped at the opportunity. “I always thought teaching would be a perfect blend: to combine my legal interests with mentoring and teaching,” he said.
He spent the following year as a visiting professor at the University of Oregon School of Law with a goal to pursue an academic career.
Technology and law
Tu was attracted to the UNM School of Law for its collegial faculty, strong reputation, small class sizes and the school’s unique approach to legal education – practical lawyering in an intimate environment.
He looks forward to developing his academic interests, which lie at the intersection of commercial law, financial regulation and technology. Currently, he is looking at how to update or adapt the current legal structure and regulatory framework to account for how new technology has changed the way business and commerce is conducted.
In addition to already published articles in the Kansas Law Review and the Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal, Tu has a number of works in progress, including one tentatively titled, “Payment Technology Adoption and Statutory Adaptation.”
Tu had never been to New Mexico before coming to interview at the law school, but he is already enjoying the climate and culture. His wife, Carly, is a competitive triathlete and cyclist and he has developed an interest in sports photography. “At first, it gave me something to do while she is competing, but now I just simply love it as a creative outlet in its own right,” he said. Some of his photos have been featured on the websites and blogs of top professionals.
He also enjoys cooking and likes to think he could be a winner on the MasterChef television show. For now, he is enjoying exploring Albuquerque’s restaurant scene and grower’s markets.
September 24, 2012