Commitment to Service, Interest in International Law Sparks Career Pursuit in Government

Erica Kang working at a table in the café and smiling up at the camera

Erica Sujin Kang L’25 is quick to speak up and doesn’t mind being cold-called in class. For her, that’s all part of the learning experience at the Syracuse University College of Law. Kang hopes those skills will come in handy as she works towards being a lawyer who can speak up for others.

Kang had a successful career before deciding to go to law school. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in linguistics, she went to South Korea, where she has family, with the intention of serving others through the context of international relations. During this time, she worked as an international relations specialist for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) of Korea, providing international relations strategy and working as an advisor to the MOLIT minister and the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea. Later, she was an external relations assistant translating for the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), which serves the Paris Agreement by fighting climate change and investing funds into developing countries.

“Syracuse Law has developed my thinking skills and helped me see the potential of the legal field. And, I draw so much strength from my classmates.”

Erica Sujin Kang L’25

While her career was going well, she had always wanted to attend law school. Kang had seen many lawyers looking to the U.N. for planning and decision making, and she had also been instilled by her father and grandfather (who worked with the president of So. Korea in a role comparable to a mayor in the U.S.) with the importance of public service, She knew studying law would advance her career, and it seemed the time was right.

Erica stands in front of at composite of headshots from an alumni class

Wanting to take the bar exam in New York State, she began researching Syracuse Law. Kang was drawn to its relatively close proximity to New York City and also admired the prestigious faculty and alumni, including President Joseph R. Biden L’68. Kang also noted that Syracuse Law had a strong public service presence through various law clinics and activities, as well as a number of classes on national security law and constitutional law. She applied and received a scholarship, and in 2022 Kang headed back to the U.S. to attend Syracuse Law.

Erica points to President Joe Biden in the composite photos
Erica Kang points to a photo of College of Law alumni President Joseph R. Biden L’68 as she gives a tour of Dineen Hall.

As part of her commitment to service, she became an academic mentor for the Asian-American Pacific Law Student Association—something she really enjoys. “I think we are still a minority at law schools, and I like helping 1L students in particular who can get overwhelmed or need help with study skills,” Kang explains. “I’ve been a 1L, and I understand it can be challenging, so I talk with them and give them a chance to vent out their stress, so they feel supported.”

Kang has taken advantage of not only her classes and on-campus activities but also internships opportunities that further her legal expertise. During the summer after her first year, she was a legal intern at Hiscock Legal Aid Society in Syracuse, New York, learning how to litigate court trials, advocate for clients, provide legal representation and negotiate with opposing counsel. She also worked as a law clerk remotely for the U.S. Department of Commerce with a focus on commercial law development programs in the Asia Pacific Region that help developing nations have an effective international arbitration center for foreign investors.

Kang sitting in the café with another student studying

As she completes her second year at Syracuse Law, Kang has decided she’d like to become a litigation trial lawyer. “I like speaking up in class, and I want to go to court and speak up for my clients,” she says.

This summer, Kang has lined up an internship with the Department of Homeland Security as a trial attorney. She is hopeful that the experience, along with her work with the U.N. and the skills she’s learned at Syracuse Law, will make her an outstanding job candidate after finishing her law degree.

Kang says, “Syracuse Law has developed my thinking skills and helped me see the potential of the legal field. And, I draw so much strength from my classmates,” Kang says.  “I love the law. Being here gives me so much pride.”

Kang walks up the stairs in Dineen Hall