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When Lillie Hsu was a kid growing up in Chicago, she read. Every day, when she came home from school, she'd heat up a can of Campbell's Soup and eat it while reading a book she'd checked out from the library. "I read everything," she says. "Science fiction, biographies, Greek myths, mysteries, historical romances, you name it. I read Dickens and Dostoyevsky. I read the encyclopedia. I'd eat my soup – ‘Chicken & Stars’ was my favorite – and I'd read. My mother always wondered why I wasn't hungry for dinner."
But Lillie didn't just read books. She read cereal boxes, directions for household appliances, magazine advertisements, even the back of the toothpaste tube. "I know this is odd behavior for a kid, but it's actually good training for an appellate lawyer. It helps to be a voracious reader when you're researching case law and reading the record all the time. Sometimes reading a case or reading the record is like reading a good mystery or science fiction novel. Sometimes it's more like reading the back of the toothpaste tube. But if you enjoy both, you're in good shape."
Although she loved the lives she lived vicariously in books, Lillie also wanted to live her own life. So, after receiving her B.A. in Government from Harvard University in 1986, she headed for New York and London, where she worked for an investment bank for two years. Lillie enjoyed living in London. "I got to experience a totally different culture, and see how they do business. And I got to travel all over Europe on the weekends. I went to all the big cities – Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Vienna – anywhere you could fly from London on Friday and be back by Monday. It was a lot of fun."
But, after two years, her lifelong interest in words and ideas brought her to Stanford Law School, where she was an Associate Editor of the Stanford Law Review and received her J.D., with distinction, in 1991. Then, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1991 to 1992, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Mariana R. Pfaelzer, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, from 1992 to 1993. During her two years clerking, she worked on a number of published opinions. "I loved clerking," she says, "because it was a way to make a difference. I was in the seat of power, and I learned so much. I got to see how judges decide cases – and to help them decide. I got to work with two incredible jurists. It really improved my writing and legal analysis."
After clerking, she practiced litigation with the law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in 1994, and Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler LLP from 1994 to 1997. Her favorite parts of practice were writing and helping clients. So it seemed a natural choice to enter appellate law, and in 1997 she joined the appellate specialty firm of Horvitz & Levy LLP. There, besides writing appellate briefs, she drafted summary judgment and post-trial motions, researched legal issues for clients, and acted as a consultant to trial counsel on preserving issues for appeal.
Although she enjoyed practicing appellate law, a longstanding interest in teaching brought her to UCLA School of Law in 1999, where she taught in the Lawyering Skills Clinical Program as a Lecturer in Law for four years. It was immensely gratifying. "I loved my students," says Lillie. "I enjoyed helping them become great lawyers. It was fun teaching them legal analysis, and it was especially fun helping them with their writing."
Lillie's love of writing and reading eventually brought her back to appellate law, and she joined GMSR in July 2003. Now, back in the world of appeals, her favorite activities are reading the record, researching, and writing – basically everything. "All of my cases have been interesting. When I start researching a new area of law, I become incredibly interested in learning it. I like reading lots of cases and figuring out how each one fits into the larger picture. Then when I write an argument, I enjoy figuring out how to present it, then writing a draft and revising it. I especially like revising – it’s fun taking a piece that's good and polishing it to make it really good. I also like working at a place with so many sharp legal thinkers who care about words as much as I do."
When she's not researching and writing appellate briefs, she enjoys cooking, art, hiking, walking on the beach – and of course, reading.
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