When Lucy Lu and Hsiao Mei Chou started their law practice, they wanted to help their community and those who might not have access to legal services get the help they need.
“We both are Chinese and want to do a little bit more for our community,” said Lu, who also speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. “Not just from the immigration point of view, but to provide legal services to the Chinese community and mostly to all the communities that are underserved and underrepresented.
"That's still our major focus. A lot of our clients normally wouldn't be able to afford a lawyer when they really do need legal services. Legal services should not be a luxury for people.”
In 2020, the lawyers opened Chou & Lu Law, LLP in Middleton, specializing in business, immigration and employment law; litigation and alternative dispute resolution.
Among the services they provide are assisting foreign workers in maintaining and/or acquiring legal status, navigating what can be a difficult and confusing process. Her clientele ranges from academics and scientists to businesses and more. In 2022, Lu was recognized as one of Wisconsin’s Rising Stars by Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, a research-driven, peer influenced rating service.
Hong Zhan, an assistant scientist for the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology of the Morgridge Institute for Research, is one of Lu's clients. He has worked with Lu on numerous cases for a national interest waiver, a method of obtaining a work-based U.S. lawful permanent residence without an employer sponsor. Zhan appreciated Lu’s assistance in helping him understand the process of obtaining his green card.
“I would Google questions to ask her about things and she would write back to me very quickly,” Zhan said. “She's very easy to talk to.... So if I have any questions, or a very crucial problem with sending the form, she would very quickly tell me 'Oh, you should do this and this and that.'”
Lu helped Zhan draft a petition letter explaining why it was important for him to stay in the U.S. Since he works as a scientist, writing the letter in a way that was easy for people without scientific knowledge to understand was important.
Zhan has worked with Lucy since 2017 and plans to continue obtaining her assistance when needed.
“I stick with Lucy because she is very knowledgeable,” Zhan added. "The immigration office changes the rules, policies every year or after a certain amount of time, but Lucy keeps everything updated, which is quite crucial. She knows exactly about the law and explains it to me very quickly and in lay terms, so I understand what I need to do.”
Lisa Pence, CFO of EPIC Creative, a marketing and advertising agency, reached out to Lu in 2021 because an employee needed to be sponsored for a green card. Pence was one of Chou & Lu’s first corporate clients; they have worked together for almost a year and a half.
“During the process to apply for a green card, we appreciated Lucy's patience in answering our numerous questions, multiple times, because we were not understanding the process and the various government requirements,” Pence said.
“She is detail oriented, which is needed during the visa and green card process,” Pence added. “There are many steps and information needed to apply for the green card and visa. Lucy also made sure we had the appropriate evidence to support the data provided in the applications, in case the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) wanted to audit our application.”
During the process of applying for the green card, their employee’s visa was set to expire, and Lucy was able to help Pence work to complete and submit the application. The employee was able to renew the visa in November.
“We have not completed all the steps to obtain the green card, however, Lucy has helped us get through the Labor Certification and the application for permanent employment was certified by the DOL,” Pence said. “First step done, many more to go, and I anticipate that Lucy’s experience and knowledge will help us obtain a green card.”
Lu said she is grateful for her business partner and that it has been wonderful operating their practice together.
She is also grateful for the trust of their clients.
“In my practice, if I win a case, it doesn't only mean that the client gets a permanent job, it doesn't only mean that they get a green card," Lu said. "Sometimes it means they can have a better life, sometimes it means that a family can reunite."