Mavericks Personified: Lu Pham
Lu Pham likes to set his own rules. No surprise for someone plucked from the ocean as a young Vietnamese immigrant who would later become a partner in a prestigious law firm and one of Texas Monthly’s “Super Lawyers” of 2005.
“It all boils down to the outlook that I have on business, my career and my life,” he said. “And it all starts from being an immigrant. Nothing is given to you. You really have to work hard to go where you want to go.”
Pham’s beginnings at UT Arlington were no less shaky than his entry into the country. At age 15 he decided to leave Arlington High School and enter college. Despite being academically eligible for full enrollment, he met resistance from skeptical University officials.
“They didn’t think I could handle the responsibility at that age,” he said.
But the teenager was undeterred. He enrolled in Tarrant County College—where he also faced doubters—and impressed everyone by taking a full course load and earning a 4.0 grade-point average.
That opened the door to UT Arlington, where he graduated in 1987 with high honors with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English. He then entered law school at UT Austin, graduating in 1990 at age 21.
“In a very real way, my experience at UT Arlington made me realize that my background and upbringing are assets to be mustered whenever adversity is met,” he said. “And like so many others who are first in their family to attend college, I thought academics defined my success and failure.”
With the help of advisers Charles Knerr and Sung Seek Moon, Pham said he was able to realize that college is an experience—not just classes to be passed.
Today he is the managing partner of Fort Worth-based Lynn Pham & Ross, LLP, the largest labor and employment law firm in Texas. He focuses on representing private and public-sector employers in civil rights litigation.
“Many people have the mistaken view that lawyers are wordsmiths and nothing more,” he said. “However, the ability to see issues from all sides and the ability to articulately advocate differing positions have universal application.”
Pham sees himself practicing law for a long time and thinks it may someday guide him toward public service, something he’s truly passionate about. He has served as an adjunct law professor in the Texas Wesleyan School of Law and as an alternate municipal judge.
He knows it’s important to have a balanced perspective.
“I couldn’t do what I do without my family,” he said. Pham and his wife, Anna, who is also a UT Arlington graduate (’98 MSSW), have a 5-year-old son, Kinh. “We’re a team. She takes care of the home front, and I take care of the career front. Neither is more important than the other.”
— Susan M. Slupecki