Prof. Peter Huang

speaker Prof. Peter Huang

A lot of lawyers feel zombified. They're leading lives where they're mindlessly going through the motions.

Peter H. Huang is the Professor and DeMuth Chair of Business Law, at the University of Colorado, where he has taught since 2011. Prior to University of Colorado, Peter taught law at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota, and Temple University. Professor Huang specializes in business law; law and emotions; law and neuroscience; law and psychology; litigation; and regulation. His academic work focuses on behavioral economics, finance, and happiness. His recent writing includes topics of diversity in the profession related to the AAPI community and explorations into legal culture and the mental and emotional health of attorneys.

Talks by Prof. Peter Huang

related talk Model Minority & Associates
Model Minority & Associates

Like all attorneys, Asian-American lawyers strive for legal excellence by honing their expertise and delivering quality client service. Yet, they often confront a myriad of stereotypes, biases, and misconceptions from colleagues and even clients. In this interview, Prof. Peter Huang of Colorado Law delves into the unique challenges and biases Asian-American lawyers face.

Prof. Huang discusses how many view Asian-American lawyers through the lens of the "model minority" myth. This stereotype paints Asian-Americans as a monolithic group, emphasizing traits such as studiousness, diligence, and obedience, and overlooking their diverse individual qualities. Such perceptions can have detrimental effects. Aspiring Asian-American leaders or law partners may find themselves pigeonholed as effective but potentially lacking creativity or vision, consequently limiting their ascent to senior roles.

To give context, Prof. Huang examines notable historical examples of institutional biases against Asians in the U.S., notably citing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This federal law, unique in its explicit targeting, suspended Chinese immigration and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization. Prof. Huang also references the Supreme Court's 1944 Korematsu decision, which sanctioned the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. While such glaring acts of state discrimination have diminished, Prof. Huang emphasizes that today's Asian-American lawyers still wrestle with more subtle, often unspoken or subconscious biases. He further enriches the discussion by introducing concepts like the “perpetual foreigner syndrome” or the minority “cloak of invisibility” shedding light on multifaceted challenges Asian-American professionals encounter.