Public Citizen News / September-October 2022
By Chloe Dougherty
This article appeared in the September/October 2022 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.
When she’s not hiking through parks or exploring new areas, Wendy Liu works for Public Citizen Litigation Group. Liu has lived in a variety of places, including Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Philadelphia, and even Tokyo, before moving to the suburbs of New York City, which she considers her hometown. Liu recently moved to Arlington, Va., after living just a few blocks from Public Citizen’s Dupont Circle office for several years.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Princeton University, Liu attended New York University School of Law. In between her undergraduate studies and law school, Liu spent a year in China teaching English and U.S. government and culture. Most recently, she was an associate at Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP.
Liu joined Public Citizen in 2021. She recently won a FOIA case in which Public Citizen sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture for records relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the health and safety of workers at meat and poultry processing facilities.
How would you describe the work you do at Public Citizen?
I’m an attorney in the Litigation Group. We’re a group of public interest lawyers who litigate important and cutting-edge issues to protect the rights of consumers. Within the Litigation Group, I’m the point person for our work on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition to FOIA-related work, I litigate cases and write briefs that cover a wide range of issues in consumer protection and government transparency. My average day is a mix of researching legal issues and writing briefs, giving advice to people within and outside of Public Citizen, and consulting with my colleagues.
What has been your favorite part of working at Public Citizen?
I’ve loved getting to know my colleagues. I count myself incredibly lucky to work with such a smart and talented group of attorneys dedicated to the public interest.
Do you have a favorite hiking spot or a favorite classical music composer?
I really enjoy long-distance hikes. Trekking through the Himalayas on the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal was probably my favorite long-distance hike. In terms of music, I used to play classical piano quite seriously. Chopin is probably my favorite.
Growing up, did you know you wanted to go to law school?
While I was growing up, I had no idea that I wanted to be an attorney. I’m the first lawyer in my immediate and extended family. I first became interested in law when I did an internship with Advocates for Children of New York, a nonprofit based in New York City that works to protect the right to education for children. That internship was my introduction to litigation, and I loved it.
What advice would you give to students interested in law?
I think it’s useful to do at least one or two internships in the legal profession before going to law school, so that the student has a good sense of what the practice of law is actually like. An internship is a great opportunity to get exposure not only to a field of law but also to the day-to-day of the practice of law. Law school can be a huge commitment of time and resources, so it’s good to know what you’re getting into before you embark on a career in law.