Graduate Spotlight: Joseph Jo '23 Plans to Launch an International Non-Profit Law Firm

Joseph Jo ’23 poses with his five-year-old son.

This story is part of a series of profiles featuring some of this year’s outstanding law school graduates from UC Law San Francisco.

After previously working as a licensed attorney in his home country of South Korea, Joseph Jo will graduate this May with a JD from UC Law San Francisco and be closer to his dream of starting an international non-profit law firm to assist clients in Asian countries.

“The reason I chose to become an attorney was my passion for helping others to solve their personal and legal problems,” Jo said.

Before attending UC Law SF, Jo earned a Bachelor of Laws and JD in South Korea. He later passed the bar there and worked as a judge advocate in the Korean military. He said he chose to advance his legal studies across the Pacific so he could learn more about the common law system in the U.S. and gain hands-on experience working with nonprofit organizations.

Jo said he chose UC Law San Francisco in particular because of its excellent reputation in South Korea and well-regarded clinic and externships programs, “I was drawn to living in San Francisco because of its diversity and the presence of many amazing non-profit law firms in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

In law school, Jo spent two summers working with nonprofit organizations, where he helped low-income tenants stay in their homes and assisted low-income seniors with their wills. He also served as staff editor and senior production editor of the UC Law SF Journal, which published his note on a comparative study of U.S. and Korean disability law.

“I believe all of these experiences have provided me with the foundation I need to become a successful litigator and achieve my long-term goal of establishing an international non-profit law firm,” he said.

In law school, Jo also balanced his role as student with his responsibilities as a parent. His son was two years old when he started. Jo said he was thankful for UC Law SF’s parental support programs, including its priority class registration for parents and group meetings for student parents.

“Speaking with other student parents provided me with great emotional support, knowing that I was not alone in my struggles with parenting and studying,” he said. “My son is now five years old, and I’m incredibly proud of him and my wife, who have been with me throughout my law school journey.”

After graduating and passing the bar, Jo plans to join the employment and civil litigation team at Open Door Legal, a San Francisco-based non-profit that provides pro bono and low-cost legal services. Jo has been working as an intern on the Elder Law Team at Open Door Legal since last summer.

Jo said he would advise other law students to take advantage of the many experiential learning opportunities available at UC Law SF, “For potential students, I would highly recommend the school’s clinic and externship programs, which provide valuable hands-on experience in various areas of law.”