Student Q&A: Ce-Lai Fong, Rising 3L (She/Her)

Ce-Lai Powell Fong (she/her/hers) is a rising 3L at UCI Law. Ce-Lai is the current president of OutLaw, the LGBTQ+ affinity group at UCI Law, and is passionate about creating positive change in the legal profession for LGBTQ+ individuals. Additionally, Ce-Lai has served as an Executive Co-Chair of the Public Interest Law Fund and is excited to join the Moot Court Board next year.

Beyond the classroom, Ce-Lai can be found searching for the best dim sum in Orange County, training for her latest race (a half-ironman) or working as a crisis counselor for the Trevor Project. Ce-Lai is originally from the Bay Area and is returning home summer 2023 to work as a summer associate at Sheppard Mullin’s San Francisco office. She recently accepted a position with the LGBTQ+ Bar Association Law Student Congress as an At-Large Member. 

Photo of Cei-Lai Fong

Q: Why did you choose UCI Law?

From the beginning of my law school search, UCI Law stood out as a diverse, public service-oriented institution that valued experiential learning over a more “traditional” legal education. As a result, UCI Law has attracted and turned out a group of students who are open to thinking about the law in creative ways to help their clients and communities, which is why I chose to come here. Of course, the weather doesn’t hurt either. 

Q: What has been your proudest accomplishment at UCI Law so far?

My proudest accomplishment has been expanding Dress to Transgress (an event started at UCI Law in 2022) nationwide. Dress to Transgress is a day where law students are encouraged to dress as they would if the concept of "professionalism" fully embraced their identities and communities. The legal profession has historically required many to sacrifice expressing aspects of our identities in the name of our clients during our future legal careers. Dress to Transgress is designed to allow students to reimagine the profession not as it is, but as it could be. It’s important to give us space as future attorneys to think about how we can make our profession more inclusive for ourselves and those who come after us. 

Q: What's your favorite class?

My favorite class would have to be either my clinic or Contracts with Christopher Leslie. I was in the Civil Rights Litigation Clinic with Paul Hoffman and Melanie Partow, and my clinic offered me a wide range of legal experiences that spanned every stage of the litigation process. It was also fantastic to learn from Professor Hoffman and Professor Partow, who are so passionate about fighting against the injustices done to their clients. Contracts was another favorite because of Professor Leslie’s expertise and teaching style, which made a topic I thought would be boring incredibly engaging. 

I would encourage you to embrace your authentic self and know that your unique perspectives and experiences bring immense value to the legal profession.

- Ce-Lai Fong, Rising 3L

Q: You just finished up one year as President of OutLaw and you will serve as President again next year. Would you mind sharing with us a little about your involvement in OutLaw?

It’s an honor to continue my involvement with the vibrant OutLaw community here at UCI Law. We’ve brought back a lot of the social events which were lost during the pandemic, which is so important to building community and holding dedicated, intentional space for LGBTQ+ students. We’re always looking for ways to make sure that our institution is as inclusive as it can be, which is why we are working to expand access to gender-neutral facilities at UCI Law. Additionally, OutLaw plans and hosts Dress to Transgress, and I really enjoyed bringing new speakers into the conversation this year.

Q: As we celebrate Pride month, what message or advice would you like to share with current and prospective LGBTQ+ students considering UCI Law or a career in law?

I would encourage you to embrace your authentic self and know that your unique perspectives and experiences bring immense value to the legal profession. Wherever you choose to go, seek out LGBTQ+ resources and affinity groups like OutLaw or bar associations to find support and connections in the profession. Know that the legal profession is changing (however slowly), and you have the opportunity to advocate for inclusivity and equality within the legal field. Your identity is a strength that can drive positive change and contribute to a more just and inclusive society. Never underestimate the positive impact you can make.