Volume 3, Number 1 • November 2004
Turning Your Daily Commute Into a Training Session: The Chicago Saxophone Lawyer
By Amy Lin Meyerson
Who is the Asian guy playing in that band? No, it is not the lead singer for Hoobastank—it is Michael P. Chu. Mike is a partner with the Chicago law firm of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, where he specializes in patent and trademark law. Mike serves on the firm’s Diversity Committee and is a former chair of the firm’s Associates Committee. Mike holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, and a J.D. from The College of William and Mary in Virginia.
Although his geeky IP job is certainly interesting, the incredible ways that Mike has been able to find time to enjoy life outside of the practice of law are what is fascinating about him. This father of three kids runs marathons, plays the saxophone, and sings in an a capella group. To fit marathon and triathlon training into his busy schedule, he turns his daily commute to and from work into a fitness routine. “I looked at my commute time as a free hour to train with no time loss in my day,” says Mike. Most mornings he runs or bikes six miles to his office on the Chicago lakefront. Then, at the end of the workday, he turns around and runs or bikes home. Even when he is out-of-town on business, he gets his morning run in before his first meeting begins. Mike has competed in two Ironman races and completed his ninth marathon on October 9th.
His life as a lawyer and passion for music intersect when he plays saxophone with other attorneys. Mike plays first-chair alto saxophone for the Chicago Barrister’s Big Band of the Chicago Bar Association and classical alto sax in Chicago’s Esquire Saxophone Quartet. He also sings first tenor with an a capella group called the Other Other Guys and dabbles in portrait photography. Here’s a picture he took of his daughter’s friend’s dog.
“The nice thing about these activities is that those involved can participate at their own pace. We’re all busy with family and professional activities (many of us are lawyers), and leisure activities need to be just that: leisure. With music, we rehearse when we all have time. If we’re too busy, we don’t. There’s no pressure, and that keeps us interested and excited about what we’re doing,” says Mike.
He also gives back to his community. On November 1, 2004, Mike will become the president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). Throughout his career, Mike has maintained a strong commitment to the Asian Pacific American (APA) community through his bar activities and volunteer work. Mike has been a dedicated member of NAPABA for several years through its Partners Forum and as a speaker at various NAPABA conventions. Mike has also served on NAPABA’s Board of Governors as VP Finance, VP Development, and chair of the Personnel Committee. Mike was privileged to be chosen as one of NAPABA’s “Best Under 40” attorneys at its 2002 convention. Within his local community, Mike has served on the board of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area for 4 years and remains on the board today. In addition to serving the Midwest’s APA community through AABA-Chicago’s activities for nearly a decade, Mike has worked to improve communication and relations between the Midwestern APA legal community and NAPABA. Mike is also a frequent speaker on both legal and APA issues.
Of course, Mike’s successes in life would not be possible without the support of his family, especially that of his wife, Stephanie. The couple met and began dating in law school and have had a successful partnership ever since. Mike, Stephanie, and their three children (ages 7, 5, and 2) live in Chicago.
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