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2018 Top 10 30-Somethings: Greg Wu

Top Ten 30 Somethings
Greg Wu has always been an empathic and inclusive person — perhaps a byproduct of growing up as a middle child and as a twin. In grade school, he was always the first one to befriend a new student in class.

As he matured, his desire to better understand people's minds led him to study psychology at Duke University, while his desire to stop his mom from nagging him led him to attend Harvard Law School (she didn't stop). Studying something as complex as the human mind helped prepare him to practice an area of law arguably even more complex — employee benefits (commonly known as ERISA).

He is now managing counsel of employee benefits at United Airlines. He is also the president of United's Multi-Cultural Business Resource Group (known as UNITE), where he plays a similar role to the one he played in grade school: making people feel included.

UNITE educates employees about different cultures, plans professional development and networking opportunities for its members, and helps the company recruit diverse talent. Since Wu took over as president last year, membership has almost tripled, and UNITE is now the largest business resource group at the company.

One of the first issues he wanted to solve as UNITE's president was a logistical one — the inefficient and ineffective use of sign-in sheets to track event attendance and sign-up new members. This age-old method was time-consuming and often yielded incomplete or illegible information.

His team found a simple, practical solution: a US$15 magnetic card reader. Every United employee has an identification badge that is used to enter the office.

Now employees can quickly swipe their badge before attending a UNITE event, and their name and email address are automatically entered into an Excel sheet. Wu shared this new process with other employee groups at United, and it was quickly adopted company-wide.

Wu's efforts to advance diversity extend beyond UNITE. He mentors diverse law students every year under numerous mentorship programs and is involved with various organizations working to build a more diverse legal profession.

"We are past the point of needing to debate whether diversity matters or not," he contends, adding that it will take dedicated leaders actively working to improve diversity to effect significant change.

One organization he's involved with that has such leaders is the Leadership Council of Legal Diversity (LCLD), where he serves on the executive council with other alumni from the LCLD Fellows Program.

Wu also leads United's involvement with Legal Prep's Negotiations Program, where volunteers teach inner-city students critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills through a negotiations workshop. "To improve legal diversity, we need to address the talent pipeline and get diverse individuals interested in the legal profession to begin with," he maintains.

Wu likes to make time for other pro bono opportunities as well. For example, he has helped undocumented immigrant children obtain employment authorization and avoid deportation; he travels to senior citizen centers in low-income areas to draft Powers of Attorney; he counsels parents on their disabled children's special education rights; he helps low-income families get tax refunds; and he mentors foreign nationals and foster children seeking job opportunities.

Although he has received such honors as the NAPABA Best Lawyers Under 40 Award and the Stakeholder 100 Award, the proudest moment of his legal career may have come recently after he helped a pro bono client win a civil asset forfeiture case.

"As a transactional attorney, I could always joke about being undefeated at trial," Wu says. "But after 15 years of practicing law, I can finally say I won one!" Maybe his mom will finally stop nagging him now.

More 2018 Top 10 30-Somethings

Sheila Bangalore

Christopher Y. Chan

Steve Gangemi

Mary Gritzmacher

Paul Lanois

Olga V. Mack

Shelly Paioff

Julie Ryan

Diana Toman

About the Author

Joshua H. Shields is the managing editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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