Huy Le

Family background has guided his career and commitment to civil service

Story by Mark Potts
Photograph by Megan Rei Photography

In his work as a trial attorney with the federal Department of Justice, Huy M. Le, CRT ’12, BS ’12, draws inspiration from his parents’ struggles fleeing the Vietnam War.

“They escaped with just a gallon of water … while my mother was pregnant with my sister,” says Le.

Le’s relatives also bore the scars of war, including an uncle’s experiences in so-called re-education camps. “It always struck me how privileged and how lucky I am to have been born [in the U.S.] and to not have gone through what they did,” says the 2020/2021 Suffolk 10 Under 10 alumni honoree.

Le, who grew up in Dorchester, says his family’s experiences left him with a strong commitment to racial justice, especially in light of the recent rise in bias incidents and violent attacks on Asian Americans. “Being a person of color myself, racial issues have always been in the back of my mind, but nowadays they are at the forefront,” he says.

Family was also an important component of Le’s Suffolk experience. His older sister attended Suffolk, and encouraged him and his younger brother to do the same. While at Suffolk, he found his first professional role model: Legal Studies Professor Allan Tow, an Asian-American immigration attorney.

“Having no lawyers in my family, Allan became the mentor I surely needed,” Le says. Tow was easy to talk to and had a similar background and upbringing, something that helped Le commit to a legal career. “Having him in my corner certainly made me more confident about the career path that I was about to embark on,” says Le, who went on to attend law school.

With the Department of Justice, Le is based in Washington, D.C., where he represents the United States in federal court. Galvanized by his family’s history, in 2017 he joined the U.S. Army Reserves Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he serves as first lieutenant for the 8th Legal Operations Detachment. Le was most recently on active duty orders in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Vietnam war looms large in his family, and this is his way of giving back.

“My grandfathers and my great uncles [told] me war stories, how they fought next to American soldiers, not knowing how to speak the same language but willing to die for each other. That struck me,” Le says. “It’s always something that’s been in the back of my mind, so when there was an opportunity for me to join the JAG Corps, where I can refine my lawyering skills as well as fulfill this decade-long desire to serve, it was a no-brainer.”

Huy M. Le, CRT ’12, BS ’12

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