Like many life changing moments, it took a split second for Calvin Chui to explore a new career in Law- a path unlike any of his family members. His dedication has made him into not only a successful attorney, but also an active leader in the community of Macau.
It wasn’t until he was flipping the pages of a magazine at his family home in Macao, during high school holidays, that Calvin Chui started nurturing the idea of studying Law. A member of the influential Chui family in Macao, Calvin attended Pui Ching Middle School before leaving to the United States at the age of 14 to further his education.
Finding his path
In Moraga, a small town in San Francisco Bay Area, California, young Chui went to meet his older brother, whom was also studying there. “It was very natural for me to follow his steps. We both went to the same high school and we had a pretty good experience in there”, he recalls. Looking back, he admits, “it was a very young age to leave home”. Fortunately, he points out with a smile, both him and his brother “came out fine”.
The son of an engineer and an accountant, Chui saw his brother becoming a Pediatric Doctor before turning to finance – he’s now completing his MBA at Tsinghua University. As for himself, basketball and computers were his first passions. “Studying Portuguese language was not an option in Pui Ching”, he recalls. So, how do Calving Chui ends up studying Law in Lisbon? “One thing that was always stuck in my mind was that my grandfather from my father side could speak Portuguese, and he had a very close relationship with the Portuguese community. From the three families in Macao, Ho-Ma-Chui, my grandfather was the one who could speak more Portuguese. From time to time we would go to Clube Militar or Restaurante Litoral”, he tells.
In California, Chui took a Spanish language course while continuing to improve his computer skills. Later, during his 11th grade summer, he came back to visit Macao. Since Moraga is very close to Berkeley where my father got his degree and became a civil engineer, Chui’s my mind was set on the path of, ‘Berkeley, computer science’.
It was only in that summer that Chui fatefully picked up a magazine in his home and read an article about Macanese students going to Portugal to study law, funded by a foundation. This got him thinking, “My father is an engineer, my mother is a registered accountant, and my brother was studying Medicine. It seems like all of us are doing different things, so maybe I should think of something else. None of us studied Law.” Upon asking for his parents’ opinions about him pursuing Law, they encouraged him to choose whatever he desired.
The summer of 2009 was coming to an end when Chui first landed in Lisbon, which was also the first time he visited Europe. For one year, he studied Portuguese Language at University of Lisbon. One year later, he started his Law Degree at the Catholic University.
“Before I arrived to Lisbon in 2009 I had never traveled to Europe. Lisbon was the capital of a European country. I was coming from around San Francisco, which wasn’t even the capital of California. So I thought ‘Lisbon should be amazing, like Paris or London’. But, when arrived, to the same airport as nowadays but way smaller, and with much worst surroundings, I thought ‘Wow, what have I got myself into?’”
Chui remembers those times when he was browsing “an uncharted area, in terms of culture, language, and people”. Wanting to become a top professional, he started taking internships and other opportunities. In 2011, he took a summer internship at Macao’s firm Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés– where he currently still employed. One year later, he was a summer intern at PLMJ, one of the biggest law firms in Portugal. Finally, in 2014, Calvin Chui acted as a “Legal Clinic Intern” at the Corporate Finance team of the Tax Department of KPMG & Associates in Lisbon.
“Once I realized I loved Law, I decided I’d either be a Law professor or a lawyer. Being a judge was never in my mind”, says Chui. Even after studying in Portugal, he felt there was something missing. He wanted to go to the United States again. Thus, he made a list of schools, the top 14 and some other schools that for consideration. In 2014, he packed up his life yet again and entered a Master of Laws at the University of Chicago Law School. Before returning to Macao, Calvin Chui took the New York State Bar exam, becoming also a registered attorney in the U.S.
Alongside his academic career, Chui developed signification associative activity. While studying in Portugal, he created the Luso-Macanese Students Association, that would later evolve into the Macau Youth Summit, an event happening for five years already, presided by Chui and bringing together hundreds of local young adults studying everywhere around the world.
“The Macau Youth Summit was all about us wanting to contribute to Macao. But how do we do that? Through social participation, of course. But we didn’t know anything from Macao, we were so far away. We needed to equip ourselves with knowledge. We started liaising with other Macanese students associations, in UK, then later Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and United States. We all together thought that we needed to have an event for ourselves, which could provide us the information we need about our Macao. That’s how Macau Youth Summit came around, like a federation of people from different regions”, says Chui.
Macau Youth Summit latest edition, sponsored by private entities, donations and funds from some of its associates, happened this year and brought more than 500 people to Macao. The project mission, Chui believes, is “to help Macao to evolve and improve”, and to make an impact on Macao influencers. “In the face of a great challenge, we can never say that we are 100 per cent prepared. But the art of achieving something is to take a leap of faith. It’s usually when we put ourselves in an uncomfortable zone that we’ll achieve something greater, so we are always trying new methods and ideas”, he adds.
On a personal level, Chui aims to complete his trainee period at Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés law firm and to become a licensed lawyer and the Macau Lawyers Association. Teaching Law is another path Chui sees himself taking on, having already received an invitation from City University of Macau. This ambitious young man aims to have more involvement in public affairs and summarizes his objectives with this sentence: “My goal is to have a memorable and successful adventure in my life”.