Before joining the state’s highest court, Justice Liu was Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). His primary areas of expertise are constitutional law, education law and policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has published widely on these subjects in books, law reviews, and the general media.
The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Justice Liu grew up in Sacramento, where he attended public schools. He went to Stanford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1991. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a masters degree in philosophy and physiology. Upon returning to the United States, he went to Washington D.C. to help launch the AmeriCorps national service program and worked for two years as a senior program officer at the Corporation for National Service.
Justice Liu graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, becoming the first in his family to earn a law degree. He clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then worked as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, where he developed and coordinated K-12 education policy. He went on to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the October 2000 Term. In 2001, he joined the appellate litigation practice of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C., and worked on an array of antitrust, white collar, insurance, product liability, and pro bono matters.
Justice Liu is a prolific and influential scholar. He has published articles on constitutional law and education policy in the California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, NYU Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and Yale Law Journal, among others. His 2006 article, “Education, Equality, and National Citizenship,” won the Steven S. Goldberg Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Education Law, conferred by the Education Law Association. Justice Liu is also a popular and acclaimed teacher. In 2009, he received UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s most prestigious honor for individual excellence in teaching. He earned tenure at Boalt Hall in 2008 and was promoted to Associate Dean. The Boalt Hall Class of 2009 selected him as the faculty commencement speaker.
Justice Liu serves on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University. He has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Constitution Society, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Public Welfare Foundation. In 2008, he was elected to the American Law Institute. He has also served as a faculty advisor to the California College Prep Academy, a public charter school co-founded by UC Berkeley and Aspire Public Schools.
Justice Liu is married to Ann O’Leary, Director of the Children and Families Program at the Center for the Next Generation. They have two children.