For The Record

Assistant professor Da Lin has long been fascinated by the precise nature of mathematics, but these days she spends her time asking questions and interrogating truths — and encouraging her students to do the same.

“Law teaches us that it’s important to probe,” Lin said. “Whether it’s empirical data, the way legal structures are formed, or the validity of legal norms, it’s important for us to reject assumptions and ask, ‘Is this really true?’”

Lin earned a joint master’s and bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics at Harvard, and took a job at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York after graduation. Working in the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis focused her teaching interests in corporate governance and financial regulation. She has always drawn heavily on this background in math while practicing and teaching law, understanding how data and statistical frameworks underpin and influence the legal system.

Don't forget why you came to law school.

Lin always knew she wanted to attend law school, so she returned to Cambridge, Massachusetts to earn her J.D. After clerking for Judge R. Lanier Anderson III at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and working at an Atlanta law firm, Lin returned to Harvard as a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law. She once described academia as a place that offered “the freedom to go down rabbit holes; you can chase whatever questions that come to mind.”

Lin, who joined the faculty in 2019, has found many kindred spirits at Richmond Law. “My students are incredibly, incredibly curious, but also warm and thoughtful in the way they seek knowledge,” said Lin. “This past semester, they’ve also been very tenacious. They transitioned to online learning and balanced unexpected circumstances, like having to worry about child care. They showed up and were actively engaged in class while being respectful of each other’s challenges.

“They were also very generous with me,” Lin said. “I had amazing mentors and teachers when I was in law school — people who supported and championed me. That’s why mentorship is important; I wouldn’t be a law professor — or a lawyer — without the help of others.”

As Lin continues to guide her students through the complexities of 2020 and beyond, she encourages them to embrace an indisputable truth in a wildly uncertain world.  “Lawyers come to law school for a reason — often because they see a problem that they want to fix. I remind them, ‘Don’t forget why you came to law school and what you want to achieve through the language of the law.’”