An-Ping "Ping” Hsieh brings 33 years experience as a practicing lawyer, 23 of those as a senior in-house counsel at United Technologies and Hubbell Incorporated, to a new position at UConn School of Law: visiting professor from practice.
His leap from the business world to university life may look bigger than it feels subjectively to Hsieh. He grew up around a series of universities, from Washington, D.C., to England, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Pittsburgh, because his parents were both academics. “I’m certainly not a true academic. My career has always been in the business world,” he said. “But I’ve always felt comfortable on campuses.”
The visiting professorship, which is funded by donors, is intended for lawyers with extensive experience in senior legal or executive positions in large companies or non-profits, successful start-ups, or government. Each visiting professor will serve for a term of one to three years.
Dean Timothy Fisher envisions the visiting professor as a resource for faculty, students, alumni and the business community. The incumbents may give guest lectures, advise students on projects and careers, offer expertise and perspectives to researchers and clinics, and organize training and conferences. As the inaugural visiting professor, Hsieh will help explore those possibilities and shape the position for future years.
“We are fortunate indeed to have Ping join us as the first visiting professor in this role,” Fisher said. “The wealth of experience and new perspectives he brings will enrich our students’ experiences in many different courses and projects.”
For Hsieh, it is a perfect opportunity for the next chapter in his career. A graduate of Yale University and Boston College Law School, he worked in private practice before joining the Digital Equipment Corporation as a corporate attorney. He then had a 16-year career at United Technologies Corporation, first as the chief legal officer for Otis Elevator’s Asia Pacific Area region. He rose to positions of increasing responsibility as deputy general counsel of Otis, general counsel of UTC’s then Fire & Security division and then as vice president, secretary and associate general counsel of United Technologies. In 2012, Hsieh joined Hubbell Incorporated as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary before retiring this past March.
His experiences have made him value the critical thinking skills he learned in law school, and he would advise law students to nurture that fundamental skill.
“Law students are taught how to analyze issues in a certain manner, and it is a unique and valued skill,” he said. “ After mastering that ability, an effective lawyer needs to learn how to translate and communicate that skill to clients to help provide practical, effective, often non-legal business solutions.”
Hsieh also urges an expanded view of what lawyers can do. He noted that with the growth in technology, data analytics, cyber security, compliance and the like, today’s law school graduates may be competing with business school graduates or engineers for jobs in interrelated fields.
“We shouldn’t be narrowing our perspective, we should be broadening it,” he said.