A native of the People’s Republic of China, Jia Zhao, Esq., attended Beijing Foreign Studies University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1963. Following the receipt of her undergraduate degree, she was assigned to work as a U.S. desk officer at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, working with the ministry for eight fruitful years before deciding to study law in the United States to cultivate a greater understanding of the American legal system. After immigrating to the United States, she attended Harvard University and earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1983, becoming the first People’s Republic of China national to earn such a degree.
Licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and the state of Illinois, Ms. Zhao began working as a senior associate at Baker & McKenzie LLP following the receipt of her law degree. Serving the prominent law firm for over 30 years, she subsequently retired in 2019 at the rank of senior counsel. While at Baker & McKenzie, Ms. Zhao escalated from the rank of senior associate to partner and then senior counsel prior to her retirement.
Over the course of her outstanding career, Ms. Zhao endeavored to bridge the gap between the United States and China, having participated in work that led to the improvement of U.S.-Chinese relations during her tenure with the Chinese Foreign Ministry. During this time, she also served as former President Nixon’s interpreter during his 1975, 1976 and 1979 visits to China. Likewise, Ms. Zhao organized and led one of the first China practice groups in America, which contributed to the cooperation and development of investment and international trade between the United States and China.
Outside of her primary ventures, Ms. Zhao has dedicated much of her time to civic advocacy, having maintained membership with the Lurie Children’s Hospital and Foundation from 1996 to 2019. Likewise, she has been a member of several law-related organizations, including the American Bar Foundation, the District of Columbia Bar, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association and the America Bar Association. In the coming years, Ms. Zhao intends to leverage her 45 years of professional knowledge to continue bridging the gap between China and the United States. She lives by the motto, “Two countries and one heart.”