Chinese migrant given US law licence 125 years on

Hong Yen Chang

The California Supreme Court has posthumously awarded a law licence to a Chinese immigrant who was barred from becoming a lawyer 125 years ago.

Hong Yen Chang was barred from practising law in 1890 by the same court because “persons of the Mongolian race” were not granted citizenship.

In a nine-page ruling, the court said its earlier decision was “discredited”.

Campaigners have worked since 2011 to have the licence granted to Chang, the country’s first Chinese lawyer.

“We grant Hong Yen Chan posthumous admission as an attorney and counselor at law in all courts of the State of California,” reads the first sentence of the decision, which has been published by local radio station KQED.

“More than a century later, the legal and policy underpinnings of our 1890 decision have been discredited,” the court said.

Chang came to the United States in 1872. He earned an undergraduate degree from Yale in 1879, and a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1886.