The second of our Member Spotlight Series, CABA highlights the life and career of Tony T. Shu.
By: Elaine Sit
Tony T. Shu, an American dreamer of the first order, was born in Hong Kong after his parents fled Wuxi, a city near Shanghai, China in 1949. He graduated from high school in Hong Kong and at the tender age of 17 became a full scholarship student at Purdue University majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
When most college kids are challenged by doing their own laundry and deciding where to order their next pizza, Tony graduated from Purdue with his B.S. degree in three years. He entered the workforce in 1975, having landed a job as a design engineer at the architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) in Chicago; he wasted no time obtaining his professional engineer license. He also decided to make the United States his permanent home and to make his mark on his adopted hometown in a more personal way.
As an international student and immigrant to the United States, Tony found there was a need for attorneys with Chinese language skills to assist people like him in pursuit of the American dream, and in 1977 he was accepted at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Chicago-Kent College of Law. He kept his job at SOM, working nights and weekends, while attending law school during the day. Tony graduated from IIT Chicago-Kent with a J.D. degree in 1980.
After law school Tony joined Amsted Industries as a patent attorney; he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark. By 1983, Tony was ready to open a private law practice.
Tony is the principal attorney for the Law Offices of Tony T. Shu with locations in Chinatown Square and the Loop in downtown Chicago. He practices in the areas of real estate, immigration and naturalization, corporate and business transactions. He advises and educates clients who are both local and international (based in Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC), Japan and other Asian countries) in starting or acquiring new or existing businesses, in buying and selling homes or real estate investments, in investing in their community here and in immigration matters that include family reunification and employment based visas.
While building his practice, Tony reached out to the community and offered his language skills to the public. Fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English he was a natural choice to host a weekly live radio program for the Global Radio Network in Chicago. Tony’s program, which was broadcast from 1996 to 2005, consisted of helpful legal information for an “at-risk” audience (immigrants with limited or no-English language skills) and a call-in forum so that listeners could get information specific to their needs.
No wonder that Tony has become a frequent lecturer and speaker and an established presence in local media by way of appearances and interviews for WLS-TV, WGN-TV, WTTW-TV, WBEZ-FM, the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune.
Tony is also a stalwart in building bridges between the local Chinese American community and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as well as the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC). He met President Hu Jin-Tao of the PRC during his 2011 visit to Chicago and has hosted events for two PRC Consuls General, Yang Guo-Qiang and Zhao Wei-Ping, of the Chicago PRC consulate. Ever the diplomat, Tony also hosted events for Directors General Perry Shen and Ger Bau-Shuan, of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office (TECO).
At the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce (CCCC), Tony has been elected twice to be chairman and president of the board; he is currently a director and President-Elect. CCCC plays a key role in the long term strategic planning and maintaining the vibrancy of the Chinatown and Chinese American community. He is the past president of the Friends of the Chicago Public Library Chinatown Branch, and an advisor for a variety of government agencies and community based social service providers, including the Cook County State’s Attorney Asian American Advisory Council, Asian Advisory Council to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, the Hong Kong Club, Chinese American Service League (CASL), and the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago.
Tony has been an officer and director of the Chinese American Bar Association (CABA) for decades, and a key player in providing legal assistance to low income individuals in Chinatown through its “law day” events. Tony was legal counsel for the Organization of Chinese Americans Chicago chapter (OCA), a nationwide organization, and a member of the Community Affairs Council for the State of Illinois Treasurer’s office. In 2012, Tony was an Illinois delegate for the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, NC. In 2015 Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez conferred upon Tony the Asian Pacific American Community Service award. In the same year, CABA conferred him the Justice Laura Liu Lifetime Achievement Award.
On top of the credentials already listed, Tony is licensed to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court, U.S. Federal Court for the 7th Circuit, Federal Appellate Court, and U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association.
After more than three decades of community service to his adopted hometown, Tony has achieved the American dream and then some. He has been married to his wife, Yvonne for 36 years and they have three adult children, Adam, David and Sarah.
Tony T. Shu remains a humble dreamer, building bridges between individuals from all walks of life, particularly between the immigrant community and the policy makers. By making his own American dreams come true, Tony has made it possible for thousands of others to realize theirs as well.