Margaret Harker, L'11, is passionate about China. “It’s the most exciting place to be in the world,” she says. As a freshman at Santa Clara University in California’s Silicon Valley, she decided to study in Beijing, and found Asian studies a perfect link to her interest in politics.

Harker spent her junior year in Beijing at the University of International Business and Economics and interned at China Daily newspaper. Between her junior and senior years, she taught English at the Institute for Global Chinese Affairs at the University of Maryland, which brought her closer to her home in the DC metro area.

After graduating with a degree in political science, Asian studies, and studio art, Harker worked for Fox News and for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on its China team, managing the Chamber’s China Business Grassroots program. There she helped promote small and medium-sized enterprise business with China. “I organized 10 programs each year to strategically selected second and third-tier cities around the United States …. I was the liaison with the Chinese Embassy and recruiter of high level China experts,” she says.

Harker’s father and older brother are attorneys. “My family was always very open and encouraged us to choose something we would enjoy and could be good at," she says. "The profession of law is very meaningful to me. A lawyer can do a lot of good and help people. You can do justice – that is a very honorable thing.”

Harker chose the University of Richmond School of Law because, she says, “it’s a balance between professionalism and a warm, open environment, with numerous job opportunities with many state and federal courts and top law firms nearby.” With two summer clerkships with the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Virginia Court of Appeals under her belt, Harker has gained a unique perspective into the practice of law from a judge’s point of view. 

As president of the Richmond Student Chapter of the Federalist Society, Harker helps to bring top legal scholars to campus for forums and debates throughout the year. Founded as a student organization in 1982, the Federalist Society has expanded to include chapters at more than 180 U.S. law schools with a membership of more than 20,000 practicing attorneys in 60 cities. The Federalist Society's goal is to promote open and honest debate about fundamental principles of freedom, federalism, and judicial restraint. While many believe the Society has a partisan agenda, Harker says, “It’s a non-partisan organization – there are open debates even among members.”

In addition to running a very active student organization and keeping up with a demanding academic schedule, Harker also works several hours per week as a research assistant in tax policy for Ken Davis, a local attorney who also teaches at Richmond’s School of Continuing Studies.

Harker already has a job lined up for this summer at the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of New Jersey. When she graduates from Richmond in 2011, she wants to become a prosecutor or defense attorney.