Xi “Wallace” Bao
Xi “Wallace” Bao ’15 LL.M., a native of Inner Mongolia, China, came to Columbia Law School to become a better transactional attorney after working in the corporate world and at Reed Smith in China for several years. He will become an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in the firm’s New York office once he graduates and is thrilled at the opportunity.
“New York is the center of the deal-making world,” he says.
At the Law School, Bao took advantage of the many corporate and transactional law offerings, including the popular course called Deals Workshop: The Art of the Deal in Mergers and Acquisitions. He says he learned an important lesson in a corporate tax class when Professor Richard Berenson Stone had the students analyze the text of IRS code, only to reveal later that the words at issue were misprints.
“It was very enlightening,” Bao says. “Previously, I thought the law is the law, as written. But one of the reasons Columbia Law School isn’t just any other law school is because of all the great professors who are positioned not only to follow and practice the law, but also to critique and improve it.”
Bao decided he wanted to be a transactional attorney after working as a project manager for Kodak in China. He assisted on some of the company’s major deals in the country, including its initial investment in, and eventual divestment from, Lucky Film, China’s largest filmmaker at the time.
“The aspect I liked most was the negotiation,” says Bao, who worked as a liaison between the two companies and as an interpreter. “I could see how the two sides were sometimes going in slightly different directions, what the gaps and discrepancies were. I tried to be proactive in helping overcome the noise in their communications.”
After eight years with Kodak, Bao returned to school on a part-time basis, eventually earning his juris master degree in 2013 from Peking University, while also completing the coursework required for an M.B.A. through Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. He was an associate at Reed Smith before applying to Columbia Law School’s LL.M. program.
Bao eventually hopes to return to China to advise Chinese companies entering the global markets as investors. But until then, he is at home in New York. Bao, his wife, and young son have fallen in love with the city—especially its inclusiveness.
“From the second we set foot here, we’ve felt like we were a part of it all,” he says.