Edward C.Y. Lau was born on November 10, 1942 in Compton, CA, the oldest of four children born to Arthur and Marietta Lau, who both hailed from Chung-San city in the Guangdong province of China. Ed attended John C. Fremont High School, where he was elected Student Body President his senior year and was selected to be “Mayor for the Day” for being one of the top high school graduates in Los Angeles. After high school, Ed attended UC Berkeley. He graduated in 1965 with a degree in Communications.
It was at Berkeley that Ed met the love of his life, Shirley Chuang, at the International House dormitory where they both lived. In 1965, Ed and Shirley got married and started their new life in Daly City, Ed working as an insurance agent and Shirley working as a computer software engineer. In 1967, their son Steve was born and, a year later, their daughter Elaine arrived.
While selling insurance offered a decent living, Ed thought it was boring. He was interested in becoming a lawyer. Shirley had a feeling that Ed would make a great lawyer. He was a charismatic public speaker, so she encouraged him to follow his dream. Ed attended the Golden Gate University School of Law at night while working a full-time job and raising two young children. In 1973, he graduated, passed the Bar Exam, and became a lawyer. An entrepreneur at heart, Ed opened his own law firm, the Law Offices of Edward C.Y. Lau, that same year.
Ed had a general civil practice, handling a wide range of cases - from immigration to personal injury and from divorce to estate planning - what he liked to call the “bread and butter” cases. But he also had opportunities to work on impactful cases that were in-line with his personal beliefs and values. He was a Plaintiff’s lawyer - focusing on pursuing justice for people who were harmed physically or financially by others. He was involved in two major class action lawsuits against the makers of the Dalkon Shield IUD and silicone breast implants, representing hundreds of women in the US and Taiwan. He represented China’s top women’s professional tennis player Hu Na in seeking political asylum in the United States. As a result, China blacklisted Ed from entering the country for many years. To Ed, helping Hu Na escape persecution was worth being blacklisted.
Some of Ed’s other notable accomplishments included representing the Kingdom of Tonga in negotiating satellite leases, serving as a US Delegate to the Hague Convention where he worked on a treaty for the enforcement of foreign judgments, and serving as a clinical mentor for law students at the UC Berkeley School of Law and the Golden Gate University Law School.
Ed was very active in the Chinese community, serving as Founding President of the Silicon Valley for Democracy in China, which was established after the Tiananmen Square incident. He also provided legal counsel for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, the Chung San Family Association, Taiwan Television, and Chinese TV station KPST.
Steve and Elaine both followed in their dad’s footsteps - graduating from Cal, going to law school, and becoming lawyers. People asked Ed all the time whether he pushed them to go to law school. He did not. However, he was thrilled that they both decided to follow in his footsteps. As newly minted lawyers, Steve and Elaine both joined Ed’s law firm. Elaine eventually left to pursue other career opportunities, but Steve continued practicing law with Ed. They changed the firm name to Lau and Lau Law Firm and practiced together for 24 years until Ed retired in 2016, having practiced law for 45 years. Steve carries on Ed’s legacy and continues to practice at the law firm to this day.
In his spare time, Ed enjoyed following his favorite sports teams. He would tell you he was a 49ers, Giants, and Warriors fan, but having grown up in Los Angeles, he never stopped being a Rams, Dodgers, and Lakers fan! He also loved following the Cal football and basketball teams. He enjoyed playing casino games and would spend hours at a craps table losing thousands of dollars while Shirley spent the same time winning it all back at the Black Jack table! Last but not least, Ed loved spending time with his family, especially his four grandkids - Dean, Nikki, Sarah Grace, and Joey.
Ed died on Dec 26, 2021 from respiratory arrest. He was 79 years old. Ed is survived by his wife of 56 years Shirley, son Steve, Steve’s wife Della, and their children Dean and Sarah Grace, and he is survived by his daughter Elaine, her husband Nathan, and their children Nikki and Joey. He is also survived by his uncles Mon Kung and Mon Sing Lau, his siblings Edna Lau, Edwin Wong, and Mayhin Woo, and his cousins, nieces, nephews, and their children.
“The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable,
to be compassionate, to have it make some difference
that you have lived and lived well."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ed’s was a life well lived, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him and were touched by him.