Jing Zhao


Roberts Law Firm

Little Rock

Age: 28

Jing Zhao

Everyone thought Jing Zhao’s idea was crazy, a plan to move from southern China to Little Rock to study law. Everyone, that is, except her mother, Jinlan Liu.

“A lot of people didn’t think I could do it,” said Zhao, who parlayed her degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law into an internship and then a job at the Roberts Law Firm.

The doubters predicted that Zhao, a native Mandarin speaker, wouldn’t master the English required to thrive here. “Mom was the only person who believed in me. She always encouraged me to follow my dreams, even though it was very hard at first.”

Five years after landing in Arkansas, Zhao speaks English with the tiniest accent, and her language skills help Chinese companies and investors do business in America. She is the primary attorney for Suzhou Tianyuan Garments Co.'s $20 million direct investment in Arkansas, and serves as a state liaison for the People's Republic of China on various projects. She is on Little Rock's Sister Cities Commission, fostering ties between Arkansans and the people of Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Hanam City, South Korea; and Changchun, China.

“My goal is to help clients do business here, clearing obstacles out of the way on both legal and business fronts." To that end, she is now in a yearlong master’s of tax law program at Northwestern University in Illinois. But she misses Little Rock and plans to return after graduation. “I like the people and love the fried chicken, and the great trees.”