Lillian Y. Lim, class of 1973

Lillian Y. Lim, class of 1973

Judge Lillian Y. Lim, class of 1973, is a retired Judge of the California Superior Court. She was the first of her family born in the United States. Her mother, Socorro, is from Baliwag, Bulacan in the Philippines where she obtained a sixth grade elementary education. Her father, Alfredo, was from Iloilo Iloilo in the Philippines later immigrating to the United States as a teenager where he worked as a houseboy, chauffeur, and stoop farm laborer, eventually obtaining his GED degree which led to work as a TV repairman and instrument mechanic.

This interview captures the oral history of Lillian Y. Lim, Brown University class of 1973 and the first Filipina American Judge in the United States.

Lim begins by talking about her parents’ early lives in the Philippines and shares how they met during World War II. She explains that her two older brothers were born in the Philippines and that she was the first in her family, followed by her younger brother, to be born in the United States. She describes challenges her family faced in California due to racism as well as their difficult financial circumstances, both of which impacted Lim’s future goals.  

Lim goes on to remember how she learned about Brown through a seemingly random recruitment letter. She talks about arriving on campus for the first time in the fall of 1969 after taking her first trip in an airplane and being one of a small number of Asian students. She recalls having a challenging first year being so far from home, but finding friendship with coworkers at her student-work position in the Chemistry Department. She also fondly remembers several courses that she was able to take because of the open curriculum. Lim also describes extracurricular activities including anti-Vietnam War protests on and off campus and being a founding member of the Asian American Student Association.

In discussing her life after Brown, Lim also talks about deciding to attend Law School and making her way to Judge of the California Superior Court. She also describes the origins of the Asian American Bar of California, Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego, and Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, all of which she co-founded. Lim closes with some advice for Brown students and law students and appreciation for her time at Brown.

Recorded on Feb 7, 2022


Interviewed by Amanda Knox, Assistant Archivist