Judge Tu M. Pham was sworn in as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Tennessee on April 21, 2003, at the age of 31. Judge Pham, at the time of his appointment, was the youngest federal magistrate judge in the United States. He is also the country’s first federal judge born in Vietnam.
Judge Pham graduated from Tulane University in 1993 with a B.A. in English, and was president of the Tulane University Vietnamese Association. He received his law degree from The University of Illinois College of Law in 1996, graduating summa cum laude (highest honors), and was a member of the Order of the Coif. While in law school, Judge Pham was the Articles Editor for the law review, a writer for the Illinois Bar Journal–Recent Decisions Section, and an Albert J. Harno Scholar. He also served as secretary for the Asian-American Pacific-Islander Law Students Association.
After law school, Judge Pham was a law clerk to the Honorable William L. Garwood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Judge Pham later joined the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago as a litigation attorney, focusing primarily on complex litigation, antitrust and intellectual property matters.
In 1999, Judge Pham became an Assistant U.S. Attorney, first with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee, and later with the Northern District of Illinois. As a federal criminal prosecutor, Judge Pham investigated and prosecuted numerous criminal cases on behalf of the United States, including the successful prosecution of defendants for racketeering, bribery of public officials, tax evasion, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking, and gang-related crimes. Just prior to his appointment as a magistrate judge, Judge Pham was assigned to the Chicago Office’s International Narcotics Unit, prosecuting drug trafficking and money laundering by Colombian and Mexican cartels.
Judge Pham was born on November 17, 1971, in Di Linh, Vietnam, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1975.