Judge Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude in 1975 and received his law degree from Fordham Law School in 1978. After clerking for the Honorable Henry F. Werker, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, he was associated with the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell from 1980 to 1982. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1982 until 1986, when he and two of his colleagues from the U.S. Attorney's Office started a law firm, Campbell, Patrick & Chin. In 1990, he joined Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., where he specialized in labor and employment law.
From September 13, 1994, through April 23, 2010, Judge Chin served as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He presided over a number of notable matters, including cases involving Megan's Law, the Million Youth March, Al Franken's use of the phrase "Fair and Balanced" in the title of a book, the Naked Cowboy, the Google Books Project, and the United Nations Oil for Food Program. He also presided over the trial of an Afghan warlord charged with conspiring to import heroin and the guilty plea and sentencing of financier Bernard L. Madoff.
On April 26, 2010, Judge Chin was sworn in as United States Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.
Judge Chin has taught legal writing at Fordham Law School since 1986. While in private practice, he provided extensive pro bono representation to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He served as President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York from January 1992 through January 1994. He has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including Hartley House, Care for the Homeless, the Clinton Housing Association and the Prospect Park Environmental Center. He is currently a Vice President of the Fordham Law School Alumni Association, a member of the advisory boards of the Feerick Center for Social Justice and the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University.
Judge Chin is the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University, the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association, the Edward Weinfeld Award from the New York County Lawyers Association, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Judicial Friends, the Abely Award for Leading Women and Children to Safety from Sanctuary for Families, the Medal of Achievement from the Fordham Law Alumni Association, and the J. Edward Lumbard Award from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
Judge Chin was born in Hong Kong.