||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010)|
Born into an intellectual Chinese family in Hong Kong, with ancestry from Taishan Guangdong, Yu was educated at home for many years before attending Wah Yan College Hong Kong, a prominent Jesuit high school in Hong Kong. In 1938, at the age of sixteen, he was admitted to the University of Hong Kong, where he studied in the arts program as a Government Scholar.
In 1941, shortly after the Pacific War had broken out, Yu served with British Naval Intelligence and was commissioned as an officer in the Intelligence Corps of the Army of the Republic of China. In 1945, Yu was awarded a Victory Scholarship by the Government of Hong Kong to continue his studies in England. He studied at Merton College, Oxford until 1948, and later passed his Bar Examination.
Jobless and almost penniless, Yu was forced to find himself a profession. Within a 10-month period, he familiarised himself with all the "niceties" of the English common law, studying in the Bar Library at Lincoln's Inn. In 1949, he passed the bar exam of England and Wales and practised briefly as a chancery barrister in London.
In 1950, Yu moved to Malaya for a short period to work in his uncle's firm Shook Lin & Bok. He soon went back to Hong Kong, and in 1951 became the first Chinese person to be appointed Crown Counsel of that British colony. Yu resigned in 1953 and commenced a private practice.
He soon built up a sterling reputation as an advocate, and by the mid-1960s he had already become the top criminal lawyer in town. It was also during this time he helped to establish the first law school in Hong Kong, "The Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong". For that, he received an Honorary LLD degree from the University of Hong Kong.
In the 1970s, Yu was offered a judgeship on the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, an invitation he declined. Two similar offers were made during the decade. Yu declined both on the grounds of the discriminatory employment terms. Yu was also known for his refusal to apply to become Queen's Counsel, a mark of distinction envied by many practitioners in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and in many other Commonwealth countries.
In 1983, after thirty years of private practice, Yu decided to retire. He became an autobiography author and story-teller, and has published two volumes of memoirs and stories since.
He became a life member of the Hong Kong bar association in 1994.
- University of Hong Kong (2003). Growing with Hong Kong: the University and its graduates : the first 90 years. University of Washington Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-962-209-613-4.
- Matthews Clifford N., Cheung Oswald (1998). Dispersal and renewal: Hong Kong University during the war years. University of Washington Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-962-209-472-7.
- Tales from No. 9 Ice House Street, 2002 ISBN 962-209-580-1
- A Seventh Child and The Law, 2000 ISBN 962-209-524-0