Hi AABA family,
I had the privilege of sharing a Saturday morning with the very talented and dedicated AABA board of directors and AABA committee chairs at the annual AABA Board Retreat. I am excited and impressed by the programs and visions of these leaders of the community. We are trying out new programs and we are taking a closer look at ways to engage our members. In the weeks to come, we will start seeing these visions and proposals being implemented.
#AABA40 is not just a hash tag. In order for us to celebrate the 40th anniversary, we must reflect and appreciate the distance we have traveled and the adversity we have overcome. Our success is built on the perseverance of those who came before us. It’s only when we stop taking for granted the privileges we enjoy that our actions and plans become meaningful. #AABA40 is about embracing the spirit of the past while taking on new challenges of tomorrow. This morning at the retreat, I witnessed a team of leaders scope out their plans to better serve their community-with the same defiance in light of the challenges we face today. We must not become complacent with the problems that we see everyday. Instead, we ought to think about ways to bring about changes and carry out that plan in a manner not so different than when our founders started AABA 40 years ago.
During our effort to maintain and expand this great house that our founders have built, please let me and my team know if there is a broken window that we really should fix, or if there are new improvements that you’d like to see. Naturally, we are always looking for people interested in working on the team with us, so please let us know if you are interested and available to help out!
The 40th annual installation dinner of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) was held March 18 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco with 800 people in attendance. This festive event not only featured awards, entertainment and the installation of the new AABA officers and board of directors, but also reflected on the history of AABA and its future. Hung Chang of Harman International was sworn-in as the new AABA President.
The evening of celebration began with a VIP reception, hosted by Vinson and Elkins. The reception was attended by judges, local General Counsels, top-level sponsors, and honorees. The VIP reception also recognized the commitment to diversity and community of AABA long-time supporters – Hyun Park of PG&E and Andrew Kim of Netgear.
AABA members, non-members and guests were welcomed by Stephen Chun, who works as a host, presenter, producer, and director of events, marketing & sponsorship at Asian on Film. A special performance by singer/songwriter D. Edward entertained the crowd as the evening began.
Christine Noma, a partner at Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP, presented the AABA/Nassiri & Jung Public Interest Grant to Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. This grant is awarded “to a California-based direct legal services institution to support the work of law students or recent law school graduates.” The grant was funded by the Nassiri & Jung Foundation and the AABA Law Foundation with a special $20,000 donation from Raymond L. Ocampo, Jr. in honor of AABA’s 40th anniversary to give $40,000 to the Asian Law Caucus.
The 2016-2017 AABA Law Foundation members are: President – Christine Noma, Treasurer – David Tsai with board members Deanna M. Gan, Celia Lee, Jennifer Y. Yee and Suzanne Yamamoto.
The Honorable Sallie Kim, United States District Court, Northern District of California, presented the law student scholarships. The honorees were: Rena Seta, Golden Gate University – Raymond L. Ocampo, Jr. Family Scholarship funded by Raymond L. Ocampo, Jr.; Annie Banh, Golden Gate University – Joe Morozumi Memorial Scholarship funded by donors to the AABA Law Foundation; Lynnette Baclig, Golden Gate University – Asian Pacific American Judges’ Scholarship funded by the Bay Area’s Asian Pacific American Judges and Victor Ng, University of San Francisco – AABA Law Foundation Scholarship funded by donors to the AABA Law Foundation.
Daly City Councilmember Ray Buenaventura presented the Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy to the Honorable Lillian K. Sing (Ret.) and the Honorable Julie M. Tang, (Ret.). This award honors Morozumi’s “spirit and passion for justice and his tireless advocacy for the poor and underrepresented.”
Judge Sing served as a San Francisco Superior Court judge for 32 years and was the first Asian American judge in Northern California. Among Sing’s numerous achievements include being one of the eight original founding members of AABA in 1976 and helping launch San Francisco’s award-winning Drug Court in 1995.
Judge Tang was one of the longest serving judges in the San Francisco Superior Court with almost 25 years of experience and was also elected to the San Francisco Municipal Court in 1990. Among Tang’s accomplishments during her judicial tenure include promoting judicial exchanges with Chinese courts to encourage mutual understanding and judicial reform and serving on various judicial panels with the National Judicial College, California Judges Association, Bar Association of San Francisco, Trial Lawyers Association and the National Business Institute.
Jinah Conroy, Courtroom Sciences, and Rita Lin, U.S. Attorney’s Office, presented the AABA Mentor of the Year and 2016 Judicial Mentorship Program. Miriam Kim, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, is the inaugural winner of the Mentor of the Year Award. AAABA’s 2016 Judicial Mentorship Program gives participants to be “paired one-on-one with a judge in a year-long structured mentorship program.”
Hoyt Zia, the 1986 AABA president who is retired from Hawaiian Airlines as their general counsel, presided over the swearing in of the new AABA officers. The 2016-2017 AABA Officers are: President – Hung Chang; Vice President – Miriam Kim; Treasurer- David Tsai and Secretary- Charles H. Jung. Serving on the AABA Board of Directors are: Kimberly Y. Chin, Michelle Park Chiu, Kristy Young Coleman, John Hamasaki; John B. Lough, Jr., Lisa P. Mak, Kelly M. Matayoshi, Rocky C. Tsai and Robert Uy.
“The Asian bar, and AABA as my “home” bar has been a central part of my life: I met my closest and best friends (including my wife) through AABA networks, and my involvement with AABA led to my involvement in creating and becoming the first president of NAPABA. So it’s impossible to overstate how the Asian bar has impacted my life,” said Zia.
Recognition was also given to outgoing AABA President Eumi Lee, who was the first female Korean American president of AABA and the 15th female president of AABA.
In Lee’s outgoing president’s message she spoke about “transition as we approached our 40th anniversary and the importance of honoring the past while paying it forward.”
“This year we have done just that – we have recognized the legacy of our founders, stayed true or our public service and activist roots, and made AABA stronger for the next generation of lawyers,” said Lee.
Among AABA’s accomplishments of how it “paid it forward” included was how they “denounced the rise this year in anti-Muslim rhetoric and xenophobia” and “by serving over 230 clients through our monthly clinics in Oakland and San Francisco, bringing our members well over a 1,000 clients since I co-founded the clinic in 2007.” AABA has also shown support in the confirmation of Judge Lucy Koh to the Ninth Circuit.
Lee also spoke about how the AABA Board adoption of “our Corporate Governance Policies” and spoke of the launch of the President’s Advisory Council.
Introducing incoming AABA President Chang, Lee recalled his “growth as a professional and as a leader” and his progression through AABA. Lee said Chang “helped bring AABA into the 21st century.” She said Chang has been instrumental in work on the AABA Website and membership database, social media efforts and “brought electronic voting in our elections.”
Chang spoke about AABA’s history, initiatives for the new year and how we should take a “smart risk” and “not wait to accomplish something but to “execute towards our visions faster and more frequently.”
“I would suggest to you that, regardless of the path you take, don’t wait around at the crossroads. As lawyers, we are often crippled by the lack of perfect information or the desire to provide a perfect solution. Driven by our aspiration for perfection, we wait around at the crossroads while opportunities pass us by.” said Chang.
2016 – 2017 AABA Board of Directors
The evening closed with a beautiful performance by actress and singer/songwriter Katherine Park. AABA’s generous donors, sponsors, attendees and everyone involved in organizing were thanked for making this a successful event.
Visit our 40th Anniversary Celebration page
to learn more about AABA’s history and mission,
view our new short film and a few photos.
Final Season of AABA Idol is a Smash!
By Josh Chang, AABA Social Committee Co-Chair
This year, AABA brought back AABA Idol for the final time, a perennial favorite that was discontinued a few years ago. More than 70 AABA members turned out on Feb. 23 for the free food and drinks and free karaoke at the Silver Cloud Restaurant and Karaoke Bar in San Francisco. This year’s competition comprised 15 contestants who sang their hearts out in hopes of winning the approval of the judges. The esteemed panel of judges this year comprised of former AABA president Ted Ting of Bank of America, former AABA president Joan Haratani of Morgan Lewis, and current AABA president Professor Eumi Lee of UC Hastings. While every contestant showed immense talent and impressed the judges, four specifically stood out a little more than the others. Michael Choi won the male category, Quynh Chen won the female category, and the duo of Elvin Yu and Giselle Guro won the group category. Thanks to everyone who made the last AABA Idol an absolute success!
Click HERE for the photo gallery.
This year marked the seventh year for the ever-popular Legally Asian conference, the annual pre-law diversity program sponsored by AABA and other local minority bar associations. On Saturday, February 6, 2016, high school, and college, and post-graduate students filled the University of San Francisco School of Management Downtown San Francisco campus to hear distinguished Asian American lawyers and local law students share their experiences about becoming part of the legal profession.
This year’s conference was located in the heart of Super Bowl City with the festivities in full tilt. Students came from as far as Bakersfield, fighting heavy traffic and street closures to listen to panels of attorneys discuss their careers. All the students were admirably engaged throughout the day, making the conference a successful learning experience for all.
The conference began with inspiring introductory remarks from John Trasviña, the Dean of the USF School of Law. Dean Trasviña encouraged the student attendees to pursue legal education and discussed the importance of diversity in the legal profession. seemingly ignoring the antithetic juxtaposition of the party atmosphere surrounding them.
Firm & and In-House Panel
The first panel of the day began was a powerhouse one moderated by David D. Mesa (Sedgwick, LLP). Alongside Mr. Mesa, the panel consisted of Matthew Ahn (Oracle), Fred N. Lim (Goodwin Proctor, LLP), Sean Tamura-Sato (Minami Tamaki LLP), and Salle Yoo (Uber). The panelists discussed the sometimes brutal reality of high- stakes law practice with palpable real world impact. They shared students were told of humorous but sobering stories of flip acts of discrimination in the legal profession and the possible difficulties of “getting a seat at the table” from a diversity perspective. Ms. Yoo, seized control of this panel, however, encouraged to push the students to strive against any labels to become the most important person “at the table.” The students were mesmerized judging from their flocking to the panelists during break.
Law Student Panel
The law student panel this year was moderated by Victor Ng (University of San Francisco School of Law) and joined by Elisa Sheih (University of California Davis School of Law), Kaitlin Toyama (University of California, Hastings School of Law), and Louis Lee (University of California, Hastings School of Law). The law student panelists shared the road they took to get to law school arrive where they were and what their prospects were looking ahead. They also fielded questions from the students in the audience students who were looking to set their own course in joining their ranks.
Mock Law Class
John Lough (Scherer Smith & Kenny, LLP) led this now- annual component of Legally Asian. The students read a short synopsis of a Fourth Amendment case, broke into small discussion groups led by attorney and law student volunteers, then answered case questions following the classic Socratic method. John “Professor” Lough also presented videos highlighting mainstream representations of the law school experience, and delivered a lecture on legal thinking.
During the lunch hour, the students engaged the various law student and attorney volunteers for a networking session. In the many small groups that formed, students asked questions about internships, practice areas, the proper college majors for law school, and the importance of grades. The conversations were thoughtful and engaging, allowing the student attendees to form meaningful connections. The attorneys and law students were animated, the students engaged.
Public Interest /and Public Service Panel
Following lunch, the students sat riveted by the next panel immediately following lunch moderated by Christy Kwon (National Labor Relations Board) and joined by Sue Ra (Alameda County Public Defender); Wade Chow (San Francisco County Office of the District Attorney); Victor Hwang Ng (Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach); and the Honorable Judge Tracie Brown (San Francisco County Superior Court). The panelists discussed their deliberate choices to forgo more financially lucrative jobs careers and dedicate their career instead to public service, and each panelist told their specific stories on how they did so and why. The students were visibly inspired by this panel’s discussion. The break following this panel was much longer than scheduled as the students excitedly questioned the each panelist for more details.
Alternate Careers Panel
The final panel of the day truly exemplified “deliberate choices.” It was moderated by Shaamini Babu (Saltzman & Johnson Law Corporation) with Eddie Ahn (Brightline Defense Project); Michael Doko (Strotz Friedberg); and Niki Khoshzamir Moore (PracticePro) serving as panelists. Truthfully, this panel may have seemed the most foreign alien to the audience students as few of them seemed exposed to the idea that a law degree could be used for other careers. For this reason, however, this panel may have been the most enlightening. The panelists shared their stories on how and why they used their law degree in a “non-traditional” way, inspiring the students to think creatively on how to apply legal education. Again, these eager students were none only too happy to engage the panelists following the discussion.
Each panel at Legally Asian 2016 reminded the students in the audience that they were the true source of inspiration for the conference. In the conference center. Staying through a full day of attorney discussions on the Saturday of a Super Bowl weekend, the students inspired the conference panelists and volunteers with their ambition, dedication, and interest in pursuing a legal education.
We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for this year’s Legally Asian conference: the University of San Francisco School of Law (venue host and co-sponsor), Danko Meredith (breakfast co-sponsor), Selman Breitman (lunch co-sponsor), Goodwin Procter LLP, the Vietnamese Bar Association of Northern California, the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California, the Filipino Bar Association of Northern California, and the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Special thanks to Conference Coordinators Lisa Mak, Claire Choo, James Lee, and Stephen Chong, and all of our dedicated panelists and volunteers. Together, we can continue to inspire the next generation of legal minds!
On September 22, 2015, the AABA Public Law/Public Service and Civil Rights Committee hosted a panel discussion and mixer entitled “Justice and Diversity in the Federal Government.” Organized under the direction of Public Law/Public Service Committee Co-Chair, Christy Kwon, the event gathered nearly one hundred AABA members, law students, and esteemed guests at UC Hastings Law School’s Alumni Reception Center to listen to Asian Pacific Islander (“API”) leaders in the federal government share their personal viewpoints on diversity in the work place. Andy Huang of the U.S. Attorney’s office, moderated the panel consisting of Alex Tse, Chief of the of the Civil Division at the US Attorney’s Office; Les Jin, NAPABA Law Foundation Board Member and previous counsel for the EEOC, Department of Labor, and Department of Justice; Jina Choi, Director of the San Francisco Regional Office of the SEC; and Bill Tamayo, District Director of the EEOC. Together, the panelists have contributed decades of experience serving the American public and fighting for justice and diversity in their fields.
Although API attorneys are still underrepresented in senior executive positions within the federal government, the speakers evidenced and celebrated the significant strides the API community has made in diversifying the federal bar. Bill Tamayo emphasized the need to “bring in staff who help make an agency relevant and meaningful to communities of color and other protected groups.” Jina Choi emphasized that powerful and influential groups who make investment and disclosure decisions that affect our markets should reflect a diverse pool of experiences and perspectives. Alex Tse revealed how important it was that diverse groups of attorneys were exercising prosecutorial discretion in cases. Les Jin advised aspiring federal attorneys to look for creative ways to prepare for senior management, including developing leadership skills as a volunteer outside of work. He also underscored the importance of diversity in the workplace, stating that “strong organizations need people who bring different perspectives and skills ….you can’t win a ring with 12 Steph Currys.” All of the panelists encouraged API attorneys and law students to consider careers in the federal government.
To learn more about federal government career opportunities, or to get involved with the AABA Public Law/Public Service, please contact the Public Law/Public Service co-chairs Minming Wu, Keith Fong, and Christy Kwon. To get involved with the Civil Rights Committee, please contact co-chairs Lin Chan, Diana Lin, and Sean Tamura-Sato. More information is available on the AABA Committees page.
On February 10, 2016, the Women’s Committee hosted a special Wednesdays with Women to support Asian women considering careers in the judiciary. The event, titled “Stepping up to the Bench: Judicial Careers for API Women,” featured the Hon. Tracie Brown of the San Francisco Superior Court, the Hon. Joni Hiramoto of the Contra Costa Superior Court, and former JNE Commissioner Jiyun Lee, and was moderated by former AABA President Eumi Lee. Judges Brown and Hiramoto shared their personal experiences applying for the bench and building their resumes, and addressed the attendees’ questions about strengthening their own applications. Jiyun Lee shed additional light on the JNE application process and factors the committee considers in evaluating applicants. The Women’s Committee would like to thank the panelists and attendees for a frank and informative discussion.
I feel humbled and honored to have received the Asian Pacific American Judges’ Scholarship last year. I thank all the judges who have donated to the AABA Law Foundation.
Growing up, I never aspired to be a lawyer. As my immigrant parents observed, the law was not a field where Asian Americans succeeded. Instead, I wrote in my eighth-grade yearbook that I wanted to be a genetic engineer. It made my parents proud, even though I really did not know what that job entailed (perhaps something to do with science and engineering).
Today, Asian Americans have made great strides in the legal field—and it’s inspiring. In college, I followed closely the nominations of U.S. District Judges Edward Chen and Lucy Koh, both among the first Asian American Article III judges in the Northern District of California. I cheered when our governors appointed Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court. Outside of California, I found inspiration from U.S. District Judge Miranda Du of Nevada who, like my father, came to the United States as a refugee. And from U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin of New York who, like my mother, came from British Hong Kong.
Asian American judges not only serve as trailblazers, but also as role models who have distinguished their careers in law, government, and private practice. They have inspired me.
I am currently pursuing joint-law and public policy degrees at U.C. Berkeley. At Berkeley Law, I serve as Articles & Essays Editor of the California Law Review as well as Senior Articles Editor of the Asian American Law Journal. I will work at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s San Francisco office this summer. Upon graduation, I will clerk in New Orleans for U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
APA judges serve as role models for generations to come. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor remarked, “[A] role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.’”