AABA Newsletter - September 2017

President's Message

By Miriam Kim

AABA President & Partner, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

AABA has been continuing its efforts to "Stand Up for Justice" this year. Most recently, we joined NAPABA on a Supreme Court amicus brief challenging the President's revised Muslim and refugee ban. AABA has also continued to hold its monthly pro bono legal clinics in San Francisco and Oakland, and I am proud to announce that the AABA Clinics will be honored by API Legal Outreach at its annual gala on October 20. 

AABA is also continuing to promote the career advancement of Asian Americans for the sake of justice. Justice Goodwin Liu and current and past students of Yale Law School authored an empirical study of Asian Americans in the Law, confirming that Asian Americans, who represent nearly 5% of lawyers nationwide, have made significant progress in the legal profession but remain underrepresented in the leadership ranks of law firms, government, and academia. The same phenomenon is true in corporations. In 2016, Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) reported that there are only 15 Asian Pacific Americans serving as general counsels in Fortune 500 companies. AABA is partnering with the Bay Area Asian American General Counsels (BAAAGC) group to help change the numbers with two initiatives:  a Celebration of 100 Asian American General Counsels in the Bay Area (November 15) and a GC Fellowship Program for senior in-house counsel. We want to raise awareness of the achievements of Asian American in-house counsel and diversify the GC ranks of Fortune 500/1000 companies.

There are many other exciting things happening, including a panel of "Female Firsts" featuring Judge Lucy H. Koh, Debra Wong Yang, and Joan Haratani on September 27; a panel of in-house lawyers for social justice on October 17; and the AABA Holiday Party on November 30. 

Finally, I hope to see everyone at the NAPABA Annual Convention in DC (Nov. 2-5). AABA Sustaining Member Pankit Doshi will be installed as NAPABA President, and six Bay Area attorneys will receive the Best Under 40 Award (Suhi Koizumi, Rita Lin, David Mesa, Vilaska Nguyen, Vineet Shahani, and Christine Start). In addition, you don't want to miss the panels featuring AABA members or the AABA/NAPABA party on Friday night. Join us!

Op-Ed on “A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law”

By Eric Chung, Xiaonan April Hu & Christine Kwon

A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law started with a simple question: what is the status of Asian Americans in the legal profession? Looking to the past, some visionaries came to mind: Patsy Mink, the first minority and Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Hong Yen Chang, among the first Chinese immigrants to practice law in the United States, denied admission to the California bar in 1890 under the Chinese Exclusion Act before being granted posthumous admission in 2015. You Chung Hong, the first Chinese immigrant admitted to the California Bar after passing the bar exam, who worked to overturn the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Mink, Chang, and Hong are but a few examples of Asian American pioneers in the law, who blazed a trail in a field that has not always been receptive to the entry of minorities. We knew about some of these historical challenges from history, but we did not know much about the current status of Asian Americans in the law. We therefore wanted to present a landscape of Asian American experiences in the legal profession and encourage discussion and dialogue. To do so, we scoured the existing literature, held focus group discussions, and conducted a nationwide survey to produce our July report.

Our report observes that Asian Americans are the fastest-growing minority group in the legal profession, more than quadrupling their numbers over the last three decades. Yet Asian American participation at the highest ranks of the legal profession continues to lag behind. The ratio of partners to associates for Asian Americans is far lower than it is for any other racial or ethnic group. The same disparities persist in the public sector. Although Asian Americans comprise roughly 10% of graduates of top-30 law schools in 2015, they comprise only 6.5% of all federal judicial law clerks. Asian Americans made up 4 out of 2,437 elected prosecutors in 2014, 3 out of the 94 United States Attorneys in 2016, 2% of 10,295 state judges in 2014, and 3.4% of 744 active federal judges in 2016. Additionally, Asian American law school enrollment has stalled in recent years: since 2009, Asian American first-year enrollment has fallen by 43%—the largest decline of any racial or ethnic group. The number of Asian Americans who entered law school in 2016 was the lowest in more than 20 years.

These findings ultimately suggest a group that has made much more progress in entering the profession than in advancing within it. The next question is why? What are the obstacles to advancement? And how can those obstacles be addressed? We offer here initial thoughts on some possible explanations and ways forward.

First, Asian Americans may be associated with particular stereotypical traits that are considered desirable at entry-level positions but later considered detractors when Asian American lawyers attempt to join leadership ranks. In our survey, Asian Americans reported that they are perceived as hard-working, responsible, or logical, but not empathetic, creative, or assertive. In other words, while Asian Americans are regarded as having the “hard skills” required for lawyerly competence, they are regarded as lacking many important “soft skills” considered for partnership and other leadership roles, as our study found.

Some of these perceptions may also track reality: Asian Americans as a group may be primed to follow a traditional, structured path—work hard and do well in school—and be less prepared for or adept at obtaining positions that depend more on informal networks and connections. Certain jobs in the public sector may therefore seem too uncertain or risky, and Asian Americans may accordingly gravitate to positions in the private sector with more defined job descriptions and recruiting programs. Furthermore, some of these barriers may be as much financial as they are structural: while Asian Americans reportedly graduate with less debt, their backgrounds and upbringings including their immigrant identities may look at the pay differential and job stability between the public and private sectors.

As one example, judicial clerkships offer a gateway to positions as prosecutors, public defenders, professors, judges, and other similar positions. But learning about clerkships and how to apply can depend heavily on having mentors who can identify openings and introduce students to judges. Perceptions of Asian Americans as hardworking but more passive may negatively impact the prospects of these students when mentors tend to identify students who are particularly outspoken, or, if students don’t actively seek out mentors. Additionally, the relatively lower salary compared to many other legal jobs may also be significant, despite the long-term investment.

In recognizing that the law is a social profession built on perceptions and networks, Asian American law students and lawyers may therefore require more institutional support to overcome the implicit biases they face and boost their access to crucial mentors and contacts. Law schools and legal employers could assess how their recruitment and retention processes encourage or discourage talented minority students, including but not limited to Asian Americans, from participating. In a profession where Asian Americans have not yet “caught up” in leadership, expanding mentorship opportunities is especially critical to professional prospects that tend to work through informal networks.

Some believe there might simply be a time lag where Asian Americans would indeed eventually “catch up” to other groups in their participation in the legal profession. But in the last decade, law school enrollment among Asian Americans has begun to decline even relative to other minority groups. This decline suggests a potential waning interest even while law remains a gateway to many positions of political power; whether Asian Americans are really advancing as leaders in the law, and where we go from here, is therefore still open to debate. Our report documents some of the ongoing disparities in Asian American participation in the legal profession, and we hope they provide a starting point to launch further discussion and dialogue.

Eric Chung, Xiaonan “April” Hu, and Christine Kwon are co-authors, along with Samuel Dong and Supreme Court of California Justice Goodwin Liu, of A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law.

AABA Remembers the Chinese Exclusion Act
By Kathy Aoki 
Co-Chair of AABA’s Newsletter Committee

Does the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 have significance 135 years after it was signed into law by U.S. President Chester A. Arthur?

Unfortunately, despite changes in immigration policies since the Chinese Exclusion Law was passed, President Donald Trump has evoked fear in many immigrants about their status living in the United States. Trump’s travel ban, despite being struck down by two federal jurists, only adds more fire to the ongoing debate over American immigration policies.

Although the Chinese only comprised on .002 percent of the United States population, Congress passed a bill that effectively banned immigration from China and was the first anti-immigrant law directed to a specific nationality. Chinese became ineligible to become citizens and immigration was suspended for 10 years. Despite Chinese workers in the U.S. challenges to this law about the constitutionality of its discriminatory acts, their efforts went in vein.

The Chinese population in the U.S. declined after the Act was renewed in 1892 for another 10 years. Chinese immigration to the U.S. became permanently illegal in 1902 and they did not become eligible for citizenship until 1943. The Japanese and Middle Easterners are among the other groups who encountered immigration restrictions that resulted from the experience with Chinese exclusion in the United States.

As we remember the Chinese Exclusion Act, we are fortunate to have reflections from AABA member Olivia Serene Lee, a Senior Associate with Minami Tamaki LLP's Immigration Practice Group and Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) of Northern California:

How, if at all, has the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 affected you or your family?

I am at least a fifth generation Chinese American, but also the daughter of immigrants – this oddity is directly due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. I’ve been able to trace back to my great-great-grandfather (who is buried in Chicago) as the first in my family to immigrate to the US, but he was not able to bring his wife or children to the U.S. My great-grandfather joined his father in Chicago and then later moved to San Francisco; he also was not able to bring his wife or children to the US. 

The impact this has had on my family is separation/division of my family. Husbands could not see their wives or children again. And information about our own family was not passed on from generation to generation. 

For example, significant family history was lost and at best blurred as these major separations took place. I did not know until I was well into my 30s that my family included the first Chinese woman attorney in California, who is Emma Lum. We knew she was related to us because she’s buried next to my grandparents. But I didn’t make the connection until recently that her father Walter U. Lum (the first Chinese American to have a street named after him in SF Chinatown) had such a significant history in the overturning of the Chinese Exclusion Act. 

What can we do to ensure that the issues and attitudes that led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act do not recur today?

I encourage AABA members to speak with their local government representatives to express concerns over proposed laws that may impact the immigrant community. For example, at this time, the RAISE Act bill which is before the U.S. Senate aims to reduce immigration by at least half from current levels without a reasonable correlation to family reunification or the economic needs of our nation. This Act attacks family reunification and threatens close family members, including parents, brothers, and sisters to live apart. 

Conversation About Vincent Chin: Q&A with Helen Zia

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s tragic beating and subsequent death. Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA interviewed Helen Zia, a writer, a journalist, and activist who is one of the founders of American Citizens for Justice and was very involved in the Vincent Chin case. 

What are lessons to learn from the Vincent Chin case? Are there any specific lessons that you think are especially relevant now, at this particular moment in time?

A society that is filled with hate and hateful rhetoric that is demeaning to and targeting a group of people leads to hate crimes. In the late 1970s and early 1980s that rhetoric was aimed at Japan, Japanese people, and was extended to anybody who looked Japanese, which was unfortunately the case of a Chinese American named Vincent Chin. And anyone who looked Asian, no matter where they were in the United States, felt the hatred, so it wasn't isolated just to Michigan or Detroit or the auto industry; it was really the entire country and beyond. This is exactly what we’re seeing in terms of anyone associated with in some way with the Middle East, Islam, to being brown or looking Muslim, which basically can be anybody. We unfortunately see countless hate crimes happening in this climate.

Another important lesson is communities. On the community front, communities must hold perpetrators accountable. People who are susceptible -- who are wanting to blame other people for problems in society -- must be educated but also held accountable. Not just that, but politicians, the criminal justice system, and basically institutions of state power must also be held accountable and challenged whenever they support or perpetuate this kind of rhetoric and also where they fail to hold up justice and equality for all. One of the biggest failures in prosecuting and recording hate crimes is that police on the ground do not recognize where there is racially biased and other forms of hatred involved. The inclination of the system is to say, “no, there was no race involved, it was just an ordinary killing. An “ordinary killing.” At the time, we even had civil rights attorneys and constitutional law professors saying that it was a “run of the mill” killing in Detroit. Why should you Asians get so upset? That was their attitude.

Third lesson is that communities must stand together. There must be organizing and standing up and making our voices heard and joining hands with other communities. This is absolutely fundamental to holding systems accountable and bringing justice to bear. The Vincent Chin case was one of the first, if not the first, examples of Asian American multi-ethnic pan-Asian communities standing together across the country on a mass-community level. What we said then is that it was like going back 100 years to 1882 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed and back then, killers of Chinese Americans got off scot-free, nothing happened to them. 100 years later, the same thing happened. The difference in 1982 is that all the Asian communities really came together. Not only Asian, but multi-racial, multi-ethnic, cross-class, inter-denominational; it was a very broad-based movement and got great support from many, many different communities.

We don’t have to reinvent the idea of multi-racialmulti-cultural unity. It's been done before. If we can break through the divisive presentation of history that makes it looks like none of our communities came together, all we need to do is look at real history, and see that it's been done before. We’ve stood up together before and we accomplished things and made a difference for all people and all human beings. That's been done.

What do you think is Vincent Chin’s legacy, 35 years after his death in Detroit?  

Initially, when we activists in Michigan began trying to get a federal civil rights case initiated, the question was whether an Asian American immigrant would be covered and protected by federal civil rights law -- that was something that we had to argue and fight for. There were even progressive organizations like the ACLU of Michigan, National Lawyer's Guild of Michigan, and constitutional law professors who said that Asian Americans and immigrants are not covered by federal civil rights law. Vincent Chin was the very first Asian American ever to have a case brought forward with protection under federal civil rights law. With the immigration debate going on today, can you imagine if immigrants were not covered by federal civil rights law? The Vincent Chin case contributed to a broadening of the view of how civil rights law can be used to protect people.

People think: oh, the Vincent Chin case is just something that the Asian American community should remember. That's not true; it applies to all Americans.

What does the Vincent Chin case mean to you?  

Instead of what it meant to me personally, I would just say, when it gets down to it, the Vincent Chin case was organized by ordinary people in Michigan who came together and worked very hard over a period of many years. And for some of us, it was like a second job, but we persisted. And it really shows what can be accomplished by a relatively small number of people who are committed to the ideal of justice for all people and who continued to want to see the laws that are supposed to protect all people to fight to make it apply to everyone. To me, the case is really about the power of people coming together -- of ordinary people coming together -- to make something happen for the good of all people.

This article originally appeared here. Thanks to Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA for allowing AABA to reprint this article.

AABA Membership Spotlight: Carin Fujisaki

As Principal Attorney to Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Carin advises the Chief Justice and associate justices in the administration of the state judicial branch. Her administrative and policy responsibilities include serving as the Supreme Court liaison to the State Bar of California, the State Bar Court, the Commission on Judicial Performance, the California Commission on Access to Justice, and two judicial ethics committees.  She also interacts with the Judicial Council of California in matters affecting policy, budget, legal affairs, and legislative issues.

Appointed by Governor Gray Davis, Carin served as the first Asian American member and chair of the Board of Directors of UC Hastings College of the Law. One of her proudest moments involved a lawsuit in which she was named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit challenging UC Hastings’ refusal to officially recognize a student club that violated the college’s policy of nondiscrimination in membership. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately granted certiorari and upheld the college’s nondiscrimination policy and actions in Christian Legal Society of the University of California, Hastings College of the Law v. Martinez (2010) 561 U.S. 661.

Carin has been a member of the AABA board and has served on and/or chaired various committees, including the Judiciary Committee, the Social Committee, and the Public Law/Public Service Committee. She is a longtime participant in the mentorship program and currently chairs the Public Law Leadership Advisory Council.

First job:  Counter person and cashier at All-American Burger in West Los Angeles. Yes, the same Los Angeles chain featured in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

What annoys you most?  Hypocrisy, especially among politicians.

Describe yourself:  I was lucky to have been raised by two outstanding role models:  my father, who served on the LA County bench, and my mother, who worked for over 45 years at a nonprofit corporation. Not only did they impart the values of public service, but their WWII internment and post-war experiences impressed upon me that due process and governmental respect of civil rights are precious principles that must be safeguarded by our legal system.

As a native of LA, I enjoy movies directed by Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton, but also appreciate a wide range of others. An early favorite TV show was The Avengers with Diana Rigg and Patrick Mcnee.

Hidden talent:  World and national bench press record holder in various open, masters, and drug-tested divisions in the women’s 105-pound class.

Favorite food:  Tie between Indian and Thai.

Why did you enter law?  Although the wartime ordeals of my parents are incomparable, there were times growing up when I felt helpless in the face of policies and actions that were discriminatory, unlawful, or just plain wrong. But as my dad’s experience proved, entering the legal profession is one of the most effective ways to remedy that helplessness and redress such wrongs.

Dream job if you could do anything you wanted in this world:  As a lawyer I feel I have my dream job. If I weren’t a lawyer, I don’t know — maybe the person who gets to determine the charitable contributions of a progressive mega-foundation? Or a paid restaurant critic?

AABA is:  the best! Not only does AABA provide new API attorneys a wide range of opportunities for mentorship and professional development, but it also offers us senior attorneys opportunities for “giving back” and mixing it up with newer attorneys who have fresh ideas and boundless energy.

Resist and Advance: Annual Social Justice Attorney Mixer

AABA’s Civil Rights Committee held their annual Social Justice Attorney Mixer on Thursday, August 17, 2017 featuring a panel discussion on what social justice lawyering looks like under a Trump presidency. Moderated by Eumi Lee (Clinical Professor of UC Hastings and AABA Past President), the panel featured Mona Tawatao, Senior Litigator of Western Center on Law & Poverty; Linda Lye, Senior Staff Attorney of ACLU Northern California; and Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of AAAJ – Asian Law Caucus.

The theme that emerged from the panel was Resist and Advance. All three speakers talked about the ways in which their organizations were protecting fundamental civil rights - be it through resisting unlawful executive orders, providing deportation defense, protecting access to health care, or fighting the criminalization of immigrants. They also emphasized how critical it is to prevent burn out and to take care of ourselves and each other, as the fight for social justice will be a long road ahead. Over 100 people were in attendance to lend support to one another during these trying times, including deans and professors of law schools, civil rights attorneys and other attorneys, law students, and members of our diverse community.

AABA would like to extend a warm thank-you to Farella Braun + Martel LLP or hosting, and to Asian Law Caucus and La Raza Lawyers Association for co-sponsoring. For information on future events, job and volunteer opportunities at civil rights organizations, please join the Civil Rights Committee’s listserv here.

Photos by John B. Lough, Jr.

Demystifying the Art of Business Development
By Veronica Guinto

On July 26, 2017, Martha Sullivan, a business coach for attorneys and other professionals spoke with a group of about 20 solo and small firm attorneys and legal professionals about the art of generating business. The event, which was put on by AABA’s Solo & Small Firm Committee, provided practical advice and tips on how to get started with marketing.

“Business development is all about relationships,” said Ms. Sulllivan, the principal of Thornton Marketing. The key is to get involved with organizations or activities you genuinely enjoy. She gave an example of an associate who joined a fly fishing group only because a partner was part of it. In actuality, the associate had no interest in the outdoors. Don’t do that, she said. We naturally excel in things we have a passion for. Our leadership qualities will shine through when we join groups we have an interest in.

Ms. Sullivan suggested that once you are part of a group, become an active participant, volunteer where needed, organize an event, write, or speak at events. This will introduce you to the group and give the larger community a chance to see your leadership and organizational skills while simultaneously growing your network.

Ms. Sullivan challenged the attendees to each do one thing towards developing business a week, whether it be having lunch or coffee with a colleague, writing a follow up email, or calling a potential client. Once we develop a habit of taking these steps, we will become natural marketers in our everyday professional lives. Developing business takes time. Her advice is “Be persistent and consistent,” and eventually your labor will bear fruit.

While Ms. Sullivan works with all types of professionals, she is particularly experienced with working with women and diverse groups. She discussed what diversity in our legal profession is and how it benefits us all. Ms. Sullivan shared results of a study that showed that diversity in a law firm actually increased revenue by an estimated $100,000 per partner per year.

Still, while some firms are taking active steps toward diversity, Ms. Sullivan pointed to the most recent (and first-ever) comprehensive study about Asian Americans in the legal profession authored by California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin H. Liu, Eric Chung, Xiaonan April Hu, Christine Kwon, and Samuel Dong. While Asian Americans are the highest educated group of minorities, the study on a Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law revealed that, as a group, we still have the highest attrition rates and lowest ratio of partners to associates in the legal profession. 

AABA Summer Diversity Reception Platinum Sponsors

Thank you to the following law firm partners for their generous sponsorship of our 30th annual event to celebrate new law firm partners, summer associates, and law clerks in the Bay Area:

Beatrice Nguyen is a partner in Crowell & Moring’s San Francisco office, and is a member of the firm's Antitrust Group. The Daily Journal has identified her as one of the “Top Women Litigators” in California. She represents technology, healthcare, and pharmaceutical companies in complex litigation and arbitrations as well as federal and state governmental investigations involving antitrust and unfair competition law. Beatrice made her mark by representing major California and international corporations in both defense and plaintiff’s work.  She also takes her advocacy skills into the community in handling pro-bono matters, including her work with Vietnamese immigrants to obtain citizenship in the United States.  

Cathy Lui is a partner in Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's Complex Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group, based in the San Francisco office.  Cathy primarily specializes in trade secrets litigation.  She has particular expertise in obtaining and defending against temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions under exigent circumstances in fast-paced trade secret actions. She also practices complex commercial litigation including breach of contract, fraud, and employee mobility cases. In addition to her practice, Cathy is also active in the legal community.  She is currently co-chair of the Asian American Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee.  At her firm, she is very involved in diversity and inclusion activities including the Asian American Affinity Group, and Orrick’s hiring and recruiting committees.

Celia Lee is a partner in the litigation group at Goldfarb & Lipman in Oakland. She represents public agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private entities in the areas of real estate, affordable housing, land use, and municipal law. She also worked as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office for ten years. Celia has been active in AABA since 1995 – serving as chair of the Community Services Committee and Judiciary Committee – and served as President from 2008-2009.  She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality.

Mitzi Chang, a partner in Goodwin’s Technology Companies & Life Sciences Group, focuses her practice on corporate and securities law, representing public and private companies, venture capital and private equity firms and investment banks in capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financings, SEC reporting and other general corporate and securities matters. Ms. Chang advises companies through every stage of the corporate life cycle – from initial financing through successful initial public offering or acquisition. She currently serves on the firm’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and is on the hiring committee for Goodwin’s San Francisco office.

Charles Jung is passionate about community mobilization and public policy. His day job is as a trial lawyer at Nassiri & Jung LLP, where he both defends wage cases and represents in-house lawyers and executives in their workplace disputes. Charles is a frequent commentator in the legal press on the topics of class actions, arbitration, and employment law. He serves as an At-Large Board Member for NAPABA, an officer for AABA Greater Bay Area, a Co-Chair or Executive Committee member for the SSF sections of both the Bar Association of San Francisco and the California State Bar, an IAKL Regional Governor, and an Elections Commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco.

Chris Kao is a Co-Managing Partner of Vinson & Elkins' Taiwan office, Managing Partner of the Palo Alto office, and also resident in the San Francisco office. Chris focuses on intellectual property litigation, including patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets disputes, and other high-stakes commercial litigation. He has represented clients in the computer hardware and software, semiconductor, telecommunications, biotechnology, and consumer products industries in federal district courts throughout the country, the U.S. International Trade Commission, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has also been designated a Certified Information Privacy Professional / US by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. 

A. Marisa Chun leads McDermott Will & Emery's Bay Area Litigation Practice Group. Her practice includes complex business litigation, including IP litigation, white-collar defense matters and investigations, and appeals.  Marisa represents clients in diverse matters involving trade secret theft and IP, health care, privacy, unfair competition, shareholder derivative, employment, contract and business tort claims. She serves on the Board of the Public Policy Institute of California. Marisa serves as Co-Chair of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Amicus Curiae Committee, founded BASF’s Open Doors 1L Job Shadow Program, and is a former President of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California.  

Clarissa A. Kang is a director at the employee benefits law firm of Trucker Huss, APC in San Francisco, California.  She has been a member of AABA since moving to the Bay Area in 2001 and has served an AABA mentor, a past host of the quarterly AABA law firm partners’ lunches, and a supporter of the Annual Summer Diversity Reception and the Annual Installation Dinner.  Clarissa specializes in the area of employee benefits and ERISA litigation. As a director in Trucker Huss’ nationally recognized ERISA litigation group, she has handled a broad spectrum of litigation, including cases at trial and appellate levels involving benefit claims, fiduciary issues, plan administration, multiemployer plans, withdrawal liability, delinquent  contributions,  plan  reimbursement  and  subrogation,  non-ERISA benefit plans (such as governmental plans and church plans), and class action claims. 

Danielle Kono Lewis is a Partner in Selman Breitman’s San Francisco office and is a member of the firm’s Public Entity and General Liability practice groups. She represents public and private individuals and entities at both the federal and state levels, in matters involving municipal liability defense, employment, Americans with Disabilities Act, general liability, and business litigation. She often presents seminars and at conferences on subject matters relating to claims and issues impacting public entities, including those involving dangerous conditions of public property, roadway design, police practices, and First and Fourth Amendment. Danielle is a member of the Community Services Committee of AABA.

Ed Antolin is a founding partner of Antolin Agarwal LLP, a boutique tax and litigation firm he formed with Monty Agarwal in 2017.  Ed’s tax practice focuses on state and local tax issues, and his clients include multinational corporations, start-ups, and high-net-worth individuals.  Ed is a nationally recognized leader in state taxation. He has lectured on state taxation at UC Berkeley School of Law and Golden Gate University School of Law, and he has addressed conferences sponsored by New York University, Georgetown University, the American Bar Association, California State Bar Association, Tax Executives Institute, Institute of Professionals in Taxation, and the Council on State Taxation. 

Elizabeth Loh is a Director at Trucker Huss, APC which is the largest employee benefits specialty law firm headquartered on the West Coast. Elizabeth has been active in AABA for over a decade.  She served as a co-chair of the Employment Committee for many years, and is currently a co-chair of the Women’s Committee.  Elizabeth finds her work with AABA very fulfilling, and has made lifelong friendships through AABA. Prior to joining Trucker Huss, Elizabeth worked as an employee benefits tax consultant and previously as an associate at a law firm where her practice focused on qualified retirement plan and executive compensation matters. 

Kevin M. Fong is leader of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s appellate practice.  He has appeared in more than 125 published decisions, including arguments in six cases before the California Supreme Court (prevailing in five of the six).  A leader in promoting diversity in the legal profession for more than 30 years, Kevin has served as president of the Asian Pacific Bar of California and as president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area.  In 2008, Kevin received the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association at its 20th annual convention.  

Over the past three decades, Joan M. Haratani has honed crisis management and courtroom skills in high-exposure cases. A partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Joan has been a co-lead counsel on some of the largest mass tort litigations in the United States and defended her clients in class actions, product liability litigation, complex licensing agreements, and trade secret indemnity issues. While her litigation experience spans industries, including retail and finance, she focuses much of her practice on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. She is also a past president of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, as well as past regional governor of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

John Tang is a partner in the San Francisco office of Jones Day.  He represents companies, boards of directors, and executive officers in SEC enforcement matters, internal investigations, and shareholder litigation.  He also counsels clients regarding corporate governance and compliance, and has advised audit committees and independent directors on a range of issues.  John was previously based in Silicon Valley, and has represented public and private companies across the tech sector and in a range of other industries. John also serves on the Board of Trustees of The Yale-China Association, a non-profit organization committed to strengthening relations between Chinese and Americans through programs in education, health, and the arts.  

Lily Chinn is the managing partner of Katten Muchin Rosenman’s San Francisco Bay Area office and the co-chair of the Electronic Discovery and Information Governance practice. She is a strategic advocate and litigator for her corporate and individual clients, providing counsel on the intersection between workplace safety, environmental and natural resources issues. She focuses on civil and criminal defense, including internal investigations and suspension or debarment proceedings, and has tried cases across the country. Lily has been recognized by The Legal 500 for Environmental Litigation and Law360 as a Rising Star. While at the DOJ, she was the recipient of numerous DOJ performance awards.

Michael Ng is an accomplished trial and appellate lawyer at Kobre & Kim who works on intellectual property litigation, regulatory matters, and commercial disputes. His most recent matters span the U.S., Asia, Europe and Australia, with a focus on high-stakes cases in the technology sector. He has represented clients in a wide variety of technology areas, including wireless data transmission, semiconductor manufacturing, network hardware, enterprise and consumer software, software as a service (SaaS), cybersecurity, datacenters, construction materials and consumer electronics.  Mr. Ng currently serves as the chair of the board of the East Bay Community Law Center, a clinical affiliate of Berkeley Law School and the East Bay’s largest nonprofit legal services provider.

Peter Kang is a patent trial attorney and has practiced IP law in Silicon Valley for over 25 years. He is the senior IP partner in Sidley Austin’s Silicon Valley office and is the IP lead for the firm’s Korea Practice. Peter has negotiated numerous patent/IP licenses, including deals valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  He further advises clients in IP diligence for M&A and other corporate matters. Peter is an American Arbitration Association (AAA) Arbitrator.  He has served as Settlement Conference Officer for San Francisco Superior Court in over a dozen cases. 

Susan T. Kumagai is a founding partner of Lafayette & Kumagai LLP, a boutique minority-owned litigation firm that specializes in business torts, employment, complex litigation and trials.  Ms. Kumagai is a civil litigator who primarily practices in the employment area, representing management throughout California.  She has extensive experience in both state and federal courts and represents clients before administrative agencies including the California Department of Labor, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  She represents Fortune 500 companies and public entities in the areas of wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, disability and retaliation.  

Tuan ‘Tune’ Pham is a transactional real estate attorney and a founding partner at Downs Pham & Kuei. Mr. Pham is an industry recognized professional specializing in tax-exempt bond and tax credit financing for multifamily housing and public infrastructure. Mr. Pham represents both public and private real estate developers to obtain tax advantaged financing for developments ranging from mixed-income, mixed-use apartment complexes to master planned communities. Mr. Pham routinely counsels his clients on the myriad of issues involved in the acquisition and disposition of tax-exempt bond and tax credit financed properties.

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